•Gov El-Rufai to decide Jafaru, Bamali, Idris’ fate
Abdullahi Hassan, Zaria
Suspense and uncertainty now pervade the bereaved kingdom of Zazzau in Kaduna State over who will succeed the late paramount ruler of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris. But the Kaduna state government may break the ice by announcing the new Emir any moment from tomorrow after the submission of three names of nominees shortlisted and screened by the Council of kingmakers of the emirate.
The throne of an Emir is considered largely to be the most prestigious position a person could ever aspire to in their lifetime in Northern Nigeria. It is considered the zenith of personal attainment and a trophy for elevation of one’s lineage. Hence the struggle to capture the throne is both a personal as well as collective endeavour. The position attracts the ambition of princes in the land so much so that every other aspiration could be foregone for it. This explains why late Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of Northern region once averred that he preferred the throne of Sokoto Caliphate to the Presidency of Nigeria. Such is the lofty esteem with which kingship is held in Nigeria. Every prince is more than willing to wear the crown at the price of whatever material position.
However, being a prince is never the sole qualification to be eligible for the position. There are expectations to be met by an aspiring prince that touched on morality, knowledge, piety, contribution to society, participation in social functions, popularity and acceptability among the people, personal charisma and demonstrated ability for leadership. King makers are not merely to caste vote, but they must thoroughly give consideration to those qualities. An unpopular candidate may lower the esteem of the Emirate, incompetent one may jeopardize its functions and the one who is profligate may bankrupt it. It is certainly a most delicate job to make a king.
How the new Emir will emerge
Traditionally in Zazzau Emirate, there are five high chiefs who, after extensive consultations with all legitimate stakeholders, are to come up with names of three most suitable candidates for the vacant throne. It is among these nominated three, as par modern practice, the governor of the state is to appoint one.
The kingmakers in Zazzau comprise of the following: Wazirin Zazzau, Alhaji Ibrahim Aminu; Fagachin Zazzau, Alhaji Umaru Muhammad; Makaman Zazzau, Alhaji Abbas Muhammad; Limamin Kona, Mallam Aliyu Muhammad; and Limamin Zazzau, Mallam Dalhatu Kasimu. The first three selectors are from three different royal houses while the last two represent the religious domain and the scholars circle respectively.
The general opinion among the masses and the elite of Zazzau is that these king makers are trustworthy, enjoying the collective confidence of the people to make the best choice in the interest of the kingdom. Out of the shortlist of three candidates, the committee of kingmakers would put forward a recommendation for, in their best judgment, the best among the three. Hardly ever has it occurred that the judicious recommendation of these wise men ever conflict with high expectations of the people. Most conflict and disappointment in modern times occur when political administrators decide to tamper with the best choice of the trusted kingmakers. It is never a secret the decisions of the king makers. It is always an open affair that people are aware of the choice made by the kingmakers and they expect the final appointing authority to honour the committee’s recommendation.
How the top contenders stand
However, there is a wisp of apprehension that the most popular candidate generally expected to be recommended as the best choice on the shortlist of the committee might be dropped for the personal, though least popular, choice of the final authority. Should this unexpected turn of event happened, the possibility of temporary civic protest is high and a permanent loss of legitimacy and prestige might be incurred by the unpopular Emir and the Emirate.
It is reliably gathered that three major contestants have been featured in the race as most eligible which Governor Nasiru Ahmed El-rufai may hardly neglect. However, each of the three candidates represents a Royal House.
Among them are Alhaji Mannir Jafaru, Yariman Zazzau from Bare-Bari, Alhaji Ahmed Nuhu Bamali from Mallawa and Alhaji Aminu Shehu Idris from katsinawa royal house respectively.
On the frontline is Alhaji Mannir Jafaru, a surviving son of one time respected emir of Zazzau, Malam Jafaru Dan Isiaku. He is a lawyer; a former Secretary of Nigerian Railway Corporation; former Director- General, Nigerian Maritime Authority; Chairman, Nigerian Export Promotion Zones; Chairman and captain of many government and private organizations. He was also a onetime commissioner for agriculture and a teacher like the late Emir.
Jafaru’s advantage is his popularity among the Zaria residents. He has never missed a Sallah celebration procession or durbar for the last twenty years. Secondly, he is said to be closest to President Muhammadu Buhari. Thirdly, he is respected because of his father’s esteemed reputation among Fulani dynasty as well as a stellar legacy in scholarship.
The second candidate is Ambassador Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli, Magajin Garin Zazzau. He is the son of the first Republic former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Nuhu Bamalli who was a grandson of late Emir Aliyu Dansidi. Ahmed is a lawyer, a former Asst. Director in Nigeria Security Printing and Minting, former special assistant to the Minister of FCT, Mallam Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai, and currently Nigeria’s Ambassador to Thailand.
The major advantage Ahmed has over other candidates is his closeness to Governor Nasir El-rufai, who according to reliable sources, the two (El- rufai and Ahmed) are from the same family lineage. Secondly, Ahmed is just about 55 years old, considerably younger than Mannir Jafaru. It is believed almost Malam Nasir El-rufai influenced all higher positions occupied or attained by Ahmed including his current position.
The third among the top contenders is one of the eldest sons of late Shehu Idris, Alhaji Aminu Shehu Idris, Turakin Zazzau. He is an accountant working with Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). His comparative advantage is his age and wider contacts with other Royal Houses .He is 45 years old and is in amiable relationship with most of the influential members of the three Royal Houses.
The hope of getting another Shehu Idris lies on Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna state who is vested with the power to approve.
The fear of most residents is the temptation to impose a person not suitable for the people, which will throw the institution into crises like it happened in Kano, Gwandu and Sokoto at one time.