Nigeria: How New Emir of Zazzau Will Emerge

Gate to the palace of the Emir of Zazzau.
22 September 2020

With the demise of the late Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, on Sunday, September, 20, 2020, attention has now shifted to the selection of his successor. Daily Trust reports

The contest of who becomes emir in the Zazzzau Emirate is not an open one. Not all members of the royal families can contest as it is exclusively reserved for princes from different dynasties in the Emirate whose biological fathers or grandfathers had been emirs.

Formal educational qualifications are not of much significance, but the royal background and character of the contestants, as well as the decision of the kingmakers and finally the state governor.

Tradition demands a speedy but diligent process for the selection of a new emir upon the demise of the incumbent. This is to safeguard the unity of the emirate and to avoid division among the princes, as each has his supporters within the palace.

Based on this, the process of finding a successor for the late emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, commenced immediately after his interment on Sunday.

Information made available to Daily Trust by top palace officials on Monday revealed that four out of five kingmakers have since disappeared from public view. This is in accordance with the tradition of the emirate.

The wisdom, according to palace sources, is to allow the kingmakers to fully concentrate on the important assignment of "selecting a competent leader who would command the respect of all princes and other members of the royal families."

"It is a delicate process that can make or mar the entire palace and its unity. Therefore, there is need for caution, transparency and diligence," the source said.

Until the occupation of Nigeria by the colonialists, Daily Trust gathered, the council of the five kingmakers takes the final decision on who becomes a new emir after the demise or disengagement of an incumbent.

However, the colonial administration changed the trend where the governor called the shots on who becomes an emir. With independence, the power now rests with state governors.

Therefore, all eyes would be on Malam Nasir el-Rufa'i in the next few days as he would have a final say on who becomes the new emir of Zazzau.

Daily Trust exclusively gathered that the kingmakers are now waiting for the state government to come up with the criteria to follow in selecting the new emir.

"Nothing can be done until the state government designs and gives them the template to follow. The first possible criterion, of course, is that a contestant must be a prince whose father or grandfather has been an emir. The state can decide other criteria," the source said.

"It should be noted, however, that the history of Zazzau Emirate has shown that before one becomes an emir, he must be a prince and a district head who has territory under his control. So, if the state government decides to maintain the status quo, many contestants would be screened out."

The five kingmakers of the Zazzau Emirate are the Wazirin Zazzau, Alhaji Ibrahim Aminu, who is the chairman. He is still seen in public, because he is now in charge of the emirate following the demise of the late emir.

The Waziri has two votes in the event the kingmakers did not reach a unanimous decision on a certain candidate, while the other four members have one vote each, findings by Daily Trust revealed.

Others in the council of the kingmakers are Makama Karami Zazzau, Alhaji Muhammad Abbas, Fagachin Zazzau, Alhaji Umar Muhammad, Limamin Kona, Sheikh Muhammad Sani Aliyu and Limamin Gari, Sheikh Dalhatu Qasim.

Although up to yesterday (Monday), Daily Trust learnt that the state government has not communicated the template to adopt for the selection of the new emir to the kingmakers, but intense lobbying and scheming have since commenced.

The three major dynasties of the Zazzau emirate, Gidan Katsinawa, Gidan Bare-Bari and Gidan Mallawa, have since commenced in-house consultations. The fourth dynasty, the Sullubawa have presented no candidate as the most eligible prince from that dynasty, a grandson of Emir Abdulsalam, and age mate of the Late Emir Idris, is thought to be too old. The other most eligible candidate from that dynasty, the Dan Galadiman Waziri, Alh. Shittu Ibrahim Dikko, District Head of Gabasawa, Kaduna North, and a great grandson of Emir Abdulsalam, has shown no interest in the position.

Information made available to Daily Trust on Monday showed that members of late Alhaji Idris's family met and decided to present Turakin Zazzau, Alhaji Aminu Shehu Idris, as their candidate. He is the eldest son of the late emir and a staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Emir Shehu Idris belongs to the Katsinawa dynasty and there are other strong contenders aside his children. They are Wamban Zazzau, Alhaji Abdulkareem Aminu and Iyan Zazzau, Alhaji Bashar Aminu.

Similarly, late Emir Idris left behind eight other sons who are titleholders, aside the Turakin Zazzau. They are Sarkin Dawakin Tsakar Gida Zazzau, Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Idris, Sarkin Kudun Zazzau, Barrister Sambo Shehu Idris, Uban Garin Zazzau, Alhaji Basiru Shehu Idris and Dan Isan Zazzau, Alhaji Umaru Shehu Idris.

Others are Walin Gabas Zazzau, Alhaji Mai Nasara Shehu Idris, Danmajen Zazzau, Alhaji Nasiru Shehu Idris, Danruwata Babba Zazzau, Alhaji Bello Shehu Idris and Sadaukin Zazzau, Alhaji Yusuf Shehu Idris.

It is not clear whether Iya and Wamban Zazzau would agree to the selection of Turakin Zazzau as the person to be presented to the council of kingmakers as the candidate of the Katsinawa dynasty.

An impeccable source told our correspondent that in the event the state government sets a template that says a contestant has to be a district head with territory, then the eldest person in the Katsinawa dynasty that can meet that requirement is the Wamban Zazzau, Alhaji Abdulkareem Aminu.

Alhaji Aminu doubles as the District Head of Giwa, Giwa Local Government of the state. He is among the district heads that were returned to their seats when Malam Nasir El-Rufa'i's administration reorganised the state's traditional institutions, hence observers see him as having a "special place in the governor's heart."

The leader of the Bare-Bari dynasty is Alhaji Munir Jafaru, Yariman Zazzau. Alhaji Munir is the son of the late Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Jafaru Dan Isiyaku. He is a retired public servant who once served as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

Daily Trust learnt that there is not much contention in the Bare-Bari dynasty and therefore the Yariman Zazzau "is the one to be presented as the dynasty's candidate."

Yariman Zazzau is said to be enjoying a cordial relationship with both the state and federal governments, hence has the potential to emerge as the 19th Emir of Zazzau. He is a prince and a district head with territory. He is the District Head of Basawa.

The Mallawa dynasty has three strong contenders. They are Alhaji Ahmad Nuhu Bamalli, the title holder of Magajin Garin Zazzau. He is Nigeria's immediate past ambassador to Thailand.

In this dynasty, there are Ciroman Zazzau, Alhaji Sa'idu Mailafiya and Barden Kudun Zazzau, Alhaji Hassan Tijjani. As at yesterday, (Monday), the Mallawa dynasty "were still consulting" as to who to present as their candidate." However, Alhaji Ahmad Nuhu Bamalli was the most pronounced name.

If Kaduna state government decides to include overseeing a "territory" in its template for selection of the new emir of Zazzau, then only two princes would scale through the screening among the top contenders.

They are Yariman Zazzau, Alhaji Munir Jafaru, District Head of Basawa, from the Bare-Bari dynasty and Wamban Zazzau, Alhaji Abdulkareem Aminu, District Head of Giwa, from the Katsinawa dynasty.

Aside the much-talked-about candidates, a dark horse(s) could emerge as events continue to unfold, especially after the release of the selection template by the Kaduna State government. Any of the sons and grandsons of past emirs are eligible to be considered as emir.

In the meantime, the whole Zaria Emirate and the rest of the

the country waits and watches.

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