The Stone the Kingmakers Ignored Ascends Zazzau Throne

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John Shiklam writes that the emergence of Ambassador Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli as the 19th Emir of Zazzau may have been used by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to redress past injustice in the Emirate

On Wednesday October 7, 2020, the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, announced the appointment of Ambassador Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli, as the 19th Emir of Zazzau (Zaria).

Bamali was appointed to the throne following the demise of Alhaji Shehu Idris, the 18th emir, who reigned for 45 years; from 1975 to 2020.

Idris died at the Nigerian Army Referral Hospital, Kaduna, on September 20, 2020, following an undisclosed illness. He was 84 years.

The race for the exalted and influential Emir of Zazzau was keenly contested by princes from the four ruling houses.

The Zazzau Emirate is the largest in Kaduna state, comprising 11 Local Government Areas and has a first-class status.

In the Northern Nigeria, emirs are highly respected. They are seen as custodians of both Islamic religion and tradition.

Few days after the third day prayers for the repose of the soul of the late emir on Wednesday September 23, 2020, a process for the selection of a successor started in earnest.

Thirteen princes were said to have indicated interest in the throne. However, only three were shortlisted by the five kingmakers. The list was submitted to the Governor Nasir El-Rufai to choose from the three. The governor has the final say in the selection process.

There are four ruling houses in the Emirate. They include, the Mallawa dynasty, the Sullubawa dynasty, the Bare-Beri dynasty and the Katsinawa dynasty.

Two of the ruling houses- the Bare-Beri dynasty and the Katsinawa dynasty are said to have dominated the throne while the other two – the Sullubawa dynasty and the Malawa dynasties have not occupied the throne for many years.

Those on the shortlist by the kingmakers included Alhaji Bashar Aminu (Iyan Zazzau) from the Katsinawa ruling house, Alhaji Munnir Jafaru (Yariman Zazzau), from Bare-bari ruling house and Alhaji Aminu Shehu Idris (Turakin Zazzau), also from the Katsinawa ruling house.

Ironically Bamali, from Malawa dynasty, who is believed to be an ally of El-Rufai did not make the list.

However, the governor who said he was studying three books on the Zazzau Emirate, written by the colonialists, rejected the list and ordered for a fresh process.

His action gave impetus to speculations that he was craving to appoint Bamali, his “preferred candidate”. The cancellation of the process attracted mixed reactions, especially on the social media, with some people saying the governor rejected the list because Bamalli’s name was not included.

The state government however explained in a statement that the cancellation of the initial process was as a result of the exclusion of “two interested applicants” who also aspired to the throne.

In a statement, the state government said, “The Bunu Zazzau complained that he was unable to submit his application because he was told that the window for receipt of applications had closed.

“The Sarkin Dajin Zazzau also protested his exclusion from the process. It was also noted that the kingmakers assessed two candidates on 24th September 2020 without sighting their CVs which the selectors received a day later.”

The state government also frowned at what it described as “highly irregular the leakage of the report of the selection meeting of 24th September 2020 before its receipt by the state governor.”

The second round of the selection process was said to have involved the assessment of all the 13 candidates that indicated interest from all the ruling houses, including the two that were previously excluded.

Bamalli belongs to the Mallawa dynasty, which has not ascended the the throne in the past 100 years.

The Mallawa dynasty, was said to have produced only three emirs since the emirate was founded.

The last emir from the dynasty was Bamalli’s grandfather, Aliyu Dan-sidi, the 13th Emir of Zazzau who reigned
between 1903 and 1920.

Similarly, the Sullubawa dynasty is said to have ended its reign in 1857 after only three years on the throne.
Since then it has also not ascended the throne in the past 163 years.

The longest ruling dynasties are said to be the Katsinawa and the Barebari. The Barebari is said to have produced nine emirs for a total of 83 years on the throne while the Katsinawa dynasty is said to have ruled for a total of 82 years through four emirs.
El-Rufai was said to have considered all these statistics before appointing Bamalli, as the 19th Emir and the 4th person to ascend the throne from the Mallawa ruling dynasty.

These realities must have helped in dousing off the tension that was mounting among supporters of the contenders to the throne who took to the social media to campaign for their preferred candidates.

The governor may have noticed that the Barebari and the Katsinawa dynasties had dominated the throne over time and felt the need to ensure a sense of belonging to all the ruling houses.

This imbalances may have informed his decision to amend the state’s chieftaincy law aimed at reforming the system.

Speaking while presenting the 2021 budget proposal to the state House of Assembly he said, “government will propose a Chieftaincy and Traditional Councils Bill to entrench the reforms of the chieftaincy system, specify composition and classification of emirate and traditional councils, and update the provisions of colonial laws on the subject.”

The new emir was born in Zaria in 1966. He studied Law at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria in 1989 after which he obtained a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy from the same institution in 2002.
He also bagged a Post Graduate Diploma in Management, from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology in 1998 and did a fellowship on Conflict Resolution at the University of York (UK) in 2009.

He holds another Diploma in Organisational Leadership from Oxford University, UK, 2015 and is a Senior Chevening Fellow with about 26 years cognate experience covering banking, public sector, telecommunications, and manufacturing.

The Emir is an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School where he obtained GMP in 2011.

Until his appointment, Bamalli held the title of Magajin Garin Zazzau; the second most senior princely title in the Zazzau Emirate.
He is also the immediate past Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Speaking when the management of Alheri Radio, Zaria, led by Dr. Hakeem Baba -Ahmed paid him a visit in the palace, Bamali promised to build on the achievements of his predecessor.

He said as somebody who worked closely with the late emir, he is conversant with the problems of the emirate.

He promised to carry all the ruling houses along and ensure unity and progress in the emirate.

“I will continue from where the late emir stopped. It is challenging, but I pray that God will give me wisdom.

“The late Emir was a father to me, I am ascending the throne at a young age, there is wide gap between me and the late emir.

“I call for unity among our people. If there is unity, there will be progress. There cannot be development when there is no unity.

“For me, every prince has the right to seek the throne, but after one person has emerged, we should unite to work together because God has given everybody his appointed time.

“I will reach out to all the princes and the ruling houses so that we will work together. That is what we learnt from our forefathers. By the grace of God, we will not deviate from the foundation they laid for us.

“The late emir was a peaceful man, I worked with him for 20 years as Magajin Gari and I know him in and out. In addition to that I spent 20 years representing my father. The late emir carried everybody along. That is why he succeeded.

“There is nothing that is new to me. We are all together as a family. My desire is to bring people together and unite them,” he said.

QUOTE

The governor may have noticed that the Barebari and the Katsinawa dynasties had dominated the throne over time and felt the need to ensure a sense of belonging to all the ruling houses. These imbalances may have informed his decision to amend the state’s chieftaincy law aimed at reforming the system. Speaking while presenting the 2021 budget proposal to the state House of Assembly he said, “government will propose a Chieftaincy and Traditional Councils Bill to entrench the reforms of the chieftaincy system, specify composition and classification of emirate and traditional councils, and update the provisions of colonial laws on the subject.”

The new emir was born in Zaria in 1966. He studied Law at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria in 1989 after which he obtained a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy from the same institution in 2002