A tough battle might probably be on the way on the choice of man to ascend the throne of the Zazzau emirate following the death of the Emir over the weekend.
Four Zaria princes are believed to be the leading candidates to succeed Shehu Idris, the longstanding Emir of Zazzau, who died on Sunday. But in reality, insiders say, the race is between two princes with the most influence and personal fortune, Premium Times report.
Recall that the Emir of Zazzau, Shehu Idris, died on Saturday, September 19, 2020, after spending 45 years on the throne. He became Emir in 1975 after the death of Emir Muhammadu Aminu.
A new emir is expected to emerge from any one of the four ruling houses of the emirate, according to tradition. These ruling houses include Katsinawa, Mallawa, Bare-bari and Sullubawa; and late Idris happened to be from the Katsinawa ruling house.
Premium Times also reports that those being mentioned as frontline contenders to the throne are the Iyan Zazzau, Bashir Aminu; Yeriman Zazzau, Munir Ja’afaru; Magajin Garin Zazzau, Ahmed Bamalli and Turakin Zazzau, Bashir Idris; and five kingmakers are expected to submit a shortlist to the Kaduna State Government from which Governor Nasir El-Rufai is expected to make a choice.
The kingmakers are Wazirin Zazzau, Ibrahim Aminu; Makama Karami, Muhammad Abbas; Fagachin Zazzau, Umar Muhammad; Limamin Juma’a, Dalhatu Kasim and Limamin Kona Muhammad Aliyu.
However, the list is yet to be sent to the governor.
It was gathered that four possible successors of the Emir include:
The Dan Iyan Zazzau, Bashir Aminu
He is considered the most entrenched in the affairs of the palace. Late Emir Idris succeeded Mr Aminu’s father, who died in 1975.
As chartered accountant and businessman, Mr Aminu has stayed the longest among the princes as a titleholder and district head in the emirate.
Until the reforms two years ago to resize Kaduna traditional institutions, Mr Aminu was the district head of Sabon Gari, a position he was first appointed to in 1979. This, coupled with the position of Iyan he holds, makes him an heir apparent of sorts.
Mr Aminu is, however, being discounted in the race because of his deficiency in political support. His chances would have been brighter, according to persons familiar with the politicking, if the throne had become vacant during the last administration in the state.
Bashir Idris, eldest son of the late Emir Shehu Idris
According to sources, a major factor counting against Bashir Idris is his age.
Born in 1974, the holder of the traditional title of Turakin Zazzau is the youngest of the contenders, with attendant lesser experience and connections needed to pull the needed strings.
It is unlikely also that he would be given a chance considering the rotation among ruling houses and his father’s long reign.
With those two out of the way, the race is now narrowed to the Yeriman Zazzau, Munir Ja’afaru and the Magajin Gari, Ahmed Bamalli. The two are from Barebari and Mallawa ruling houses, respectively.
Palace and government sources have told Premium Times that considerations are neck to neck between the 66-year-old Mr Ja’afaru and 54-year-old Mr Bamalli, with each presenting ample credentials.
Mr Ja’afaru, a lawyer, administrator and businessman is a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Maritime Authority, the precursor of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). His extensive network and goodwill among the political and business elite are said to be his main assets for the race.
While Mr Ja’afaru is considered close to President Muhammadu Buhari and well connected among political and business elite, Mr Bamalli is a close associate of Governor El-Rufai and a distant relative. Mr El-Rufai has distant blood relations with the Mallawa clan.
An immediate past Nigerian ambassador to Thailand and Myanmar, Mr Bamalli, a descendent of the late Emir Aliyu Dan-Sidi, is the closest Zazzau prince to the powers-that-be in Kaduna. He was appointed ambassador in 2017 at the instance of Mr El-rufai who had earlier appointed him commissioner in the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission.
Mr Bamalli’s Achilles’ heel, however, is his distant connection to the throne as his family line has not occupied the position for a long time. He is the only one among the major contestants whose father did not occupy the emir’s stool.
Mr Ja’afaru has a long-standing relationship with Mr Buhari and a horde of other elites from the region.
While traditional institutions in the north are said to be backing Mr Ja’afaru for the position, Mr Bamalli’s strongest support from the cycle is from his long-time friend, the deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.
Mr Sanusi, a close ally of Mr El-Rufai, flew into Nigeria from the UK immediately after Mr Idris’s death in what some watchers believed was a move to closely put pressure on the governor to pick Mr Bamalli for the position.