Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai is coming under intense pressure from different quarters as the race to succeed late Emir of Zazzau Alhaji Shehu Idris enters defining moment.
Dateline Nigeria learnt that princes who have indicated interest in sitting on the Zazzau ancient throne are reaching out to influential Nigerians to make a case for them to the governor, who has a final say on who becomes the new emir.
Already, the council of Kingmakers had communicated its recommendations to the governor with three names – Iyan Zazzau Alhaji Bashar Aminu, Yariman Zazzau Alhaji Munir Jafaru, and Turakin Zazzau Alhaji Aminu Shehu Idris.
However, the friends of the governor are reportedly mounting pressure on him to include Magajin Gari Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli, who is also said to be El-Rufai’s favorite, even though he got no vote from the kingmakers.
“This [non inclusion of Magajin Gari] is basically what is causing the delay. The governor couldn’t believe that Magajin Gari was edged out and is now looking for a way of bringing him back.
“That is why the governor said 11 princes are under consideration despite the fact that the kingmakers had trimmed the list to just three. We are however watching,” Balarabe Ali Muchiya, a keen follower of activities in the Zazzau emir’s palace told Dateline Nigeria.
He added that the governor’s decision can make or mar the emirate.
Sources also informed Dateline Nigeria that the names of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen TY Danjuma are among those being circulated as supporting the candidacy of Turakin Zazzau Aminu Shehu Idris, who is the eldest son of the late emir.
Yariman Zazzau Munir Jaafaru is said to be enjoying the support of former military president Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and former Minister of Defence Aliyu Gusau among others.
“The level of interest as to who becomes the new Emir of Zazzau is unbelievable. Even the governor is begging for prayers for him to make the right choice. So may Almighty Allah decide what is best for all of us,” Nura Sani, a resident of Zaria, said.
‘Only God’s choice is perfect’
Commenting on the process, a former Federal Permanent Secretary, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said, “With due deference for the need to be thorough, it is important to remind Gov el-Rufai that only God’s choice is perfect. The longer the process is delayed, the more widespread the speculations that govt is looking for its own Emir, not the Emir of Zazzau. There is history here too.
“There are only the kingmakers, the candidates and the governor involved in this process. No decision will please everybody. Millions are waiting to see if due process, justice and respect for tradition have influenced the decision, not short-term political gains or personal whims.”
Also commenting, a lecturer at the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Suleiman A. Suleiman wrote, “El-Rufai knows very well that he has already made up his mind who to select, but is trying to shore up support for his choice by pretending that the process of his selecting the new Emir has been deliberative and systematic, even if, in reality, it might have been arbitrary, since he has the power to choose whichever prince he wants. And that is where the problem begins.
“He has now been preempted by newspaper stories about the three nominees screened by the Zazzau kingmakers. The whole country now knows who the three nominees are, what criteria were used to grade them, and what points each scored.
“That means the Governor’s choice is now restricted to those three. If he chooses anyone outside of these three princes, he’ll be open to accusations of bias and arbitrariness, or of political favouritism. The same charges can be made if the Governor selects the candidate with the lowest score.
“My guess is that either one of the three nominees or someone with interest in their nomination leaked the kingmakers’ report to the press to call off El Rufai’s political bluff and showmanship. I hope that the whole process comes to an end peacefully. But there is a lesson in this for our political leaders: stop playing infantile politics with serious issues.”