Opinion: El-Rufai’s Chief of Staff as the 19th Emir of Zazzau

by Umar Ismail

Amidst an unusual yet contrived delay and seemingly engineered controversy around the choice by the kingmakers and approval of the Kaduna state government of the appointment of the 19th Emir of Zazzau; speculations are ripe yesterday evening that governor El-Rufa’i is deep-neck into another round of scheming, to see to the emergence of his current Chief of Staff (CoS), Mal. Muhammad Sani Dattijo, as the next Emir.

He will do that – it is believed – to make sure of complete loyalty from the Emirate, and possibly safeguard the throne from future unforeseen rebellion against his well oiled ambition of making Kaduna state his political estate even after leaving office for a very long period – determining who gets what in the state’s economic and political equation.

If this is true, Muhammad Sani Dattijo may indeed have come into consideration with a very impressive CV. He is a Zazzau Prince from the Barebari Dynasty, a grandchild of Dalhatu Dan Yero, the 16th Fulani Emir of Zazzau and 2nd Emir under the British rule. Five of his direct grandparents down to Dalhatu have been Emirs. In the event he of his enthronement, he will be the first Emir to be having more forebears who once sat on the throne than any other in recent history.

Whether this makes for more legitimacy or not in terms of history, chronology or the prevailing cultural standards; or whether we want to see an Emir, at these times, who has more number of grandparents who have been there should be left to pundits with the necessary expertise in the multilayered issues. But even when other modern realities of leadership are factored in, such as the criteria seen in the purported leaked report from the kingmakers, upon which they are said to have made the recent recommendations making the news, it can be said he has every qualifications to be on the exalted throne of his ancestors, in excess.

However, it is legitimate for some of us to entertain fears that the governor may risk going outside of the boundaries of the present laws and traditions to effect his wishes in this regard. Just as the institution during both colonial and precolonial times, have, in few instances, been known for violating its norms and standards in selecting and appointing Emirs.

The case of Muhammadu Lawal Kwasau in 1897 who confiscated the throne against the wishes of the Sultan of Sokoto and the kingmakers, appointing himself as the Emir, is there. In 1937 after Ibrahim Kwasau, the British brought in a new norm that saw to the emergence of Ja’afaru as Emir against the usual practice of the time to select and appoint someone whose biological direct father have been Emir. Jaafaru’s father had not been but grandfather. Prior to that they have once allowed Galadima Salmanu and Waziri Yusufu to take part in the contest for the Emirship even when they don’t have blue blood.

Government or authorities or people in charge can always change the rules in the middle of the race. This is the true meaning of power. Also statuses and edicts are naturally believed to be subject to the manipulation of the brave, daring and smart policymakers and people. But these are periods of anxiety for both Nigeria and Kaduna State with many sparking points of security concerns.

El-Rufa’i risks exacerbating the crisis of reputation of his administration if he tries to do anything funny with the popular mandate given to him by the people of Kaduna State. He should remember that none of the standard rules the state government put in place for the selection and appointment of the Emir of Zazzau, so far, saw his new anointed Chief of Staff indicating interest for the throne of his forebears. His application is not on record. He was not screened by the kingmakers. The public is not aware of his scores against the criteria put in place for the choice even when the report of the kingmakers’ choice was leaked.

Therefore it is illogical as well as unfair for the Chief of Staff to be smuggled into this contest from the backdoor in the name of protecting a speculative urban Empire and a political dynasty on a foundation of clay. Process and procedures so far only consider Iyan Zazzau Bashir Aminu, Yeriman Zazzau Munir Ja’afar and Turakin Zazzau Aminu Idris as legitimate options. It is Allah that give power and it is He that protects and perpetuates it for whoever He gives.


Ismail is a public commentator living in Zaria and can be reached @ [email protected]


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One Comment

  1. Ibrahim Danfulani

    [email protected]
    Conflict of interest from both kingsmakers, Government and the traditional ruled houses.
    If this was an Elections; Yariman Zazzau for long will have been sworned because the massas known the Best that stood for them day after day.
    Well still praying for the best, I urged both parties to Lillahi Wahidun Qarhar in their decision.

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