Kingmakers of the Zazzau Emirate in Kaduna State have excluded Ahmed Bamalli, a man considered as the closest prince to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, from the list of nominees for the vacant seat of Emir of Zazzau.
The race is on to replace Shehu Idris, the monarch who died on Sunday after occupying the throne for over 45 years.
Parts of the report prepared by the five kingmakers, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, show that the kingmakers screened and forwarded only three names, from which the governor is expected to make a choice.
This newspaper gathered that eight princes wrote to the kingmakers to indicate interest in the position.
Sources familiar with the process confirmed the decision of the kingmakers to this newspaper.
The kingmakers are Wazirin Zazzau, Ibrahim Aminu, Makaman Zazzau, Muhammad Abbas, Fagachin Zazzau, Umar Muhammad, Limamin Gari, Dalhatu Kasim, and Limamin Kona Muhammad Aliyu.
Attempts to speak with the chairman of the five-man kingmakers’ committee, the Wazirin Zazzau, Ibrahim Aminu, on Friday were unsuccessful as he did not answer calls placed to his known number.
The three-page report gave its verdict on the two-stage selection process followed on three princes. Those graded were the Iyan Zazzau, Bashar Aminu; the Yariman Zazzau, Munir Ja’afaru; and the Turakin Zazzau, Aminu Idris.
The report stated that those vying for the post were graded on seven parameters.
The parameters and the marking scheme were; minimum qualification (BSc or HND) – 15 per cent; experience as a district head – 20 per cent; experience in public service – 10 per cent; no proven adverse report – 10 per cent; relationship with the public (tolerance/community relationship) – 15 per cent; national award – 5 per cent and physical fitness – 10 per cent.
In grading the three shortlisted candidates based on these criteria, the kingmakers scored Mr Aminu 89 per cent, Mr Ja’afaru 87 per cent, and Mr Idris 53 per cent.
At the level of personal votes, three of the kingmakers voted for Mr Aminu while Messrs Ja’afaru and Idris got a vote each.
A surprise candidate, unexpected result
Palace sources in Zaria told PREMIUM TIMES Mr Aminu staged a last minute surprise after initially feigning disinterest in the process.
Informed sources said Mr Aminu was also not the favourite of his Katsinawa dynasty as the clan presented the eldest son of the late emir as their choice.
This newspaper earlier reported Mr Aminu’s advantage as the most entrenched of the princes jostling for the throne.
He was the longest-serving titleholder among the contenders, having first been appointed in 1978. He was also the district head of Sabon Gari until 2018.
Another major factor that is said to have worked in Mr Aminu’s favour is his large financial chest.
As a member of the Katsinawa clan, Mr Aminu’s ascension will be a perpetuation of the clan over the others as the Katsinawa has had a stretch on the throne lasting for 61 years.
It was a surprise that Mr Aminu polled ahead of Mr Ja’afaru, believed to have the goodwill of President Muhammadu Buhari and a large section of the political and business elite.
The major surprise in the turn of events is however the exclusion of Mr Bamalli from the shortlist.
The immediate past Nigerian ambassador to Thailand is believed to be closest to Governor El-Rufai.
Mr El-Rufai was instrumental to Mr Bamalli’s ambassadorial appointment in 2017 having earlier served in his administration.
Mr El-Rufai is now left to decide between the three princes, according to custom.
The governor had on Thursday reiterated that the decision on who becomes the emir rests with him.
“The kingmakers recommend but ultimate responsibility to choose rests on my humble self I must be knowledgeable about the process as the aspirants and kingmakers,” the governor wrote on his verified Facebook page.
A source in Kaduna government house, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the governor will subject the nominees to security vetting.
PREMIUM TIMES also gathered that the governor had convened a security meeting early on Friday ahead of a meeting with the Zazzau kingmakers.