Updated: Oct 27, 2021
On Monday the 9th of November 2020, Governor El-Rufa'i presided over the coronation of the Emir of Zazzau. This event marked the end of what could be seen as phase 1 of a serial drama comprising episodes in which the Governor alone featured as the major character setting the play moments after the death of the last Emir.
From the onset, the Governor appeared to be playing according to the script when he stood up and announced to thousands of audience during the third-day prayer for the late Emir that in appointing the next Emir he will do nothing but respect the choice of the Zazzau kingmakers according to the history and traditions of the people of Zazzau. It ended there. That was the only act and the only statement he got right and according to the original script.
Everything else he did or said throughout the remaining episodes have been either the result of his inability to capture the essence of his office or the natural consequences of his psychological makeup or the product of the chemistry between him and some actors in the play or the inevitable outcome of his obsession with vengeance and malice.
Emboldened by his public pronouncement, however perfidious, to do the right thing, the kingmakers made a choice following the established traditions and in tune with the requisites of the history and traditions of king making in Zazzau, and the political system and political relations determining political participation in Zazzau emirate as in all major emirates in the defunct Sokoto Caliphate.
No sooner than he got the kingmakers choice, he pulled off garb, came out of his disguise and retracted his commitment in a bizarre way. Then came from him a comical public statement about reading a book, seeking guide from it on how to appoint the new Emir. The kingmakers choice is jettisoned!
Finding nothing in the books he claimed to read to underpin his rejection of the kingmakers choice, he called them for the second round of selection which ended again with the same choice as in the first. The Governor then suddenly realized he got himself boxed into a corner. Then came the silence. And for three weeks or so, the kingdom was held in suspense waiting for the enthronement of a new emir. And when it came, it was to be not the choice of the kingmakers from whose votes the legitimacy to occupy the throne is driven since in the minds and eyes of the people of the kingdom the votes of the kingmakers is vox populi, and thus, vox dei.
What was more shocking was to come to know that the choice of the new Emir was influenced not by the respect for the sanctity of the voice of the people as expressed in the votes of the kingmakers, nor by any such exigencies as unity, harmony and fair play. The choice is by the disingenuous personal preferences of the Governor and the overbearing liability of a deposed emir lacking distinction in the context of royalty. That is the only person, Sanusi Lamido, who the Governor looks up to for inspiration.
Sanusi LAmido is still nursing the pains of deposition, this overbearing liability has cast for himself an image of versatility in the intellectual realm effectively deceiving those who either did not care about the essence or those simply gullible. Unfortunately, Governor El-Rufa'i falls into the former.
What the Governor did or did not do in the matter of the appointment of the Emir of Zazzau is now subject of litigation in the court of law as it is of discourse in the court of public opinion. But the most dangerous of all his actions in this regard is a statement he made trying to justify what he did wrong.
The Emir he appointed will soon come face to face with the reality of the skewed process the Governor used in appointing him. By the action of his benefactor, the hitherto apolitical throne of Zazzau is now dragged into and brought under the whims of political actors in the state who could decide, on the exigencies of the moment, using whatever reason tenable in their imagination, who occupies the throne. He may live to continuously get out of his way to seek favour from politicians to secure his stay on the throne.
A permanent secretary in the state civil service is in a more secure position with limited accessibility from politicians. He will later come to appreciate that what had just happened as regard to his appointment and the bad blood it generated will travel long and far in favour of those it is hurting today. He will, someday, as the clocks are striking midnight, while in his deepest and innermost recesses, come to appreciate that indeed El-Rufa'i was an ill wind that blew no one no good.
Back at home in the palace, the new Emir would have to deal with the bad blood the Governor had injected into social and political relations within the palace establishment and between and among dynastic lineages and the very important cults of ulamas and the army of Zaria city youths who would forever continue to see the Emir in the light of his benefactor- a rentier capitalist, insensitive, and uncaring leader lacking emotional intelligence (the ability to imagine the feelings and perspective of another person), who snubs the vulnerable and disrespects the revered.
As the Governor threatens to deal with anyone who withholds allegiance to his appointee, one sees an increasingly weak leader in him whose lack of wisdom about the forces that keep people together and those that tear them apart often leads him to resort to dictatorial tendencies in matters that are easily amenable given the required wisdom to handle them.
With this behaviour, the Governor has demonstrated his limited leadership skills, the inability to work with people who differs with his perspective, and lack of respect for the rule of law. These are the reasons the National Assembly used to ban him from holding any public office in 2008.