Suleija and the Heir to Zazzau Emirate: Why El-Rufai Must Correct History

By Mairo Muhammad Mudi

AREWA AGENDA – As I have written in my Hausa column in Leadership Hausa, I still want to emphasize my request here to the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-rufai to consider some sons of Suleja among the contenders to the Zazzau throne. I decided to direct this request to you because you’ve always granted the requests of Suleja people in the past and I pray this won’t be an exception.

Two historical events informed this request, one is on the origin of Suleja and the second involves his Excellency directly.

One of the sons of Suleja Mai Zabi wrote that Suleja is the original ruling house of Zazzau to search for a new Emir of Zaria Zazzau.

Following the death of Sarkin Zazzau Alhaji (Dr) Shehu Idris last Sunday, the Zazzau Kingmakers are charged with the task of selecting a new Sarkin Zazzau from among the descendants of the ruling houses of Katsina Fulanis, Borno Fulanis and Mali Fulanis.

While wishing the Kingmakers a successful assignment, I couldn’t help reflecting on the circumstances of the descendants of the original house ruling Zazzau.

Let us begin first with a background information for the reader on the ‘overthrow’ of the original Hausa sarakuna of Zazzau consequent upon the Sokoto Jihad.

The Fulani Jihadists attacked the last Hausa Sarki of Zazzau at the eid ground while he was attending Sallar Idi Ƙarama (after the month of Ramadan fasting) outside the walls of the Zaria city, armless and harmless, leaving them with only one viable option.

“It happened to be the day of the Ƙaramar Sallah (Eid al Fitr) festival and the Sarki, attended by his followers and all the Muslims of the city, had ridden forth as usual to the ceremonial prayer-ground outside the city walls. While there, they were surprised by Musa’s cavalry and their retreat into the city cut off. Being unarmed they were unable to stand and fight and so they had no choice but to flee. The great city of Zaria, therefore, fell to the Fulani with hardly a blow having been struck”
— HAS Johnson, 1967, The Fulani Empire of Sokoto, OUP. 312p.

1. Muhammadu Makau became the 60th Sarki of Zazzau in 1802 and was a devout Muslim.

2. Malam Musa, a Fulani from Mali (Patriach of the Mallawas), led the Jihad in Zazzau.

Makau and his people fled first to Kauru, then Kajuru and ended up at Zuba. He was succeeded by his brother Abu-ja.

Abuja became a vast and beautiful land and during the regime of General Murtala Muhammmad, the Federal Government put forth two requests. The first was for the Abuja Emirate to forfeit a great part of its land for the creation of the new Nigerian Federal capital. The second request was for Abuja to surrender its name to the new capital as well. Both requests were granted without any preconditions and the people had to pick another name for their Emirate, which is Sule-ja, named after the then emir, Alhaji Sulemanu Barau.

Some of us, the youth then, were irked by this decision to hand over our identity and heritage to the country without any compensation or recognition. This agitation came about because some ministries were claiming the ownership of some vast lands at the heart of Suleja but some of our elders claimed that they were only given to them temporarily. But then, while moving out of places like where FCDA started operating their offices in Dawaki, NTA station in GRA, they removed all their installations to their new place in Garki and made a massive mess of the once beautiful GRA and still claimed the land was and is still theirs.

What hurts us most is the case of Field Base where most of the staff of Abuja lived in prior to their relocation to Sbuja. The Galadiman Zazzau, Alhaji Muhammmad Rabiu Ishaq met the then Minister of Abuja, Malam Nasir El-rufai to cry for help in respect of Field Base by telling him that there was evidence that the land was borrowed not given like Abuja. Malam asked Galadima to back up this claim with evidence.

My investigation revealed that Galadima went to the Archives in Minna and spent days searching for the papers and his efforts eventually paid off and he immediately brought the agreement to the Minister who, in his characteristic manner, didn’t waste time in giving back the Field Base to Suleja. This action endeared us to El-rufai and, personally, I remain grateful to him for this.

This also gives me the courage to still ask Malam Nasir El-rufai to correct the injustice done to Suleja people, the real owners of Zaria.

To anyone reading this, I know you may think my request is absurd, I also know it is difficult to correct this history but I know El-rufai is just, active and compassionate, he is sure going to look at this issue and come up with something, even if placatory.

The other day in a group I share with so many friends from Kaduna, I jokingly told them to lend us El-rufai but they robbed it on my face that, he belongs only to Kaduna State. I am using this space to tell them that, if history should be dug deeply, El-rufai’s decendancy from Suleja will, most probably be, unearthed. And when we eventually get Suleja State, even though we are not agitating for it, he may become our governor. This is a world where anything is possible!

I am using this opportunity to extend our condolence to his Excellency Governor El-rufai, our blood brothers and sisters in Zaria, Kaduna state and Nigeria as a whole for this loss of the great emir of Zazzau.

May Allah give you the wisdom to choose the emir that will bring peace and harmony to the Zazzau land. Most importantly, the one that can recognize the injustice that history subjected and is still subjecting us to with the creation of Abuja.
Disclaimer: This is purely my opinion, I am not representing anyone or group. Thank you.

My submission:
Extending the search for the new Sarkin Zazzau to Suleja for me is not a bad idea as Suleja royalties are the first and the most authentic descendents of the ruling house in the history of Zazzau.

What is on the way is to seize this opportunity to shed light on the circumstances that led to the transition from Hausa to Fulani rule.

Agenda is a Publication of young writers from Northern Nigeria towards Peaceful Coexistence and National Development through positive narratives.

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