Palace Watch

30 Years on Throne: How Mai Gwari is viewed by his subjects.

By Gabriel Omonhinmin

His Royal Highness Mallam Zubair Jibrilu Abubakar is the Mai-Gwari Traditional Ruler of Birnin-Gwari in Kaduna State, North-West Nigeria.

The 74 years old Mai-Gwari, who is very reserved, urban and highly educated, usually watches developments in his kingdom and the country with philosophical calmness.

On Saturday, 30th April 2022 the Mai-Gwari marked his 30 years on the throne. He was 44 years when he ascended the throne.

Although he holds very strong views on the socio-economic and political developments in the country, the Emir of Birnin-Gwari seldomly speaks on any issue because of his past ugly experiences, for speaking the truth to government. But whenever he chooses to speak about national issues, he is blunt and makes no pretence about it.

In April 2021 during the North-West Conference entitled “The State of the Nation and Contemporary Challenges in Nigeria,” organized by the Arewa Research and Development Project, (ARDP) at Savanah Center in Kaduna, the Monarch lashed out at Nigerian politicians describing them as greedy and opportunist.

The Emir said, “Some politicians have capitalized on the high level of illiteracy and poverty among the people, to attain power.”

He stated that “I have said this on so many occasions and so it’s easy for me now to repeat what I have said in the past here. He then asked, “Why do we have failed politicians running local, state and federal governments? This problem could be traced to the people we consider to be politicians in our various localities.

“In every area of the country, majority of the people, who pretend to be politicians, stakeholders, party chairmen and delegates in most elections, can’t, in all honesty, be regarded as politicians in the true meaning of the word. As they are simply greedy and opportunistic in everything they do.

“This is part of the reasons, the country is not making any meaningful progress politically and economically as expected. Nigerian politicians do not care about the people in their immediate environment. All they want is to make money no matter how distastefully and degrading the process could be. They do this because they want the generality of the people to continually troop to their homes for pittance and hand out. This is not supposed to be.”

Mai-Gwari stressed that “Nigerian politicians use three things to subjugate the generality of the people in the country. They deliberately capitalized on the high level of illiteracy prevalent among the people. Knowing that it is very easy for the masses to be deceived and exploited once they are in that state in any society. Secondly, politicians again take undue advantage of the high level of poverty among the people and thirdly, very many of these politicians exhibit an unrestrained level of greed, which is shameful and un-Godly. These three qualities are so prevalent among our politics, thus making it very difficult for the country to have a workable political system that takes care of welfare and well-being of the people.”

An indigene of Birnin-Gwari, who simply wants to be identified as Al’Amin said, the Mai-Gwari forthrightness had made him an enemy to most people in the corridor of power. That is why the Emir of recent is maintaining a very low profile, so as not to continuously run into trouble with the power that be.

He continued, “Our Emir has a very rich background, he is one of the very few educated traditional leaders in modern day Northern Nigeria. If we had a good government in place, he needed to be consulted occasionally on several issues, before major decisions in our state, sadly this is never the case as we speak.

“His Royal Highness holds a first degree in English Language from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He was among the first set of Nigerians that did the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 1973. He served in the defunct Mid-Western Nigeria that is now Edo and Delta State. Thereafter he lectured at the College of Arts, Science and Technology, in Zaria. From there, he was transferred to Kufena College to teach English and Literature. He rose to become a Senior lecturer before going to Government Secondary School, Fadan Kaje, in Southern Kaduna. He was appointed the Vice Principal in 1975. In the year 1977, he was posted to Rimi College in that same capacity as Vice-Principal. He was asked to open the first day secondary school in the North as its Principal. It was that same school that was later converted to be Tafawa Balewa way, Kaduna, which now metamorphosed into the Kaduna State University today.

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“Our Emir as a young dashing teacher then was later transferred to the Kaduna State Scholarship Board as its Secretary in 1979. From there, he was again moved to the State Ministry of Education, while still in the State Ministry of Education, he was among the team that was mandated to establish Secondary Schools across the length and breadth of Kaduna state. An assignment he carried out with his team, with lots of diligence and efficiency.”

Al’Amin added that “In 1981, the Emir whose name had become a household name in Kaduna state, was again pressurized to go into politics, unlike now, just because the people wanted a quality representation. It was then he became an active member of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) the then political party for the Talakawa, the downtrodden. After the un-ceremonial impeachment of Balarabe Musa as the Governor of Kaduna State for not yielding to the underhand tactics of the majority members of the NPN led Kaduna House of Assembly, Abba Musa Rimi took over as the Governor of the State. It was then that Mai-Gwari was first appointed as the State Commissioner for Economic Planning. He was thereafter appointed again as the State Commissioner for Education. It was in that same year he contested for the Kaduna Central Senatorial seat, and he lost to the candidate of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Although there was obvious manipulation of that election, he did not contest the election in court, he went on to do other things. Just because he wanted to serve the people and not take undue advantage of them, as is the case today.

“The Mai-Gwari almost immediately got a job with the Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited (PAN) as Assistant General Manager (AGM) Commercial.

“When the Military Government led by General Muhammadu Buhari struck, Mai-Gwari was among the persons arrested in 1984 and thrown into Kaduna prison, just because he served in the civilian government overthrown by the Military Government then. Mai-Gwari spent a year in Kaduna prison and was released in 1985. Some years after his release from the Kaduna prison, that was when he ascended the throne of his ancestors and became the Mai-Gwari of Birnin-Gwari. Since his ascension to the throne, Mai-Gwari had provided leadership in all ramifications of life. This we are most grateful about.” He concluded.

Speaking in the same vein, Mallam Zubair Abdura’uf Idris, who is the Danmasani of Birnin-Gwari, says “the Emir’s thirty years on the throne, had shown beyond any reasonable doubts, that he is a true leader not just a ruler of his people.”

He stated, “Twice, the Mai-Gwari was queried for saying the truth and reflecting the feelings of the people in his Emirates over the insecurity situation in Kaduna. The insecurity the Mai-Gwari complained about then, had eventually grown today to become a national embarrassment. The Danmasani Birnin-Gwari said, it is gratifying to note, that after so many years, the powers that be kept on denying the exact security situation in Kaduna State, the Emir” has been vindicated.

Zubair regretted that “After fifteen years of the persistent assaults on our people and economy, resurfacing of criminality in the Birnin-Gwari axis of Kaduna State, which went on, for a very long time unchallenged, the entire state, has now become the epic-centre of kidnapping, armed banditry and all manners of crimes, which are now threatening the peace of the country.”

The Danmasani Birnin-Gwari said the Emir is highly regarded by his brother Emirs across Northern Nigeria, because of his forthrightness. Saying the Mai-Gwari has consistently followed the virtues of the revered Sheikh Usman Danfodio. The Emirs in question admire the Mai-Gwari’s deep knowledge of Islamic tenets, as he adjudicated on matters among his subjects which he regularly leads in congregational prayers.

He concluded, that the Mai-Gwari’s humility, and consistency in whatever he does, stand him out among his peers wherever he goes. Thus bringing honour and glory to the entire Birnin-Gwari people and Emirates.

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