Splendour is, of course, an eternally subjective concept. But there is an enduring archetype of fairy-tale regality associated with royalty everywhere.
Conceptually, glamour has an unusual inclination to go hand-in-hand with royalty and aristocracy. And as the world sees many classic princes and princesses born into, or married into the noble class, it is also made to embrace a unique and rare breed royals and aristocrats on account of their air of distinction, grace and of course natural gait.
Alhaji Muhammad Munir Jaafaru, the Zazzau aristocrat and prince, one of northern Nigeria’s most fascinating royal personalities, falls among this rare category. He is the only male child of Malam Jaafaru Dan Isiyaku, the 16th Emir of Zazzau, who reigned from 1937 to 1959 as administrative head of Zaria Native Authority which consisted of 17 districts and died when Munir was only three years old.
Munir went through the rigours of seeking both Islamic and Western education just like every humble child would, and rose steadily to become something of a celebrity in Zazzau, with an incredibly elegant style, timeless yet modern at the same time, that introduced a whole new dimension to the world of royalty and drastically raised the stakes several notches beyond the reach of most Zazzau nobles.
Resplendent in his flowing princely robes and turban, surrounded by notable loyal friends as the Kulliyan Zazzau Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, backed by colourfully dressed courtiers, cheered by an assortment of musicians, watched by keen mounted guards, and protected from the sun by a large native straw hat symbolizing the one worn by his father, Munir has stolen the show at each Sallah durbar in Zazzau for several years.
Beyond the glamour and pomp, Munir is a certified lawyer, a technocrat, and administrator, with multiple accomplishments including chairing the Board of Directors of Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited, the Nigerian Unity Bank and heading the National Maritime Authority.
Munir, the current holder of the title of Madaki, strictly reserved for outstanding crown princes in the order and tradition established by the 19th-century reform of Shehu Usman Danfodiyo, was first crowned Yariman Zazzau by the late Emir of Zazzau Shehu Idris in 1995, and made District Head of Hanwa, Sabon-Gari, Zaria.
His studied and dignified reserve in refusing to engage in the altercations that characterized the succession bid following the death of Amir Shehu Idris, further propelled his profile standing him out among northern Nigerian nobles as the bulwark of princely respect, integrity, dignity, decorum, tradition, decency, morality, civilization, etiquette, good behaviour, politeness, accommodation, and all other positive traits.
Unarguably, by every standard of justification, this decent show of leadership, sacrifice, statesmanship, patriotism and unwavering commitment to the sustenance of the emirate values of Zazzau, has few parallels in northern Nigerian traditional history.
A 1991 Alumnus of the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), Munir began his career as lecturer in the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and later worked at the then Nigeria Universal Bank.
The Prince served as commissioner at various times in different ministries of Kaduna State, including those of Local Government and Community Development, Information, Home Affairs and Culture. At one time, he oversaw the office of the Attorney General of Kaduna state thus covering both the Ministry of Justice and that of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The eminently popular Yeriman Zazzau, now Madaki, served at the federal level first as secretary of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in 1990 and as Director-General of the National Maritime Authority, from 1992 to 1996.
While serving as the DG of the Maritime Authority, he was also the chairman of the Nigerian Unity Bank, Director of the FSG Bank International and Director of Leasing Company of Nigeria.
Prince Munir went fully into law practice in October 1992 setting up a law chamber and consultancy company while holding appointments as chairman of AG Alliance Insurance Company and NEM Insurance Company and directorship of several other organizations.
He served as Chairman, National Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) from 2001-2004 during which he initiated the Faniso project in Kano State and commissioned the Calabar Export Processing Zone.
At various other times, the Prince had served as the President, Kaduna Chambers of Commerce, Industry Mines & Agriculture (KADCCIMA), and several Federal/State committees and Non-Governmental Organizations.
A passionate believer in the organic links between generations, Munir has over time, made himself always available for young people, and it is no exaggeration to say that the entire youth of Zazzau look up to him as mentor, a guardian, a living history and an embodiment of all the exemplary qualities they should strive to achieve.
Munir’s investiture on Friday, March 5, 2021 as Commander of the Knights of the Emirate by the 19th Emir of Zazzau, Ambassador Ahmad Nuhu Bamalli, marked the seal of recognition for his exceptional record of contributions in Zazzau, Kaduna State and Nigeria, at large.
The new Madakin Zazzau, Malam Muhammadu Munir Jaafaru has so far proven to be an exceptionally loyal royal for all northern nobles to draw inspiration from, and to strive, in all they do, to live by the personal and social values and standards he lives and sets for himself as prince, as citizen, as subject, and as leader.
Suleiman, a journalist, wrote this piece from Abuja