The Oasis Reporters
November 30, 2019
The Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) is the socio-cultural body that has brought the peoples of Southern Kaduna together. SOKAPU evolved from the ashes of another body now defunct called NERZIT meaning (Our People). This name was put together from the way many of the peoples of the geographical space known as Southern Kaduna identify their people and neighbours with whom they share a common identity or affinity.
Growing up as a child in my village, I recall seeing an almanac hanging on a nail in my father’s parlour with the title NERZIT. Because we ( the people of Southern Kaduna) belong together and sharing almost the same culture, beliefs and tradition, we have been known to think and act in unison. This has, or is bad news to our detractors who have been bent on throwing spanners in the works.
It is generally thought by people who are yet to be aware of our uniqueness as a people to be of the Hausa lineage much in the same manner we used to group everyone in the former Eastern Region as Igbo or everyone from the West as Yoruba. The realities of the Civil War years, largely change this perception . Our people speak Hausa as a second language. As a result of the differences in language, culture and religious beliefs, the geographical space making up Southern Kaduna used to the hunting ground for Hausa slave traders but the people put up very stiff resistance against the slave hunters. The people of Southern Kaduna largely rejected the Hausa people and the religion they sought to compel the people to adopt. This is not to say that a few of our people were not coerced into becoming Muslims particularly during the period of internal colonialism in the then Northern Nigerian government.
As a result of the resistance our people put up, they have serially been viewed as inconsequential, neglected and maligned for most of our recent history. Little wonder then that this zone has consistently gotten far less that it actually deserves in virtually every aspect of governance. In the area of State creation, this area is big enough to have been carved out into a State but no, it must be an adjunct to the northern part so that oppression can continue. When it came to the creation of Local Council areas, this imbalance clearly was preserved. If Zangon Kataf, Kachia or Birnin Gwari were to be in Katsina or Kano States, not less than 7 local councils would have been created out of them. By so doing, developmental projects are almost non existent in the area and our people have continued to be viewed with utter disdain.
The situation has never been as bad as during the current dispensation. Even though for the first time back in 2015 general election, many of our people voted for the opposition APC which eventually took power nationally and in Kaduna State but even at that, next to nothing accrued to our people. Rather than reaching out to the area to encourage them to vote in even larger numbers in subsequent elections, the governor had apparently drawn a line to do battle with the area.
First was the climate of insecurity which was unleashed on the area as if it was pre arranged. Fulani jihadists masquerading as herdsmen moved into the area in large numbers armed with AK 47s and with these, visited death and destruction on our hapless people. As Chief Security Officer of the State, rather than taking all steps possible to restore peace, the Oga embarked on incendiary and highly combustible rhetoric against the people. During the period, he without evidence or any other justification in a television interview made it very clear that our people are trouble makers while threatening to arrest the financiers which he failed to name. He ended the interview with a promise not to engage with the leadership of SOKAPU. Pursuant to the threat, many of our people have been in and out of his gulag.
The dictator did not stop there as he made sure he had SOKAPU and well within his viewing lens. The level of naivety is most unprecedented because whilst similar socio cultural organizations are free to operate and have the ears of government, not so for SOKAPU. If the Mallam must know, the people of Southern Kaduna have retained their pride and no dictatorship and in particular a 21st Century variant of dictatorship can force our proud people to grovel on the floor because they seek his recognition. Our people will never do that. By our actions or inactions, history is made. We believe that we are walking along the paths of honour and that history is recording the theatrics of the dictatorship. In another 3 years to come, the dictator would have been swept off his feet whether he is ready to leave or not.
This essay is mine and not the viewpoint or perspective of SOKAPU.
Written by Col. Dauda Gora (rtd).
He writes from Kaduna.