The Oasis Reporters
December 8, 2018
BEING A KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED AT SOUTHERN KADUNA CRITICAL STAKEHOLDERS MEETING ORGANISED BY SOKAPU ON THE 8TH DECEMBER, 2018 AT MARYAMU AND YAKUBU FOUNDATION MULTIPURPOSE HALL, U/WAKILI, ZANGO KATAF, KADUNA STATE.
By Fr. Williams Kaura Abba
I want to thank the leadership of Southern Kaduna People’s Union for the invitation to deliver the keynote address to this august assembly. My job is simple: to speak truthfully and boldly too to some of the issues as they affect us as a people. The phrase ‘some issues’ is advisedly used as it is practically impossible to exhaust all the issues affecting us in one fell swoop. It is hoped that from my presentation, we will be able to tease out the issues, have a conversation and from our conversation, resolve together to chart the way forward.
Truth is one. It is immutable and often, very painful. Our ability to confront the truth will either make or mar us as individuals and as a people. And if this gathering today must bear fruits, then our deliberations must be anchored on truth, sincerity and respect. Our energy must be devolved towards proffering solutions to the myriads of problems afflicting us as a people. To understand the way forward, we must necessarily know who we are and where we are. It is only when we grasp this that we can interrogate the past, interpret the present and prepare the future and courageously leap into it.
Southern Kaduna has always been in the spotlight, and very often for the wrong reasons. We had hardly recovered from the Fulani herdsmen vitriolic assault when suddenly the government we elected and trusted with our mandate chose to disdainfully treat us like we were a bunch of aliens and inconsequentials. It is therefore my considered opinion, that this gathering provides us ample opportunity to brainstorm and proffer solutions to the many challenges that hinder our growth and progress as a people.
Who are we?
We are proudly Nigerians of Southern Kaduna extraction. It is not an accident of history that we belong here. There are many schools of thought on the use of the term “Southern Kaduna”. Some authors say that it first came into regular use to refer to the Southern part of Kaduna state which officially came into being in 1987 when it was detached from Katsina province (Gudaku, 2017). Others insist, and I belong also to this school of thought, that the term came into official parlance after 1907 and referred to the districts belonging to the Southern division of Zaria province set up by the British colonial administration. The decision for this administrative change was caused by the persistent revolt against Muslim controlled Zaria by the confederation of Christian ethnic nationalities in the area, especially from 1901 onwards when British colonial forces conquered the territory. The intensity of ethnic resilience, couched in the context of Christian freedom from the alien Islamic-inspired forms of control from Zaria triggered a movement encouraging and bordering on separation. Consequently “Southern Kaduna” emerged as a socio-political identity encapsulating the struggle against the Muslim Hausa-Fulani hegemony, particularly as it relates to religion, politics and culture.
From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that the history of Southern Kaduna is a Pandora’s box of struggle: struggle against domination and subjugation. Southern Kaduna indigenes are not in any battle of supremacy with our Hausa Fulani compatriots. There has been all kinds of intrigues and conspiracy theories regarding ownership of this geographical location laying all kinds of spurious claims to ownership of land and other natural resources, indigeneship and socio-political rights as well as rights of traditional leadership, to mention but a few of the areas of potential conflict between the indigenes and Hausa-Fulani settlers.
It is the usage of the word “settlers” that unsettles our guests and has overtime become the very reason for which we spar. God in his benevolence strategically placed us here. There are approximately 63 ethnic groups in Southern Kaduna. It is the union of these ethnic groups that make us who we are. Each of these ethnic nationalities has its own unique cultural heritage and identity. Our culture makes us who we are. Culture is the spiritual form of society. It characterizes our social groups. This culture includes characteristic concepts, behavior, customs and traditions. And that is why any attempt by any governor or government to alter or deface our cultural heritage will meet stiff resistance. Our identities are embedded in our cultures and no ethnic group of Southern Kaduna extraction should watch idly while someone, no matter how powerful, assiduously works towards the extermination of our cultural heritage. This will be resisted, and fiercely too.
Pre and post colonial rule, the indigenous people of Southern Kaduna resisted an alien system of governance imposed on them. In 1450 -1850 it was the Sarauta System in Zazzau, then came the Emirate System in 1816-1903 and the Native Authority System in 1903-1930, and in all these periods, the indigenous people were marginalized and their land exploited (Gudaku, 2017). With the recent attempt of the government of Nasir El Rufai to rename our traditional institutions and the proscription of yet another, are we witnessing a repeat of what was started hundreds of years ago by those who sought to conquer us?
For us therefore, the term “Southern Kaduna” is no longer a mere geographical expression. Southern Kaduna is the psychology and identity of our people. It is the struggle of a people to liberate themselves from years of marginalization, social exclusion and domination by the Hausa-Fulani hegemony. So our discussion today must necessarily revolve around this struggle, whether it is from the prism of culture, religion or politics. The question on the lips of everyone here therefore should be, what kind of Southern Kaduna do we seek for ourselves, bequeath to our children and generations yet unborn?
Where we are
After all these years of struggle, what tangible evidence/results do we have to show? What collective good has accrued to us evidencing this struggle?
As a region, can we lay claim to making some progress?
What progress have we made by way of forging a strong bond of unity of purpose and brotherhood?
In other words, are we united as a people or we have allowed our ethnic differences to eat into the very fabric of our common humanity?
Infrastructurally, what do we have to show for all the years of struggle?
Politically, how has our active participation, every election circle helped to better the lives of our people? What institutional frameworks for the good of our people have we been able to put in place as dividends of years of active politicking?
The answer to these questions could be yes we have made some appreciable progress but we are far from attaining the ideal for which we seek for ourselves and our people. Yes, it is true that as a people, our level of consciousness has gone up and there is hardly anyone in Southern Kaduna who doesn’t appreciate our struggle and is desirous of keying into it. But how much has this consciousness been galvanized into actionable steps?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Yes it is true that we have made some inroads politically and have been elected and appointed into key offices in government.
But how much of this has translated into prosperity and physical development of our area?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Yes, it is true that Southern Kaduna indigenes have attained some of the highest military positions in the land. But how much of that has translated into recruitment for our young men and women to the effect that they have passed on the baton to the generations after them?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Yes it is true that Southern Kaduna is the engine room of civil service in the state and very many of our illustrious sons and daughters have made some forays/inroads at the national level.
But how much of this has translated into concrete and tangible development for our people?
Again, your answer is as good as mine.
So we are happy that the whole world knows about Southern Kaduna.
Yes, we are happy that some of our sons and daughters have helped to place us on the world map. Yes, we are happy that we have some structures to point at, as evidence of years of political consciousness and activity. Yes we are happy that from amongst our people, we have captains of industries and the movers and shakers of society. Yes, we can go on and on.
But in spite of this abundant blessings that have come our way, again, the million dollar question: where are we?
We seem to be going at a snail’s pace.
Many factors are responsible for this seeming slow progress: divisiveness and lack of cohesion and bickering amongst us, tribalism, the pull him/her down syndrome, greed, insecurity, lack of patriotism, lack of proper entrepreneurship and economic blue print leading to poverty etc.
Unsung heroes and selfless leaders of Southern Kaduna
The struggle for liberation was given preeminence by our fathers, many of them, we do not even remember their names. Although they are unsung, we must devote a few lines today to think about them and see how their selflessness, commitment and patriotism can prick our consciences and trigger anew, renewed love for our land and provoke in us, the quest to pick on the baton and continue with the struggle.
The story of this struggle today will not be complete without mentioning names like: late mallam Yanet Afuwai, late J.J. Labi, late Bitrus Duniya, late Galadima Kaningkong, late Chris Abashiya, late Aliyu Jema’a, late Engr Stephen Shekari, late Isaiah Balat, Late Sir Patrick Yakowa, late Charles Ali Madaki, late Yohana Madaki, late Col Yunana Nyan, late Bishop Joseph Bagobiri, late Rev. Musa Asake, etc etc. (a minute silence in their honor).
From their graves, when they turn to look at Southern Kaduna today, what will be their countenance looking down at us? One thing stood out very clear in each one of these leaders who have gone before us: they were detribalized, proud natives of Southern Kaduna. They were strict, selfless and gave their all in the struggle for Southern Kaduna. Many of them died in their penury and channeled all their energies in fighting for us. They have handed over the baton to us, present crop of southern Kaduna leaders and I hope, those of us who are the present crop of leaders have the capacity/tenacity to trudge on.
Realities in the present political dispensation in the state
We have an enfant terrible as governor of our dear state who is sparing no effort at making sure he enfeebles us. From his contradictory statements to his anti people policies and belligerent posture and outright lampooning of our people, it is easy to point at his trajectory.
Like the French Emperor, Louis XVI, he says L’etat c’est moi (I am the state). And because he is the state, anything he desires, is legal. He breaks conventional rules to achieve what he sets out to achieve. Now he is on an experimentation spree, he is trying his fingers with the Muslim-Muslim ticket like it doesn’t matter to him how an entire region feels. And make no mistake about it, once this absurdity flies, and he succeeds, then we are in for real trouble. Never in the history of our dear state have we witnessed this kind of divisive style of governance and misapplication of religion to further divide us.
Those of you around Zaria axis who listen to Hausa channels must have heard the many interviews he has granted and his justification for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. All he is doing now is whip up sentiments against us and make it appear like we really don’t matter. I don’t know which serious politician worth his onions will consider a whole zone as irrelevant to his political calculations. Well, the time to prove him right or wrong is here. You sure appreciate better the implications of another four years in the hands of Nasir El Rufai.
Meanwhile, we will not forget;
The sacking of primary school teachers and the hardship he subjected our people.
The sacking of our district heads and their humiliation.
The contempt with which he treated our institutions and our students.
The many lives lost on account of Fulani herdsmen attack for which the governor admitted complicity.
The deliberate attempt to unconstitutionally move Ladugga from Zango Kataf to Kachia LG.
The deliberate attempt to manipulate the political equation in favor of one ethnic group and religion over the other.
What meaningful projects do we have to show as evidence of a government that’s fair and balanced?
The Tragedy of Silence
A German Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) wrote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
These few lines by Pastor Martin, is an excellent encapsulation of our tragedy in Southern Kaduna. We seem to be cool with the idea of some ethnic groups being put through the crucible. In our very eyes, the Etum Numana and his wife were murdered by supposedly Fulani herdsmen. We didn’t hear any outrage from his immediate constituency, the traditional council. Then the Bigwom Kurmi, Dr Ishaku Damina was arrested and jailed and treated like a common criminal. Again, we didn’t hear any outrage. Next was the Agwam Ikulu, Mr Yohanna Kukah. He was violently abducted from his palace by notorious armed bandits. He spent days in the hands of his abductors until a ransom was paid. Again, we didn’t hear any outrage or protest.
Then the most recent gruesome murder of Agom Adara, Dr Maiwada Galadima who was abducted alongside his wife. His aides were killed right before the royal father and his wife. He was taken hostage. Days later, his wife was released. A ransom was paid but he was still assassinated and his body dumped like someone without royalty. Then few days after his burial, a gazette is sent to the house of assembly by the Governor announcing the dissolution of Adara Chiefdom and the creation of Kachia chiefdom to take care of the Adaras in Kachia and the creation of Kujama Emirate and compelling the Adaras from Kujama to submit themselves to the new Emir.
Till today, we have not yet heard a whimper or protest by the traditional Institution. Yet, they have an association of Southern Kaduna Traditional Rulers.
Why have our royal fathers suddenly lost their voices and caved in to the despotic tactics of the greatest instigator of impunity of our time?
Are they more interested in protecting their offices and the stipends at the detriment of protecting their domains and subjects?
By this time, we ought to have seen our royal fathers call out their subjects to protest the unjust and inhuman treatment of their counterparts from other chiefdoms. By this time, we ought to have seen our royal fathers take this battle to the government house denouncing the dehumanization of their counterparts. Not even a world press conference have they been able to call. Not even a paid advertorial from the newspapers have we read from our royal fathers.
What is happening?
If you don’t speak up, how do you expect the world to know what is being done to you? Now there is the subtle plan to dissolve some chiefdoms and rename some, all in the name of reforms. As if we are too daft to see through this fiendish tactic. So if you don’t speak out from your chiefdom and deluding yourselves that it doesn’t concern you, a time comes when there won’t be anyone to speak for you.
There is yet another deafening silence from those we elected and sent to represent us at the House of Assembly. I am just wondering how it is possible for a Governor to send bills that are clearly retrogressive and anti people and yet these bills get passed seamlessly without any dissenting voices. How is it possible that all our elected members get manipulated and suppressed like they were sent to become mere rubber stamp legislators? I expect that before giving your endorsement to any bill, that members would have returned to their constituencies to consult their constituents before returning to the house. But nowadays, we only get to hear bills of far reaching implications/consequences for people get passed surreptitiously without any robust debate. We must hold our members to account and ask them some serious questions. We understand that they are in the minority but being minority should never be an excuse for docility and cowardice.
Where do we go from here?
If we have to make any meaningful progress, we must unite. Unity is a sine qua non. This can never be negotiated. All of us, from our different ethnic groups, must come together to forge a common front. We must jettison the temptation to be used against one another. It was common then to hear that certain elites from some tribes could speak ill of other tribes before the government of the day and refer to them as troublemakers. It was even rumored that some elites deliberately worked towards reducing the number of some tribes at the last census just for political benefit. I just hope this is one of those bad jokes told about our people. If we are united and desire the good of one another, then we will make progress. A professor once said to me “show me a Christian gathering, and I will show you ethnicity”.
The example of the Yorubas should inspire us. Once you have 100 Yorubas in one place, whether they are Muslims or Christians, Ijebu or Egba, you will hardly notice the difference. This is not to assert that they do not disagree. But when it comes to matters of common interest, they drop their individual differences. So what affects any one from whatever tribe must become the concern of everyone.
Delineation of Polling Units
We must continue to put the issue of delineation of polling units on the front burner. It is an act of injustice and a deliberate plot to rig us from source if the question of polling units do not get addressed without further delay. How is it that a zone with far more population has fewer polling units while the other zones with far less demography and voting population has more polling units? We call on INEC and NPC to as a matter of urgency, give this expeditious attention. This is the only way to right the wrongs that have been orchestrated against us.
The Yorubas are said to be the most successful in legal practice. They have the highest number of SAN’s and the best law firms in Nigeria.
Afe Babalola alone is said to have mentored at least 17 lawyers to the rank of senior advocate of Nigeria. Mentorship is the reason Bola Tinubu is celebrated in the south West today. He has mentored many political sons and daughters to greatness and today he has assumed the role of a godfather and kingmaker. When you mentor someone, you are replicating yourself and successes in another person such that long when you are gone, you will be remembered. Very many influential southern Kaduna men and women are yet to imbibe mentoring. When you bring someone under your tutelage and mentor to greatness, you have left a bit of yourself in that person and if the mentee also does same, look at the impact it will create in the society. So in whatever area you have become great; military, business, politics, civil service, entertainment, etc, make sure you have people who will take after you long after you are gone.
This is the surest way to break away from the vicious circle of poverty. We can no longer pretend that government can provide everyone job opportunities. Our leaders that God has blessed with enormous resources, will have to find a way of channeling such wealth back home. Open up industries and build institutions where research will be promoted. This is one sure way to turn our region around.
We have seen how the Federal government has created millionaires from Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa and many other states in the North through the anchor borrowers’ scheme. Farmers were empowered and through this scheme, have been able to improve their economy.
In Kaduna state, the government also got huge allocation running into billions of Naira. How much of this did we see in the south?
In 2016/2017, billions of Naira came in for the state for this purpose and the Governor put these funds in the hands of Jimmy Lawal and Sabiu Sani. The pilot scheme was in Kubau and emphasis was on the cultivation of wheat and maize. Farmers from that axis made huge profit and definitely their economy got improved. El Rufai wanted to replicate this in Ladugga and directed that vast land be opened up so that southern Kaduna youth can also benefit from this. But knowing the risky/volatile nature of Ladugga, no southern Kaduna youth would want to risk it and naturally the anchor borrowers’ scheme went into voice mail. Since we are famous for ginger for example, one wonders why the anchor borrowers’ scheme was not extended to ginger and maize farmers so that our people will also benefit. But of course you know politics came in and it was thought that empowering our people this way was tantamount to giving us too much economic power that will further strengthen our resolve to call the bluff of government. So since government is not interested in empowering us, instead of putting those billions of Naira in supporting the gubernatorial ambition of someone who will not add value to our people, why not channel such resources into building industries where our teeming youth can be meaningfully engaged?
Whether we like it or not, we can’t divorce politics from economics because they are two sides of the same coin. Political emancipation should invariably lead to economic emancipation and economic emancipation must be able to also lead to political emancipation. Where one is not possible, as it is the case with us now, we must use one to bargain for the other. If someone wants our votes in order to have political power, we must bargain the economic opportunities for our people. This is where our elites with deep pockets come in and they must be open to the idea of empowering our youths for self reliance.
Hope for Southern Kaduna?
We had the likes of our revered leaders in the persons of late Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa and late Isaiah Balat who were able to penetrate through the other zones in the state by building bridges and consensus. They had friends from across the divide and were able to break the jinx. Before our eyes, what we thought was impossible, was achieved by Patrick Yakowa. He won an election in a complex state like Kaduna, free and square. Had he not died in that mysterious chopper crash, he would have won his reelection in 2015 because of his inclusiveness and popularity. These leaders were men, who through political sagacity, were able to break the glass ceiling. I am worried about present day leaders of southern Kaduna.
Do we still have these caliber of men who can break through the ranks and make an impact?
We are not in short supply of men and women who desire political power, but I dare say, we have not yet seen men and women who have stepped into the shoes of the Yakowas and Balats to create a glimmer of hope for us. No one zone can produce a Governor. You must be popular. So emerging southern Kaduna leaders must rise up to this challenge and if we must aspire to have someone in 2023 or even 2027, the time to start is now.
Politik with decency
There is this myth making the rounds and of course promoted by El Rufai that southern Kaduna people hate APC. This is very false. If the governor and his party had been fair to our people by running an all inclusive government and ran a transparent government that cares for all, today we will not be talking about PDP. PDP is not a religion. It is just a political party and all our people yearn for is good governance. If the governor had any regard for our people, carried us along and executed projects that have direct impact on our lives, today, we will not be talking about shopping for El Rufai’s replacement. We would have been talking about continuity. It is because he has failed to deliver, it is because he treats us with contempt, it is because he feels he can conquer us, this is why we are resisting him and all he stands for.
So for our brothers and sisters who are in the ruling party, if your voice and membership cannot help bring tangible development to our people, then it means nothing to us. All we see around now is greed and selfishness. Our brothers and sisters are working against us and betraying a whole people for stomach infrastructure.
Otherwise, point at some very concrete structures and people friendly policies that this government has initiated for which you long to see continued. And that is why it doesn’t matter whether El Rufai executes projects in southern Kaduna or not, as long as they are ingratiated, they are fine. This is bad politics and we frown at it. Do your politics in whatever political party yo feel comfortable, but use your influence to lobby and bring projects that will create lasting impact on our lives.
2019 going forward
Every southern Kaduna person of voting age must by this time possess his/her voter’s card. Protect your card and use your franchise meaningfully in 2019. We cannot afford to be deceived again. We must elect credible leaders who have the interest of our people at heart. The area of electing people for capricious reasons is long gone. When you go to cast that ballot, think not only of yourself but southern Kaduna. So 2019 is less than three months away. We must be wiser and shun political correctness. We have been embarrassed enough. We have been humiliated enough. We have to make progress. And progress for me means voting out arrogant leaders who have become leviathan.
Warren Buffet once said we should look for three (3) things in a person who desires to lead: Intelligence, Energy and Integrity. If they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two qualities. I submit here, that the present occupant of Sir Ibrahim Kashim House, has unfortunately failed the integrity test and he does not deserve our trust again. Now he is playing mind games with us. We must remain alert and resolute. Let us never allow ourselves to be distracted by the mundane while taking our eyes off the weightier matters.
I put it to you this day, dear compatriots, can you say that we have been treated equitably, justly and fairly?
You may have heard about a strand of Philosophy that is gaining traction in Africa. It is called Ubuntu Philosophy. I like to give us a gist/sense of it as summarized by Michael Onyebuchi:
A person is a person through other people’s strikes an affirmation of one’s humanity through recognition of an ‘other’ in his or her uniqueness and difference. It is a demand for a creative intersubjective formation in which the ‘other’ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity. This idealism suggests to us that humanity is not embedded in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bestowed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely ‘I am’. The I am is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance.
Putting this analogy in perspective, we must see that we mirror each other in all aspects of life. When you see me, I must be able to see you and through that also project through the mirror an image of you in me and vice versa. An Adara man can seek to empower someone from Nikyob and a Tyap man can aspire to empower someone from Kahugu etc etc. Put concretely, at your place of work, are you able to prepare someone who will eventually take over from you when you exit your employment? In 2015 at the peak of the campaigns, we had the Aso Rock chaplain, Ven. Obioma Onwuzurumba visit southern Kaduna to solicit support for his then principal, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. After his presentation, as it was customary, we took him up on what southern Kaduna stands to benefit in exchange for the support and we reminded him that for a long time, this region was faithful to PDP but we didn’t have anything to show for all the support. Responding, the chaplain wondered what else the Government of the day could have done better than it had done for us. And he went on to reel out exotic and powerful offices that were manned by our people at different points in time. So he said, the president deliberately placed our people in these strategic offices so that through these powerful parastatals, our people will massively cause development to take place in southern Kaduna and by extension also empower our people. So our leaders missed it and if they ever empowered anyone, they will be members of their families and possibly also executed some projects just around their areas neglecting the whole region. By the time the chaplain was done, we were speechless and had to disperse quietly. That was for us an indictment on our leaders who had all the opportunities to turn things around for our region but were either too religious or too self centered. This is a classical example of one mirroring the other in Ubuntu philosophy. I know the usual excuse is, we have tried the youth but they have failed us in the past. That may be true. But that you have tried once and did not succeed does not mean you should give up. Keep trying until we get it right. So let the conversation begin. Thank you for listening!