BY MUSA ALIYU
Three things prompted me to write this long treatise, the first of which is the unfortunate reaction to a forwarded post where an irritating conclusions are made on the Southern Kaduna crises. The said write-up makes dangerous conclusions that are vituperative and threatening. And someone posted it on my Alma mater WhatsApp group. The post generated tension, and a call is finally made for discussion on how to overcome the intractable issue. This is my humble submission:
The reactions generated by Ibrahim’s post were so spontaneous, erratic and surprising. This is because the entire members of this group are products of the ‘almighty CAS’ that preached restraint- from the way we were carefully selected to stay mixed in the hostels, to all our social outings. Muslims were forced to live with Christians; Yoruba mixed with Igbos and Hausas (etc.) This made us learnt self-respect, restraint and accommodation. This was where some of us learnt what sociologists call, “culture shock”. Sadly, as we flutter into the wild world we have become less and less restraining and accommodating- the society we live in has taken the larger advantage of us as we think the way it does, instead of us attempting to change it. And we are largely elitist and/or academic (people who are supposed to sift whatever is presented through a sieve of sifting the good from the bad, the truth from the lie, or the fact from the TRUTH.)
I have been feeling so embittered since then, and I feel it is duty bound to chip in otherwise what I learnt from being a “good’ product of CAS will forever live to haunt me as a betrayer of trust. The writer was too closed because he chose to be too conclusive in his assertions. He showed he has taken a stand through dangerous conclusions and vituperations. Still that is not enough not to read the ‘garbage’ he wrote, because through ‘nonsense’ one can glean ‘sense’. I will use two anecdotal stories that occurred in 1985-1986 in CAS. Some of us might have been around when the two episodes happened. I was there when both episodes took place, and I hereby report VERBATIM:
The first is a story that happened on a Sunday in the class where FCS and MSS shared for their weekly meetings. The school deliberately allowed Christians to hold their Fellowship between 6 PM- to 8PM (or so), then they vacate the venue for Muslims to conduct their MSS meetings. That fortunate and memorable Sunday lives with me to this moment. The Christians had cause to over stay their timing, and as the Muslim students converged outside, patiently waiting for the exit of the Christians, there emerged a drunk, who was in a stupor (can’t remember his name, but he was from Malumfashi, and a Muslim). He asked why the Muslims were standing and was told they were waiting for FCS to round up their activity.
He suddenly jumped into the classroom and said, in Hausa, “ARNAN BANZA, ARNAN WOFI! KU FITA, MU MUSULMI NA SO MU ZO MU YI WA’AZI!”.(You dare devil infidels! Get out! We Muslims want to come in and preach!) This was very offensive, but the restrained Christians of that day only giggled, seeing the state he was in and ignored him. It was some of the MSS leaders that went in to bring him out, scolding him. Imagine this happened today where nerves are already charged for I-don’t-know-what hatred!
The second anecdote happened in the Whitehouse mosque. We were waiting for the late afternoon prayer when suddenly a Southern Kaduna (SK) student appeared in a rage and seized one Muslim brother (Akhi) by the collar! He lifted the Akhi up and thundered him unto the ground! All of us were flabbergasted. Some surged in to the rescue of the assaulted Akhi, and asked the SK student the reason behind that sudden behavior. He explained how the Akhi slapped his sister in their room, at the Whitehouse, in his absence.
On further enquiry, the Akhi confessed of being in the room when a girl knocked, asking for the SK student.
The Akhi took the laws into his hands and scolded the girl, knowing that there was then a ban on allowing girls into male hostels. He confessed to slapping her. All present automatically faulted the Akhi and begged the SK student to forgive the misgiving. In fact, a delegation was formed to visit their room to further cement their relationship. Imagine it happened in this day Zaria! These stories certify that we were special breeds. I wonder what went wrong that we cannot gormandize a common post- no matter what the insinuations!
Secondly, Steve offered a serious and curious quest of having a kind of brainstorming here that could proffer a solution to the unending crises that engulf the SK, and I think most of us are either afraid to say one thing or another because of the fear of being dubbed one thing or another, (because of the reactions that trailed the post in question) or no one took it serious, or better still, because some of us think it is a problem that will forever live with us. I hereby take the bulls by the horns by starting the discourse: NO MATTER WHOSE OX IS GORED. More so, all of us here (Kadunites or not) owe Kaduna state a large gratitude to save it from extinction because we benefited from its fountain.
Thirdly, I am at a vantage position to speak about the SK matter because I have been living in the state for the past forty years, and interacted with people from all the divides in the state. I have been so close to Kagoma, Zonkwa and Kafanchan, and only Allah didn’t will, I would have been married to a Fulani and a Bajju- ladies, all from those axes! I became so shattered when I heard about the skirmish that engulfed Zonkwa, few years back. It hit me the most because the Hausa people I knew there were through a Bajju student of mine, Istifanus. Isti happened to be one of my passionate students who loved Literature, the subject I anchored then. My closeness to him came to a peak when one day he came requesting for money to transport himself to meet an uncle so that he could replenish his subsistence stock (food). What I gave him was so enough as to deter him from embarking on the planned journey, he confessed. And he stayed back. From then, even as a bachelor I implored that he should check my house and pick any food I could give.
FAST FORWARD 2012. As a teacher and businessman, I secured a contract in the then NEPA, to install radios for the Jos Electricity Distribution Company. Going to Jos from Zaria was as hectic as it is today, due to the bad roads; so I decided to be taking the route through, Kaduna- Zonkwa- Manchok- Jos. In one of my various trips I called isti, who was then teaching at Fadan Kamantan ( a Zonkwa suburb) to tell him I was going through his home base. He waited for me in Zonkwa, after the Crossing. What happened is still touching my heart, as Isti gathered a horde of Hausa men to welcome me! They confessed that I was a good man. I was surprised people I never heard or seen showering me with prayers! They concluded that Isti told them all I did to him while in school and even during his stay at ABU (Steve taught him Literature, I am sure). The gift I took along was so enormous that the boot of my station wagoned Passat was filled to the brim. I remember taking along yam, Accha, honey, cocoyam and red beans, plus pellets of drinks! Since then I became closer to those Hausa businessmen and a Malam who had a local Islamiyya school around crossing then. As I learnt of the imbroglio, I attempted making contacts to learn of their safety but all lines I had were not going through. I tried Isti’s and got his after three or four days. He said he was in the village but promised to get back to me as soon as he got news of what happened to the people. He in fact went to Zonkwa and later in the day gave me the news, while crying, that all those people were killed in the strife! Till this day Isti lives to regret that episode.
The first thing I would say about the SK phenomenon is that one cannot shy away from history in discussing a way out. And we have to delineate the crises into two to have a better understanding of the intent of this write-up. The first crisis was against the ‘strangers’ who attempt taking over the socio-economic activity of the region, largely characterized by the Hausas, who were mainly traders and into petty farming. The second is the conflict between the Fulani and the SK farming communities which bedevils the entire country. Unfortunately, both cases are deliberately manipulated by religion as a way to obfuscate the real intent of the skirmishes. We have to go through what actually happened, vis-à-vis what is happening now to understand what can be done. It is true that ugly crises in SK started in 1981 at Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru Local government, over ownership of market stalls. Then the famous Kafanchan crisis of 1987. Then Zangon Kataf, 1992. Then Jema’a Emirship Staff of Office in 1999. Then the Shari’a Riots of 2000. Then the violence at Kidiche Area of Chawai chiefdom, 2010. Then the Post 2011 election violence. Then the Destruction of Kafanchan Praying ground 2013. Then the killing of a Motorcyclist operator in 2013. Then the Demolition of the Fence of Kachia Eid Praying Ground in 2014. Then the Ninte (Godogodo) saga of 2016. Then the Kafanchan Demonstration episode of 2016. Then the Kajuru Local Government Disturbances of 2018-till date. Then the Zangon Kataf LGC Disturbances, 2020. And now the Jema’a LGC selective crises of June/July, 2020.
All these crises claimed lives of innocent people and wasted economic activities that would have plummeted the region into an economic hub envied by all in Africa.
I believe the elites are just banking of the ignorance of the general populace to achieve their wicked agenda of keeping Africa backward, otherwise how can history be changed? What has happened has happened and the wisdom in the decisions of our elders can never be matched, even by common science. When all of us were young, in the north, we knew that land was nothing to any people. It was given free, at will, to any interested person. Visitors were held in high esteem and were given unfettered hospitality, because the elders knew that visitors/strangers are the major purveyors of progress in any clime. Today, America becomes great because it accommodates strangers, indigenizing them and instilling the patriotic zeal of AMERICA FIRST into the minds of all inhabitants there. Look at Lagos- home for all and look at the economic success of Lagos. Check Kano. Kano people accommodate visitors and most major businesses are in the hands of strangers and today Kano remains the commercial centre of the North! Most major cities in SK bourgeoned as a result of commerce whose actors are “non-natives” to the place. Most lands acquired by the ‘strangers’ were either gifted traditionally by the elders met or purchased. How then can those strangers become land grabbers? Why should modern day elites come to revisit what was done by their elders? And business is competition-prone. What makes the strangers so special that they cannot be competed against?
And the concept of NATIVE and STRANGERS is suspect and fraught with manipulations. As opined by the great historian, Bala Usman; no tribal entity has the exclusive preserve of the claim of ownership of any land in Nigeria, because we are all immigrants. This is further supported by tales of origin of any tribe in Nigeria. All tribes, MIGRATED from somewhere, and no region or group of ethnic nationality is sacrosanct on this. But you will hear dubious elites confusing their flock that a certain terrain belongs to them and that ‘others’ have taken over “our land”. This is one of the most atavistic claim used to spur certain fake regionalism that results to fracas. The Nigerian elite is dubious, selfish and wicked. Take the case of Zaria: It is on record that the Gbagyis are the original inhabitants of Zaria but other migrants came to displace them and they moved further down to present day Niger state. That is why in the present day Zaria the ruling houses are both ‘alien’ to Zazzau itself. They have the Mallawa (whose origin is from Mali), then the Bare-Bari(whose origin is from Borno), and the Katsinawa (whose origin is from Katsina). But the surprising thing is that the clamour for “this is our land” is intrinsic into the blood of Africans, as in Zaria the same ‘strangers’ would lace others as, ‘Baki’- strangers! The only difference here is no pique, malice and animosity is involved as no daggers are drawn against each other.
We lost our sense of reasoning the very first day we gave the devil the gap to use us for his sport. We hate for no reason whatsoever. Let’s look at the Kafanchan crisis narrative:
Reverend Bako was preaching in COE Kafanchan and was accused of twisting some Quranic verses. Being an apostate (Islamically) but constitutionally, he has a right to move to any religion of his choice- and the constitution, as far as Nigeria is concerned, is supreme. The little Kaduna girl, can’t remember her name now, but I know she was the daughter of Garba Dan Shagamu, accosted the pastor. And hell was let loose. In the first place who asked her to overstep her bounds and encroached into a place where Christians worship? THE DEVIL-EKWENSU- you may say. And as she challenged the pastor why didn’t he take the Biblical verse that a Christian is supposed to forgive, “Seventy times Seventy times”, ignoring her anomaly, as was done in CAS 1985, narrated earlier?
Was he also driven by the DEVIL? Why did we lose our common sense and allowed the devil to take the better part of us? (I,e if it were truly the devil that orchestrated that). And rumor mongers took the day: inflated stories that engulfed so many cities ablaze- JUST BECAUSE WE LACK RESTRAINT!! All these rhetorical questions fit each of the crises bedeviling SK.
The question remains: why should a people living together for over 300 years suddenly turn foes? Not even the intermarriages between them could avert the catastrophe that visit them regularly! And must they continue like this? Can a people live as an island, unto themselves alone? In this modern age?
Before I get to a recipe for this intractable disaster, let me also look at the multi-dimensional interpretation of the SK crises. There are two conspiratorial theories bandied about as the genesis of the problem. The first is from a socio-religious angle. The Muslims view the imbroglio as Allah punishing the various misdeeds orchestrated by the Muslims who abuse the hospitality of their host in engaging in immoral lechery. The children born outside wedlock and unclaimed by the criminals that impregnated the young girls remain a sore into the minds of the natives. And this provides a fuel that triggered hatred against the once-welcomed strangers. Various attempts were made by the Muslims outside the region to bring the SK Muslims to order but to no avail. I remember vividly attempts made by the late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi in this drive. He once sent some Izala emissaries to Zangon Kataf to preach to the Muslim faithful on the need to shun all vices, with specific reference to lechery and alcohol consumption. While the elderly ones looked admonished but the younger generation saw it as an encroachment into their private lives! It didn’t last long before disaster struck.
The second theory is that some criminal elements working against the unity of the north are using the SK elites to foster crises for peanuts. They conscript the Western press with their fifth columnists to peddle all lies whenever a crisis is ignited. This looks true because just this July, 2020 there had been reports of alleged Fulani attacks in some villages around Kafanchan. The Fulani on the other hand were alleging that they were attacked, killed and displaced from the bushes they lived in. whereas the conventional media was replete with the stories of the SK natives being attacked., few or none of them featured what was happening to the Fulani there. Pronto! The Jema’a Local Government Chairman, Hon. Peter Danjuma Averik visited Dangoma, in Kaninkon District, and Rugan Ruguni in Unguwan Yashi, Zikpak Chiefdom tp commiserate with the families of the District Scribe, Alhaji Salau Musa and Salihu Adamu whose entire families were said to be missing, after a pandemonium in Kafanchan town and surrounding communities, following rumor of Fulani herdsmen attack on neighboring villages of Takau and Zanuruk.
This prompted the people to panic and scampered for safety. The Chairman remarked that people should desist from peddling rumours. This information is passed by the information Officer of the Jema’a LG, Simeon Sunday Dauda, on 27/7/20. But the mainstream media was awash with incisive titles alleging that the Fulani were the attackers, this case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it, characterizes all reportage of the SK crises. This is what makes this conspiracy theory tenable.
The Fulani Debacle
As one of the largest ethnic group in Africa, the Fulani bear a fraternity that is akin to the Jews. An injury for one, to them, is an injury for all. They transmigrate from Mali up to Niger Delta, following the seasons and back. The routes they follow predates most cities, and the Jos and SK, with the lush vegetation had been a route for their migration. Over the years some settled in the bushes, closer to bourgeoning towns and they made those spots their homes. Few of them were allured to the din of the city and they became educated, joining their closest allies, the Hausas in whatever they do. But the bulk of the Fulani became victims of circumstances as a result of their affinity to the Hausa. And any wrong ascribed to the Hausa affected them since then. They were unable to understand why their livestock and their lives would be affected when they were not part of any committed crime. One basic thing that people do not understand with the Fulani is that they are calm, reserved, introversive yet too VINDICTIVE. They go about their ways of lives and hardly interfere with other people’s affairs because their system is too closed for others to understand. There are deviants among them, though, who pillage people’s farms. But whenever such encroachment occurs, there are mechanisms through which compensation is paid. They have Ardo who they adore and respect a lot. I wonder why the current menace continue unabated when the Fulani have an easy approach to the menace.
One sure thing about the Fulani is that they never forget when a wrong is done unto them; no matter how long. And jungle justice, they believe is the best way to revenge whatever wrong was done against them. This is because they have tried the legal means and found out it is fraught with inconsistencies, delays and flunkeyism. They therefore resort to taking the laws into their hands. In the case of SK, some Fulani from Niger and Cameroun fell victim to the 2011 election fracas. They lost their cattle and lives. They swore taking revenge. The Daily Trust Weekly once featured an interview with one of the negotiators who late Yakowa sent on emissary to meet the aggrieved party in Niger Republic. He gave a lucid account of the good attempt and how Ramalan Yero thwarted such feat, after the demise of Yakowa. The El-Rufai government took up from there. The Western press and their accomplices used the fifth columnists to attack the move, which was started by ‘their own’. And a continuous attack on their herds continued and they kept reprising. The situation has now gone out of hand as the SK crises has added another intractable dimension. The Fulani are difficult to be fought because they live in the bush and understand it better than any other person. Soldiers and police easily fall to their antics, as they are glibly trained in guerilla warfare. And the worst case is the fact that cattle rustling has left most Fulani jobless. I was wondering why they would not resort to large scale farming -not until I visited a Fulani family that had their flock rustled at the beginning of July 2020, less than 30 kilometres outside Zaria. The man told me that 260 in his herd were pillaged and he was left with no one. He confessed that cattle rearing was all he knew and had never held a hoe to till any land. He said he used to pay others to farm for hi. Now that the cattle he depended on he told me he didn’t know what to do. I see potential kidnappers in this man’s clan! It was even reported that about 960 cattle were lost in just one night, alongside his.
Most kidnappers use this as an excuse to join the nefarious activity. But one wonders despite the cliché, “We are on top of the situation”, why 960 cattle could be moved unnoticed! This reminds me of an interview featured by Ali Kwara, the famous Thief Catcher, said in a n interview with VOA where he alleged that most kidnappings happening along Kaduna-Abuja-Niger axes are done with complicity of police and soldiers! And nothing has happened since the outburst.
Possible Ways Out Of The Quagmire
Now that all has been said about the nature of the problem. All parties concerned in the SK imbroglio should understand that there is no alternative to peace. And whenever a squabble occurred and truce need to be made, both sides have to forgo rights. They must be willing to forgive all wrongs, and begin on a clean slate.
SK should know that no society exists as an island because not all skills are available in any community- they need ‘others’ to complement the development of their region. They should borrow a leaf from the US and Lagos.
They should understand that should they chose the warring path, they will be left alone to their fate as no government can police every member of all households, as rightly opined by el-Rufai. They should cut the branch of the olive tree and accommodate their long term neighbors.
And for the neighbouring Hausa/Fulani they should respect the sanctity of the traditions and lives of the people they live with. There ought to be committees of elders that cut across all the divides that will checkmate any anomaly before it gets to law enforcement agencies
To achieve this, the government ought to bring down all stakeholders and ensure they, themselves create a roadmap towards achieving everlasting peace. Clerics should spearhead these committees as a lot of accusing fingers had been pointed on them for inflaming their multitudes.
I have a dream that there would, one day be a more vibrant Southern Kaduna than the one we once knew.
Mallam Aliyu wrote this piece from Zaria, Kaduna State