I have spent quality time reviewing the presentation of the Hausa-Fulani community in Southern Kaduna, debunking claims of genocide against the Christian natives in the area. Aside, they insist they are neither minority nor settlers in Southern Kaduna as proclaimed by the Christian community. Speaking last Sunday, the Hausa-Fulani community under the umbrellas of Coalition of United Muslim Group, Kaduna State; Muslim Youth Foundation of Southern Kaduna; Nasihatu Ahlizzaman; Southern Kaduna Muslim Forum; and Zumunta Youth Development, Kasuwan Magani, assert that Muslims constituted 40 per cent of the population of Southern Kaduna, “while the Hausa-Fulani are majority of about 30 tribes that make up Southern Kaduna.”
I also spent time reading the assertion of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) that 109 communities in four Southern Kaduna local governments had been taken over by Fulani militias. SOKAPU said: “As of today, August 19th, 2020, at least 109 communities scattered in four LGAs of Southern Kaduna have been displaced and taken over by armed Fulani militias unchallenged by the state. There are at least 50,000 IDPs from these communities living in several camps in Southern Kaduna, all because their villages are either unsafe to return to or had been taken over by Fulani militias.”
The leader of the coalition of Hausa-Fulani groups, Kabir Kasim Kafanchan, proclaims further that they are the original owners of the area called Southern Kaduna. This is the crux of the matter. The unending carnage in Southern Kaduna is largely about land; it is about the ownership of this area. The Christian communities regard Hausa/Fulani as settlers who have been grabbing their land and expanding their space. The Hausa/Fulani think otherwise. The two sides have taken extreme positions. This is why Fulani and Christian militias are active in this area, spilling endless blood for years.
The bloodshed has over 40 years history; past and present governments have failed to end it because the crux of the matter – land issue – is being window-dressed. Any government that wants an end to the killings must tackle the land issue once and for all. This is the only way all the communities in Southern Kaduna can live in peace with each other. Leaders of all the parties must be brought to a round table for amicable settlement. A government capable of doing this will be glaringly impartial. This is what has been missing in the last 40 years. Previous governments at the federal and state levels have not addressed the issue dispassionately.
Another tragic hindrance is that security agents posted to the flash points in Southern Kaduna often compromise. Virtually all government officials at all levels are also guilty of this. That was why, just last Wednesday, despite the heavy deployment of soldiers, 11 persons, including a village head and his 97 year-old mother, were killed in a fresh attack in the troubled area. The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) provides the facts and figures thus: “The gunmen suspected to be Fulani militia, carried out the attacks in Zango-Kataf, Kajuru and Kachia local government areas of the state. On 18th of August, 2020, amidst a rigidly imposed 24-hour curfew that is 63 days today, armed Fulani militia invaded Unguwan Gankon village in the Zangon Kataf LGA and killed two persons and burnt seven houses. Neighbours, however, came out and the murderers fled.
“The names of the victim are Kefas Malachy Bobai, a 30-year old farmer and father of three and Miss Takama Paul, 16, a student. On the 16th August, Pastor Adalchi Usman, 39, and father of two was murdered. Usman, who was pastor of ECWA Church, Unguwan/Madaki, in Kajuru LGA, was ambushed in a commercial vehicle. The killers came from the bush and started shooting at the car. Also killed were, Mariah Na’Allah of Unguwan Madaki; Shekari from Unguwa Ali, a native of Anchuna village, Zangon Kataf LGA and Ezekiel Maikasa a native of Gadanaji in Kajuru LGA. Then on the same night of 16th August, 2020, Bugai village near Banikanwa in Kachia LGA was attacked by armed Fulani militia. The village Head, Dan’azumi Musa, 67 was killed. His siblings, Aniya Musa, 60 including his very aged mother, Kande Musa, 97 and junior sister Angelina Irmiya, 45 were killed.”
The Secretary General, Council of Imams and Ulama, Kaduna State, Sheikh Yusuf Arigasiyyu also asserted that despite heavy security presence, 100 Muslims were massacred during an attack on Zango-Kataf communities recently. I urge Arigasiyyu to back this assertion with specific names and locations, as SOKAPU has been doing.
The killings in Southern Kaduna assumed a frightening dimension in the last five years because the El-rufai government openly took sides with some of the parties. So, the Christian communities don’t trust him. That is why the lawmaker representing Zagon Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency, Amos Magaji, persistently fingers the governor for the crisis rocking the area. Under Ahmed Makarfi as governor, the crisis went down significantly because he refused to support or favour any of the parties in the dispute. Makarfi was a neutral arbitrator and all the sides respected him for this.
I was shocked by El-rufai’s remarks on a television programme last week, alleging that the leaders of the Christian communities wanted bribe from him.
Instead of showing proof that he was not partial as accused, he made bizarre accusations, saying: “Anyone that is moderate, anyone that is promoting peaceful co-existence between various ethnic groups is considered a sellout. With a governor like me, who does not appease them, because they are used to being appeased, they cause trouble. They organise these killings (when other governors were in power) and then, their leaders are invited by the governor, they wine and dine and they are given brown envelopes. That’s what they have been doing for 20 years and we came into office and we said no more, nobody who does not encourage peaceful co-existence will have access to the governor or the Government House. I have no time for them. I am using the security agents to carefully mark them and when we accumulate enough evidence, we will get them and put them before a judge.”
The Kaduna governor added: “Most of the people saying I am taking sides have no means of livelihood; they were living off the governments. The governments before us were paying them money every month, they called it peace money. We stopped it. This is why they say I am taking sides. But now, they have come up with other things because the money they got during the election is exhausted and they can say whatever they want to say. But I want everyone to know this very clear: I will not appease trouble-makers. I will not tolerate people that incite. I will map them, we will arrest and prosecute them, that’s my style.”
Haba! How can the governor of a beleaguered state be spinning this rubbish? So, the Christian leaders are the ones organising the killings and making trouble because they want money? This is preposterous. If El-rufai is genuinely interested in peace, then, this coldblooded remarks should not be coming from him. How many killers has El-rufai brought to justice? The rate of prosecution has not been proportional to the frequency of attacks in Southern Kaduna.
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Olasupo Ayokunle, was apt when he told El-rufai to act instead of showboating: “On many occasions, when I read of ‘unknown gunmen’ it ends there and I wonder whether it is not the duty of those governing us to make sure that the ‘unknown gunmen’ are ‘known’ and brought to book! The people causing trouble are not spirits, so, it should not be too difficult to apprehend them and bring them to book. If there are people sponsoring them, a thorough investigation should be able to fish them out and cause them to face the wrath of the law.
“Let there be a round table discussion and a pledge of cooperation rather than confrontation in finding a solution to this wicked and embarrassing development. Everybody is looking at the governor as a father of the state and this is the understanding with which he should handle every accusing finger pointed at him. No bandit, gunman or cattle rustler should be allowed to strike and disappear into thin air any longer without being pursued to his or her base for arrest and prosecution.
“The guns in the hands of criminals should be recovered. Bushes should be combed with surveillance. Technology should be deployed extensively by the security agents to apprehend the criminals in their hideouts, including the mercenaries.
All sources of ammunition the bandits and killers are using should be investigated and blocked. Community healing, forgiveness and reconciliatory meetings should be held, bringing different ethnic groups in communities together to chart the way forward for peace.”
For me, the key words here are roundtable negotiation over land, neutrality of government, community healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. That’s how to end killings in Southern Kaduna. The diverse communities here must learn to live together. A government and security agencies that are neutral at all levels are essential to promote all these. Unfortunately, these are lacking now. We have compromised governments and security agencies mismanaging the crisis. My submission: Elders like Olusegun Obasanjo, Yakubu Gowon and Abdulsalami Abubakar must move in and try to seal a deal to end the butchery in Southern Kaduna.
Power Discos still dancing naked
One issue that attracted my attention in the latest report on power supply status on all 132/33/11kV interface substation by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was the warning to Power Distribution Companies (Discos) against load rejection. It is appalling that many of these Discos have deliberately been isolating some sections of 33KV feeders to limit loading, thus, denying their customers electricity. Yes, NERC confirmed this. At this period, when most homes and industries are left without power for days, generation is being deliberately hindered by Discos. At the same time, they will tell consumers that they are not getting enough supply. This is indeed a season of anomie in the power sector and calls for radical action.
Some power generation companies had to shut production last week due to low load demand by the Discos. According to data obtained from the Nigerian Electricity System Operator, as at 6am on August 15, Ibom Power’s GT3, Alaoji’s GT1 and 2, Sapele’s GT2 and 4, Geregu II’s GT21 and Afam’s GT17 and 18 were all idle due to low load demand by the Discos. NERC cautioned the Discos further for deliberate refusal to clear faults on some 33kV feeders within the timeline of eight hours as stipulated in the Reporting Compliance Regulations. This also limits loading on the feeders.
Discos are rejecting load, while they go about terrorizing consumers with estimated bills and collecting money for services not rendered. They care less about our nation being enveloped in darkness. NERC must rise from its slumber and save Nigerian consumers whose rights must also be protected. It is not enough to caution Discos for rejecting load. They must be punished.
N1.57tn for debt servicing in six months
The federal government spent a scandalous N1.57 trillion on debt servicing in the first six months of this year. This is according to the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba. It was part of his recent presentation to the House of Representatives Committee on Finance at an interactive session on the 2021-2023 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper. In this same country, as at the end of June 2020, only N444.75 billion had been released to MDAs for capital expenditure by the federal government. Personnel cost, including pensions, gulped N1.61 trillion in the first six months of this year.
It is apparent that debt servicing and recurrent expenditure will gulp the bulk of federal budget 2020. So, how will this country attain development with an expenditure pattern like this? Yet, binge borrowing continues. Soon, debt servicing will start taking 60 per cent of federal budget. Nigeria we hail thee.