Governor Nasir El Rifai of Kaduna State
By Adebayo Obajemu
The  crisis in Southern Kaduna is in many ways a reflection of the so-called  National Question- a term that gained currency in the polity as from late eighties, during the Ibrahim Babangida era. It was employed by commentators then to describe the various fault lines and challenge of nationhood, the internal dysfunction that impacted negatively on national integration and cohesion of the various nationalities, and the way out.
It was the discussion and analysis of national question that gave birth to the idea of restructuring.
One of the most intelligent and fecund minds I have ever met, the ever effervescent Prince Emeka Obasi, my publisher was the one I turned to when the idea of interacting with common people of Southern Kaduna came up and  he agreed to my idea of traveling to the heartland of the crisis in Kaduna- Kajuru Local Government.
In the three days that I traversed the lengths and breadths of  Kufeni District , across nine  villages- Makyali, Afago
Iburu; Idon; Iri; Kufana;  Maro; Rafin-Kunu; Unguwan- interacting with ordinary men and women, I learned a lot.
I deliberately avoided the big men and women,  this reporter was able to get true picture of the crisis. Avoiding the big people was by design, as I neither wanted guarded tour, nor crimson- called slant to “facts”, which I believed could only come from the ” participants- cum- victims- culprits of the crisis.
The people of the area has been ” ideologically” subjected to a dangerous ” reeducation” by ” behind- the-scene ” often faceless power  wielders, who are, as the German would say,  in love with the “schandenfreude” of ordinary people. Their sadness is their joy as it being alleged by Southern Kaduna people that some political actors in the state may have turned the crisis into profiteering.
The miseries of ordinary people who live in fear of the Spectre of violent death  mean nothing to them,  if it did,  the crisis would have ended along with it’s bloodletting .
In my interaction with both sides of the deep gorges, I could see humanity on their faces, their  routine of daily life  punctuated by primeval simplicity and earthiness that reflects  Wordsworthian love of nature has in the last five months been shattered by conflict that threatens their very existence.
The deep social and ethnic divisions that mark Fulani/ indigenes relations can best be captured  in ordinary conversation of the people where such phrases as  , ” we don’t have problem with the other people” run through their conversations.
The “other” people could mean Fulani settlers or the Kaje- that’s the indigenes- depending on who was  talking.
The touchy point , almost a trigger to feverish frenzy of anger remains the dual issue of faith and land. A herder says to me that he has quite a number of friends in the other side, and he swears that his own “stock” who kill, raid and show no mercy to the other side, are not from Kufeni District, but “from may be” far flung areas. ” My only anger is when people lay claim to land, it belongs to Allah”, he says, his eyes flashing menacingly if only to register his message.
At Makyali village, an indigene named Bature says to me that ” This is our land, they want to take it from us just because they control the centre. With the last drop of my blood, I will defend my ancestors’ land.”
It has not always been like this, Bature’s uncle tells me, ” but during the Babangida era, tension simmered, remember General Zamani Lekwot and the role the former secretary to the government of the federation, the late Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed played to ensure Gen. Lekwot was not left off the hook over trumped up charges of incitement during Zango Kataf crisis.
“But for the opposition to his planned judicial murder from  people like Gen. Abacha, Gen Idiomu and international community, Lekwot would have been sacrificed by Babangida to appease the same set of people that now want to take our land.”
Mr.Luka who is Bature’s uncle says as from that time, “the simmering tension came into bursting, leading to various bloody skirmishes at different battle grounds, including Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kafanchan riot, and others, and a dangerous design not to allow any Christian become state governor became an ideology of the Fulani settlers.”
He says governor Patrick Yakowa, the first governor whose faith was Christianity became  governor by accident. ” See what happened to him”, he says, chuckling.
Social life
Socially and ethnically speaking , there is near homogeneity as the cluster of villages have ethnic solidarity, this affords them a sense of bonding together against external threat , with just a trickling of Hausa/Fulani , a kind of socioethnic stratification probably spurred on by agelong fears and suspicion fed by decades of historical animosities.
This dysfunction and inability to achieve a modicum of integration among the people of Southern Kaduna may have been a result of indoctrination along predetermined ends by political actors who profit from the crisis, and pull strings from behind the curtain.
I could see signs of   reeducation of innocent, simple people, who may have been  made acannon folder and pawns in the hands of politicians over time.
The Fulani herdsmen who shepherd  their flocks in the forest have been with them without problem, only rare cases of their cattle destroying farmland,  the indigenes tell this reporter.
The herdsmen do not move with guns and are friendly and sociable according to elders whom I interacted with at Kufana village.
 According to them, the suspicion they nurse is that the set of Fulani that often attack their settlements are foreigners, their accent and brutality betray this viewpoint, they say.
In all the villages visited, this impression of non-Nigerian Fulani is reinforced, as they blame politicians for allowing influx of Fulani attackers from outside of the country.
But Danladi, a herder I met through interpreter says it is unfair to blame Fulani alone, as if the conflict is one- sided.He says both sides are responsible for the conflict, and both are prosecuting the war( he refers to the conflict as war) with brutality, claiming indigenes often come to Fulani settlements and kill them and burn down everything. “It is only Fulani that are always at the receiving end in this blame game.”
Asked what can be done to put an end to the conflict, he says it is only when “these  people” stop believing that the land belong to them.
A large proportion of the victims of these attacks has been women and children. One, either by tradition or design, this reporter discovered that it is women that most often go to farm to carry out men’s duty of tilling the ground, unlike in the Southern part of the country where the reverse is the case. One curious observation is that in only the villages visited , I saw men , able-bodied men in groups, drinking the local drinks called “Buruku”, made from fermented corn. In none of the villages did I see beer- guzzlers, all the men seemed happy taking their Buruku. When herders destroy farmland, they depending on their mindset , often kill or rape these women on the farmland. When this reporter asked Nature why men stay at home to take their Buruku, while women go to farm to carry arduous farm tasks, he simply shrugged his shoulder and said it  has been like that for generations. “We do go to farm too”, he says.
Many indigenes say what is happening goes beyond the issue of land. Most of these bandits don’t even talk about land according to them. ” We often hear them talk about driving the “infidels” from Southern Kaduna.
Some people who bare their mind to this reporter say they are sure the Fulani who carry out these attacks are not from Southern Kaduna, “but may have been called to do so on behalf of the Fulani in our midst.”
The people I met are not only worried about insecurities, but  also about fear hunger and economic  difficulties as much as they fear sudden death arising from incessant killings.
 They can no longer go to farm to salvage what remains of their farm for fear of attack. They say they no longer have faith in any government whether federal or state.
Their voices are muffled in the state, and the cries and voices of their elites are often countered by propaganda  from the other side, according to them.
Business Hallmark’s findings reveal that there have an avalanche of successive governments’ White Paper on the crises, but no government to date has been courageous enough to release them into action for resolution of the crisis.
Bature’s uncle said it is expected, saying : ” who are the government? Is it not the other side. We don’t expect Justice from them.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here