Giving constitutional roles to monarchs will assist governance
-HRH Alhaji Zubairu Mallum Hamman Gabdo Muhammedu Sambo
On March 5, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari visited Taraba State, one of the hotbeds of herdsmen-farmers crisis to commiserate with the people over recent killings. HRH Alhaji Zubairu Mallum Hamman Gabdo Muhammedu Sambo – the Paramount Ruler, Gashaka Chiefdom, Fombina Kingdom in Taraba State was one of the traditional rulers at the meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari. Palace Watch had a chat with him
How did the meeting go?
The president’s visit was timely and finally helped to douse the high tension that had hitherto engulfed the state, especially in the Mambilla Plateau, where herdsmen and farmers were having a face-off. We thank God the president’s visit has helped to simmer things down a bit.
The presidential visit was very important in that when there is an escalation of problems like the one we just experienced in this state, it is very important for the people to know that the president has shown some concern. And expectedly, the president swung into action to ensure that the unfortunate incident did not claim more lives in Mambilla Plateau and other areas of the state like Lauo Local Government Areas, where similar crisis occurred.
What made this particular visit very important is the president’s deliberate effort to ensure that whatever peace process reached is a lasting one. On the president’s instruction, the state government ensured that all the traditional rulers across the state were at the meeting. At that meeting, there were no pretences, as we discussed how we were going to have a lasting peace in Taraba State, especially between farmers or natives of the Mambilla and the Fulani people.
At this very meeting, the chairman of Taraba State Council of Traditional Rulers, Aku Kari His Royal Highness Dr. Shekarau Angyu, MassanIbi, Kuvyon II spoke extensively and made it very clear that there is need to carry traditional rulers along in governance generally, as it is not too tidy for traditional rulers to be called upon to help quench the fire only when crisis erupts.
He noted that before the present system of governance in the country, it was the traditional rulers that had direct dealings with people in their domains, and to a large extent, had control over them and know how to handle matters before they got to crisis point. This approach, he said, worked during the Sardauna of Sokoto era, just because traditional rulers then had constitutional roles in government in the whole of Northern Nigeria.
So, once traditional rulers are given the requisite powers to operate in their domains, it will be very easy for them to arbitrate in matters involving people in their domains, such that these unnecessary and wanton killings will not arise. He said once this is established, traditional rulers will be in a position to handle disputes and resolve them dispassionately, as they are known to be apolitical. And the people respect whatever decisions reached by traditional rulers in matters concerning them; rather than people taking laws into their hands, which is not good for the country.
He concluded that these are things traditional rulers want to do or ought to do, and that it’s about time government gave traditional rulers the powers to carry out these functions, so that lasting peace will continue to reign in communities across the country. He said it is not just right to give traditional rulers powers without providing the necessary logistics for them to carry out these assignments. When the need arises, traditional rulers don’t just wait for government to act before taking pro-active measures to avert crisis in their domains.
Is the crisis in Mambilla Plateau political?
I honestly don’t think it is politically motivated. I think it is an ethnic crisis. It happened a very long time ago, and it again repeated itself. Mambilla Plateau is not my domain anyway.
President Buhari urged all traditional rulers in Taraba State to take effective control of security situation in their domains. How are you going about this?
Gashaka Local Government Area, Gaskaka Kingdom, my kingdom is the most peaceful local area in Taraba State. During the recent meeting we had with government in Jalingo, where we discussed the anti-open grazing law passed by the State House of Assembly, all the areas where there have been crisis in the state were mentioned. It was only my kingdom that was not mentioned. Honestly, the peace we have attained in my domain did not come cheap. Since I ascended the throne, I have been working strenuously to build on the legacy my late father left behind. I grew up to know that my late father didn’t joke with security matters. Once he got information about crisis in any part of his domain, he wasted no time to act. I also do not wait until crisis festers before acting. Once there is a rumour, I act. As the saying goes, “there is no smoke without fire.” So also, there is no rumour without source(s).
Once such things get to me in the palace, I leave all other things I am doing and act. I either I go visiting or call a meeting, where the issue being rumored about is debated to the satisfaction of all the parties involved. And the result of such moves have been tremendous, hence the peace we have here. You see, once there is a major crisis in some areas of the state, we quickly swing into action to take precautionary measures, as well as educate the people in my kingdom on the need for us to continue to maintain peace.
For example, when the Kuta people had crisis in one of the local government areas, we did not just sit down here and fold our hands. We brought the tribe in my kingdom and the other parties together in a meeting and told them that under no circumstance should they take the law into their hands in sympathy with either of the sides. And it worked, as we never had any problem here. I don’t sit down in my palace expecting peace to reign. I am constantly on the move, visiting all the districts in my domain, talking with them and preaching peace to them. I am relentless in this.
Sometimes, we use town criers, who carry megaphone, moving around the districts. Because our people know that we are fair and truthful in all that we do, they take our option. We again move a step further by involving the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Muslim Council leadership in all our peace processes. They now go ahead to preach peace in their respective Churches and mosques. We also take our peace moves to all our youths, and honestly we have been getting results.
When the recent crisis erupted in Mambilla Plateau, I immediately summoned a meeting with all local heads of all the tribes in my domain, especially the community leaders, the Meidanu areas; that is in Gashaka Local Government Area, they are predominately Mambilla people, Jibos, and the SarikiFulanis in Gashaka to come along with all his “Arodos.” And we will all sit together in my palace here and discuss ways and means to continue to live in peace in our areas. This meeting will be holding on March 7, 2018. This is part of my pro-active measures, which is key to the peace we have enjoyed in this area of the state. I have always emphasised that without peace, we can’t have the development we all crave. Fortunately, this is also the slogan of the State Governor, His Excellency Darius Ishaku.
Do you think President Buhari’s visit will bring about lasting peace in Mambilla?
The president’s visit is a very good move. What is left now depends on us, we the people of Taraba State, to ensure the peace move by the president and the energetic governor endures in our respective domains. President Buhari has played his part and it is left for us to take the peace move to the next level.
Traditional rulers don’t have security votes. How can they maintain peace, when they don’t have the resources to maintain security in their domains?
Although we will appreciate it if government gives us money to fight insecurity in our areas, but everything is not about money. Once a traditional ruler has his people’s trust, they will help him to maintain peace in his domain. The local and state governments are already doing their best in the areas of security. It is also part of our duties to complement government in these areas. And that is exactly what we are doing in Gashaka.
Let me seize this opportunity to appeal to government to periodically, or monthly provide security votes for traditional rulers. This will go a long way in helping traditional rulers maintain peace in their various kingdoms. The money will enable traditional rulers embark on regular visits to all the parts of their kingdoms. More money should also be made available to local government chairmen, so they can tackle security matters headlong.
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