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There’s agenda to supplant indigenous Southern Kaduna communities, SOKAPU alleges

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Asake

President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Jonathan Asake, spoke to SAXONE AKHAINE on security challenges bedeviling Southern Kaduna communities and Nigeria in general, destruction of Southern Kaduna communities, alleging that genocide is being visited on his people by Fulani militia, while holding the Federal and Kaduna State Governments culpable in the crisis.

What is the current situation in Southern Kaduna?
What current situation are you referring to? If it is the current state of insecurity in Kaduna State you are referring to, then I am afraid to tell you that it is as bad as ever. As a matter of fact, the situation has gotten worst, because things are deteriorating everyday.

Let me explain to you what I mean here. You know that this ugly spate of insecurity started with periodic attacks on Southern Kaduna communities in a pattern that appeared to us then as if it was targeted at particular local governments areas only.

Unfortunately, we got it all wrong because the attacks soon engulfed communities across all the local governments areas of Southern Kaduna and became more brazen and frequent.

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As at today, none of the communities across the local government areas in our place has been speared by these Fulani killer herdsmen invasions. Many of our people have been displaced out of their homelands into Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps, where they are living in dehumanising conditions without any support or assistance from the government.

Another new low is the incessant kidnappings and collection of ransom waged against our people on the roads, in the farms, markets, churches and homes. The most pathetic thing about all these is that the government authorities appear to be helpless, or are deliberately not willing to tackle this menace, which is quite unfortunate.

How have your people been coping?
Life has been very difficult for our people. You know that when one is chased out of his or her natural environment into a strange place, where the basic necessities of life, such as foodstuffs, drinkable water, medications, schools for the children and so on are not available, the experience could be traumatic.

Truly, if you visit some of the displaced people in the camps, you will weep and curse the wicked leaders of this country for their lack of concern and empathy on the plight of the weak and vulnerable members of our society. You will not believe it that in the 21st Century Nigeria, a people in their farming communities can be so attacked unprovoked, killed in the most barbaric manner imaginable, their sources of livelihood destroyed and survivors chased out of their ancestral lands, while the attackers occupy same with impunity and the authorities do nothing about it.

Do you think there is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the attacks on Southern Kaduna? Would you say there is an intention to reduce the population of Southern Kaduna indigenes?
Certainly, it is not only an attempt, but also a grand agenda, not only to reduce our population, but also to supplant indigenous communities and implant Fulani communities through the incessant attacks on our communities, which is tantamount to ethnic cleansing and genocide, with a view to changing the demographics.

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How much trust and hope do you have in the state and federal governments to put an end to these killings?
Frankly speaking, not only me, but also I believe that most people have lost trust and confidence in this administration. My opinion is that the present government under President Muhammadu Buhari has shown clearly that they took over the reigns of power not to provide effective leadership and good governance to Nigerians, but to pursue an agenda of weakening or total wiping out of indigenous communities using Fulani herdsmen militia.

Just take a look at appointments and siting of projects under this Buhari administration, judging by their actions, inactions, body language and utterances. It is rather disheartening and embarrassing to see the brazen bigotry and chauvinism with which these are done.

It clearly shows that even though he (Buhari) was elected by all Nigerians, his leadership style protects and provides for only his ethno-religious group, while the rest of Nigerians are being treated like second or third class citizens.

Most leaders of nations all over the world focus more on managing the diversities of their people to achieve development and progress, but our present crop of leaders in Nigeria are doing the reverse, because of their parochial interest.

The situation in Kaduna State is far worse. The leadership style of Governor Nasir el-Rufai is that of total hatred and bigotry against the people of Southern Kaduna, whom he has continued to perceive as people undeserving of protection by the state and not deserving to benefit from the resources of the state.

The only thing the governor believes the Southern Kaduna person deserves is to be totally subjugated, denied any form of development, excluded from participating in leadership and governance of the state, coerced into silence and demolish every meaningful structure development and economic survival.

The one thing I want to assure these leaders is that they can never leave a good legacy through bigotry, hate and exclusion. Just as they came in, so they will go and Nigeria remains. Or to put it more succinctly in the Nigerian parlance, ‘soldier come, soldier go, but barrack remains.’

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SOKAPU has accused armed Fulani herdsmen of perpetrating genocide in Southern Kaduna. In what way can this be substantiated?
Of course, genocide is being perpetrated by armed Fulani militia against the indigenous people of Southern Kaduna. Like I said earlier, the objective is to totally annihilate or chase away the natives and take over their lands. Common prove of this is that most of the communities that have been attacked and displaced have been taken over and occupied by the Fulani invaders and the government authorities have done nothing to reverse the trend or bring them to justice, neither are the displaced communities, who are mostly farming communities, allowed to access their farms or assisted by the authorities to do so.

Even at the IDPs camps, the government has just abandoned the victims to their fate without food supply, medication, schools for the children and other basic necessities of life. So, to answer your question directly, genocide takes place when a people are profiled and for elimination under the watch of constituted authorities and they do nothing about it or use the machinery of state to facilitate it, which is almost the picture in Southern Kaduna and many other parts of the country.

Can your people not defend themselves, instead of waiting for governments and security agencies/agents?
Why not? We can defend ourselves! As a matter of fact, self-defence is a provision of our national constitution. However, it had been difficult for our people to defend themselves, because each time there is an attack and our youths rise to defend our communities or go after the attackers, that is time the security agents will come in and arrest our youths and allow the attackers go free. Many of our people are roasting in detention today as a result of this.

So, I feel that if the government of the day does not have a hand in all these, then it should protect these vulnerable and defenseless communities or empower them to defend themselves, as it was done in Burkina Faso.

Do you see any end/respite in sight?
Yes, I have hope that this madness would someday end, just like other ones before it, such as the Maitatsine killings of the early 1980s. I believe that Nigerians will reject any attempt to further foist a sectional and ethno-religiously driven government on them come 2023.

No matter how long and tortuous the night may be, I have hope that daybreak will come and we will be able to breathe fresh air once more.

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How did it get to this level and considering the prowess of your sons in the military (past and present), have that been of any effect/assistance in stopping the killing of your people? 
We got to this level of insecurity because Nigerians fell for the propaganda that brought the present crop of leaders to power. We were told that the former President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration was corrupt and there was need to chase them out and bring in leaders that were patriotic and had zero tolerance for corruption.

I can tell you that that was the greatest scam. Corruption today in Nigeria is at its record high since independence and enjoys 100 per cent tolerance. Bigotry, chauvinism, ethno-religious biases, recklessness in governance style, brazen abuse of the rule of law, impunity and disregard for due process have never characterised our national life like today.

I am very sure that Nigerians across various ethnic groups, religious leanings and cultures have learned their lessons the hard way.

Come 2023, I believe people would avoid voting based on sentiments or parochial interests, but on credibility and acceptability.

I know in the final analysis, we shall overcome.

What advice do you have for your people?
My advice to my people is that they should remain steadfast, law-abiding, vigilant and resilient, hoping that these bad times would soon pass away.

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