Awe… Rustic town that hosted deposed Emir
Awe is predominantly Hausa-Fulani, with other tribes, such as Eggon and Tiv existing side-by-side, with the Hausa language as the major means of communication.
Sanusi 11 is currently being hosted at the residence of the Chairman of Awe Council, Alhaji Umar Tanko, in an area called Angwan Galadima, about 100 metres away from the palace/residence of the Emir of Awe, Alhaji Isa Abubakar.
The street leading to the present residence of Sanusi 11 is untarred, with no street name, number of light.
Apart from the fenced two-bedroom bungalow building housing the dethroned emir, whose outside walls were still being painted as at Thursday, every other building in the neighbourhood is low-grade local huts, with bushes and unkempt surroundings.
With Sanusi II in the town, there was an upsurge in commercial activity, as many people trooped into the town to catch a glimpse of the deposed emir.
A resident told The Guardian: “The compound comprises three blocks of a two-bedroom bungalow belonging to the incumbent chairman of Awe Council.
“The two other flats belong to the chairman’s two wives, while the third apartment is where the chairman lives, but now given to the dethroned emir.”
As at Thursday, the building was still being given some befitting finishing touches to give it a better outlook. Some residents of the community disclosed that a big power plant was moved into the compound by the state government shortly after the arrival of Sanusi 11 on Tuesday from Loko.
They said Awe town rarely had electricity supply and whenever it did, it was a very low voltage that could hardly power any gadgets. Aside the access road that connects the town with Lafia, there is a dearth of social amenities.
Apart from friends and relations, who come to pay the dethroned emir brief visits, the town remained dry and hot in the day, with an average temperature of between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius and between 20 and 25 at night, a situation that could scare any first-time visitor from spending longer time around.
The main telecommunication network is Glo, with its fluctuating services, and the few guesthouses in the town lack air conditioning units and other social amenities. But there is a state-owned general hospital, as well as primary health care.
Noise from generating sets and the intense heat make the town almost unbearable at night. The people hardly stay out later than 10 pm, basically because of insecurity and apprehension over attacks.
The major source of transportation within the town is a commercial motorcycle, popularly called Okada, driven by youths who hardly understand or speak English, but Hausa, and they charge between N50 and N100 per drop, depending on the distance.
Water supply is a major challenge, as the people depend solely on well water, otherwise known as rigia.
The main differences between Loko, the initial town Sanusi 11 was ordered to take refuge, and Awe are accessibility and proximity to the state capital. While Loko lacks good access road, Awe has a clean road that links it with Lafia, both lacking basic social amenities and situated at the extreme end of the state.
At the palace of the Emir of Awe last Wednesday, when The Guardian got to the town in search of Sanusi 11, there was a security meeting between the emir and Fulani leaders to doused the tension, following the latter’s allegation that some gunmen attacked and killed no less than 50 cows along the River Benue axis in the council.
The emir appealed to the aggrieved Fulanis to sheathe their sword, warning that the state would not condole any security breakdown while hosting Sanusi 11 in his domain.
There was already apprehension over possible reprisal attack by the Fulani in the early hours of Wednesday following the attack and killing of the cows; hence the deployment of civil defence and Police officers to provide security to the deposed emir, leading to the barring of visitors or people anywhere near his new residence, including journalists.
Some of the residents expressed mixed feelings over the circumstances surrounding the ouster of Sanusi 11. Mallam Umar Faruk, 55, a settler in Awe, said: “We want to use this opportunity to appeal to Baba Buhari that whenever a crisis arises, he should come out and speak, even when he is out of power.
“If you keep quiet over issues like what happened in Kano, you give room for suspicion. Because of God, Buhari should come out and make statements and not remain quiet.
“He should remember that I fasted and prayed on three different occasions for him to be elected. Now that he is there, he must not disappoint us on issue like what happened in Kano that displaced the emir of Kano. Keeping quiet over very important issues like this is bad training for us who are upcoming leaders of tomorrow.
“We pray that Allah should grant the new emir the good heart to lead well and Allah should grant that Kano will enjoy the peace and not trouble as a result of what happened.”
A 70-year-old woman living close the new abode of Sanusi 11 said: “I just got to know that the emir relocated our community. Since he came into the town, we, the neighbours, have had joyful moments, because a special visitor is living among us.
“We are excited because he deserves a warm welcome and we have accepted him into our community. We believe his coming will bring good things, but even if we do not have development, we are happy that such a great man of our country resides within our neighbourhood.”
Mallam Hassan Maimagani, 89, added: “What happens to this king, I am not happy about it; I am sad. We are only happy that he is with us here. His coming is bringing people we have never seen and it is a blessing seeing him within our vicinity.”
For 95-year-old Mallam Mohammed Abu Awe: “Whoever is enthroned to this level and you dethrone him is not a good omen and because of that, I am not happy. We pray God that such a thing never happens to any king again. It is like you are given food and while eating, somebody comes to kick the food away. I pray this never happens to any king again.
“It is believed that when a king is appointed, he remains a king till he gets to heaven. Dethronement is not a good omen at all. At the same time, we cannot question Allah, who gave him the power and wisdom and still took it from him.
“We accept him in our community with joy and pray Allah gives him long life and good health.”
Isiaka Abdullahi, 30, noted: “The emir coming to Awe is a blessing to the people of the community and that is what we believe. We are full of hope and we are privileged to host him in Awe.”