Kaduna: Contending with old animosities, new confrontations
At the root of most civil unrests that have dragged Kaduna to the front pages of national news media is the tangle between politics and religion. Add to that the whisper of indigene-settler rancour that has always defined relations between the many ethnic communities in the state.
The people of northern Kaduna have always used their slight superior population and political exposure to try to dominate the southern Kaduna people. Yet the people of the south with some of their indigenes in the military have always held their ground through a show of counter force.
It was only by a chance occurrence that a person from Southern Kaduna ever occupied the office of State Governor in the state. Strong politicians like Zamani Lekwot and Isaiah Ballat made strenuous efforts to see that a balanced distribution of political power was achieved in the state. Although Ballat was believed to have made a very good showing in the governorship election in 2007, people of Southern Kaduna still believe that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) machinery was used to pull the rug off his feet.
In the process, a political understanding was brokered that saw him working in the office of the Vice President, Architect Namadi Sambo. It was while ensconced in that office that he died. Also Sambo’s former deputy, Patrick Yakowa, who became governor following the then President Goodluck Jonathan’s nomination of Governor Sambo to become his deputy in 2010, was later to lose his life in a helicopter accident.
These reverses in the political fortunes of Southern Kaduna exacerbated their frustrations in the state.
Ever since, the Southern Kaduna people continue feel marginalized in the state. That could explain why when the 2014 killing happened, President of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), Dr. Ephrain Goje, contended that there was the need for “our people to be more vigilante and security conscious, because no artillery can protect the people of Southern Kaduna.”
While accusing the federal and state governments of abandoning and neglecting Southern Kaduna, Goje declared: “There is a looming danger. Over 150 houses have been burnt; NEMA and SEMA should come to their aid. The president and the vice president cancelled their meetings due to a bomb blast in Abuja, why can’t they visit Kaduna South where hundreds of people are being killed?”
Simlarly, when the recent round of killings took place, the Southern Kaduna people said they had been “left in the hands of barbarians, who had wrecked maximum havoc, killed uncountable number of their people and destroyed unimaginable property.”
Current SOKAPU President, Barrister Solomon Musa, however disclosed that in the present incident, “so far, the locals have been able to identify not less than 40 corpses aside from the several other corpses burnt beyond recognition.”
He added: “Virtually, all houses have been burnt in Godo-Godo. Property worth hundreds of millions were destroyed, while crops have been grazed by cattle and the rest destroyed by the invaders. The savagery and barbarity of the attack is beyond belief. Yet, governments at the Federal and State levels appear quiet and noncommittal.”
The presence of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) is another source of worry for Kaduna State. Though IMN has been around for a while, plying their excesses in the name of religion, the situation changed when two residents and citizens of Kaduna assumed political power. Although originally from Daura in Katsina State, President Muhammadu Buhari sees Kaduna as home. For Nasir El-Rufai, he is an indigene. Both men know firsthand how people dread and caution themselves about the Shittes, particularly during their monthly processions.
It was with the background knowledge of how the IMN had turned laws unto themselves that precipitated the face-off between IMN and the military when they tried to hold the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Buratai, to the discipline of honouring the sanctity of their procession. It took just a phone call, and the rest became history and continues to hold the state in suspense. El Zakzaky is held in protective custody, the court has given the government 45 days to release him and get him alternative abode in Zaria or any other town in the north, in addition to paying him N50m in compensation for infringing on his personal liberty and fundamental rights. Would the government budge?
But while the rural villages reel from violence and criminal squabbles, the political leaders wage their own petty battles for influence and supremacy. Given the tension and bitter acrimony the defined the 2015 general election, most people thought that the state would know unqualified peace after the APC won the governorship.
That was not to be, because like the cat and mouse relationship between APC and PDP, the fall out of the governorship primary continued to reverberate in APC weeks and months after Governor El-Rufai took his oath of office as the state Chief Executive.
As part of the fence mending to ensure that the APC went into the election as a united family, rights activist, Shehu Sani, was prevailed upon to step down for the former minister of FCT minister and rather contest for the Kaduna Central Senatorial seat.
Like men set on a hunting expedition with a fifty-fifty chance of hunting a game, everything looked good in the eyes of the contenders. But no sooner was victory won and the APC winning big up to the federal level, the old animosities returned to haunt the former gladiators.
While El-Rufai is torn between seeking a second term in office, an ambition that seems to be constricting each passing day; Senator Sani is laying claims to his right to be governor. From attempting to suspend the senator, to a daylight attack at his constituency headquarters, Sani is not losing any opportunity to give back to the Governor.
The totality of the assaults on Kaduna, left, right and centre, is that the once beautiful and serene city has become a swamp filled with sharks and crocodiles.
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