The Southern Kaduna crisis has been around for decades and I am yet to see a true solution to this unfortunate situation. When I began reading the debate in the media recently, I was very intrigued to hear the views of many sides especially of the elite and youth from this particular area. But it seems to me that almost everyone is speaking either based on sentiments or as a result of outright ignorance of the actual situation.
Or else, those critical of Governor El-Rufai will not blame him for “needlessly paying Fulani herdsmen compensation” without getting the real facts of the matter. A simple Google search would have guided their arguments and criticism of his administration; since information has since emerged from ‘General Martin Luther Agwai’s report’ which confirmed that indeed it was the late Governor Patrick Yakowa who commenced this payment in good faith as compensation to the herdsmen for
their lost cattle. It is important to note that General Martin Luther Agwai is a distinguished Nigerian who served in the military with distinction and who retired honourably, as such his reputation is in no doubt. He is also from Kaduna South, as was our late Governor Patrick Yakowa. This point is not intended to under-estimate the loss of lives or/and property the people of Southern Kaduna might have suffered during the ensuing decades of conflicts but merely to set the record clear with regards to payment of compensation to Fulani herdsmen by the Kaduna State Government.
Again if not, a ranking senator representing the people of this particular zone would not play politics with the lives of his own people by calling them to defend themselves knowing full well that more bloodshed will be the only result since it is not ‘tooth picks’ they will carry and defend themselves with. By the way if this type of call was a solution, the 1992 Zangon Kataf religious crisis would have brought not only peace but also prosperity to the entire Kaduna South today.
More than two decades later, the unfortunate 1992 events still leave considerable scars in the entire Kaduna South. For example, I spoke to several contractors who supposedly should be working on projects in Kaduna South but are now too scared and unwilling to resume developmental projects anywhere in these areas due to fears of attacks and reprisals from the two sides in the conflict.
The effects are numerous. For example, traders divert historic trade routes depriving the villagers of their means of livelihood and affecting the booming commerce that this area is known for. Family ties are torn apart as people migrate away to safer communities. Local and foreign investors are unwilling to come in regardless of the untapped resources and so on. And all of these lead to total economic and social meltdown in that area.
So, let us comprehend how many more decades backwards, a violent solution today will set the good people of Kaduna South.I am not exonerating Malam Nasir El-Rufai because as governor, the security of life and property of every one in Kaduna is his utmost responsibility. But if you are making a contribution on this issue and you are judging this matter solely on your perceptions of the man or based on your political affiliations or you are just guided by pure hatred for his person, then you will not be making any meaningful input toward a long-lasting solution.
While we should hold the governor responsible for safety of lives and property, we must be critical of our leaders through the lenses of objectivity and an unprecedented unity of purpose even if we are mostly always biased in our reasoning and critique.
Misunderstandings are always expected in heated conversations (similar to the ones I see between the El-Rufai camp on the one side and the other camps on the other), but if real peace and the common man is what you fight for, then on this matter you will not be focused on defending Governor El-Rufai, Senator Laah, or anyone particular individual for that matter. Rather, you will demand proper accountability or responsibility from all of them as your leaders and push them to deliver on the people’s mandate, pure and simple.
I have no doubt that Governor El- Rufai means well for the people of Kaduna South and believe he is committed to a long-lasting peace and prosperity of the zone. But let us even assume that he does NOT mean well! Will bickering among yourselves get his attention or push him to fulfill his responsibilities? There is a popular theological saying that “It is only when people truly change that their situation will change for the better”. So it is the hope of many spectators and well wishers of Kaduna South that all stakeholders will put aside their personal idiosyncrasies and ugly sentiments. The people must refuse to be used for once and come together in unison and with one voice. Then by their sheer number, they will force an end to this crisis. One can imagine this is the type of support and pressure that both the Governor and the Senator will prefer to get from their people in order for them to deliver on their promises. They certainly do not need hypocritical lip service or praise songs.
Another saying goes, “The power of the people is so much stronger than the people in power”, But Only If The People Work Unconditionally Together.
Ramalan writes from Abuja
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