BY TUNJI AJIBADE, NOVEMBER 6, 2021 | 05:29 AM
As Zaria Province prepared to bring Jaba, Moroa, and Kagoro into a federation in the 1950s, it was thought that Jemaa Emirate in Plateau Province should be included. The reason given was that “it seemed absurd that people with so much in common and with a natural centre at Kafanchan (in Jemaa) should remain separate and an artificial unit of the three Native Authorities (Jaba, Moroa and Kagoro) to be set up instead.” Moreover, Jaba had no common boundary with Kagoro and Moroa; the road connecting it with the latter passed through Kafanchan.
Another reason the government gave was that “none (Jaba, Moroa, Kagoro) was financially viable and perforce had to make use of the Zaria Native Treasury with resultant control of staff and services by Zaria Native Authority. These districts are, moreover, almost entirely pagan/Christian and did not fit well into the unequal partnership with Zaria Emirate which in turn had little interest in these small independent units.” So on April 1, 1957, Jemaa was transferred from Plateau Province to Zaria Province (now Kaduna State), joining Jaba, Moroa, and Kagoro to form Jemaa Division. This means that Hausa or Fulani people, particularly in Jemaa, have been in Southern Kaduna for long and many have forebears who settled as far back as 1810. That was decades before Yoruba areas like Ibadan, Oyo State and many parts of Ogun State were settled by people migrating because of war. Yet some Yoruba support claim that Hausa and Fulani who had settled in Southern Kaduna before their own forebears arrived where they are now in the South-West are non-indigenes. When people know history, they’ll be more thoughtful regarding what they support.
Equally, 1810 was a period most tribes in the area now known as Southern Kaduna secluded themselves on hilltops for safety purposes. Many were encouraged to occupy the plains from 1905 onwards by the colonial government. Thereafter, they were induced to grow cash crops in order to pay tax as well as trade with outsiders, something the Hausa and Fulani here had been doing for decades. Equally, in 1927, when the Emir of Zazzau and the Resident of Zaria Province visited Zangon Kataf (Southern Kaduna), it was recorded that “there is very considerable Hausa settlement at Zangon Katab and a flourishing market attended by pagan and Hausa alike.” When they visited Kachia, they saw that “the pagans live peacefully with the Hausa and move freely about the country.” I state these things to show that Southern Kaduna has always had Nigerians who’re now being projected as non-indigenes. My state, Oyo, is home to people from different tribes for generations, including Fulani, many of whom identify Oyo as their state. As such, I can’t support the divisive call that certain Nigerians shouldn’t live wherever they choose.
Meanwhile, on my return journey from Kafanchan, a young man opened a discussion. He said he had heard that Fulani herders were attacking people in Southern Kaduna, which was easy for him to understand. But when Fulani were attacking fellow Fulani in villages in Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina states, he was confused. I told the young man he didn’t need to be confused. What I explained on this page in the past was what I explained to him. The challenge in Southern Kaduna occurs at micro and macro levels. At the micro-level, we know farmers have been relating fine with herders for generations. But land and water resources became scarcer and routes known to herders began to be taken over due to population expansion. Killings were carried out by criminal elements. As perpetrators are often not arrested, reprisals happen and killings escalated on both sides. The Nigerian Army and Kaduna State Government affirm that reprisals occur in Southern Kaduna.
After a field trip recently, Ayodele Ozugbakun of TVC News said Fulani herders from Mali were known to occupy forests from where they attacked people in Nigeria’s South-West. The same happens elsewhere. I once explained how Hausa and Fulani people in northern parts of Gombe State told me that herders from the Niger Republic used to bring cattle to eat their crops; sometimes they killed farm owners. Whenever these same foreign herders went to southern parts of Gombe (predominantly Christians), it would be noised that Fulani persecuted Christians. Like other parts of Nigeria, Gombe farmers remain vulnerable so on October 29, 2021, the state government banned herders from passing through the state until January 2022 and ordered farmers to harvest their crops before that period. Due to the current unpredictable relations between farmers and herders, animosity has grown between the two groups everywhere. This is compounded by the criminality of mostly foreign herders. That’s at the micro-level.
At the macro level, the government should secure lives and property. But the police have been accused, especially in the case of Southern Kaduna, of not arresting criminals who have carried out even unprovoked killings. Since the police failure in Southern Kaduna for all the known reasons – inadequate manpower, centralised structure of the police, lack of appropriate operational facilities, etc, the situation cannot be different in Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina states. When bandits, either as herders or otherwise, engage in criminal activities in those far northern states, the same way the police is unable to respond appropriately and timely in Southern Kaduna, is what happens there too. Criminals hardly respect tribes anyway. They attack whoever they have access to, the same way a certain Ishola Oyenusi pioneered armed robbery attacks against members of his own Yoruba tribe decades ago.
Different factors have contributed to the situation in Southern Kaduna where allegations of “persecution” and “domination” are made because of the incessant attacks. We also know that the historical experiences of people here have been rolled into the current security challenges that are complicated by the lack of adequate response from the security apparatuses. But pursuing such a narrative can’t give a clear picture of what the problem is. As I’ve often stated, once a diagnosis is wrong, the solution will be wrong, a reason I seize every opportunity to explain the fundamental issues surrounding the situation in Southern Kaduna. It’s to help identify lasting solutions.
Last Friday, I noted that I would give two examples of the reasons I narrated what I saw in Kafanchan. Not long ago, a journalist on a TV show gave the impression that one side was the one always killing the other, and that this same side was just a horde of herders who came in and went out of Southern Kaduna determined to take land from some indigenes. Many Nigerians share this erroneous notion. But in Kafanchan, I had sat at events where leaders of the influential Southern Kaduna People’s Union said Fulani were among their members. Yet on TV an ill-informed journalist said only roaming Fulani herders came to Southern Kaduna to take land from some landowners.
The second example is a postgraduate student whose ignorance is so profound that it’s enough justification to jail those who callously took History out of school. There was that occasion when I was discussing with someone, noting that Fulani had lived in Southern Kaduna for generations. This postgraduate student who overheard asked: “Do Fulani settle and live in one place?” He laughed, cockily sure in his ignorance. Meanwhile, this postgraduate student is at a university where there are many Fulani youths who are students, not herders. He can’t see this because bigoted characters see only the prejudices they have in mind, never the reality around them. If any Nigerian doesn’t know any Fulani who’s not a herder and who lives in one place, at least they know the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
With the undeniable configuration of the population, I think opinion leaders in Southern Kaduna need to reassess their approach to issues of concern in this part. Including the ward of former Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State, where a Hausa-Fulani candidate of the opposition party has just won the Jemaa LGA chairmanship election. I learnt the electorates demanded better development, rejecting the perennial slogan of “they are killing our people” adopted by the party that had controlled Jemaa LGA since 1999. This means only one thing: demonising fellow Nigerians, refusing to work, based on religion and tribe, with relevant stakeholders to find solutions to challenges in Southern Kaduna isn’t practical, and it won’t work forever.
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12 September 2021