Unless serious steps are taken by well meaning Nigerians, the crisis and agitations that compelled former Kaduna State governor Sen Mohammed Makarfi to create Chiefdoms based on request will resurface, this time around vicious.
Tongues are wagging, nerves expanding with so much anger and suspicion following a letter released by Kaduna State government officials, converting Kauru chiefdom to an emirate – with more to be announced, prompting locals to described Nigeria’s northwestern governor, Nasir el-Rufai as emirate expansionist.
Makarfi, who govern Kaduna State from 1999- 2003, created room for different ruling houses – people with different faith and belief in the Chiefdoms to reach the top echelon as gazetted.
The general belief on emirate is “a political territory that is ruled by a dynastic Arabic or Islamic monarch styled emir.”
“Title of emir is exclusively Islamic,” said the national President of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), Barr Solomon Musa.
He said the people foresaw the antics of governor Nasir el-Rufai when in 2017, suddenly announced restructuring in the traditional councils.
Elanza News reports that el-Rufai had sacked about 4,000 traditional rulers- mostly district and village heads and asked them to reapplied.
Prominent traditional rulers were also, through a government letter requested to name their traditional councils after towns or communities. The memo, it was learnt, was confidential.
But outrage ensued with so much anger, tongues wagging following a letter dated May 30, 2018, referenced: MLG/ADM/GEN/470/S.I/Vol 1/130 and signed by Adamu Mohammed Mansur asking the chief of Kauru, Alhaji Ja’afaru Abubakar to refer to himself as emir.
Several tribal groups in Kauru are meeting, Elanza News gathered. They are asking questions why such a sensitive decision could be taken without their inputs. Some are also asking questions whether the nomenclature ’emir’ which is ‘strange’ to their chiefdom will involved boundary adjustment as according to them, non Muslim tribal members can’t aspire to be emir.
“It means Kauru has becomes an Islamic domain,” Musa said adding that if the letter appeared to be true.
“It means the right of the non Muslims in that chiefdom have been violated and non of them can ever be emir. I non Christian can be chief but a non Muslim cannot be emir,” the SOKAPU president asserted.
Elanza News gathered that majority of the people of Kauru chiefdom did not seek for the new nomenclature but that the chief might have considered the request from the governor, which according to them is not the opinion of the majority.
“The governor is pursuing an agenda,” Musa disclosed. “By this action, he has unveiled himself as emirate expansionist. We saw this coming when it all started with the sacking of the traditional rulers. The emergence of these traditional rulers were based on request from the majority of the people of our area. With this decision, it means the governor has showed himself as an ethnic and religious champion which is not what he was voted for,” Musa added.
The Kaduna State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs, a unit under el-Rufai that issued the letter to the chief of Kauru asking him to addressed himself as emir, said it is implementing government policy.
The ministry reiterated last year’s government statement that it is “reposition the traditional institutions.”
Professor Kabir Mato who defended the position of government in a statement said they believes that the action would enhance the glory and prestige of the traditional council and contribute to engendering harmonious co-existence as well as promote sense of belonging in all communities.
Mato, however, did not state succession plans on the ’emirate,’ but described people criticising the action of el-Rufai as ‘crisis entrepreneurs,’ a frequently used word in the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House’s statements.
More chiefdoms in Southern Kaduna will be converted to emirate, according to a tweet by Mr el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State.
“Four chiefdoms: Lere, Kagarko, Kauru and Kajuru located in four LGAs, requested to be designed as Emirates and it was granted. Lere is in Kaduna North Senatorial District; Kajuru is in Kaduna Central, while Kagarko and Kauru are in the Southern Kaduna Senatorial District,” el-Rufai tweeted through: @GovKaduna.
Elanza News reports that there is no senatorial district called: Southern Kaduna Senatorial District as stated by Mr el-Rufai.
In Kaduna, the senatorial districts recognised by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended are namely: Kaduna North; Kaduna Central and Kaduna South Senatorial Districts.
The name Southern Kaduna was adopted by people from the 12 local governments areas of the state, who shared common tradition and mores including: Lere, Kagarko, Kauru and Kajuru chiefdoms, which Mr el-Rufai said applied for change of nomenclature.
The outrage in Kaduna has crossed the River Niger and the River Benue, prompting former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Prof Chidi Odinkalu, and the founder of the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) Dr Fredrick Fasehun, to condemned the conversion of the Kauru chiefdom to emirate.
Odinkalu is questioning the rationale behind the conversion of a chiefdom in the Christian-dominated Southern Kaduna to an emirate.
The OPC leader, Dr Federick, on the other hand, is also warning Mr el-Rufai not to plunge Kaduna into a state of anomie with his actions.
“This is a follow-up in the script that features the killings in Southern Kaduna by Fulani militants,” the fearless OPC leader said, describing Mr el-Rufai’s move to converts chiefdoms into emirate as a display of ethnic chauvinism.