Friday, February 24, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Killing Fields

Jibrin Ibrahim,

Many very sincere thanks for all your enlightening articles in this forum , without which I for one would be bereft of the necessary understanding and bearings to make sense out of what is sometimes only comprehensible as madness. Long ago I read a book about apartheid South Africa, entitled "The method in the madness"

In the same category, all lined up for varying degrees of thankfulness for other understandings about the many mansions in the one house known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria , but not in accordance with any alphabetical law and order and just to save space I leave the professorial titles that pre-fix and the various accolades and high praises that follow some of these great names, to name a few : the crispy Bolaji Aluko, Ayo Olukotun, Kenneth Harrow, Moses Ochonu, John Mbaku, Funmiara of CafeAfricana & for all that jazz , Samuel Zalanga, Ogbeni Kadiri, Gloria in excelsis Emeagwali, Afis Ayinde Oladosu alias "Rafsanjani " (he's a very busy one, which explains his all too occasional appearances here, but whenever he pops in he is significant), Her Imperial Majesty's unofficial appointee Farooq Kperogi (for his unrelenting critiques of the current administration and their shortcomings that leave a lot to be desired, but more than that, for propagating the purity of the mother tongue and pointing out the deviants (miscreants) and their now standardized lapses either by creative design or like Caliban, by wilful revolution, thus keeping the ocean clean); the as yet unofficial Ifa priest, the esoterically inclined Toyin Adepoju who always has an axe to grind with the rascals of Radical Islam; Chidi Anthony Opara for his pithy poetry and as regular as the sundial of Biafra, keeping us updated with his daily reports ( at the meeting on Yemen yesterday evening there was an elderly Swedish gentleman who spoke from the floor, about the media's woeful misinformation during the Biafra war - will get in touch with him later), Nile Girl, Evelyn Joe, I really miss the guy named Sabella and the many others not mentioned right now because this is getting kind of longish and out of control, but Glory be to God, supervising all this, our inestimable Oga Toyin Falola and I have been sparing in my use of the honorific "Oga" since the time when I once got disciplined - strongly reprimanded - they thought it was evil back-biting, referring to my chief as "the Oga of Ogas" - it was reported back to him that behind his back Muhammad Siddiq had conferred on him the unflattering title "the hog of hogs" and "the pig of pigs", that's how they (Swedes) translated my playful "the Oga of Ogas" - to no avail I explained that I had been speaking Nigerian English, Broken, not British...

Sorry about the long preamble wasting your time and that's why I have cut it short to get to this little point : re- your words:

"Kaduna State is a microcosm that tells the narrative of the larger Nigerian State. Nigeria is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, which accepts differences among its peoples and has a fairly large consensus of agreeing to live together. "

Sometime in 1981, when Nina and Katarina my two female Swedish visitors left Rivers State (they were impressionable nineteen years old at the time) I got a postcard from them from Kaduna, up North, telling me that I should come over to Kaduna as soon as I have any free time, that Kaduna was just the place for me - liberal , funky. I've been on my way, ever since. That was in the good old days of Balarabe Musa and Abba Musa Rimi. It's now painful to see what's being reported on an almost daily basis.

Splitting hairs: Can Kaduna really be described as a microcosm of Nigeria? Methinks not - not that I doubt that Kaduna "accepts differences among its peoples" or that the greater Nigeria also does that ("accepts differences among its peoples") or that e.g. the title Rev. Mohammed jars on me - it sounds like a violent contradiction in terms, like having a Rabbi Mohammed - nor do I dispute your conviction that Kaduna enjoys "a fairly large consensus of agreeing to live together" - that's what marriage is isn't it, "agreeing to live together" - in some nuptial creeds, " to be my wife (or husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy law, and this is my solemn vow." - which is one of the problems of both Nigeria and Kaduna - some parts have not willingly and lovingly consented to the agreement of living together as one love, country, one people, one destiny - some say that they have been amalgamated together without their consent , according to a colonial experiment propounded by one Lord Lugard.

Moreover, from time to time, one gets the impression that the South, especially the so called South- East apprehends the North as arrogating to themselves the being -in- power, playing husband and like Lady - they are unwilling to play the role of the submissive wife/ wifey - enough reason for wanting a dissolution of the marriage contract : divorce... talaq ! talaq !! talaq!!! Like the Enugu guys divorcing their wives because they had been allegedly "messed up" / ploughed by some other horny members of the Federal Republic, albeit, Islamically speaking only wives can be plowed

Don't get me wrong; in my opinion Shehu Usman Dan Fodio is one of the greatest men that ever lived on this planet.

No Sir, my simple disagreement with the Microcosm nomenclature is based on a because : because of its special/ specific geographic location - dislocation - mis-location in the North. Even if we had the same mix or swirl of multi-ethnicities and religion in say Owerri or Port Harcourt (or indeed transposed/ trans-located to cosmopolitan London - another country) by their mere geographic location in the South East ( Abia State, Rivers State almost another/ other countries) such social and religious crucibles would not qualify as microcosms of Nigeria, because of the other strong traditional and cultural factors at play. (For Nina and Katarina who had lived with me & family in Ahoada for a few hectic weeks, the change from Rivers state to Kaduna was dramatic - to the extent that they thought that I would prefer Kaduna (but of course they did not know unislamized Port Harcourt or Aba and Owerri or the nooks and crannies of the Naija Riverine Delta as well as I did)

I am no sociologist, but hopefully, you get my drift. I sometimes feel like a quaint Ambrose Adekoya Campbell singing his sweet lullaby: London is the place for me or like Mathhew Arnold composing a Dover Beach

Only prayerful wishes for Kaduna


We Sweden

On Friday, 24 February 2017 14:53:50 UTC+1, jibrinibrahim891 wrote:

The Killing Fields of Kaduna State and the Maikori Affair

Jibrin Ibrahim, Deepening Democracy Column, Daily Trust, 24th February 2017

Kaduna State is characterised by a marked identity pattern in which there is a polarization between two groups. On the one hand, the Hausa-Fulani community, mainly from Zaria Emirate to the north, which has over the past five hundred years, has had "implantations" in the area now known as Southern Kaduna, which was previously known as Southern Zaria and was under the authority of Zaria Emirate. In Zangon Kataf, Jere, Kachia, Kasuwan Magani, Saminaka, Gwantu and Godogodo there are significant Hausa-Fulani minorities, some of which have been there for hundreds of years. The other community is referred to by historians as the Confederation of Kankuma or Kwangoma and historically had similar cultures of ancestral worship carrying the legacy of the famous Nok Culture that is dated at about 3,000 years B.C. It is composed of numerous ethnic and linguistic groups and is today characterised by a strong Christian identity. The historical relationship between the two groups has been conflictual and go back a long way. During the pre-colonial period, the area was subjected to slave raids emanating from the Zaria Emirate. With colonialism, the zone was placed under the administrative control of Zaria Emirate, which sent district heads from Zaria to administer the zone. Over the period, conflict-generating mechanisms developed as the people of Southern Kaduna developed resistance to what they considered o be domination and subordination by a Muslim authority over them.

As in other parts of Nigeria, Kaduna State has a high level of transhumance pastoralism practiced by nomadic Fulani, who move seasonally with their animals in search of fodder and water. There are also many settled Fulani communities with cattle in the zone. Conflicts between pastoralists and farmers in Southern Kaduna have grown as a result of several factors. First, the destruction of farmlands and crops by Fulani cattle.  Second, there is blockage of traditional cattle routes and water points due to development of large farms and encroachment by farming communities on grazing areas. Third, with population growth, there is rapid decrease in land availability for livestock rearing as more land is brought under cultivation. Given the growing rise of cattle rustling and rural banditry in the country, Southern Kaduna finds itself in the vortex of the violence.

While the cyclical violence is very real, the point must also be made that the situation is being exacerbated by the spread of widespread rumours and fake news that have played in incendiary role in stoking the flames of crisis. As is all violent conflicts, truth is one of the first victims. This can be illustrated with the example of the Audu Maikori story. On the 23rd of January 2017, one Audu Maikori went to town with tweets claiming that his driver's younger brother and five other students of the College of Education Gidan Waya were ambushed and killed by herdsmen. The tweets appeared to be a factual account of what had happened to someone who is known. The tweets and Facebook accounts explained that the story broke because the driver carrying the students was Fulani and since he was kith and kin to the killers, his life was spared. The same day the story broke, the school issued an immediate denial saying none of their students had been killed and that the school had no department of Mass Communication as claimed by the storytellers. The rebuttal by the school received very little coverage.


What happened next is an escalation of the story by Vanguard newspaper. Their reporter, Luka Binniyat acting on the story posted by Audu Maikori on Twitter and Facebook produced a report entitled "5 College of Education students killed in Southern Kaduna". In the report, which was published a day after the denial of such occurrence by the school, an elaborate story was told and names were mentioned of one of the victims, James Joseph, his age, department in the school, his native town as well as a detailed description of the fatal journey. The writer went further to claim to have spoken to a management staff of the College on condition of anonymity. This lent the story credibility and caused the outcry on "murderous Fulani herdsmen" to gain more traction. The story became concrete "evidence" of mass killings.


On the 4th of February 2017 however, Audu Maikori, retracted his story on twitter and Facebook with an apology. He explained that his driver had confessed to making up the story so that he Maikori would develop sympathy and give him money to travel home for the alleged funeral of his brother. It is interesting that while the main tweet with the fake news was retweeted over 1500 times, the tweet with the link to the Facebook retraction was retweeted less than 500 times. On Monday 6th February 2017, the Vanguard Reporter who fabricated the detailed fake report, Luka Binniyat was invited by the SSS in Kaduna and was charged to court by the Police. Audu Maikori himself was arrested on the 17th of February in Lagos and transported to Abuja but was subsequently released. Those who were happy with the fake news spread by Audu Maikori have been complaining bitterly about his arrest and are alleging that his constitutional right to free speech is being violated. Does free speech mean one has a right to spread fabricated fake and dangerous news that was leading to more violence and killing?


There is a strong dimension of partisan politics in the Southern Kaduna crisis. Traditionally, since the emergence of the Northern Nigerian Non-Christian League and subsequently the United Middle Belt Congress in the 1950s, Southern Kaduna has frequently found itself in a party in opposition to the party supported by the northern zone. Currently, the Southern Kaduna zone has a strong presence of the PDP while the North is in the control of APC. In the 2011 post election violence, Southern Kaduna witnessed the highest level of atrocities as revealed by the Sheikh Lemu Commission of Inquiry, which said that over 800 people were killed. Governor El-Rufai has argued that the current violence is in part a carryover of reprisal killings linked to the 2011 events.


The Governor of Kaduna State has also expressed his determination to end the impunity enjoyed by people who engage in atrocities in the State. It is indeed important to impose State authority and return the zone to law and order. Law and order in itself cannot however be the only pathway to peace. Conflict resolution mechanisms leading to dialogue and peace making are essential. It is interesting that unknown persons have already destroyed the foundation for an army barrack in Unguwar Yashi in Zangon Kataf laid by the Chief of Army Staff and the Kaduna Governor in early February. Many people are apparently against the return of peace.


The Southern Kaduna crisis is being transformed into a national one and it is important that all necessary efforts be made to bring peace back to that State. All stakeholders need to work together and create synergy for peace building. It would not be easy because the conflict has been on going for the past thirty-five years. It is very complex and emotional and multiple narratives have emerged on its drivers and actors. The best strategy is to go beyond the political actors that might be enflaming the narratives and get the communities themselves to talk and work out an enduring settlement.


Kaduna State is a microcosm that tells the narrative of the larger Nigerian State. Nigeria is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, which accepts differences among its peoples and has a fairly large consensus of agreeing to live together. Often however, political and violence entrepreneurs intervene to promote what divides rather than what unites the people. Conditions in the country including the rise of religiosity in society, economic crisis and competition for power allow such actors to promote discord and violence. Nigeria is however resilient and conflict resolution and peace building efforts tend to succeed in bringing an end to the politics of discord. Out of this flows what we can call the Nigerian project. There is an authentic overriding Nigerian project; that it is possible for us to live peacefully together in spite of our differences. This requires the deepening of the two political values we all accept as Nigerians - federalism and democracy. These values must be translated into lived practices. Kaduna State is an important litmus test of our ability to succeed as a federal democratic society. We all have a responsibility to work towards this positive outcome.



Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Senior Fellow
Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja
Follow me on twitter @jibrinibrahim17

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