The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

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Nigeria is currently engulfed in a major crisis of intergroup relations that is rooted in the politics of economic survival but which is often easily exploited by the elite. 

The latest theatre of such madness is in the Northwest state of Zamfara where towns and villages are attacked, almost on a daily basis, by armed bandits while the vigilante groups brought in by the helpless communities to help restore order are either being exterminated or are themselves engaging in extra judicial killings. 

With villages being deserted and a growing resort to self-help in the face of what looks like organized crime, there are serious threats to our national economy and security that many Nigerians are not paying adequate attention to.

The violence in Zamfara State is particularly difficult for “outsiders” to understand, especially when the people many of us had always assumed to be one and the same are now killing one another. 

That perhaps explains why most of the reportage of the orgy of bloodletting, essentially between the Hausa and Fulani peoples of Zamfara State, is by the foreign media. 

But the more I probe into the bloody crisis, the more it reveals the complexities of our country and how simplistic some of the assumptions that drive the political agitations in Abuja are.

In a series of attacks that started in 2011 before it exploded in the last one year, no fewer than 48 people were recently killed in one single attack after the marauders entered a village called Kizara before dawn, riding on motorbikes. 

“There was an attack by armed bandits on Kizara village where 48 residents were killed in apparent targeted killings by cattle rustlers that have been terrorising the state for some time now,” said Alhaji Ibrahim Birnin-Magajia, a Zamfara State government official who spoke to AFP. 

An eye witness confirmed that the murderers “later moved house to house, telling residents that they were looking for members of local vigilante (groups) whom they said had been disturbing them.”

To compound the problem is the total neglect by the Zamfara state government to build basic transport and communication infrastructure in the conflict areas; a situation that has made law enforcement and maintenance of security extremely difficult. 

As a result, the area has virtually become a haven for all manner of hoodlums with the attendant rise in crime rates, characterized by frequent armed robberies, mostly targeted at local wealthy Hausa traders and cattle rustling for which Fulani herders are primary targets.

I understand that the violence actually started late in 2011 in Lingyado village of Dansadau District but it was in 2012 that the situation went out of control when 52 persons, mostly Vigilantes mobilized to protect the community, were killed, assassination style, in Zurmi, sending fears to many of the residents who had to flee with their families and cattle. 

In 2014, specifically on 7th April, 112 victims of one of such attacks in Yar Galadima village, Maru Local Government, were buried. 

The state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who led a delegation to the burial rites promised that the culprits would be apprehended and brought to justice but those were empty words.

According to the residents who claimed more than 200 people were actually killed in that attack, the attackers came on motorcycles at midday, during a meeting of people from the village and other surrounding communities to plot strategies on how to curb the incessant attacks. 

“They came on motorcycles and opened fire on the people who were gathered at the venue of the meeting, killing many instantly,” a resident, Mohammad Yargaladima, told Channels Television.

I have in the last week spoken to top politicians and civil servants (retired and serving) in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi States and what they tell me about the violence sounds like tales out of horror movies. 

The bandits in Zamfara operate in such a brazen manner that they now send letters ahead to targeted communities to expect them, with instructions that their would-be-victims keep large sums of money at home. 

They would state the amount they were coming to collect from each household and woe betides those who are “stupid” enough to default when the bandits visit. 

These brutal assassins are reputed for killing husbands in the presence of his wife and sometimes they wipe out entire families.

In kizara village of Tsafe Local Government, the military troops stationed there was recently withdrawn because of lack of feeding allowance and two days after, the bandits attacked, killing more than 50 people. 

Such is the nature of criminality that it would seem the security agencies have been overwhelmed. 

For instance, while the military operation is now primarily focused on Dansadau-Mgani axis in Maru local government, the killings in Zurmi-Birnin Magaji-Shinkafi areas have also heightened in recent weeks.

What compounds the problem now is that it has extended to neighbouring states. 

On 10th August this year, while receiving the newly promoted AIG Zone 10 in Sokoto, Governor Aminu Tambuwal raised alarm over the influx of bandits from Zamfara into his state. 

He said the people inhabiting local governments in Sokoto that neighbour Zamfara now have their cattle rustle every day. But what is the way out?

The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-based Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training (CEDDERT) in collaboration with some development partners recently held a seminar on the farmer/pastoralist conflicts ravaging communities across Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara States. 

In his paper at the seminar, the Executive Director of CEDDERT, Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, popularly called ASM, attributed the recent killings to the ill-advised decision of the Zamfara government to clear the large forest and cattle grazing reserves in a section of the state after which the same plots of land were allocated to senior government officials and politicians.

However, my investigations reveal that this most egregious looting of public resources, by way of converting a Forest Reserve to farmlands and sharing the plots among cronies, started with the former Governor (now Senator) Ahmad Sani Yerima. 

The policy has resulted in the dislocation of thousands of Fulani hamlets between Dansadau area and Maradun – Zurmi axes. 

These were said to be communities that had been in existence for over 500 years. 

The dislocation of these Fulani herders and their livestock was believed to have sparked spontaneous mass movements of human beings and cattle into other neighbouring communities and states in the central and southern zones of the country with the attendant consequence in conflicts with farmers being ignited along their flight paths.

While I intend to dig more on this crisis that has serious national security implications, there is no doubt that the failure of the Zamfara state government to take necessary measures has encouraged various local communities to resort to self-help, thus exacerbating the problem. 

Parallel vigilante groups known as “Yan Banga” and “Yan Sa Kai” have emerged in several villages within the state with their members usurping the role of law enforcement agencies. 

In recent weeks, members of these two vigilante groups have assumed the sole responsibility of defining, identifying and arresting alleged criminals and executing them without recourse to law courts and other constituted authorities.

Incidentally, on 14th July this year President Muhammadu Buhari personally attended the launching of a military offensive code-named “Operation Harbin Kunama” in Dansadau forest to battle the cow rustlers. 

Instructively, he wore a military fatigue on that occasion perhaps to send a message but that does not seem to have moved the bandits one bit. 

As recently as the Sallah day last week, several communities witnessed fresh deadly outbreak of hostilities between the two warring groups–Hausa and Fulani–leading to the death of unspecified number of people in the Dan Gulbi and Magami areas of Dansadau-Maru local governments.

While we must prevent a situation in which the conflict escalates into a more sinister conflagration that may, like the Boko Haram menace, overwhelm the Northwest zone of the country, the crisis is also a reflection of the failure of both the traditional and political authorities in Zamfara. 

On the political front, almost everybody from Zamfara State that I have spoken with describe Mr. Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari as an absentee governor who hardly spends up to one week within a month in Zamfara. 

Incidentally, the governor had been away to Saudi Arabia for several days while the killings continued only to return at the weekend to join President Buhari’s team to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

I will enjoin the governor to stay more at home to deal with the challenge facing his people.

However, beyond the government, the traditional authority in Zamfara State should also brace up because there is so much that they can do. 

In a February 2013 piece titled “The Fulani-Farmers Conflicts in Nasarawa State: The Ecology Population and Politics”, Murtala Adogi Mohammed, after a brilliant analysis of what he described as a “Natural Resources Conflict” recommended the “Yauri Model” which may be worth examining by the authorities in Zamfara State.

According to Mohammed, upon his installation, the Emir of Yauri in Kebbi State, Dr. Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi, helped to establish many professional and tribal associations which were then encouraged to elect their chairpersons. 

“The different chairs elected one representative as member to the Emirate Council. 

“A conflict resolution mechanism was set up at three levels: Low level committee, comprising of village head, Fulani and farmer leaders. 

“They can resolve the issue at their level, mostly by mediation and payment of compensation; Middle level committee, comprising District Head, Sarkin Fulani and branch chair of the Farmers Association. 

“Very few issues pass this level without being resolved.

“Even if the issue is with the police or court, the committee can achieve an out-of-court settlement.”

If and when these mechanisms fail, according to Mohammed, the matter would then go to the “High level committee, comprising His Royal Highness the Emir of Yauri, the Galadima and other members of the Emirate Council. 

“The verdict here is final and the conflicting parties must adhere to it. Since the establishment of this mechanism, farmers, fisher folk and pastoralists have been living peacefully with one another. 

“The committees are multi-purpose and it resolves all forms of conflict, not just farmer-herder issues.”

Although it may appear to be a crisis localized within a few local government areas in Zamfara State, the killings and displacement of innocent villagers now abandoned to their fate not only have serious security implications, they are a scar on our collective conscience as a nation.

A Conscious Life

I was in Lagos yesterday for the public presentation of ‘A Conscious Life’ written by Mrs Funmi Oyetunji, a chartered accountant and investment banker, at an impressive ceremony chaired by the Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II. 

My review of the book is published on my web portal, olusegunadeniyi.com, where new materials have been uploaded. 

Meanwhile, there is also a notice on the web portal about the 2016 edition of the Pastor Poju Oyemade-inspired ‘Platform Nigeria’ coming up, as usual, on 1st October.

The Verdict by Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

Ondo Elections 2016.

If you served in Ondo State and did not enjoy your stay, raise your hand?  I bet you the number will be in the minority.  Space will not allow me to mention the joys of being amongst the wonderful, beautiful and peace loving people of Ondo State, irrespective of location, rural or urban.  The memories of Compatriots like Mohammed Sada from Katsina State, Bubemi Pesu, Tony Akhigbe, Femi, Toyin Ajayi, Chigozie Oguine, Kenneth, Ama Agbiji, Nkem, Ochi, Akin, Femi Akintunde Johnson (FAJ), Bidemi, Ramatu, Ms Florence Ahmed, John Daniel, Samson Wakili, Friday, the list goes on.  It will not over Shadow, the likes of High Chief Seinde Arogbofa and the staff of the then Army Comprehensive High School, the late Col Daramola’s family, the R.O. Maxwells (A Mother in Israel), my very own Funmi nee Maxwell (My Sister in Israel). The Wole Adamolekuns, still a mentor, Omoboya NYSC Mama with Mr Atilola’s (Adamu daku ma damu mi) to cover for all my Directors and staff of NYSC.  The Ondo State NYSC Drama Troupe (we need a reunion) and the Ondo State Christian Corpers Fellowship’s Musical Group amidst others are very fresh memories on the platter of my mind.  God will richly bless and remember all those who have laboured to make visitors at home, for no seemingly outward reward.

I am specially remembering my Mother, she taught me in primary one, became a Guardian during my youth corps and now the Wonderful Grand Mother of my Children, with My Father(Rest Well Daddy), he has been like a guiding light and his words echoing and re echoing especially in times of need.  The Ilemobade’s have my Eternal Gratitude for making Ondo a place I can justifiably also call home.  My Oye Lawrence, Sarki, Ayuba (army officers), Sankara, et al and the one that made me an NYSC Guitar boy, by allowing me use his guitar, the then State Police Public Relations Officer Mr Tonye Wakama, thank you again.  I am talking elections, forgive me, that is what happens when you say Ondo.

Elections in Ondo/Ekiti (then Ondo State), were never a child’s play, the relics of violence covered the state during our time, late Col Daramola, the then Chair of the Electoral Commission, told us not to worry.  Ondo people only react when pushed to the wall or when the truth is being denied them. 

As Elections draw close, you see the forming, amending and destroying of alliances, is for want of  fair play.   My prayer for this wonderful State that is the Spiritual Trigger of the Continent, is for the peaceful election of the right persons that will continue in the upgrade of Ondo to be a leading state in Nigeria and Africa. 

Forgive my selling fish (Selfish).  The Bitumen in Ondo can sufficiently make Nigeria a net exporter of the commodity to Africa and the World.  The Ondo Cocoa farms, if well harnessed can make Ivory Coast a secondary exporter of the Chocolate Juice. The Igbokoda Glass factory, can halt our Chinese imports of glasses and china wares.  The best way to decongest the Lagos – Ibadan/Ore roads is the Lagos – Okitikupa water ways.   I am told that the Sapele Water & Palm Wine from the Ode-Aye Okitikupa axis, ‘fit make mallam forget say na from Zamfara e come from’.  Na one corper tell me ooh.

Seriously, Ondo State is like the Turkey of Nigeria and deserves the very best in this electioneering season.  So what have I been saying?  It is time for Ondo people to forget, Party, region or creed and vote for capable hands that can change the status of this regional power.  X-ray the candidates and avoid the Hilary/Trump saga that reminds me of the Abiola/Tofa thing.  If non of the candidates is good enough, do the Lagos thing and get the Ondo Fashola and Ambode to come out and join.  Now that global challenges are not getting any less, it is time to bring out your jokers for the days ahead.

We will not be left out, our Knees are still bent in prayers and God will hear us.  Ondo must rise to champion the development that will transcend to Oshun, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Kwara, Kogi, Nigeria and the Continent at large.  That is a vision I saw in 1987/88 and the time for fulfilment has just begun.  Arise my dear People at home and abroad and Lead from this your humble peaceful abode.  May we have a peaceful, free and fair elections.  God bless Nigerians and then Nigeria. 

Ondo Elections 2016.

If you served in Ondo State and did not enjoy your stay, raise your hand?  I bet you the number will be in the minority.  Space will not allow me to mention the joys of being amongst the wonderful, beautiful and peace loving people of Ondo State, irrespective of location, rural or urban.  The memories of Compatriots like Mohammed Sada from Katsina State, Bubemi Pesu, Tony Akhigbe, Femi, Toyin Ajayi, Chigozie Oguine, Kenneth, Ama Agbiji, Nkem, Ochi, Akin, Femi Akintunde Johnson (FAJ), Bidemi, Ramatu, Ms Florence Ahmed, John Daniel, Samson Wakili, Friday, the list goes on.  It will not over Shadow, the likes of High Chief Seinde Arogbofa and the staff of the then Army Comprehensive High School, the late Col Daramola’s family, the R.O. Maxwells (A Mother in Israel), my very own Funmi nee Maxwell (My Sister in Israel). The Wole Adamolekuns, still a mentor, Omoboya NYSC Mama with Mr Atilola’s (Adamu daku ma damu mi) to cover for all my Directors and staff of NYSC.  The Ondo State NYSC Drama Troupe (we need a reunion) and the Ondo State Christian Corpers Fellowship’s Musical Group amidst others are very fresh memories on the platter of my mind.  God will richly bless and remember all those who have laboured to make visitors at home, for no seemingly outward reward.

I am specially remembering my Mother, she taught me in primary one, became a Guardian during my youth corps and now the Wonderful Grand Mother of my Children, with My Father(Rest Well Daddy), he has been like a guiding light and his words echoing and re echoing especially in times of need.  The Ilemobade’s have my Eternal Gratitude for making Ondo a place I can justifiably also call home.  My Oye Lawrence, Sarki, Ayuba (army officers), Sankara, et al and the one that made me an NYSC Guitar boy, by allowing me use his guitar, the then State Police Public Relations Officer Mr Tonye Wakama, thank you again.  I am talking elections, forgive me, that is what happens when you say Ondo.

Elections in Ondo/Ekiti (then Ondo State), were never a child’s play, the relics of violence covered the state during our time, late Col Daramola, the then Chair of the Electoral Commission, told us not to worry.  Ondo people only react when pushed to the wall or when the truth is being denied them. 

As Elections draw close, you see the forming, amending and destroying of alliances, is for want of  fair play.   My prayer for this wonderful State that is the Spiritual Trigger of the Continent, is for the peaceful election of the right persons that will continue in the upgrade of Ondo to be a leading state in Nigeria and Africa. 

Forgive my selling fish (Selfish).  The Bitumen in Ondo can sufficiently make Nigeria a net exporter of the commodity to Africa and the World.  The Ondo Cocoa farms, if well harnessed can make Ivory Coast a secondary exporter of the Chocolate Juice. The Igbokoda Glass factory, can halt our Chinese imports of glasses and china wares.  The best way to decongest the Lagos – Ibadan/Ore roads is the Lagos – Okitikupa water ways.   I am told that the Sapele Water & Palm Wine from the Ode-Aye Okitikupa axis, ‘fit make mallam forget say na from Zamfara e come from’.  Na one corper tell me ooh.

Seriously, Ondo State is like the Turkey of Nigeria and deserves the very best in this electioneering season.  So what have I been saying?  It is time for Ondo people to forget, Party, region or creed and vote for capable hands that can change the status of this regional power.  X-ray the candidates and avoid the Hilary/Trump saga that reminds me of the Abiola/Tofa thing.  If non of the candidates is good enough, do the Lagos thing and get the Ondo Fashola and Ambode to come out and join.  Now that global challenges are not getting any less, it is time to bring out your jokers for the days ahead.

We will not be left out, our Knees are still bent in prayers and God will hear us.  Ondo must rise to champion the development that will transcend to Oshun, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Kwara, Kogi, Nigeria and the Continent at large.  That is a vision I saw in 1987/88 and the time for fulfilment has just begun.  Arise my dear People at home and abroad and Lead from this your humble peaceful abode.  May we have a peaceful, free and fair elections.  God bless Nigerians and then Nigeria. 

Global Political Correctness or Error?

Taking a look at Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria, will it have been better leaving the nations unperturbed and silently follow the tenets of power change?  We all shout the need for democracy, where in the world in democracy sincerely genuine?  Agreed, it is the best form of Government.  Elections alone do not define democracy, especially when the needed structures, to sustain it, are not in place.

If you allow the people of Libya to honestly select between the relative normalcy of the Gadhafi days and now that even Libyans are running from their country in modes known for the West and Central African blacks alone, which will they vote for?

An Iraqi situation where Christian and minority tribes were slaughtered like animals and the world silently watched without uttering words for fear of reprisals and/or to be politically / diplomatic correct. I ask again, will this minorities prefer the interventions that brought Iraq to this state or the Saddam Hussein days?

Syria, Samaria, Damascus, in memory, I remember some of my class mates, leaving Amman, Saturday nights, drive to Damascus for night clubbing and return very early Sunday mornings for classes (sorry, wont mention names, if any is reading). Many more transverse those terrains for pilgrimage, study and work.  A very wonderful set of hospitable people, I may say.  Will the people have preferred a yesterday Syria with the bad ruler, than a country with lives, ancient histories, buildings, technologies and businesses destroyed and majority of the citizenry becoming refugees of no nation, as all are afraid of accepting them for fear of ISIS?

Cases without counts, we have, where interventions, even those well intended end up being hijacked by others who for long where unable because of the same persons termed evil by the interveners.  A very disappointing fact is, like Oscars Arias put it long time ago, that the weaponry used are always from the same nations preaching peace/better world.  Some are of the opinion that these nations go into their Military Laboratories / Research Facilities and Industries to create weapons of mass destruction only to come to nations of low intellect and use the leadership, their opponents as laboratory rats for their experiments.  (True or False?  I do not know.).  But ear to ear talks are common of CIA Agents gone rogue, like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

The issue of migration has now so beclouded our judgement, that it is hard to place the line between what is right / wrong.  When Black Africans were traversing the ancient Sahara Desert Trade routes to North Africa for access to Europe through especially Spain.   The world turned deaf ears to our cries for a rethink of the nuances that cause persons to leave their comfort zones for a greener pasture that is more of a mirage than reality.  The number of deaths by natural causes and the inhumane treatment by people of nations along the routes are best not mentioned.     These migrants formed villages in off the grid locations, known to uniformed Government officials for only harassments and collection of illegal dues for such illegal stays.   Transient families emerge, villages with hierarchal structures like self preservation and order.  The cost if you ask me is not worth the story.

I have waited to hear of the Global (as UN) support for the wealthy Egyptian who bought an Island for a particular group of refugees, I am still waiting.  I am also waiting to hear other wealthy Arabs follow the example, I am still waiting to hear.  With the bombings in France, Brussels, Germany and the near coup in Turkey, I am waiting for the American Government, whether Democrat or Republican that will truly open their doors for migrants in the true American Story and Spirit.

My great worry is, the merchants of war will not stop now.  With Drone technology and the Internet becoming an increasingly fearful phenomenon, the future is increasingly bleak for the average and below average persons.  African states have are not learning from the past, brothers killing brothers and neighbours destroying each other are still the norm.  The usage of religion, tribe, regions have becoming increasingly sophisticated that, even infant nations that should be learning to crawl are fine-tuning the blood letting skills on the same people they joined hands to get independence.  Something is terribly wrong, because the war lords and sponsors are in far away safe havens with their families and will be the same persons that will be called to discuss reconciliations after the poor masses without names / numbers are buried in mass or unmarked graves.  When this man’s inhumanity to man stop?

If anybody is hearing, let for once, the United Nations and Region Unions and Association call a spade a spade, by fingering the direct or remote sponsors of these conflicts and let them face the peoples’ court.  The creators of these killing machines be made accountable for there safe keep / misuse.   The rulers of regions and their security be called to face their ability or otherwise to do the right thing at the right time.  Inter / Intra National peer reviews to include possible sanctions on persons and not innocent citizens.  Southern Sudan must not be allowed to go inflames again.

If something is not done fast, I see a time when everybody will arm him/herself for defence against their neighbours and system.  Then the chaotic situation you now see will be a child’s play.  Because computer games will be played live in our neighbourhoods, schools, places of worship and homes.   A global survival reality show will not a beautiful story, a stitch in time saves more than nine.

Federal Character And Its Discontents – By Reuben Abati

reuben-abati

reuben-abati

There has been so much concern about how the Federal Character principle has since its introduction in 1979, promoted mediocrity within the public service, and retarded national growth and progress. Introduced after the civil war to promote national integration, and to address the fears of sections of the country which felt marginalized, the Federal Character principle was meant to ensure that public service appointments reflect the country’s diversity: religious, ethnic, geographical and linguistic, and by extension, that resource allocation reflects the fact that this is a federal system and not a clan.

It is thus an ethnic balancing mechanism. The assumption is that if the public service is truly representative, this will promote a sense of national loyalty and inclusion. Sections 14 (3-4) and Third Schedule, Part 1(c) of the Constitution spell out the principle in clear terms and in 1996, a Federal Character Commission was established to ensure compliance.  But today, the general impression is that Federal Character as applied has resulted in an erosion of merit, and that the observed inefficiency in the state bureaucracy is traceable to it, and in other areas of national life, it has not necessarily brought better spread of opportunities.  The oft-recommended solution as was again reportedly argued at a recent colloquium in Lagos, in honour of Professor Anya Anya, is to abolish the Federal Character principle and replace it with a merit-based system.

Merit is important, no doubt; indeed, this was a key outcome of the Vision 20:2020 process. The quality of human resource in any organization determines the quality of inputs and outputs. That is why organizations look for the best and the brightest. And if the public service in Nigeria can be taken as an organization, the kind of people who run, lead and manage it have not necessarily been the best and the brightest that the country should have. But I am tempted to argue that the problem is not the Federal Character principle or quota system.

In fact, in many parts of the world today, diversity and inclusiveness are actively encouraged in recruitments and other processes. In a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural country such as ours, the Federal Character principle can help promote our diversity and strengthen otherwise marginalized, less populous groups such as the minorities. The 50 wise men in the 1978 Constitution Drafting Committee who proposed the principle were right in seeking to make more Nigerians have a sense of belonging.  In applying the quota system however, we have over the years, abused and ignored best practices.

Where the problem lies is when people hide under the Federal Character principle to lower standards so that their kinsmen can have opportunities, or when in the name of Federal Character, needless cost is incurred and room is created for the incompetent to rise. That is not how the principle is applied in other parts of the world. There must be certain benchmarks, below which a responsible system should not descend. The story is often told about how the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board and some universities, for example, have different cut off points for students from different parts of the country. It is this kind of story, if it is true, that raises questions about how the Federal Character principle is an assault on merit. If the required score for any prospective student of Medicine is 290, then all applicants must score 290 in the qualifying examination before they can gain admission.

Equal opportunity must be given and standards must be the same.  A quota principle may then be applied in filling the available slots to ensure diversity.  In the public service also, it is often said that certain less qualified persons are often promoted beyond their level of competence. That is unacceptable. The Nigerian Constitution says for example that there must be a reflection of Federal Character in the appointment of Ministers, and because of that we have ended up with a bloated Federal Executive Council.  These are some of the ways in which the quota system has generated so much discontent.  There is even a tendency among certain Nigerians to look down on people from other parts of the country as products of quota, whereas it has not been proven that any Nigerian group has a monopoly of competent and intelligent people.

What we need to insist on is not an abolition of a deliberate attempt to ensure diversity and inclusiveness, but that any such system in place must not negate merit and standards. Before 1979, there were serious issues about marginalization and exclusion in the Nigerian public space. There was tension between majority and minority groups over access to power and opportunities. The military made everything more complex due to a Northernization principle that defied the idea of Federalism. It is ironic, however, that today more Nigerians feel more marginalized than was the case before 1979 and 1999. If there was no Federal Character law, the situation could even have been worse. Poorly implemented as it may have been, it is still a major restraining force against the tendency of the average Nigerian leader to reduce everything to his or her own narrow interest.  It is perhaps better to have a system where people in authority pretend to be nationalistic, than to have a system where nepotism and favoritism predominate.

The big problem is that we are not yet a nation. We are not yet Nigerians in the sense in  which a country is propelled by love and patriotism.  We are a country of villagers, of ethnic champions, locked in a primordial mode, largely incapable of thinking as Nigerians, an imperfect union. When people are in positions of authority, they do not think of the best for the system, but how they can use that position to promote ethnic and sectarian interests. The people outside the system also expect to be patronized by their kinsman in position and power. There is a “Na-my-brother-dey-there” mentality that has made nepotism the driving force of the public service system, making the problem and the associated guilt collective.

I recall a high-ranking public official boasting that he was able to get over 200 people from his state into the public service! These would be qualified persons of course, but they had the opportunity only because their brother was within the system, and if every influential person loads the system with their kinsmen, certainly better qualified or equally qualified persons  who do not know anybody will have no access. When there are vacancies in certain government departments, the first group that would most likely know would be the kinsmen of the influential persons in charge. And the people who do this are very shameless about it. No matter how educated, most Nigerians only feel comfortable with people from their parts of the country or those who speak the same language with them. They find it difficult to relate with other Nigerians.

I once attended an event organized under the auspices of the office of a certain big man. It turned out that the keynote speaker was from his ethnic group, the Master of Ceremony, the Chair of the occasion, nearly all the lead paper presenters too, and when we checked, they all came from his state of origin! And yet there is a Federal Character principle in place. If there had been none, the fellow probably would have invited the audience from his village too. It is precisely that kind of attitude that makes a Federal Character principle useful. The event in question was a Federal Government event! But it didn’t matter to the man in charge. All the speakers were knowledgeable by the way, and the Master of Ceremony did a good job. Nobody could question their performance. But certainly there must be people from other parts of the country who could have discharged the responsibility just as well, and if the organizer had been a bit sensitive, he would have ensured some degree of diversity.

It may be difficult to know how offensive nepotism can be until you actually encounter it. It is a fact that people in power and position use that privilege to develop their own village and state as a mater of course.  Their first instinct is to use public funds to set up infrastructure in their own states and villages, before they think of other Nigerians. From the village and the state, they may then think of their region. The contractors are either their friends or agents. This is the case because the average Nigerian sees public service as an opportunity to serve and please his own people, and not Nigerians. I have been in situations where public officials, surrounded by their kinsmen, will suddenly stop a conversation and relapse into their mother tongue, leaving you to start screaming “Speak English, speak English, don’t shut the rest of us out of this conversation”. Most Nigerians see anyone who does not speak their mother tongue as an outsider and when it comes to the distribution of opportunities, they will treat you exactly as an outsider.

Have you not noticed how the pattern of dressing and attitudes in Abuja, the Federal Capital, reflect the changes in the leadership of the country?  When a Yoruba man is in power, the Yoruba are all over the city. When it is the turn of a Northerner, every Northerner stumps the floor of Abuja with greater ease and confidence. If anyone didn’t have Ijaw friends before President Jonathan became President, they had to seek out one and befriend. Our governance process is terribly driven by a certain “It-is-our-turn” mentality, which influences everything else. Even in the states, a Governor is first and foremost, the Governor of his constituency, and he seeks to please that constituency before any other part of the state.  “If I don’t develop my area, another governor from another area will not bring development to my people”.  Such a system as we run where people are not held accountable on the basis of ideas and principles, can only promote division.

Religion is part of the equation. Some people are so unscrupulous, when they head a department, they would insist on surrounding themselves only with their church members or adherents of their faith. The result is an occultic system that stands in the way of performance and efficiency.  I believe that the existence of a Federal Character principle is the only reason why some people still manage to pretend to be Nigerian. It should be retained, if only to keep reminding people that this country cannot be run at the level of a village and that it belongs to over 450 nationalities, but greater emphasis should be placed on merit and standards.

To rise gradually above it all, we must grow an enlightened society. We must develop a sense of Nigerian-ness, build a nation, such that people will be given opportunities, and promoted, not on the basis of affiliations, but their ability and the content of their character.

courtesy – https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/abujaNig/conversations/messages/101672

Why ICC – African Court of Justice, ECOWAS Court of Appeal and Other Regional Courts, Where are you?

Ethiopia has just gathered the crème de la crème of the African Continent, Buhari the Nigerian President went to Ethiopia through Kenya.  On all the talks, we expected a talk on Judicial African issues especially the ICC, Kenya and Cote de Voire (Ivory Coast) saga.

We would have expected ECOWAS to be handling issues regarding Cote de Voire, like the Boko Haram attempts in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.  The same for the Kenyan saga.  If the regional courts cannot, then the issues can be raised to the African Court of Justice. 

When will Africa wake up from sleep?  There is need to revisit the history books and rethink the Nubians, Noks, Carthage, Zulus and the Ancients of Africa, even as the world’s resolve to dissolve borders.  African can only bargain from an angle of strength, if it comes on a platform of One Africa and not on the dissenting fragments of yester colonial divides.

Of all the Corruption, Political, religious, ethnical violence in Africa, go and look under the surface, you will find external influences from the same persons that Africans run to for judicial respite.  When will we call the Europeans, Americans, Chinese, Lebanese, Indians involved in the ills of the land, to come to our African Courts and also face our judiciary?  Instead of making them diplomatic issues and swept under carpets. Then only will people (not Africans) think twice before instigating our very own to carry cases to ICC and call in American, European lawyers for cases that should have been African start to finish.

If you think your national court will not give you justice, because of Government involvement, then take the case to the regional court.  If the regional court refuses to hear you out, the African Court could then be approached.  African Union has been so demoralised by its own members to a near silence on all issues that should have been theirs, but taken over by interfering others.  Correct me, would the Libyan, Egyptian, Kenyan, Cote de Voire (Ivory Coast), cases been handled differently, if it was the absolute resolve of the African Union?  A personal question for our reasoning.

Africans steal monies, and invest them in other African, Middle Eastern, Asian, European, American Countries.  If the African States, can come together as one and demand, like the Jewish Representative did, for repatriation of any African stolen wealth in African, Europe, America, Asia, Middle East, Africa will turn to be the wealthiest Continent on the globe.  There is need to have a United African Voice on hidden / dark treasures of Africa in Swiss Banks and the off Shore accounts and request for return, like Nigeria is doing with the Abacha funds.  Let us have a return of the living and dead owners stolen funds back to land.  We can, if we try, but we must first stand to try.

Politically, it is time to reduce the bargain for posts, in the European, American, Asian, Chinese and Indian Courts. Because, when the Chinese sponsor you to office, you will be made to sing their tunes, so will it be if the Indians, Europeans or Americans do the same.  Africans should let their electorate truly elect worthy persons, and the winners should learn to carry the losers along, because we all have something to contribute and it is always the losers/disgruntled elements that are tempted to counter the good of the leaders.

Do not get me wrong, I am of the humble opinion, that if the Boko Harams felt the Nigerian Government did them wrong by killing the leaders, instead of becoming insurgents, they went to the ECOWAS Court and sought redress, we will not have been talking of US$2.1Billion misguided/directed funds and the colossal wastes in the North East will not have arisen..  The same is for the Biafra, Malians, Somalia’s, South Sudanese, Burkinabe’s, Libyans and Egyptians instead of going underground in Europe, America and the Middle East or Chinese for arms.  Africa will have used less to resolve issues and the huge bleeding of Africa’s lean resource for arms will have been redirected to better developmental projects.

My is a plea for the Secretariat of the African Union and other Regional groupings to come out of their citadels/high towers and engage Africans on the streets, villages, rubbles of wars/crises, schools, hospitals et. al. Let Africans begin to feel Africa and know that they are covered on all fronts.  May this year see African Trade increasing between African States, and African Banks, handling Afican Monies, beginning from the Central Banks of especially Franco – African States. There may be some need to return the Liberian, Kenyan, Ivorian cases back to African Courts, instead of ICC that seem to be made solely for African Leaders past and serving(present).  May we see before this year ends, African Leaders, travelling to other African states, for Medical, historic or leisure tourism.  As a Continent, Africa has the needed critical mass/minimum for success in any area, so why won’t we exploit it?  Start from the courts?  May be, it will reduce most crises that are still unborn.

Bauchi Tourism–Gets a Presidential mention.

I was privy by virtue of work to be at the Convocation Square of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi Nigeria.  The list of attendees was impressive, with so much support from  Co – Heads of Educational Institutions, Research and Agencies, Traditional Leaders, Politicians and a number of well wishers amidst the gradaunds and the families.  The Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors, Prof. A. Daramola of FUT Akure, must be a fulfilled man, that V.C.’s are having convocations by the numbers during his tenure.

The Governor’s speech in relations to the university, at least will give the University the needed road leading to the permanent site, it is my sincere wish that it will not only be to the school, but will be made to pass through the villages near the university, so that the villagers will start reaping the dividends of their allowing the university to be domiciled in their locale.  For land/estate speculators, this is the very best time to start buying and developing buildings in the villages near the University.  If Samara Zaria, my town,  is any testimony to go by, the Airport / University axis might grow to be the most cosmopolitan area of Bauchi. 

The contributions of the Executive Secretary, was of a very mindful father and Academic Leader, advising the University to stick to the mandate of Technological advancement and beautiful was the suggestion of securing the University area, for the safety of the students and staff. A father indeed.  TETFUNDs announcement of the approval for the fencing work, showed the Governments readiness to advance any good course that will be beneficial to the academic community.  I have in the few months of this Vice Chancellor seen a lot of projects springing up from the University, some of the projects show the University taking the lead as it should in the development of the immediate community.   A mention must be done of the new Leadership of ATIL – the Consultancy/Investment outfit of the university, they need to be commended.

The Visitor’s Speech as delivered by the Executive Secretary of the National University Commission, who seems to be the Presidents Special Ambassador for Education, made my day.  He referenced the State with the Yankari Game Reserve as a leading Natural Tourism Trap, comparable with any in the Continent.  He made the university to think towards the proactive looking at synergies with the State Government and other stake holders to make Yankari take it’s place on the map of reserves and am sure a lead Revenue Generator for the State and the Nation, with the resultant creation of jobs for the citizenry.

The Federal Polytechnic, has done well developing resources for the Hospitality and Tourism Industry in Bauchi and the environs, so also NIHOTOUR the Government agency for the development of resource for the Industry.  The Governor in his love for education, mentioned the link of the State Polytechnic to the University, so that they can start offering Degree programs, good news.  I  will suggest, so humbly, that now is a right time for the Government, Universities (Federal/State), Federal/State Polytechnics/NIHOTOUR to look at ways for jump starting various modern Hospitality/Tourism resource development programmes.  This is the time to follow the lines of Ahmadu Bello University and start First/Post Graduate Degree programmes in Hospitality and Tourism.    National University Commission will definitely accredit such programmes as the Executive Secretary was the Emissary of the President and Visitor to the University.

On an immediate front, what can we as Hospitality / Tourism concerns do to encourage the Government and Academia to jump start this?  I will think it is time for stakeholders to drop all their differences and form linkages at Owners, Managers and Workers levels for the betterment of the state and region as one.  The more we are together, the happier we’ll be.  And if I have a listening ear, the Government at National and State Levels, should seek to encourage the sector, unifying taxes (reducing multiple taxations), assisting with Power (PHCN) stability and creating patronage by bringing and hosting big events in the state.  

In closing, respectfully, my domicile in Bauchi is opening my eyes to a sleeping giant, waiting to wake up from it’s slumber.   Bauchi is the place for Sport’s Tourism, Eco-Tourism, Mountaineering, Safari / Wild life, Religious Tourism, Educational / Historical, Culinary Tourism (Kilishi, Dambun nama & Masa), Medical and leisure Tourism.  All these with global appeals, the time to wake up is more now, I am looking again, more hopefully, for Yankari Games Reserve to be the Camp David of Nigeria (Buhari / Osibajo, need to be given a Natural place to get refreshed).  I long to see the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Guest House in Bayara, be made a sacred reserved place for Leadership/Historical Research in sync with the Tomb.  Whatever is the reason for the neglect of the Museum near Zaranda Hotel, need a rethinking.  

I feel elated now, I can say the near absence of Tourism in the Ministries and earlier talks of the Government, was not an un-mindfulness.  Responsible Tourism has a good consideration in this government.  God bless Nigerians and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Adamu Ayuba

Fariah Suites Bauchi Nigeria.