24 November 2012

Nigeria: Renewing Our Faith in Kaduna State


Perhaps there is no state in Nigeria that has suffered social strife engendered by serious divisions among the people like Kaduna State.

Deep-rooted mistrust among the various communities that inhabit this state with a population of nearly 6.9 million has rendered the state conflict-prone that some people including the indigenous have come to believe that development will never take place in the state under the present set-up.

The unfortunate situation of Kaduna state has been the result of the continued perception by some communities, those living in the area tagged Southern Zaria, in particular, that they have been left holding the short shrift in the association for a long time. This has led to consistent demand for the redress of their so-called marginalisation, demands which have translated into open confrontation sometimes at the slightest provocation.

Cases of such disturbing fracas as the 1982 Kaduna, Jere incidence (1983), Kafanchan (1987 & 1999), 1992 Zangon Kataf massacre of the Hausa - Fulani, Kaduna religious crisis (2000), the 2011 crisis following the fall-out of the election, readily come to mind as dark reminders of the unwholesome the quest for justice in the political arrangement has been.The consequence of the conflicts and crises resulting from the feeling of marginalization on the socio-economic life of the people has been enormous.

Consistent with the open conflicts among the various communities have also been the call for the splitting of the state into two.

The Southern Kaduna People's Union (SOKAPU) in its various submissions on its demand for what the people of the area term justice has always identified political and economic marginalization, location of Federal and State institutions in the state, delimitation of constituencies, imposition of candidates on the area, creation of additional local government areas and chiefdoms etc as those areas needing redressing for peace and harmony to thrive in the state and for necessary development to also take place.

Recently though, the union has added the last exercise for the appointment of a vice-chancellor for the Ahmadu Bello Universities (ABU) Zaria, among the litany injustices being meted out to them needing further redress.

Looking at the stance of the various communities in the Kaduna state project, the so-called incompatibility of the peoples is also the result of the unwillingness by some of the protagonists to accept justice in its true application. The fair play being canvassed often times meant the position favourable only to or that confer advantage on only a particular group, often the one that had been crying the loudest.

In that guise, state creation is often seen as the magic wand that can eliminate the preponderance of the state's tragic conflicts and usher in a sustainable peace and development. I belong to those that would explore two options: the revenue of state creation as the viable opportunities for both segments of peoples to realize their potentials or self-actualisation or such other concepts of development as they deem fit. I therefore, believe that there is nothing wrong for the peoples across the divide in Kaduna's unhealthy political arrangement to sit down at a forum and harmonise their positions on state creation. That way, the demands stand a chance of scaling through.

But is also the belief that the situation in the state is not totally unredeemable. Therefore, if the state creation fails, we need to take the bull by the horns and renew our faith in the state. This will, however require extra-ordinary political courage which should personate government decisions at all levels of administration and in all sectors of the economy.

There will be a need for instance to restore greater confidence in government for it to take those courageous decisions that would remove ill feelings and mistrust among the people, improve the morale of the public service and therefore ensure those aspects of practical political administration for peaceful co-existence and development of the state.

The process of arriving at the above state of affairs will certainly be evolutionary but it will certainly pave way for a much better state administration. The people, for starters must be made to learn to live together and in particular reoriented away from dependency on government to self-reliance. Vocational trading, farming etc must, therefore, be emphasized. The overriding formula for tolerance and cohabitation in peace and harmony will however be how equitable the people see resources as the state's share of the cake being shared. A novelty in budgeting could be the key to assuaging agitations or suspicions of short-changing groups in the scheme of things.

What one is advocating here is the state's budget should be categorized into three broad parts namely: the capital expenditure, recurrent expenditure and special expenditure. The divisions will also show explicitly revenue desirable by the local government areas within each senatorial zone and what comes to the state in general. Under such budgeting system, all the relationships between the joint services will be indicated and their performance and or role under the system and likewise allocations.

Since personnel recruitments have also constituted sore areas in the state and key areas in the marginalisation saga, recruitment for all institutions outside the state capital should reflect the indigenes of the senatorial district in the majority except in the case of special skills such as Doctors and other highly skilled personnel which may not be readily available; therefore non-indigenes could be considered. In the same vein, staff of other Senatorial Districts working in districts other than their own should be allowed to continue until they disengaged either through retirement or otherwise before the positions are filled by indigenes.

Recruitments into federal agencies and organizations such as the Army, Air Force, Navy, Immigrations and Customs services should be on the basis of equality of the Senatorial Districts of the state. Regular and specialized scholarships should follow similar pattern to avoid a situation where some local governments are injustiably favoured.

A case in point was the award of scholarship to students from the state into the Nigerian College of aviation, Zaria where during the 2012 admission, it was discovered that of the eleven (11) students selected, four were from Zangon Kataf local government Area, three from Kachia, one each from Kaura, Kagarko, Jaba and Zaria local government areas. The selection was not publicized therefore it was not open to competition. These are the sort of behind the scene acts that erode the confidence of people in a leadership and government in general.

One could go on and on about the problems of Kaduna state and the way forward. What is always true of our situation is that we can overcome it if we so desire, by agreeing to part through a concerted effort to harmonise the positions adopted by the "warring" communities.

Babaniya writes from No. 18, PRP, Unguwan Sanusi, Kaduna

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