17 May 2019

Nigeria: Re - El-Rufa'i's Abrogation of Indigene-Settler Dichotomy in Kaduna ...

opinion

The article written by Jideofor Adibe titled of this landmark policy should have been "El-Rufa'i's abrogation of indigene- settler dichotomy in Kaduna is right step in wrong direction", published in the Daily Trust of May 11, 2019 is misleading and malicious.

The week Jideofor Adibe published the above article condemning the progressive citizenship policy of the Kaduna State Government, a policy which has received world acclaim was fortunately a momentous one for Nigeria. First was the election of the Anambra born Ernest Ezeajughi as the Mayor of London Borough Of Brent, a predominantly white area of the United Kingdom. Ezeajughi, a staunch member of the Labour Party had before his election represented Stonebridge Ward as a councilor, re-elected in 2018 and within the same year became the Deputy Mayor. Same time as Exeajughi, Abigail Katung Marshal originally from Kaduna State was also elected a Councillor on the platform of the Labour and Co-operative Party. There is also Kelechi Madu, a Nigerian of Igbo extraction, who was not only elected as a member of the Canadian parliament, but was appointed Minister Municipal Affairs of Alberta. The interesting thing about these three Nigerians is that they only recently migrated - Madu for instance only migrated to Canada in 2005. Going by the logic of those opposed to the Kaduna State citizenship policy these Nigerians ought to have been rejected by their hosts being non indigenes.

Mr. Adibe in his opening statement described the governor as someone who rarely shies "away from controversy or misses an opportunity to showcase his courage". The truth is that columnists and other public affairs analysts by their loud failure to support laudable policies create controversies, as in this case the decisive action by the Kaduna state government to address the vexed policy that has made many Nigerians especially southerners question their "Nigerianess", because of the treatment they are subjected to, for daring to believe in Nigeria by residing in states other than theirs. Adibe would have preferred that Nasir El-Rufai kept away from "correcting" the open sore which he acknowledges is wrong for fear of being tagged controversial. It's the discriminatory policy that is controversial and not the man who is determined to make it history.

The arguments of those opposed to the citizenship policy range from the mundane to the laughable, an indication that the opposition is politically motivated. The main claim of the opposition is that abolishing the dichotomy puts the cultural identity of the indigenes at great risk of contamination, as those "granted citizenship" would corrupt their cultural identity. Nigerians will never cease to shock and just when you think you have heard or seen it all, from the blues they will assail you with something more ridiculous than the previous one. The straight forward reaction to the argument is that with or without the abolition of the policy, all sides will in their daily interaction "contaminate" each other.

Part of the reasons Nasir El-Rufai was and is still fiercely opposed by the political merchants that have thankfully been retired , is precisely because of his bold decision of appointing people they "derogatorily" refer to as non-indigenes, even though the opposition continues to masquerade behind the various reforms, like the teachers competency test, urban renewal programmes, the civil service revitalization programme and the sales of the badly dilapidated government quarters to fight him. The irony is that many members of the Kaduna Restoration Group and the Southern Kaduna group who are opposed to the policy hold citizenship of countries like United States. When it suites groups like these they applaud the abolition of the indigene and non-indigene policy, but when it shuts them out they cry foul - an appalling lack of standard. The big question those opposing the policy have refused to answer, is the justness in shutting out a Nigerian from contributing his/her quota to a state where by birth he/she has lived all his life?

The political brouhaha of some Kaduna State "stakeholders" has to do with the governor's demonstrated faith in Nigeria and trust in people from other parts of the country. The Kaduna State Citizenship Programme of Governor Nasir El-Rufai by action and by words demonstrates this patriotism. In practical terms the policy seeks to acknowledge everyone born or resident in Kaduna State as a citizen, with same rights as an indigene. Clearly the governor and groups like the Restoration group are miles apart, in terms of their world views.

The reaction of the Southern Kaduna group to the citizenship policy is no doubt a political blunder with dire future consequences. Coming at the heels of 2019 General Elections which clearly exposed their lack of numbers to affect the outcome of governorship elections in the state, instead of stock taking, they are unknowingly further exposing the area to "guaranteed irrelevancy", by alienating the non-indigenes who stand to benefit from it most. The citizenship policy is without doubt to the advantage of Christians, who unlike Muslim settlers from other parts of the country have not been able to make serious inroads in employment and politics. For instance the son of the late Ahmadu Chanchagi originally from Taraba State, is a two term member of the House of Representatives and there are several other Muslims who have held appointments. Except for Igwe, who in 1999 won an election to the Kaduna State House of Assembly, the settler Christians have performed poorly. With the abrogation of the policy, children of non-indigenes will also no longer be subjected to discriminatory fees.

The reality about the citizenship policy is that it won't indulge the indolent - "indigene" or settler turned citizen, everyone must bring something to the table and to serve you must build bridges. The citizenship and residency policy rather than the divisive indigene/settler dichotomy is the future.

Mr. Ado wrote this piece from Kaduna

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