By Victoria Ayuwei
The Southern Kaduna Christian Leaders Association, SKCLA, said it is time for a Gurara State.
” We are due for autonomy, and we can stand on our own. We are tired of being after-thoughts when it comes to development in Kaduna state, said the leaders at a world press conference held at the Kagoro hall, Kaduna, on the state of the nation and Southern Kaduna in particular.
“The good people of Southern Kaduna have come a long way, and time has taught us a lot. We are tired of being dictated to. We are tired of being mere appendages in the political discourse of Kaduna State.”
“Never at any time has it become imperative that the Southern Kaduna people have the need to determine their destiny than now. Southern Kaduna has contributed greatly to the building of this great country Nigeria, but have very little to show for it in terms of development from the federal or state governments.”
“It is a known fact that despite census figures indicating Southern Kaduna as the most populous in the state, electioneering practises have put the region at a disadvantage when it comes to elections to high political seats in Kaduna state.”
The leaders said they have suffered their worst catastrophes in Kaduna state.
“The people of Southern Kaduna are denied of their rights, and are forced to see themselves as minorities in a state that they contribute immensely in its development.”
“There is a high and deliberate concentration of polling units among the Hausa-Fulani Muslim settlements in Southern Kaduna and across the northern part of the state, putting the zone at a disadvantage in elective position, particularly the office of the governor. This is the cause of the marginalization in the state, and retrogression as far as human and structural development is concerned.”
“The recent statement by Governor Nasir El-Rufai at the Town Hall meeting on restructuring in Abuja, where he terms certain peoples in Nigeria as “unequals” is a pointer to the kind of mindset in governance that informs the calls for this state creation. “
” We cannot as a nation continue to condone the politics of marginalization practiced in Kaduna State, where some are denied jobs because of where they come from, and where admissions into tertiary institutions are based on regional preference.”
“The call for the restructuring of this nation is not new, but never has the need for restructuring become so obvious and the call become so strident. What this speaks of is that the time for restructuring is now and government and the nation have both a legal and moral duty to listen to the voice of the people in the interest of the survival and advancement of our nation.”
“The call for restructuring at this time in our history has become necessary because of the immense benefit restructuring the country into a true federation will bring to the people and the nation.”
“No one is in doubt also or pretends to be unaware of the all-important fact that restructuring will go a long way in resolving most of the agitations, and inequalities bedeviling our nation as mentioned earlier.”
“It is therefore time that the structure of governance mechanism gives way to a truly federal structure of government with the capacity to deliver more competitive and efficient services to the Nigerian people.”
“Noticeably, our citizens are increasingly receding back to their ethnic and religious constituencies, and are gradually losing faith in the Nigerian enterprise with despondency as the order of the day. No wonder, we are witnessing an era where some of our younger generation and future hope of the nation are either calling for secession or threatening to expel others from their region”
“As responsive and responsible spiritual and societal leaders, it behooves us at this point in time to declare our stand and lend our voice to those of other Nigerians of goodwill for the salvation and preservation of our Country from this ugly trend. It is therefore in this regard that we make the following submissions:
“Although a lot has been done to halt or reduce the incessant killings by the Fulani herdsmen, a lot more has to be done as in the following suggestions:
• Need for continuous military and security surveillance in the affected areas in Southern Kaduna
• Need to ensure non-reoccurrence
• Need to retrieve and secure affected farmlands
• Need to resettle affected persons
• Need for the perpetrators of the criminal killings to be arrested, investigated and prosecuted for justice’s sake as that will also serve as deterrent to others
• Need to encourage the different ethnic and religious groups across the affected areas to embark on peacemaking initiatives
• Need for the government to establish IDP centres and building stronger mechanisms towards the rehabilitation of the affected peoples and communities. Due to the cultural, religious and social orientation of the ethnic peoples of Southern Kaduna, displaced people were immediately adsorbed into families of relations, Churches and neighbours. As such government has not been truly saddled with the task of providing shelters, medical care, added security, food, educational and other necessary facilities as has been the case in other areas.
3.4 NEGLECT OF KADUNA SOUTH SENATORIAL ZONE
Facts reflect that the Kaduna South Senatorial Zone is one of the most marginalized senatorial constituencies in the Federation. The only Federal presence is the fringe Federal School of Statistics Manchok and Federal Technical College Kafanchan. There is a Bill for the conversion and upgrading of the school of Statistics to a Federal University of Technology. We therefore call upon the Federal Government to follow up and support the initiative of actualizing the Bill.
It is also a fact that people from this area have also been marginalized in all appointments made by both federal and state governments. It is constitutionally imperative that all sections of the country and state ought to be considered in the making of appointments by the government. This has not been the case in the present dispensation. We are therefore calling on both federal and state governments to be fair and just by giving our people the representation that is due to Southern Kaduna.
Of equal concern is the issue of infrastructure in the said Zone. We call upon the Federal Government to improve the infrastructure of the area and particularly the urgent repair of the Kafanchan-Jos road and Akwanga-Forest-Jos road. These are economically viable Federal roads in very bad shape.
We are also appealing for a presidential directive to extend the rail line from Kafanchan junction to Abuja and thus linking Maiduguri, Gombe, Bauchi, Jos, and Kafanchan with Abuja. This we believe will have a great socio-economic impact on the lives of Southern Kaduna people.
It has also become necessary that we draw the attention of the Federal and Kaduna State Governments that our people are a farming community engaged in agricultural practices. We have come to note that federal and state government farmers’ assistance programmes are lacking in Southern Kaduna compared to other parts of the Federation and Kaduna State. This includes the anchor-borrowers programme and other initiatives that we are seeing transforming the lives of farmers in other states like Kano, Zamfara, Kwara, etc. We are the ginger producing epicenter in the Federation but hardly are the production of this foreign exchange earner encouraged or given direct attention, giving its potential, by the government agricultural agencies. We wish to use this occasion to call on the federal and state governments to extend the necessary needed assistance to our willing farmers.
3.5 Marginalization and suppression of Southern Kaduna People
It has become imperative to address the issue of the marginalization and continued oppression of the Southern Kaduna people by the government of Kaduna state under the rulership of Governor Nasir El-Rufai. Recent events have shown that the progress made by previous governments to ensure impartial relationship between the peoples of Kaduna state is been destroyed by certain policies being put in place by the Governor to suppress the voices and existence of the Southern Kaduna people. Pertinent to this plot is the lopsided development policies in the state.
Since the advent of this administration, development projects within Kaduna state have been centered mostly in the northern part of the state. In Kaduna metropolis, you find road constructions going on in areas like Kawo, Mando, U/rimi, Tudun Wada etc.
While there is utter neglect of places in the South like Sabo, Television, Kakuri, Ungwan Boro, etc. These areas are heavily populated by Southern Kaduna people. This deliberate under-development policy is also replicated with impunity in the local governments of Southern Kaduna. The roads networks in the whole of this zone have become death-traps. This is uncalled for because Kaduna is a home to all.
The Governor has been unsympathetic to the plight of the victims of the bloody onslaughts by killer herdsmen in Southern Kaduna. There are victims that have been displaced, maimed, lost their means of livelihood and homes, and are living on the kind gestures of NGOs. What kind of responsible government will allow its people to go through this horror without proper intervention? Southern Kaduna voted for the APC (even if it was in the minority). Is this the change we voted for? We call on the Federal Government and the international community to please come to the rescue of the victims of killer herdsmen in Southern Kaduna.
Democracy promotes freedom of expression and the right to speak out in the face of injustice. That is not the case in Kaduna State because we have ourselves a ruler who doesn’t tolerate dissenting voices against his unpopular policies in the administration of this state. Let it be known today that the voices of Southern Kaduna people will never be silenced by anyone. The undeserved arrest, prosecution and threats of death on Southern Kaduna people and leaders who speak out against the injustices they suffer under this administration must stop immediately. All our sons in detention for alleged crimes against the state should be freed immediately. The state has no basis to incarcerate individuals without fairness to justice, just because they are speaking up for their people, which is the case here. Ego has no place in leadership. Every leader must be humble in the service of his people. We shall not be bullied into servitude.
The dismissal of District Heads and Village Heads was a great disservice to the entire people of Kaduna State, effects of which will be felt in no distant time. Our traditional institutions remain the bedrock on which governance takes root. It is sad that Governor El-Rufai does not recognize this important organ of community administration, and sees the traditional institution as a burden on the state treasury and a waste of resources.
In that light, we want to make it explicitly clear today that the Southern Kaduna people will not tolerate the proposed plans to rename the Chieftaincy titles of our traditional institutions. We the Southern Kaduna people are a people of culture, and our culture reflects our identities and everything we represent. Our traditional institutions and the names of our Chiefs, as is the case everywhere else are grounded in the beliefs of our people. It would be disrespectful to assume that our cultures can be tampered with.
The issue of pensioners and payment of benefits for citizens of Kaduna State must further be addressed by this administration to include those that were not captured.
Furthermore, it has become necessary to mention that the intention of government to dismiss workers of the state should be reconsidered as that would add to the suffering of the people. We believe that there are better ways these matters can be handled.
In conclusion, we wish to state that the Southern Kaduna people will forever remain peace loving, but our voices will not be silenced in our agitation for fairness, justice and a befitting place in the affairs of Kaduna State and in Nigeria. Our agitations are genuine and only a biased soul will see it differently. It is the desire of our people to keep on fighting the good fight for a better Nigeria, and the future of our children. And as people of faith we will continue to pray for the unity, peace and development of Kaduna State and Nigeria.
Long live Southern Kaduna.
Long live Kaduna State.
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Bishop Simon Peters Mutum Bishop Joseph Bagobiri
Chairman SKCLA Chairman, Board of Trustees SKCLA