By Turaki Hassan
Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, in the wake of the recent skirmishes that engulfed the state, declared that he would demolish Gonin Gora town, which is on the Kaduna-Abuja expressway, because miscreant youths in the area are fond of blocking the road during crisis in order to carry out reprisal attacks on innocent and hapless commuters.
Speaking on a Radio Nigeria Kaduna Hausa programme, Hannu Da Yawa, Elrufai said: “Zan tada Gonin Gora”. When I heard the story, I didn’t believe it so I had to look for the audio recording of the programme. The governor didn’t use the word demolish because he spoke in Hausa.
Infact, what he said is, “Zan tada Gonin Gora”. Significantly, the governor’s spin doctors and his various supporters gave a rather superficial meaning of the word when it became apparent that El Rufai had put his foot in his mouth. According to them, the governor meant that Gonin Gora will be relocated if the miscreants waylay travelers on the Abuja -Kaduna express way during crisis. They argued that the Hausa word “tada”means to relocate and not to demolish. However, given the context and vehemence with which he spoke, in addition to the governor’s penchant to roll out the bulldozers to level buildings including those of his political opponents since his days as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and now as Governor of Kaduna State, the latter meaning of the word is more applicable in understanding El Rufai’s threat.
Indeed, anybody who understands and speaks Hausa very well knows the implication of “tayarwa” and therefore, to interpret it using the word “demolish” or to claim otherwise is too simplistic and does not carry the weight, exact meaning and intent of the declaration by the governor. Words like smash, raze, pull down, tear down, level, annihilate, exterminate, destroy , etc would have been more appropriate to use in this instance. Not only that, El-rufai was livid with rage when he made the Executive Declaration as can be
deduced from his voice.
For those who may not know Gonin Gora, it is situated on a piece of land of more than 6 square kilometers on both sides of the Kaduna-Abuja expressway. It has 108 registered private schools (there are unregistered ones) and the houses are more than ten thousand (10,000). The town is inhabited mostly by Christians who relocated over the years from places like Rigasa, Tudun Wada, Tudun Nufawa, Kawo, Mando, Unguwar Muazu, etc and there are over 50,000 residents. The area is expanding rapidly such that it has spread up to the eastern Kaduna bypass bridge, popularly called “Welcome to Kaduna”. Why should such a people be subjected to collective punishment just for the action of few miscreants? Demolishing also means displacement and if what the Governor’s supporters said in the aftermath is true, will the government truly build houses for them somewhere else and relocate them? How sure and certain are they that once this is done Kaduna would automatically become a peace haven?
Sadly, both Christians and Muslims are victims and culprits in these violence which have been recurring for over three decades in Kaduna. This explains why Muslims also moved northward from areas like Sabon Tasha, Narayi, Unguwar Boro, Nasarawa, etc, to “safe” places which effectively divided Kaduna into two; Christian south and Muslim north, unfortunately.
I must restate at this juncture that I condemn violence in any form and anyone craving for violence or igniting it has not witnessed one or does not know its implications on the people and the nation because in such a situation, anybody can be a victim and nobody is safe. Anyone who wishes for crisis is a wicked soul. It is grave, it is bad, we have witnessed it in Kaduna and pray such should never happen again.
Also, those miscreants and youths who block major highways, attack, lynch and waylay innocent commuters stand condemned and they should be exposed and not covered by community leaders because in an atmosphere of chaos, killings, destruction and violence, no one is safe; whether you are a Christian passing through Gonin Gora or even a Muslim driving through Badikko, Unguwar Muazu, Mando, Kawo, Mararraban Jos and the Kaduna-Zaria expressway because those miscreants just block the road, stop every vehicle and attack travelers. They may not screen their victims as several instances have shown Muslims “erroneously” killed by so-called Muslims youths who mistook them for Christians or so-called Christian youths kill fellow Christians thinking they were Muslims. This is the pathetic situation Nigeria has found itself in, especially the north which is facing existential threats now more than ever before.
It is important to state that Gonin Gora is not the only area where such senseless killings occur in Kaduna State because as the cerebral Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed noted in his intervention on the Kaduna crisis, similar things do happen in areas like Mararraban Jos, Western bypass and other major settlements around the northern axis of Kaduna which are Muslim populated.
Therefore, isolating Gonin Gora for demolishing and saying it in such an angry and livid manner during a radio programme by the governor does not help and could be interpreted to be selective and vindictive. This is why Dr Baba Ahmed said: “Members of the community in the large area like Gonin Gora will be alienated from peace building, even if the threat is intended to goad them to action.The entire community will acquire a siege mentality that is not helpful to it or the vital services which the neighbouring highway serves for the country. While Gonin Gora is a serious threat, there are other areas such as the approach to Kaduna from Katabu/Mararrabar Jos and a number of areas at eastern bye-pass that represent potent threats to all, especially travelers.A reference to areas that could attract penalties ought to have been made in more general terms.”
These killings happen everywhere and the pathetic and touching story of Mrs Temitope Mustapha, a staff of Voice of Nigeria, who was in a commercial vehicle enroute Kano on the day of the crisis in October is representative enough.
Mrs Mustapha, who is currently recuperating from various degrees of injuries and has undergone series of surgeries, was singled out, chased, overpowered, and stoned to “death” by the miscreants along the Western bypass, simply because she was clad in a pair of trousers and long-sleeved shirt, depicting her as a Christian.
According to her narration, a JTF soldier took her lifeless body to a hospital and dumped it, telling the nurses “she may come back to life” and God did wonders by bringing her back to life with the help of Muslim nurses and doctors in Amrullah Hospital along the bypass. These Muslim doctors and nurses knew she was a Christian which was why she was singled out and attacked but they gave her the best of attention they could. All they cared about was that she is a human being and she had the right to life and be protected. They even hid her with a nurse when the miscreants followed her lifeless body to the hospital to finish what they started shortly after the soldiers left. That is the true Nigerian spirit of love, brotherhood and compassion which resonated with them. And today, she is living to tell the story, and she bears no grudges against Muslims because she knows that those who wanted to kill her weren’t good Muslims because Islam is peace just as those who attack travelers at Gonin Gora or elsewhere are not true Christians because Christianity is love.
The question to be asked is: is religion or ethnicity the root cause of these crisis? Every of the two major religions teaches love and abhor killings. Why do Nigerians then kill each other in the name of fighting for or defending their religions especially in the north because Yorubas have Christians and Muslims but they don’t fight each other on the basis of religious differences. It is my belief that this has nothing to do with both religion and tribe realistically speaking, rather it has more to do with economic condition of the people.
Inequality, poverty, illiteracy and deprivation are the causes of general insecurity, social unrest and ethno-religious crisis. A country of 198 – 200 million people, with more than half youths below 30 years of age, without industries to absolve the ballooning population, will have peace eluding her.
It has been scientifically proven that societies that are more prosperous whose citizens have higher standards of living and are rated high on all aspects of Human Development Index hardly experience social unrest and the vice versa.
Therefore, with Nigeria’s new rating as the global capital of poverty where almost 100 million people live in abject poverty, this should be expected. Sadly, even with its 1.2 billion population, India has been able to lift more than 400 million of its citizens out of poverty in a little less than 15 years but Nigeria now occupies the number one position. Even our own National Bureau of Statistics admitted that more than 100 million live below 1$ per day. The problem has further exacerbated in the last three years with over 10 million people losing their jobs due to biting economic recession, which we are yet to come out of fully. The Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation recently said bank deposits of N500,000 and above are owned by only 2 percent of account holders. The remaining 98 percent have less than that or even nothing.
Therefore, one can safely concluded that inequality is at the root of most crisis in Nigeria with the exception of few may be. Wealth in this country has always been hugely concentrated in the hands of very few, a tiny minority of the population, just 2%, while 98% are languishing in abject poverty. Unless and until governments (Federal, States and Local Government) fashion ways of equitable and even distribution of wealth among citizens, build the necessary infrastructure, create the right and conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive so that youths will have jobs and be taken out of the street, reform education, provide social safety nets; housing, healthcare, education loan for students, peace will continue to elude us. We must have functioning governments at all levels.
Unfortunately, the closest government to the people, the LGAs have been emasculated since return to democracy in 1999. Efforts by the National Assembly to alter the constitution to give them administrative and financial autonomy has been frustrated by state governments through the houses of assembly. This would have been one of the best thing to happen to Nigeria and Nigerians.
Technically speaking, now there are only two tiers of government in Nigeria-States and Federal. Records from the Federal ministry of Finance show that on the average, each local government gets Federal allocation of minimum of N150-N200 million per month depending on its size and population as some even get far more but unfortunately with the exception of few states, these monies don’t get to them. Imagine such humongous resources circulating in each local government in every 30 days! One can only guess the huge economic impact it would have on the lives of the people at the grassroots.
I recall reading an interview granted by the same Malam Nasir Elrufai to an American publication during his self exile in 2009 in which he talked about the importance of functioning government and he repeated the same theme in his book “Accidental Public Servant”.
Conversely, no matter how much wealth you accumulate, you can’t be happy and feel safe in the midst of poor, depressed, suppressed and downtrodden lumpen proletariat. Thus, if this is not addressed, Nigeria will continue to pay the price of inequality, to borrow from Joseph Stiglitz.
But if we insist that the only solution to stopping crisis is to demolish places along major highways, then it should be all encompassing and non-selective. In this case, we can then demolish all places that are violence prone or have been witnessing killings so that such bad news would be a thing of the past. We can, therefore, recommend that we demolish Kaduna State entirely, followed by Plateau, Nassarawa, Benue, and even Bwari in the FCT which witnessed ethnic and religious tension lately, Taraba, Zamfara, some parts of Sokoto State. And then we move to the mother of all, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States should be completely wiped off the surface of the earth because of the insurgency that has befallen them for almost a decade.
Infact, going by this method or theory of conflict resolution, the entire northern Nigeria should be razed down because there is virtually no part of the north that hasn’t witnessed one form of violence or the other from 1960 to date. I think this is why Afenifere recently issued a statement saying that the north is dragging other parts of the country (the south) backward due to high number of killings and violence and related crisis.
After this is done, ECOWAS nations should relocate their headquarters to The Gambia or Cape Verde so that Nigeria can be wiped off the map since there is no week that passes that news of killings do not emanate from Nigeria, including ethnic killings of Ife-Modakeke crisis which has been described as the oldest intra-ethnic conflict in Nigeria even though they are both Yorubas of Osun state. The recent ethnic class between tribes in Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, kidnapping and miltancy in Niger Delta region, armed robbery, and cult killings in the South East and South South including the June 2018 conflict in Ebonyi state Izzi local government area and their counterparts in Ukele, Cross Rivers state to mention but a few. The same method of resolving conflict should be applied to other west African countries like Mali, Niger, Chad, Sierra Leone that went through decades of civil wars.
When this is done, the African Union should hold an extraordinary special session to pass a resolution to annihilate all conflict areas from the African map such as D.R Congo, Rwanda because of the 1994 genocide, Cameroon because of the Ambazonia crisis and Boko Haram, Libya, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, South Sudan, Somalia, and even South Africa because of the xenophobia killings, the Marikana massacre, drugs and gun violence.
The United Nations should also summon an emergency session to adopt the AU resolution and resolve to demolish and exterminate using atomic bombs or gas chambers as used by the fuhrer all countries that have been dragging the world backward due to civil wars, political instability and violence. Countries like Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Saudi Arabia under MBS which is dropping bomb on its neighbor killing school children or murdering its dissents in foreign lands such as Jamal Kashoggi, and then Venezuela because of economic crisis resulting in mass exodus of its citizens to other countries should also go, then we go back to history to check and spare only nations that have never had one form of conflict or the other.
In this wise, they should relocate the UN headquarters to another planet, or any of the space stations and start with the United States of America which has fought, precipitated or ignited countless wars around the world since the Second World War. The US which today we see as a role model is not spared because it also fought its own civil war and is still battling with gun violence which continues to claim thousands of lives annually.
Infact, countries like Argentina and all Arab nations that castrated blacks and later exterminated them in a well planned racial cleaning should be annihilated with the latest version of the “Little Boy”.
The next should be Germany because of the holocaust and the World Wars and then Britain, France, Russia, Poland, etc They should also be demolished and annihilated having participated in the first and the second world wars and other crisis throughout history. Infact, Isreal and Palestine should be the last to be exterminated because their animosity and war predates modern history. The same should be done to all other countries currently enmeshed in crisis. They should all be wiped off the surface of the earth in order to have a peaceful world and the few remaining countries that have never fought a war or experienced any form of killings and violence whatsoever should remain and allowed to inherit the earth and live peacefully hereafter.