Responsibility to right a wrong is never a favour, but a duty It has become very necessary for us to speak out against the systematic and organised killings going on in Southern Kaduna that are probably aimed at wiping out the Southern Kaduna people from the surface of this earth
We join the voices of reason to condemn the killings and to state unequivocally, that the killings in Southern Kaduna cannot be justified.
We are appalled by the fact that the discussions on the matter have been reduced to arguments on the number of people killed or maimed and number of houses destroyed. We are worried that the beneficiaries of the crises are playing the Russian Roulettes with precious lives.
There is no doubt that the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai, has condemned the wave of attacks in Southern Kaduna, and we want to believe, contrary to public opinion, that the Governor has no hand in the crises. However, there is annoying discrepancy between the pronouncement of government in condemning the attacks and the advice by some government officials to the people of Southern Kaduna. It is rather curious that government officials seem to frown at calls for the people to defend themselves against such attacks.
A forest that does not like baskets should not grow mushrooms. We appreciate the outcry and the condemnation of the killings by right thinking people the world over. We applaud the efforts and commitments of our representatives and our friends in the National Assembly, especially our Distinguished Senator Danjuma Laah, who has been very busy reaching out to stakeholders to ensure that peace prevails in his constituency.
We all stand by him and with him in this very trying moment. Given the several supported and unsupported claims and counter claims on the senseless killings in Southern Kaduna and the apparent helplessness of the security architecture, we have resolved not to be part of the conspiracy of opinions that the killers are unknown or that what is happening is not ethnic cleansing.
We can guess that there are some people out there who are happy with what is happening, but history has taught us that there are always repercussions to any wrong done to human beings. The herdsmen are not only confronting the Southern Kaduna people, they are confronting reality.
It is not because we are overwhelmed that we do not respond; it is because we do not respond that is why we are overwhelmed. We are bold to state that the Southern Kaduna people are some of the most social and peace loving people in Nigeria. As peace loving people, our origin matters less than our destination. Several theories have been put across as to the genesis of the crisis. The most obvious one is the suggestion that the killings are reprisals for the post-election killings of April 2011.
The ECWA Church in Kaduna State at its press conference held on Wednesday 16th November 2016, also alluded to this when it stated that “since the 2011 Presidential Election there have been increasing indications of the existence of a desperate, well-funded, organised and executed campaign not only to make life unbearable for the entire Southern Kaduna territory through threats, intimidation and psychological warfare, but also to occupy the land through what can only be described as ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani herdsmen militia”.
We do not think that the killings in Southern Kaduna are reprisals for the post-election crises of 2011 or the aftermath of the usual farmer-herders conflict or that it is due to the absence of grazing areas and routes. Although, there is no any vacant land in Southern Kaduna in the real sense of the word, there is however land in the area for all the herders in Nigeria to graze in. So we cannot understand why anyone will like to kill human beings for a grazing land.
The question is, how many herds of cattle are in Southern Kaduna? Southern Kaduna already has one of the largest grazing reserves in Nigeria. The 71,000 hectares Ladugga Grazing Reserve was carved out of three LGAs, namely, Zango Kataf (70%), Kachia (20%) and Kajuru (10%).
We have analysed satellite imageries and have seen that Ladugga Grazing Reserve is being converted to farmlands, indeed the problem of land racketeering within the grazing reserve will soon reach epidemic proportion. We agree that due to the diversity of the Nigerian society and its multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature, there have been numerous communal and ethno-religious conflicts in the country since independence.
The killing of innocent souls in Southern Kaduna by herdsmen predated the APC government and would probably not stop with it. However, we are worried that the body language of these herdsmen suggests that they enjoy certain level of immunity now than before.
What we are seeing today is a continuation of a lineage of domination and suppression of the Southern Kaduna people, which has been mutating depending on the time, season and disposition of those in government. In recent years, the strategy for the continuous suppression of our people has changed from outright denial of democratic rights through electoral manipulation and disenfranchisement, to phantom security reports that denied qualified sons and daughters of Southern Kaduna appointments in the State and Federal establishments and now to depopulation of the area through terror-like killings.
Since the 1980s, Southern Kaduna has come under attacks, the modus operandi has been different but the goal is the same; to subjugate the Southern Kaduna people and ensure that the economic, social and political lives of the people are completely destroyed.
The bad news is, a child that says its mother will not sleep must stay awake to ensure that the mother does not sleep. The human landscape of Southern Kaduna cannot be discussed without the mention of the Fulani people whom we have lived with in symbiotic relationship for over fifteen decades.
We know that there are a number of cattle routes that transverse the area. Although, these cattle routes were created when the human population was less than 25% of what it is now and there may have been significant encroachments, the existence of these routes have never been in doubt. However, the cattle population in Southern Kaduna is currently less than 15% of what it was when the grazing routes were created in the first place.
We accept the argument that we need each other, but we also recognise the fact that we can do without each other. We are alarmed that the sequence of killings in the last 30 years or so, show a clear pattern of intensity. We are baffled by the sheer coincidence that whenever a northerner is in the helm of affairs in this country, there are unexplained and irrational wave of terror-like killings against the Southern Kaduna people.
The localization of the killings in Southern Kaduna to a few Local Government Areas (LGAs), namely; Jema’a, Kaura and Zango Kataf, is rather curious, because these are the LGAs with the least number of herders. There are more herders in Kachia LGA or Kagarko LGA than probably all the herders in the three LGAs put together. Yet, the killing is reserved for these LGAs with the least number of herders. We suspect that there are other motives other than the craze for grazing land.
From our findings, four immediate factors have converged to lead to the escalation of the crises; (i) the desire to ensure the creation of a number of Fulani settlements in a veiled attempt of establishing grazing reserves (ii) the conscious neglect of the area by successive governments (iii) the discovery of the high grade Nickel mineral in Dangoma and (iv) the resolve by a few disgruntled elements to push for the relocation of the Campus of Kaduna State University from Kafanchan.
The Southern Kaduna people are justifiably aggrieved with what is happening. We are usually told at any available opportunity that the herders do not forgive any wrong done to them, as any of such is a debt that must be paid one day. We would have thought that, that should have been the guiding principle in a hunting and gathering society and not in a modern society of ours where there are institutions to deal with grievances and injustices.
If it is a cultural trait not to forgive, we cannot question that, we are only worried that our youths who have been very disciplined enough to hold firmly to the ecclesiastical injunction of turning the other cheek, are now being infected by the non-forgiving-stand of the herdsmen with monstrous consequences.
So far, the youths have remained calm based on our outreaches, but we know that in the end, they will be persuaded not by what we say, but by what they understand. As the intellectual seers from the area, we are of the opinion that the herdsmen may win the battle for obvious reasons, but can never ever win the war, because, killing a rat that is holed up inside an earthen pot requires wisdom.
We are aware that some people have made fortunes inciting hate, teaching their children the language of hate, and capitalising on the scenarios to achieve their political and economic goals, but we (the Southern Kaduna people) are opened to genuine reconciliation and development.
As intellectuals, we have kicked against the notion that the only way to stop a herdsman with a gun is to have a Southern Kaduna man with a gun. To enable us understand the grievances of the herdsmen, we appeal to them to abandon the logic of violence and accept a political process of negotiation.
It is foolhardy to climb two trees at the same time because one has two feet. We do not think that in this modern world that any group of people can be wiped out from the surface of the earth easily or that one group holds the monopoly of violence. Nigeria is a signatory to a number of global treaties, so, absolute authority may no longer begin and end with the government of the day in a wide range of issues.
Therefore, we call on Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai to be consistent and show genuine will to find a solution to the killings, because the responsibility to right a wrong is never a favour, but a duty. We appeal to the Governor that the methods he employed in fighting cattle rustling in the Birnin Gwari area should be used to control the killings in Southern Kaduna. After all, a tree that could give shade when the sun is hot should be able to give shade when it rains.
On our part, we are ever ready to support any move that will bring peace in Southern Kaduna and Kaduna State in general. We will like to borrow the words of the United States of America boxing legend Muhammed Ali, to say that, living in peace with one another is the rent we pay here on earth.
We believe in the Kaduna State project, that Kaduna State must be great again. In conclusion, we are delighted that our President Mohammadu Buhari is back from his sick leave. We are also happy that our Governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmed El Rufai is back and while we shall keep praying for God to give them the strength and wisdom to lead, we are looking forward to that day that we shall start sleeping with all our eyes closed.
Even if a rat stinks, it has a family. To God be the glory.
Thank you. Signed: Professor John Gambo LAAH Chairman firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 24th March 2017