2015: APC, PDP battle over southern Kaduna
June 27, 2013 Samuel Aruwan (source: Blueprint Newspaper)
Recently, there have been series of political activities heralding the 2015 elections in southern Kaduna senatorial district of Kaduna state, an area that has been an enclave of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 1998. The emergence of yet to be registered All Progressive Congress (APC) in the area is threatening PDP’s political honeymoon. SAMUEL ARUWAN writes
Geographically, Southern Kaduna is located between longitude 5 and 7° east mainly within the axis believed to be part of the middle-belt region. Before now, it used to be referred to as Southern Zaria during colonialism and in the better half of post independent Nigeria. Aside three chiefdoms of Kagoro, Ham and Moro, and Jema’a emirate that had hitherto existed, the over 40 ethnic groups in Southern Kaduna were under the Zazzau emirate until the creation of chiefdoms first by Col. Lawal Jafaru Isa, when he was military Administrator and later Governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, following the ethno-religious crises that rocked the state almost to its foundation in 2000.
The present Southern Kaduna political geography consists of eight local governments which include: Jemaá, Jaba, Kaura, Kauru, Zango-Kataf, Kagarko, Kachia, and Sanga. It has about 50 ethnic groups with the following as majority. They Aare; Adara, Bajju, Ham, Atyab, Oegworok, Gwong, Ninzom, Akulu, Takad, Sholio, Koro and Numana. There exists however several others who are ethnically related to the above mentioned through similarities in dialect and common heritage, even beyond the borders of the state.
It is therefore no gainsaying to state that the cultural complexities of the area and that of Jos, Plateau state and part of the Federal Capital Territory, formed the heart of Nigeria. The landforms and drainages present some contrasts of open flat parts of the southern sub-region in the neighbourhood of the escarpment and branches out a narrow way, running out from the Plateau to the south of the premonitory gentle slope by plain lands undisturbed, except by the Jagindi hills. The general slopes of the land head towards the west and the South-west of Plateau until the Kagoma scarp and the Kwoi, Nok and Chori Plateau which again punctuates its (senatorial zone) undulating countryside and is rugged to the south.
Traditionally, some historical accounts have it that the Southern Kaduna people dwelled in distinctive houses, built through communal effort. The house is spacious and oval in shape from the ground plan. The roof is not peaked in the centre, but somewhat symmetrical from all angles and slopes downwards. Even the mode of dressing of the Southern Kaduna people had little or no variance. It is a skin loin-covering with that of elders having a sling over one shoulder for the men. The women however used to have leaves across the chests and as skirts, just as they had the skin loin girth too, while virgins walked bare-chested.
Background to alleged marginalisation
Before this democratic experiment in1999, there were series of challenges associated with development and self-determination in Southern Kaduna, as far back as 1908, which is even about four years before the formation of African National Congress (ANC) in 1912 in South Africa and the birth of Nelson Mandela on July 18, 1918. Several fisticuffs recorded by Yusufu Turaki in his books; British Colonial Legacy In Northern Nigeria (1982) as well his latest work, Islam, Slavery And Colonialism In Northern Nigeria, attest to the fact that the people of Southern Kaduna have always been confronted with challenges of underdevelopment and their quest for a decent existence and freedom as a people sharing same culture, history and way of life, and an overwhelming binding force of Christianity that came in 1910.
Historians argue that in the past, the people of Southern Kaduna lacked formal education as they only engaged in agrarian activities, and waged a war of resistance against the British and the indirect rule for three major reasons. One: It was ridiculous to them that non-indigenes they had sympathized with, accepted, accommodated and even defended, should now claim to have ‘conquered’ them before British rule; they therefore see no reason why the British should appear out of the blues and declared them British subjects on the compromise of submission of non-indigene groups to the British which meant that their people too had to submit to their new heads; and lastly they resisted attempts to impose taxation on them. They believed tax collection was alien and was never part of their life.
Politics of opposition
Politically, the situation that really brought about popular politics of opposition in Southern Kaduna was in 1946, particularly the political unrest in Zangon Kataf District spearheaded by Atyab and Bajju activists. But the stiff political resistance that scholars consider a watershed was between the periods of 1952-1956. To be precise, on June 8, 1953, some Southern Kaduna political activists petitioned Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardaunan Sokoto, who was then Minister at the Ministry of Local Government in Kaduna over alleged oppression and subjugation.
They reportedly told Sir Ahmadu Bello that forced labour was been enforced as punishment for the poor. The forced labour was in the form of road building, grass cutting and mat-making, and those punished were usually under-paid. They also insisted in their petition that there were evil practices in the markets, especially cheating in grain markets, as eight measures (mudu) of corn were imposed on every tax-payer to be brought to the tax-collectors, even as the petition talked about discriminations and being referred to as pagans (arna), and their women being defiled among other complaints. Conscious of the dangers this could pose, Sir Ahmadu Bello immediately toured Southern Kaduna to see things for himself during which he was confronted with the stark reality of what the peoples’ agitation were. Of course, within that period, political activists from the area had already joined others to form the Middle Zone League (MZL).
The 1956 regional Northern House of Assembly elections in Zaria Province proved the viability of the politics of opposition in the area, despite Sir. Ahmadu Bello’s appeal, as MZL defeated the former’s Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC). The three constituencies were Zaria South East and Zaria South West, the Zaria South East had the following areas, (Zangon Kataf, Kagoro, Moro’a) with Didam Kagoro as elected member, and Zaria South West had (Kagarko, Kachia, Kajuru and Jaba) with Maude Gyani as elected member. Gyani, a Christian later converted to Islam in March 1964 and changed his name to Muhammad Mustafa. And Jema’a Federation comprising Sanga axis had Jatau Gwani, who defeated Alhaji Isah Muhammadu of NPC to emerge elected member of the area.
After independence, the permutation changed as an observer said, “The creation of Katsina state in 1987 changed the power dynamics. This is because political power in the then Kaduna state from 1967-1987 was always defined and shared between the people of Katsina and Zaria (Katsinawa and Zagezagi). The power sharing mechanism assumed the supremacy of Katsina over Zaria. Thus, while the position of governor was reserved for a Katsina man, Zaria was content to take the position of deputy governor.
Significantly, the non-Muslims in the Southern Zaria (Kaduna) merely stood by as spectators in the game of power. They were lucky and contented with the position of some innocuous title of commissioner in some backwater ministry. Along with this, slots in the federal civil service given to Kaduna state were shared between Katsina and Zaria. As such, from 1967 when the state was created up to 1987, the slots for minister, federal permanent secretary, ambassador, positions in federal parastatals, were a choice between Katsina and Zaria. Allegations of injustice were only heard if Katsina got more than its share against Zaria as was often the case.
Southern Kaduna was therefore a harmless appendix, a mere statistic, and it was not until 1987, with the creation of Katsina state that Southern Zaria mutated to Southern Kaduna and the people of Zaria gracefully conceded second position to Southern Kaduna. These are some of the circumstances that led to the bottled up anger and the feeling of frustration, resentment and marginalization that would later spill over in later years.
Coming of PDP
The politics of General Ibrahim Badomasi Babangida’s aborted transition to civil rule also shaped the politics of Southern Kaduna as an indigene of the area, James Bawa Magaji, became the first Southern Kaduna indigene to become the state’s deputy governor in the aborted dispensation. But Nuhu Adamu is said to be the first Southern Kaduna deputy governor. The nation’s return to democracy in 1999 obviously opened the political space and avenue for unending crises of progress and development for the region just as it opened the gate of mainstream politics, as key elites from the area including Chief Charles Madaki Ali, Col. Yohanna Madaki, Engr. Stephen Shekari, Dauda Tsoho all of blessed memory and Senator Isaiah Balat teamed up with Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Alhaji Yaro Suleiman, Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, Senator Dalhatu Sarki Tafida and a host of several foot soldiers who made the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) thick and strong in the state and eventually formed government in the state.
However, after eight years of Makarfi as governor, Southern Kaduna failed to get the governorship ticket as Balat lost to Arc. Namadi Sambo, the incumbent vice president. Despite protests and allegation of marginalization, the people of Southern Kaduna had never torn the PDP, and like magic laced with divine providence, the first Southern Kaduna Christian governor for Kaduna state, Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, emerged on its political scene on May 20, 2010.
Yakowa governed the state in the remaining tenure of Sambo, who was picked as vice president to President Goodluck Jonathan, and therefore made history as the first elected governor from Southern Kaduna. Unfortunately, midway into his four year tenure, he died in a plane crash on December 15, 2012 in Bayelsa state. And in line with the constitution, his deputy, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero assumed the mantle of leadership.
The death of Yakowa changed the political situation in Southern Kaduna, and after some politicking, the deputy governor slot returned to the traditional base with the state PDP chair picked to fill the vacuum.
APC to the rescue
The feeling of marginalization perhaps informed the decision of the newly merged opposition political parties on the aegis of the All Progressives Congress (APC) top shots, led by General Muhammadu Buhari, Nasir El-rufai to embark on the mobilization tour of the area during which they insisted and canvassed for a change and the abolishment of manipulation of religion for political gains.
But in the twilight of the debate, Balat, a presidential adviser from the area, contrary to Buhari and El-rufai’s submissions, argued that the PDP has done well and achieved much for the area.
He said; “That claim is simply laughable because the area has witnessed lots of infrastructural growth as well as the appointment and election of its people into key positions. In fact, our people have never had it so good; the dividends are glaring no matter which indices you use. The resolve to support PDP is even stronger now than ever. Aside the infrastructure, it is in the PDP governments that we have had our people rising to the pinnacle of their chosen fields. Our sons and daughters have risen to become Chiefs of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Naval Staff. The incumbent Group Managing Director of the NNPC is also our son.”
APC fires back
Firing back, an APC chieftain from the area, Mikiah Takwak declared: “We want to categorically put the record straight that the benefit of PDP polity in Southern Kaduna that Balat talked about is basically sharing of shreds to unprincipled Southern Kaduna elites like him and also mortgaging and betraying the future of the area for sheer greed and servitude, and not core development that will have snowballed into genuine development and human capital development.
“As we speak, there is no single industry functioning or any economic activity going on in Southern Kaduna. There is no single viable hospital in Southern Kaduna, no wonder the medical pilgrimage to Jos University Teaching Hospital and Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria. There is no single standard primary and secondary school in Southern Kaduna, and from 2011 to date about 500 persons have been killed by array of gunmen in Southern Kaduna with impunity. About 20, 000 people have been displaced and deprived of their homes. The insecurity situation has paralyzed commercial activities completely owing to insecurity ravaging the area. And we are wondering what development Balat is talking about.”
With recent the outbursts in Southern Kaduna amongst politicians, youths and rising political movements, only time will tell who among the PDP and APC will get the soul of Southern Kaduna politics in 2015. What is clear for now is the fact that it will indeed be a battle of wits just as the stake has become higher.