Who will end violence in Kaduna?

08Nov 2018
The Guardian
Who will end violence in Kaduna?

KADUNA State appears determined to reaffirm its long-standing reputation as the nation's most violent state. Apart from Maiduguri, the epicentre of Boko Haram suicide attacks and insurgency; Kano, which frequently witnesses "blasphemy"-related violence; and Plateau and Benue States.

Religious conflicts in Kaduna State

Not even the military was able to cage its blood-soaked history. The main trigger is that Kaduna State is almost evenly divided between the two major religions in the country - Christianity and Islam. The various ethnic groups subscribing to these faiths seem unwilling to share their common space and reap the benefits of diversity.

The state is divided between the mainly Muslim North and the predominantly Christian South, a characteristic that is also evident in the state capital which is called the "Beirut" of Nigeria, where there is an official dividing line between Muslim and Christian sections. Only a little spark brings out residents, armed with weapons, to demonstrate their unwillingness to tolerate one another.

This year alone, two massive paroxysms of violence have wracked Kaduna City. The latest took place in Kasuwan Magani on Thursday, October 18, 2018. Some news reports attributed it to "a stampede". Some sources blamed it on a quarrel between wheelbarrow porters, while yet another source linked it to a pickpocket caught and brutalised by a mob which triggered a "reprisal" from a group which felt its member was deliberately targeted.

Whatever the truth of the cause, the official upshot is that at least 55 lives were lost, hundreds injured, shops looted, and homes and vehicles set ablaze. The state government imposed days of total curfews, while the police, as usual, swung into action after much damage had been done. Obviously, the early warning mechanism established during the regimes of Military Governor, Col. Ja'afaru Isah and elected Governor Ahmed Makarfi, which witnessed prolonged periods of relative peace, no longer exists in the state.

Two main reasons have been identified for the frequent violence in the state. The first is intolerance due to invasive, superiority complex which is met with violent defiance between the two sides. The second is lack of trust in the government and security agencies' capacity to address grievances with justice and equity.

The Federal and Kaduna State governments, with the cooperation of community and religious leaders in the state, still hold the key to lasting peace. The early warning mechanism should be restored. Extremists should no longer be allowed to hold the reins of power in Kaduna State. The citizens must learn from other multi-religious states, especially in the South West, where Christians and Muslims live together peacefully.

Meanwhile,   Simon Abah writes,  the deaths of and whispered deaths of people in far-away places in Kaduna can lead to the deaths of hundreds of people in the state capital. These have gone on for too long with no end in sight other than preachment for tolerance and for people to learn to live in peace when the dust settles. Leaders go about begging people to live in peace. Beg? No-one is ever punished; the benefactors are always in the wind. Pastors, Bishops, Sheiks or Chief Imams, have failed the north by the way they have handled these repeated crises in northern Nigeria because they are habituated to being politically correct every time instead of calling a spade by its name, shrinking violets. Who doesn't know that politicians in the north play on prejudices to divide and tear the people apart? What is amazing is how fast youths go about killing people. These killings would go on unabated until these youths have jobs to do but who will provide them with jobs.

Many of today's political persons in the north do not have passion for the growth of Nigeria, do they? Then how come the north is so unpredictable, calm at sunset and chaotic at sunrise? Who are the impresarios that coordinate these destructions? The north should have moved beyond having crises reported forever about it. It is a shame that the establishment players have destroyed the north. A region so polarized now along religious lines. People of the north are so interested in religion of customs and symbols without values. Is there a religion that supports the killing of people? I am tempted to believe that atheists believe in God more than the people of the north, paradoxically speaking, because atheists see God in human beings and promote humanitarian causes than people who claim to believe in a God that they lay claim to for themselves. "Our God" and "their God" Such is the unfortunate scenario in Nigeria. Our love for our kinds is higher and abysmal to those who aren't our kinds.

Most can't think on their feet. They are like the Scottish people who were once a Gaelic-speaking people. They abandoned it for English and yet ask for referendum to leave the English. We delude ourselves into thinking that the west can help to develop Nigeria without efforts from Nigerians other than to destroy and kill people every time gleefully after which we go to pray to "Our God". It is hoped that the conscience of our youths will be pricked and their minds transformed to move away from devilry. It is important because the agendas of their benefactors are about politics, power, economics and they are well-fed and these say a lot. They have taught the youths to not increase their vanishing points, to not give latitude to people not like them and never to partake in national life positively. No wonder the northern youths fancy the parapet in their household only.

The razor-sharp level of disunity in Nigeria need not be if the political awareness of youths is high and not low as it is and if they refrain from mouthing inanities, instead of focusing on issues.

The pervasive false sense of national identity, nationalism and xenophobia, which characterized Brexit is no different in Nigeria, may be worse here. We practice not the progressive National identity to advance the cause of our tribes but the destructive type, which pits one region against another, the backward type of nationalism with borders in a world, which should move beyond having borders. Regional Identity politics is supreme to them more than national identity politics, the same way it is in UK. The Welsh, Irish and Scots love their home lands more than the British. And so the youths prefer being a native of a tribe more than being Nigerian. That is a narrow-minded way, of looking at life and humanity. Where then is the place of Humanity?

Humanity refers to all of us and not your kind only. Humanity is regardless, ethnicity, religion, gender. Anybody who gives unconditional love, is compassionate, cooperates with all, generous, humble, does the right thing, kind, respects all without the use of expletives and invectives, patient, is a human being. People who do not care for the interest of others are no human beings.

Human beings ask questions and they don't in slavish salute. Provision of the dole of democracy is a right and not a privilege. And so if a governor decides to construct a highway from Bauchi to the state border with Plateau, the youths need no clap. It is a right. When the Plateau state governor does same from Plateau to Gombe and the Gombe helmsman to Adamawa, they need not clap. But when the Adamawa governor chooses not to construct his to Borno. The youths should ask why. When commuting between Mubi to Michika takes seven forevers due to the bad road, the youths should ask questions and not glory in self-pity.

Sir Ahmadu Bello the premier of the northern region was once credited as saying that, "I believe all leaders from the regions of this country believe in the unity of, Nigeria and if we all come out together as one our differences will be sorted out for national growth." And Nelson Mandela said, "To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."


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