The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has rejected the plans by Kaduna State Government to tamper with traditional institutions in the state, describing the move as retrogressive and suspicious. The position was conveyed in a statement made available on Sunday and signed by the group’s National Public Relation Officer, Mr Yakubu Kuzamani.
The statement reads:
OUR POSITION ON THE PROPOSED REVIEW OF EXISTING CHIEFTAINCY SYSTEM IN KADUNA STATE
Our attention was drawn on 28/7/2017 to two documents circulating in the social media on review of existing Chieftaincy System in Kaduna State. The first is titled “Appointment of Committee to Review the Existing Chieftaincy System in the State,” and the second emanated from a body called the “Committee to Review the Existing Chieftaincy System in the State Sub-Committee on the Nomenclature.” The mandate or Terms of Reference of the main Committee are:
(i) “To examine the existing nomenclature of the graded chiefs which emphasizes ethnic identity and propose new ones based on town/location of the Chiefdom taking due cognizance of the historical antecedents of the Chiefdom;
(ii) To study the cultural affinities, long standing historical antecedents and other peculiarities of the people within a Chiefdom/Emirate and advise on possible regrouping;
(iii) To propose alternative system of boundary delineation between Emirate/ Chiefdom in the State to mitigate the incidence of incessant boundary disputes;
(iv) To advise on the possibility of placing the staff of District and Village Administration under the control and supervision of the Local Government Service Commission (LGSC) to guarantee their career progression in the service, and
(v) To advise generally on ways to improve the operations of the Traditional institutions in the State to restore its glory and esteem amongst the people.”
The second document which emanated from the “Sub-Committee on the Nomenclature” was addressed to paramount rulers dated 24th July, 2017 with the following contents:
1. “Your Highness may wish to respectfully be informed that as part of the continuing effort of the present Administration to restore the esteem of the Traditional institutions in the State, it appointed and inaugurated the above named Sub-Committee to make recommendations, amongst other things, for a change of Nomenclature of your Chiefdom from the existing one that emphasizes on ethnic affiliation to the one which would be based on town/location.
2. In deciding to effect the change to reflect the town/location of the Chiefdom, Government hopes that the much needed unity and harmonious co-existence amongst your diverse communities would better be achieved.
3. The Sub-Committee would rely on your input which is expected to be guided by the historical antecedent of the Chiefdom before making its recommendation to Government. In this regards, you are kindly requested to propose a most suitable title/name.
4. Your submission is expected to reach the Secretariat of the Sub-Committee on Nomenclature at Ministry of Local Government Affairs, Kaduna on or before Monday, 31st July, 2017.”
It is necessary to state that the creation and composition of the chiefdoms were done by the Kaduna State Government under the leadership of Brigadier General Ja’afaru Isa (rtd) in 1995 and Governor Ahmed Makarfi in 2000 after several months of painstaking consultations, interaction, engagement, hearings, submissions, research and evaluation which the government conducted.
Account was taken of the yearnings and aspirations of the people, expressed by various communities, Community Development Associations, ethnic nationalities, religious leaders and stakeholders, for rulers of those chiefdoms as eventually constituted. The role of traditional rulers in the area of stabilizing the polity, peace building and uniting the people for community development was taken account of.
It is apposite to point out that the people were satisfied with the traditional institutions as composed. None of the 53 ethnic nationalities registered with SOKAPU has complained about the institutions as composed. None has asked for a review of the existing chieftaincy system. None has had any major boundary dispute or issue with the other.
What Southern Kaduna has suffered has been attacks from terrorists and the State Government has identified the attackers as terrorists from 14 African countries. We believe, therefore, that it is better to concentrate on the task of containing the terrorists from 14 African countries than to restructure or review the existing chieftaincy system in Kaduna State.
Where a review of the existing chieftaincy system becomes necessary, we believe that the call for a review should come from the people. However, since Government has identified the need for a review, it is only right and exigent for Government to set up machinery for consultation and even public hearing with the relevant Stakeholders, Community Development Associations, religious leaders and the general public rather than going about the exercise in a very clandestine manner.
No Community Development Association or stakeholder was invited to make a submission to either the main or subcommittee to review the chieftaincy system. Yet, the demand for the institution of the chiefdoms came from the people. The aforementioned documents were not placed within the public domain. The Committee never reached out to relevant stakeholders for their inputs. The letter from the Subcommittee was dated 24th July, 2017, chiefs were served with letters on 27th or 28th July and they were expected to make their input on or before Monday 31st July, 2017 on a matter of such great importance!
There appears to be a pre-determined outcome for this assignment. The committees’ work is certainly, not to “restore the esteem of the traditional institutions in the State” but to further denigrate, humiliate and downgrade the traditional institution which manifestation has already started with the rationalization of the district heads.
The intention of the entire review is suspicious and seriously insinuates bad faith. For example, the Subcommittee is asking chiefs to make “recommendations amongst others things, for a change of Nomenclature of your chiefdom from the existing one that emphasizes on ethnic affiliation to the one which would be based on town/location”. The Atyaps, the Bajjus, the Kaninkons for example sought for chiefdoms based on their cultural affinity; the Ham people and the Moroa people had their institutions in place based on their cultural affinity; the Zazzau people had their Emirate system based on their religious affinity; the Atyaps have in their chiefdom Atyap people, Bajjus, Hausas, Fulanis, Igbos etc. in the same manner, the Zazzau Emirate, the Birnin Gwari Emirate have Muslims, Christians and others in their Emirates.
The Agwam Bajju people are in Zangon Kataf, Kachia and Jema’a Local Government Areas; the Agom Adara in Kachia, Kajuru, part of Chikun and part of Niger state; the Kpop Ham in Jaba and Kachia Local Governments. Where these chiefs become Agwam Zonkwa; Agom Kachia; Kpop Kwoi-what happens to their people in the remaining local governments? Even the Gbagyi people are spread across five LGs!
This move is deeply suspicious and not in good faith. Why is there emphasis only on ethnic affiliation? Why is there no emphasis on religious or ethnic identity? This move we believe would undoubtedly create more divisions in Kaduna State. Moreover, people of different chiefdoms are not only spread across other LGs but are autochthonous to such places with strong cultural ties.
We call on the state Government to immediately halt the assignment of this Committee; to restore the district heads back to their positions and rather than reviewing the traditional institutions, to grant autonomy to as many communities as desire.
On SOKAPU’s part, we reject in totality this autocratic move to tamper with our revered traditional institutions or to take away the autonomy of our people. Our people do not want this retrogressive review. Only government does. Government should consult the people and not impose its will on the people.