The Revd. Gideon Para- Mallam is global mission leader, peace advocate and President, The Para- Mallam Foundation. He takes a look at the Southern Kaduna killings, why the ethnic indigenes of Southern Kaduna are angry with Governor Nasir El-Rufai in this interview with TAI ANYANWU
Why has Southern Kaduna killings persisted?
Perhaps, the real root causes of the crises haven’t been unearthed.
Could there be hidden reasons for the crises while what we think are the causes, rather a veneer of these attacks?
On the other hand, there are quite a number of things that could be responsible for the persistent Southern Kaduna killings. This is no surprise to me because, on a larger scale, terrorist groups like the Boko Haram sect have persisted for years.
On paper, the government and military claim to have combated them. But people are still losing their lives. One of the reasons I think this one has lingered for so long is; the perpetrators think they can get away with these attacks without being brought to book even when caught.
There might also be powerful forces behind the killings. I have read something but can’t get the source right now. But the essence of the statement suggests that the late General Sani Abacha stated that ‘once an uprising in a country lingers beyond three weeks or so, then the government may either know something about it or may even perhaps be behind it.
The crisis keeps persisting because the root causes have not yet been addressed. The Southern Kaduna killings may have persisted because of the selfish interest of the Northern political elite.
The reasons could also revolve around subjugating the Southern part of Kaduna State and even the entire Middle-belt, coveted for its excess green grass for their livestock.
Has it anything to do with their Christian faith or quest for occupation of their ancestral homeland?
I believe both their Christian faith and the occupation of their ancestral homeland are issues on top of their mind and in contention at the end of the day. The issue of faith is of less importance here. Ahmed Makarfi, during his regime took all security issues very seriously and succeeded in bringing peace to the state by giving a listening ear to both parties without any show favoritism.
Everyone praises Senator Ahmed Makarfi because of his approach to solving some of the perennial socio-religious contentious issues of Kaduna State. El-Rufai has made himself to be misunderstood and I know he is able to endear himself to the people of Southern Kaduna State. Let him build fresh bridges and reach out to the people. Southern Kaduna will not be angry forever.
The concept of forgiveness is very strong in the bible and Southern Kaduna people are peace-loving, hospitable and forgiven. On July 15, 2012, El-Rufai was quoted to have tweeted: “Anyone, solider or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes.” The governor can still appeal to his Fulani brothers to sheathe their swords and embrace peace for God is a God of peace and not violence.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El- Rufai, is unhappy that Southern Kaduna leaders keep criticizing his efforts at arresting the situation. Would you say that he is not doing enough to stop the killings?
Yes, I would say the Kaduna State Governor still needs to do more to stop the ongoing killings in Southern Kaduna. His body language sends a negative signal that he has taken sides. He has openly been blaming one party for the crisis, which has left the people of Southern Kaduna feeling exposed and insecure.
The world keeps wandering why is it that once Fulanis are killed the governor states this in the press but when ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna are killed, he says nothing?
None of the perpetrators has ever been prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others. Security men are on the road searching each vehicle for contrabands, while the perpetrators are in the villages carrying out attacks.
You are a prominent Southern Kaduna indigene. What do you have to say about the Governor’s allegation that your leaders want financial appeasement?
Southern Kaduna leaders seeking financial gratification when the lives of their people are at stake? Does this sound plausible and acceptable?
Worst still, this is being declared to the world by the governor of the same state?
This same governor I know desires to see peace restored to the state. I wouldn’t jump into making a case for or against such allegations. He has his reasons for saying such although he should have been more specific about his claims. But I doubt very much that any reasonable person from Southern Kaduna will play politics with the lives of his people; such allegations are capable of fueling the crisis. But I will appeal to the elders of Southern Kaduna to exercise restraint and show maturity.
Our people are suffering and the governor needs to work with this same people he says he won’t, if he truly desires to find peace in Southern Kaduna.
Have they really demanded any form of appeasement?
I do not have the details but like I said earlier, I wouldn’t want to jump into conclusions. But to be frank, I have never heard of any person or group from Southern Kaduna that went to the governor to seek financial gain in exchange for the lives of our people.
How can one connect that with mass killings and destruction taking place in the area? Should this really be the kind of discourse we should be having over the bloodshed we see?
Let’s assume even though I do not agree, will the governor also said the same of Birnin Gwari, Igabi and Giwa leaders where killings are taking place in Kaduna State?
What about Katsina, Sokoto, Taraba, Plateau, Borno state’s leaders, how much are they receiving or asking from their governors to allow their people get killed?
I think our governor needs to get down to work. From the little I know, he is trying to see peace restored. I will encourage him to focus on that and let’s move away from chasing shadows.
The only financial assistance I know the elders of Southern Kaduna are crying for is the need for the government to come to the aid of those who are internally displaced in the IDP camps.
What exactly do Southern Kaduna people want?
I think the people just want the killings and persistent disruption of peace and destruction of property to stop and for life to go back to normalcy. I also think they would love it if those who have been arrested in connection with the killings are prosecuted and the full course of the law is allowed.
Justice must not only be done by word of mouth, but justice must be seen to be done! Southern Kaduna people want fairness and justice from their state governor.
Southern Kaduna people want peace and their occupied lands by their Fulani attackers be returned to them.
The governor has made a promise to do so if those lands and villages occupied under the control of herdsmen are brought to his attention. I am glad SOKAPU did so and listed 109 villages in a press release on August 18, 20120.
Why are your people angry with Governor El-Rufai?
I think the people want their governor to be more vocal concerning the killings and also more proactive in ensuring that adequate security forces are deployed to the affected areas. The people desire empathy and presence. They want their governor to visit them in the places where these attacks are taking place so he can see the plight of the people with his two eyes beyond security briefings and images from 2nd or third parties.
Right now, the people of Southern Kaduna are angry with Governor El-Rufai because he doesn’t take their plight seriously. His speeches, for example are symbolic of his confused interpretation of their plight. I believe the governor can change that by acting statesmanlike.
How can they absolve themselves of the Governor’s allegation?
For them to absolve themselves from the Governor’s allegation is to ensure that they don’t succumb to any form of pressure to accept financial inducement of any kind either from the governor or any of his officials.
All transactions must be done in very transparent ways and to bear in mind, the common good of all the people above all else. If the governor gives any money for development purposes, all the proper records for such monies are well accounted for.
Also, Southern Kaduna leaders should demand explanations from the Governor. If on the other hand, they have demanded financial appeasement from him – by way of monetizing the peace of Southern Kaduna, the governor should expose them, so the killings can end and the crises as well.
Then we usher in the era of sustainable peace. Southern Kaduna and indeed Nigeria needs peace to return to Southern Kaduna. We are practicing a democratic system of government when transparency is a key value. But are the allegations true?