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Bauchi Citizenship, Gov. Yuguda’s Legacy

| August 31, 2012 More

I applaud Governor Isa Yuguda’s new policy that any Nigerian that has stayed up to seven years in Bauchi State automatically becomes an indigene/citizen of the state with full rights and responsibilities. This is the boldest statement of any sitting governor or leader in Nigeria.

Although the same clause is entrenched in our constitution, no one has been able to enforce it. Nigerians are segregated along religious, tribal, and state boundaries. Intolerance towards one another has been on the rise as economic factors keep separating the rich from the poor. Yet, no state can exist alone, with only the so-called “sons of the soil”.

It is an emphatic statement like this that would help to integrate Nigerians, but it must be rendered by an authority. Bauchi, like other states in the north, is endowed with various ethnic groups, the early settlers. But those who are claiming ownership of the state cannot singlehandedly develop and transform the region with the meagre monthly resources doled by the central government. Economic activities to improve the wellbeing of the residents (indigenes or not) must be supported by everyone residing in the state.

The greatest disruption to an entrenched coexistence of Nigerians was the civil. The war was absolute manifestation of the dire suspicion of the major tribes in the country. Although, after the war, life quickly became almost normal for Nigerians. We were free to roam around like citizens of other nations. Inter- regional migration and urbanisation in search of jobs and businesses blossomed in the early 1970s.

Again, Nigeria’s unity was reaffirmed. The war strengthened our faith in living together as one entity. Regional alliance and extreme suspicion resurfaced when oil became the bedrock of Nigeria’s economy.

In my opinion, Nigerians bonded more under the various military administrations than the civilian governments. Politicians, to win elections, employed segregation based rhetoric. Indigenisation, tribal, and religious affiliations became the corner stone of the new political ideology. To disqualify a contestant, politicians would dig deeper into the tribal and religious background of opponents. They would smear tribal, religious, and citizenship sentiments instead of appraising the value and quality of an individual.

Plateau and Kaduna states are known for their intolerance towards indigenes of different tribal and religious inclinations.

This pronouncement by Governor Yuguda is a landmark in the history of this country, and every state governor should follow the footpath to enhance unity and oneness.

The right of Nigerians to reside anywhere in the country is a bona-fide, constitutional privilege. These rights became fragile when politicians became over-possessed with ethnicity and religion to canvass support for election. To get elected is to have access to the monthly federal subvention.

Who is a citizen and what are his or her rights? Citizenship denotes the link between a person and a state or an association of states. It is normally synonymous with the term nationality although the latter term is sometimes understood to have ethnic connotations. Possession of citizenship is normally associated with the right to work and live in a country and to participate in political life. A person who does not have citizenship in any state is said to be stateless.

Citizenship status, under the social contract theory, carries with it both rights and responsibilities. In this sense, citizenship was described as “a bundle of rights – primarily political participation in the life of the community, the right to vote, and the right to receive certain protection from the community, as well as obligations”. Citizenship is seen by most scholars as culture-specific, in the sense that the meaning of the term varies considerably from culture to culture, and over time. How citizenship is understood depends on the person making the determination.

The relation of citizenship has never been fixed or static, but constantly changes within each society. While citizenship has varied considerably throughout history and within societies over time, there are some common elements, but they vary considerably as well. As a bond, citizenship extends beyond basic kinship ties to unite people of different genetic backgrounds.

It usually signifies membership in a political body. It is often based on, or was a result of, some form of military service or expectation of future service. It usually involves some form of political participation, but this can vary from token acts to active service in government.

Citizenship is a status in society. It is an ideal state as well. It generally describes a person with legal rights within a given political order. It almost always has an element of exclusion, meaning that some people are not citizens, and that this distinction can sometimes be very important, or not important, depending on a particular society.

Citizenship as a concept is generally hard to isolate intellectually and compare with related political notions, since it relates to many other aspects of society such as the family, military service, the individual, freedom, religion, ideas of right and wrong, ethnicity, and patterns for how a person should behave in society.

When there are many different groups within a nation, citizenship may be the only real bond which unites everybody as equals without discrimination-it is a “broad bond” linking “a person with the state” and gives people a universal identity as a legal member of a specific nation

Scholars suggest that the concept of citizenship contains many unresolved issues, sometimes called tensions existing within the relation, that continue to reflect uncertainty about what citizenship is supposed to mean. Some unresolved issues regarding citizenship include questions about what is the proper balance between duties and rights.

Some see these two aspects of citizenship as incompatible, such that social rights have gone too far with not enough emphasis on duties citizens owe to the state. Another is a question about what is the proper balance between political citizenship versus social citizenship. Some thinkers see benefits with people being absent from public affairs, since too much participation such as revolution can be destructive, yet too little participation such as total apathy can be problematic as well.

Citizenship can be seen as a special elite status, and it can also be seen as a democratizing force and something that everybody has; the concept can include both senses: Choosing to belong to a particular nation – by his or her consent. Or citizenship is a matter of where a person was born – that is, by his or her descent.

Whatever the definition, citizenship of a place of abode is the ultimate tool that would help Nigeria. We must be free to reside, work and pursue individual interests in our chosen communities.

I implore other states in the country, especially northern states, to loosen the rigid indigenisation clause in the social contract of the region. Governor Isa Yuguda has led the way; we need more governors to enforce the same principle and open the states to integration and economic prosperity. Nigerians cannot be strangers in their own land.

Category: Bauchi State News

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