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Conflict zones of the North

| July 16, 2012 More

Commentators on the level of development in the North have always spoken in tandem that the seeming underdeveloped status of the North is largely self-inflicted.

Nigeria is currently passing through a dangerous phase with the orgy of killings in the North. The incidence of murderous attacks is becoming a daily affair and the nation is paying direly for it.

Since last year, President Goodluck Jonathan seems to have lost count of how many times he had addressed his fellow countrymen/women on the same subject matter, each time almost employing same words.

Before the emergence of the Boko Haram sect and its murderous activities, there had been tribal conflicts in many states of the North.

While addressing Nigerian community in South Korea in March, President Goodluck Jonathan said terrorism persists in Nigeria because citizens play politics with everything.

“We feel that certain things have to be done differently, though it is difficult in a country where they play politics with everything. Everything is politicised. For example, when the Americans were attacked during the 9/11, every American was together with the government of the day, yet they have political parties. When a country is challenged, everybody comes together to fight back, but in Nigeria, we play politics with everything. This is what we have seen and we will get over it,” the President said.

Critics say government’s response and reaction to each episode of bomb attack or massive massacre has been very feeble, which appears to have emboldened the perpetrators. The Presidency appears to have a ready-made address for such sad moments.

The President has always said: “Any attack on any leader or any part of the country is an attack on all of us, because you will never know when it will happen to you. Let all of us decide to collectively fight these terrorists. They cannot defeat Nigeria. God willing, they will never succeed. This act of suicide bombing is relatively new. Some years back, nobody will believe that a Nigerian will commit suicide. But we are faced with this reality and we must find a way to tackle it. The battle to fight this evil is a collective one. We all must continue to watch and pray, while the government continues to work tirelessly to end this evil that threatens both our democracy and wellbeing.”

The activities of the Boko Haram sect, which began in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, have since spread to Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, FCT, among others. The menace has since scared away people who have lived all their lives in those places, thereby crippling the socio-economic wellbeing of the entire North.

Recently, Labaran Maku, minister of Information, raised the alarm that incessant shootings and bombings by Boko Haram was retarding economic development in northern Nigeria. “The North is losing heavily due to the violence. When you destabilise Kano, which is the commercial nerve centre of the North, you are threatening the socio-economic well-being of the North.

“Kano is the economy of Chad, it is the economy of Niger Republic, of northern Cameroon, so when you destabilise peace in Kano, you threaten the foundation of economic and social wellbeing of that region. It is now lagging behind in infrastructure and economic development,” Maku said. In the last quarter (April-June), there has been a renewed onslaught by members of the sect to prove to the government that its forces are not yet able to checkmate them.
Pundits say the Islamist group was a creation of age-long wrong indoctrination, religious fundamentalism and fanaticism.

It has also been touted that the Boko Haram menace is fuelled by the high level of poverty and very low levels of western education in the region with one of the world’s highest population growth rate.

However, at a recent retreat of members of the National Assembly, David Mark, Senate president, had condemned the activities of the Boko Haram sect. He also criticised the blanket arrogation of terrorism to the level of poverty in the country.
Mark said, “If you are poor, does poverty encourage you to go and be killing your fellow human beings and bomb their places of worship? I think it is time we educated the suicide bombers in the North that it is a wrong belief that killing innocent people would automatically take them to heaven where they would inherit 17 virgins. Of course, it would be an uphill task for one person to handle 17 virgins.”

Beyond the Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed several lives since 2009, conflicts in Jos, Plateau State, which have spanned 10 years, are threatening the peaceful co-existence of the people.

The state has witnessed unprecedented reign of violence since the return of democracy in 1999. On Friday, September 7, 2001, there were sectarian crises in which over 1,000 people were reportedly killed. It was a political crisis under the veil of sectarian crisis. There had been series of riots before that episode.

In 2004, the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, declared a state of emergency and put Chris Alli, a retired military officer, in charge for the constitutional six months (May 18-November 18, 2004).

Joshua Dariye, who was governor at that time, returned to serve out his tenure. He was eventually impeached. The battle has been between indigenous tribes in the state and the Hausa-Fulani settlers. In the recent past, warfronts have extended to Pankshin, Magu, Bassa and Riyam council areas.

Analysts say the Jos crisis has its roots in the fear of ethnic domination – economic and political – which has been exaggerated by the people’s religious differences.

Despite the fact that several panels had sat on the matter and recommendations made, there seems to be no political will by the powers that be to rein in the monster.

The current governor, Jonah Jang, has not been able also to settle the matter. Violence and killings have continued unabated.

A state that prides itself as ‘Home of Peace and Tourism’ has been turned into a home of violence. The latest sad incident was the killing, a few days ago, of over 100 people including Gyang Dantong and Gyang Dan Fulani, senator and member of the state House of Assembly, respectively. In Kaduna State, there has been age-long North-South (Muslim-Christian) dichotomy. This has pitched the forces of the four local government areas in Kaduna metropolis – Kaduna South and Chukun (for the Christians) and Kaduna North and Rigachikun (for the Muslims) – against one another.

The crises in the state are rooted in the fight for the control of its resources between the Northern Muslim part of the state and the predominantly Christian Southern part.

Kafanchan, the biggest city in Southern Kaduna, has always been a boiling point. However, crises peaked during the post-election riots leading to massacres and counter-attacks, particularly in Kagoro, a Kaje town. Recently, a group of leaders from the Southern Kaduna tribe issued a vacate-our-land order on all Fulani living in southern part of the state.

Tribal crises have also rocked Bauchi State between the Safiwas and Hausa tribes. The crisis, mainly in Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro LGAs of the state, is more than 3 years old. Recently, there were massive killings and displacement of thousands of people. The Sifawas lay claim to being the dominant indigenous tribe in Tafawa Balewa and are predominantly Christians. They accuse the Hausa-Fulani of being latter days’ settlers in the area.

In Taraba State, the war is between the Jukun and Fulani tribes and the boiling areas are Takun and Wukari. The fighting has led to the death of many and displacement of thousands of people. It is purely ethnic with religious tinge.

Benue and Nasarawa States are not spared. In Benue, there is the Tiv and Fulani crisis which has resulted in the death of hundreds of villagers and destruction of property, including residential houses. The uprising has also led to the displacement of many natives and refugee camps set up by the state government. Reports have it that the strife is primarily due to economic interest, “owing to the continuous destruction of Tiv farmland by the ever-rampaging Fulani herdsmen off their approved grazing routes.”

The battle in Nasarawa is between the Eggon and Hausa-Fulani. It has, however, extended from Doma to Mada as well as Eggonland. As a result of the crisis, many people have also been displaced. The problem has been ethnic in nature, but it has been exacerbated by the religious divides.

The battle is also ragging in Adamawa State. It is between the Bachamas of Numan and Lamurde LGAs of the state who are pitched against the Hausa-Fulani tribe. The crisis is age-long and at a point culminated in the dethronement of the former king of the Bachama – Hama Bachama – in 2004 by the Boni Haruna administration. It was said the decision was to placate certain interest.

The renewed crisis has already caused massive killings and counter-attacks in the villages by the Fulani-controlled axis, leading to massive displacement of people in the senatorial zone. Borno State is also not free from tribal crisis which has led to the untimely deaths of many people and displacement of several others.

The Babru tribe is said to be pitched against the Bra people. The tribal conflict is born out of the fact that Babru (Muslim) ruling house continues to lord it over the majority indigenous Bra (Christian) inhabitants of the surrounding villages and towns. The recently widely reported attack on a church by gunmen is one of the new dimensions to the crisis in the area.

Meanwhile, the Boko Haram insurgency has given vent to the polarisation that had hitherto existed to erupt into high violence, occasionally.

It is feared that with these conflict zones in the country, life will continue to be worthless. It is, however, expected that government should rise to the occasion if its campaign for peaceful co-existence will yield the desired result.

Category: Bauchi State News

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