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Insight Into Sayawa-Fulani 50-year-old Rivalry

| September 3, 2012 More

One of the historical landmarks of Bauchi State, the Tafawa Balewa local government, has been in the news, no thanks to the incessant clashes between the Fulani and Sayawa Communities of the area. For close to 50 years, successive governments have made attempts at ending the conflict to no avail. The latest being the creation of a chiefdom for the Sayawa by the Isa Yuguda led-administration and the relocation of the local government headquarters by the State Assembly.  NAJIB SANI takes a look at the unfolding peace initiative and also report that much is required to be done for the attainment of lasting peace in the area.

Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi state which is located about 83 kilometres away from the state capital is notorious for ethno-religious crises that have claimed several lives and destroyed precious property in the last 50 years.

Although the Local Government is inhabited by several ethnic groups including the Jarawa, Fulani, Hausa, Sayawa, Kanuri, Nga and other tribes, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, investigation revealed that the perpetual crises which threw the area into anarchy in, 1959, 1977, 1991, 1995, 2001, 2005, 2010, 2011 and the current year 2012, involved the Fulani –Moslems and the Sayawa –Christians which are the major tribes.

Investigation further revealed that the recurring clashes may not be unconnected with the agitation for chiefdom and the claim of ownership of Tafawa Balewa town between the two warring communities –the Fulani and the Sayawa peoples.

Our correspondent reports that the endemic violence rocking the area had been a source of concern to various governments, both under the military and civilian authorities that governed the state as they set up judicial panels and commissions of inquiries to unravel the actual reasons behind the crises and bringing about enduring peace in the troubled zone. 

Some of the recommendations proffered by these panels led to the creation of Bogoro district, Bogoro Local Government area and recently, the Sayawa chiefdom by the incumbent governor Isa Yuguda.

But the question one may ask now is; has the creation of the new Sayawa chiefdom brought about the expected peace to Tafawa Balewa Local Government and how are the two warring communities  Fulani and Sayawa cohabiting?

According to the state governor Isa Yuguda, his administration has outdone all its predecessors in office, both the military and civilians in surmounting the endemic killings and destruction of lives and property in the area through the recent creation of the long agitated new Sayawa chiefdom.

He claimed that since the state government took the giant stride, peace has prevailed in the embattled Local Government.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, however, gathered that the state house of assembly has also recently relocated the headquarters of the Local Government frTafawa Balewa town to Bununu village due to the recurring crises in the area even with the creation of the new Sayawa chiefdom.

The law making body explained that the development followed the failure of the previous recommendations to address the problems once and for all, adding that the lawmakers cannot sit and watch such gruesome acts thrive perpetually and threaten the corporate existence of the state.

Although both the state government and the house of assembly have stated that their respective decisions of creating Sayawa chiefdom and relocating the Local Government headquarters are aimed at ensuring that an enduring peace prevailed in the area.

The actions have continued to elicit barrage of reactions from the two restive ethnic groups.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, the Secretary of the Sayawa Council of Elders, Barrister Bukata Zhadi, expressed opposition to the relocation of the Local Government headquarters from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu, claiming that there is a sinister plan against the Sayawa community and that the action is unconstitutional.

Zyadi also said that they are not satisfied with the new Sayawa chiefdom because its establishment did not incorporate their demands. The Sayawa Elders scribe lamented that in negation to their demand, the state governor chose to cite the chiefdom in ‘Martil Giji’ village instead of the Tafawa Balewa or Bununu towns which he claimed to be owned by the Sayawa people.

Barrister Bukata Zyadi who disclosed that they are now in court with the state government over the relocation of the Local Government and the establishment of the chiefdom in a ‘wrong place’, berated governor Yuguda for allegedly showing lackadaisical attitude in tackling the crises even as he accused him of favouring his Fulani kinsmen.

While the spokesman of the Fulani community in Tafawa Balewa, Alhaji Aminu Tukur who is a former member in the Bauchi state house of assembly, hailed the relocation of the Local Government headquarter and the creation of the chiefdom saying the rejection by the Sayawa people is an indication that ‘they are not ready to give peace a chance’ in the area.

He lamented that there is no respite yet in the Local Government as the series of attacks have continued unabated and alleging that 63 herdsmen were recently killed and their cows rustled by unknown persons in the area.

Tukur added that the district head and chief Imam of Tafawa Balewa have fled the area due to the fear of being molested as a result of the current crises between the Fulani and Sayawa kinsmen.

The Fulani spokesman alleged that Tafawa Balewa town is now a ‘no go area’, as some miscreants have mounted road blocks along the access routes to the town where they allegedly stop and lynch innocent persons. He further alleged that the security agents around who are aware of the illegalities refused to take any action on the issue.

He therefore urged the state governor, Yuguda to take urgent action and compensate all those, particularly the Fulani who lost their kinsmen and animals to the hoodlums, if he really wants to bring the crises to an end.

Our correspondent notes that both the relocation of the Tafawa Balewa Local Government headquarters and the creation of the Sayawa chiefdom have yet to bring about the sustainable peace intended in the area as series of small attacks have continued to take place there.

What seem to have stopped is face-to-face fighting between the two warring groups unlike in the previous times when the adversaries clashed one-on-one, leading to the deaths of thousands of people and wanton destruction of property.

When contacted on the issues raised by the Fulani and Safawa spokespersons, the special adviser to the Bauchi state governor on Political Affairs, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kundak dismissed the claims of the duo of Aminu Tukur and Bukata Zyadi, saying that while Barrister Zyadi was in a position to speak for the Sayawa people, Aminu Tukur is not the spokesman of the Fulani’s and therefore cannot speak for them.

Commenting further on the claims of Tukur and Zyadi, Kundak described them as members of the opposition and therefore he is not surprised at whatever they will say.

“As far as I know, our government is relentlessly pursuing peace in the area”, Kundak insisted.

Category: Bauchi State News

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