By Salihu Moh. Lukman
Since the reported events in Kasuwan Magani around October 20, 2018, Kaduna State is yet again thrown into another senseless ethno-religious crisis with so many lives lost. However, unlike previous crisis in the past, the response of the state government under the leadership of Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has been exemplary and commendable. Both in terms of being present at many flashpoints and at the right time, mobilizing all arms of the security agencies and engaging all the critical segments of society, Mallam Nasir has demonstrated clear leadership when it mattered most.
I find it very necessary to issue this statement given the attempts by many people who have disagreed or have had cause to be in opposition to Mallam Nasir’s politics. With all sense responsibility, issues of peace and security must not be politicized. These are very trying times that required sober and humble candor. It is not about personal egos but the future of our state. I disagree with Mallam Nasir’s approach to issues of party management and I expressed this disagreement strongly in 2014 by contesting against him in the primaries that produced him as the candidate of the party. I still do have some political disagreements, mainly around issues party management, which we have been engaging and will continue to engage with.
However, my view is that we all as citizens, irrespective of our political differences, we should give all our leaders, the needed support to discharge their constitutional responsibilities of serving as the chief security officers at different levels to guarantee the protection of lives and property. Part of the unfortunate reality is that many of us are more disposed to criticizing our leaders and when our leaders are able to take excellent initiatives that demonstrate exemplary leadership, we at best keep quite or find other loose points to sustain our criticism.
Often this is done in a way that distort history and the realities facing our people. For instance, one points many people today referred to as justification to criticize Mallam Nasir regarding the recent crisis was the warning to community leaders in Gonin Gora to the effect that they should control their youth, failing which the state government would demolish the town. Some have argued that the choice of Gonin Gora was selective and that there are also other crisis spots, why limit it to Gonin Gora. In some consideration, one could almost say that some of these criticisms suggest that the choice of Gonin Gora meant that Mallam Nasir and the state government have taken sides with a section in the crisis. This is quite disheartening.
The sad reality is that ethno-religious crisis has become very seasonal in the state because perpetrators never face justice. My understanding of the warning issued to Gonin Gora is that community leaders must take responsibility to control their followers or become liable. We could debate the details of the sanction, including what could follow after demolishing. It will almost amount to shielding the culprits to seek to delegitimize excellent propositions that suggest tough sanctions such as demolition. In many respect, such propositions coming from the Governor, is as much a warning to all community leaders in the state. I sincerely endorse this warning and will happily hold Mallam Nasir to his words throughout his tenure as the Governor of the state.
The management of the recent crisis in the state has been very affirming that notwithstanding whatever our frustrations with our leaders, there is very good hope of a new turn around. I say this again with all sense of responsibility given that in the past the best government response is reduced to populist measures, which could have only window-dressed the problem. Issues of dealing with the fundamental issues bordering on creating frameworks for equal access to opportunities to all citizens from all parts of the state remained unattended to. Issues of reconciliation and healing the pains that crisis created is consigned to academic and media analysis, at best.
I am convinced that radical initiatives are required to resolve the challenge of seasonal ethno-religious crisis in our state, Kaduna. I am highly encouraged and affirmed that given the management of the current crisis under the leadership of Mallam Nasir, it presents a new current of hope that our old Kaduna, the home to all Nigerians, irrespective of religion or ethnicity, shall be reborn again. In this trying period, the least all well-meaning citizens can do is to support the state government under the leadership of Mallam Nasir. As a token of my support, I am, together with other patriotic like-minds working on a more detailed recommendations to the Governor towards building an enduring peace and security architecture.
Thank you Mallam Nasir and members of the Kaduna State Executive Council for demonstrating good leadership in this trying time. It is my prayer and hope that everyone desirous of peace in our state will team up with the state government to find a lasting solution to the crisis. In this election time, no one should play politics with this matter!