Among the torrent of mixed reactions that trailed the first part of this inquisitive essay, was an observation that the so called ‘Post-Election Violence’ that happened in Kaduna State last year, erupted after the presidential election, and not after the governorship election as this column stated last week. I stand corrected. Thankfully, except for those who were blinded by irrationality and primitive mischief, everybody else that reacted to the article, including Yakowa’s own supporters, agreed that it is indeed time to bring to Governor Yakowa’s attention some very painful home truths. Among them, that Kaduna may not survive another sectarian violence on the scale of the last two that happened under his watch. So if he went to all the trouble he went to to be governor for the paraphernalia of office, he’d better be reminded that the party is over. This, in essence is the kernel of the concluding part of this article.
It would have been nice if Yakowa would simply go on national, or even state television, and tell the people of Kaduna State at what precise time he got to know about the Church bombings in Zaria and Kaduna city; what he did immediately he got the news; what precise time he got to know that travelers passing through Gonin Gora were being stopped and hacked to death; what he did immediately he got that information; at what precise time he got to know that Christians were being killed in Muslim dominated areas of Kaduna such as Tudun Wada, Rigasa, Badarawa
etc; what he did immediately after he got that information. Any citizen of Nigeria can demand this information from Yakowa, and by the spirit and letter of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) Yakowa is obliged to respond accordingly because nobody is asking him to explain what he does with his private life, but an official chronology of his actions from the time he got to know about the bombings that precipitated this tragic chain of events, to the time the last of the hundreds of those that were killed met their untimely death.
This way Nigerians would know who did what; or more to the point, who failed to do what? Did the Kaduna state police commissioner refuse to respond to Governor Yakowa’s orders? Did the GOC of 1 Div, which is stationed in Kaduna fail to deploy troops in time to forestall the escalation of violence which lasted more than 24 hours? Or was it the Director of the SSS in the state that concealed vital information from the governor because he does not take orders from him?
This is the point: For some time now, state governors have been complaining at every opportunity that they are constrained by a procedural paradox that designate them as Chief Security Officers of their states, and yet unable to command the loyalty of any of the vital security organs situated within their jurisdiction. Matters came to a head two weeks ago when Mr. Rotimi Ameachi, Governor of Rivers State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum called for the establishment of a state police because the subsisting arrangement renders state governors powerless whenever they needed to instruct police commissioners in their states
over security matters. According to the governors, state police commissioners insist that they only take orders from the Inspector General of Police (IGP), who in turn takes his orders from the president and commander in chief.
As a consequence, so claim the governors, by the time their orders and instructions finally get around to being obeyed (if at all), a lot of damage usually had been done and they are left to carry the can.
If this is so, and there is no reason to believe the governors are making it up (not all of it anyway), then the time is ripe for the governors to open up and be specific about how the security chiefs in their states have refused to take orders from them and which as a result leads to tragedies like the ones we are witnessing in Kaduna and Plateau states. Of course when they do open up, their Excellencies will have to explain how it is that they are almost always able to command the complete respect, loyalty and cooperation of all the security organizations in
their states when they needed them to win elections, but not when they needed them to secure the citizens they took an oath to protect! Governor Yakowa, for instance, pretty much got every security organ in the state to cooperate when his disputed victory was announced even as the state was under a virtual curfew. This is one very good reason why Mr. Yakowa is in a vantage position to help the growth of our fledgeling democracy and the desperate search for peace by narrating to us the sequence of activities that he initiated from the time the first bomb went off in Zaria to the time the last victim of the ‘multiple reprisals’ was killed.
Indeed even before the bombs went off, there were rumours and even media reports that there were intelligence reports about a possible attacks on Churches in the state, and curiously, a pastor in one of the places where a Church was attacked (Wusasa) reported that the security personnel deployed to guard the Church were withdrawn on the eve of the attack. Did Governor Yakowa know anything about this? And what did he do with the information? If he didn’t know, who was responsible ‘for not telling him’? Assuming of course that there was such intelligence report?
Some people might also wonder, as they have done variously, why Yakowa, when there is Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi etc? Fair question, and the simple answer is that Kaduna state where Yakowa is governor is first of all where it all began back in 1987; second, the violence in Kaduna is different from the ones in the North East and the Plateau. In the North East, we are confronted by an ideology-driven insurgency by a group that claim Islam as their religion. In Plateau state, the conflict is a clear cut fight between two ethnic groups over economic and
political opportunities. Thus in the North East, the insurgents might be faceless, as President Jonathan describes them, but at least they can be defined by their ideological leanings and with time, it is possible for one of two things to happen. The government might succeed in subduing them (which is unlikely) or a meaningful dialogue can be established with them and a truce brokered (an option that the government appears to be inclined to).
Similarly, the conflict in Plateau state appears to be reaching a climax of sorts. After a decade of violent combat between two well known and well defined ethnic groups, it is reasonable to assume that sooner rather than later, the two antagonists are bound to arrive at the inevitable conclusion, that it is virtually impossible for a clear winner to emerge from the crisis, and that only accommodation and mutual compromise can guarantee lasting peace in the state.
But in Kaduna state, the situation is completely different, the battle line might appear to be a clearcut fight between Muslims in the northern part of Kaduna state and Christians in the southern part. It is not that clearcut; in Kaduna, the victims are very often people who have little or nothing to do with the internal political dynamics of the state. Very often, it is Igbo traders and innocent travelers just passing through the state that fall victim to the violence. In short, what obtains in Kaduna is anarchy, a complete breakdown of law and order where everybody that looks ‘ different’ is fair game.
This is the reason why kaduna matters more than anywhere else, because it contains the necessary ingredients for a wider breakdown of law and order that could easily spread to places far beyond it’s borders.
This is the reason why Yakowa must rise to the occasion and confront his responsibilities decisively. Until he communicates where the problem is, he cannot escape responsibility for what happened in the aftermath of the 2011 elections and the bombings, reprisals and counter reprisals that happened last month.
Unless he also, doesn’t give a da—n!
Garba Deen Muhammad
Email [email protected]