HAUSA ARE JOS INDIGENES-PASSALI
There seems to be no end insight yet to the ethno-religious crisis in Jos. When the Chief of Defence Staff was mandated to ensure peace and stability in the troubled city, a lot of people heaved a sigh of relief in the hope that the crisis would soon be put behind them. But in spite of that, the city still remains balkanized along religious lines such that it is now dangerous for residents to move freely.
In this interview, Alhaji Danladi Passali, the politician who claimed he won the Jos North primary election conducted by the PDP for the local council poll in 2008, spoke on the endless search for peace in the state, saying the pains currently being experienced by the people are self-inflicted. Excerpts:
Why I dumped PDP for Labour Party
I was born and brought up in Jos. I am a politician and businessman. I am presently in Labour Party but was formerly in PDP. I contested and won the local government election in 2008. I won the primary election but Jang gave it to his cousin. I won in an open primary at the stadium. I petitioned the party before I went to court.
The court even pronounced that I won the election. But Jang refused because he did not respect court orders. I was the pioneer chairman of PDP in Jos north. I was the state's Legal Adviser of the Social Democratic Party in 1992 before we formed the People's Solidarity Party (PSP). I was the Secretary of the party for the former Jos Local Government Area, when Jos North and South were together. In fact, I pioneered the PDP in the northern zone of Plateau state. At the national level, during Obasanjo's second bid for the presidency, I was the national financial secretary of Grand Alliance of Nigeria; the umbrella body of Obasanjo campaign organization. Then Tony Anenih was our national leader. I was the National Director of Finance. I was the National Coordinator of Ibrahim Babangida Campaign Organization for the youths.
Hausa-Fulanis founded their resettlements in Jos
The takeover of the control of security of Plateau State from Jang to the Chief of Defence Staff is a temporary measure because the government has to get to the roots of the problem and solve them once and for all. There were two Commissions of Inquiry set up on the crises in Jos. Even Jonathan set up the Solomon Lar Panel on Jos Crisis comprising of stakeholders in Jos. Its recommendations need to be implemented. There was even the Abisoye Panel.
The main root of the problem in Jos is the issue of settlers and indigene. We had a situation where 48 villages inhabited by the Fulanis were attacked and people were killed and thrown out of their villages. These are people who have been living in those villages for over 300 years. That is why they are coming back to the villages for reprisal attacks. These people have to be resettled in their villages to live their normal lives. How can you call people that have been living in a place for 300 years a settler? How can you kill and throw them out and think you will have peace? Is 300 to 400 years a joke? Fulanis were driven out of 48 villages in Plateau state.
If you go to Kuru Baba, there is no single house belonging to the people who formed the place left. The people who were formerly living there have been scattered. Some were killed and their cows have been taken away and nobody is asking questions about them. The same thing happened with Gadan Dagi, Dilimi and Dogon Na Hauwa villages. All these places were founded by people after whom villages were named. They have all been thrown out and their lands taken over from them. There are 48 villages in Berom land and they have all been taken over.
Jang, Gbong Gwom, architects of Plateau crisis
President Goodluck Jonathan has done the best he can do. Even the governor cannot provide security for his own village. He cannot even take care of where he comes from because he is an interested party. He is fuelling the crisis and is the main architect of the problem. If you look at all the reports, including that of the Human Rights Watch, the governor was indicted. In all the reports, the governor is at the centre. He is an interested party.
Even the Fulanis at the back of his house were killed and thrown out. He cannot even stop the youths within his own environment to stop killing the Hausa-Fulani because it was part of his agenda to throw them out and take over their lands. He has said this many times. So was the Gbong Gwom Jos when he was summoned to a peace parley by the commissioner of police. His utterances as published in the newspaper are the same. He is the cousin to the governor and their agenda is the same. Anybody in Plateau who is not Berom is a settler. The Hausas have been living in the present Jos for over 1000 years. We have historical facts to that. Somebody that came from Niger; that are not Nigerians are now saying those people are settlers.
Jonathan on the path of peace
Let me tell you something, initially people were not happy with Jonathan's administration because he allowed people to be killed at random. But now he has seen the whole thing that Jang is the problem of security in this state. If Governor Jang cannot provide security within his environment, how can he be allowed to continue creating problem for the state or the country to the extent of mobilising people to go and kill worshipers who were praying in the mosque? It is Jang. We have all the facts. It was Jang. We have all the facts and we are taking up the matter.
You people do not even know what is happening in Plateau state. He has been the architect of crisis since 1988. Since he left his military Career and came back to Plateau, crisis has started. Even after the Gero crisis, he was invited by the security and cautioned. Out of all the Berom elders, it was only him that was invited by the elders. We did not vote for Jang; he only manoeuvred his way in. Every governor in a state has a time he will sit down with the security operatives. All security reports first goes to the governors and he is the chief security officer of his own state.
That is why he is liable for every single person that died in Plateau state. He swore to the Bible that he would protect the lives of every Muslim and Christian. There is no single time a Muslim was killed and Jang ever sent a letter of condolence. He has never made any comment on attacks on Muslims. But when he sees his kinsmen being attacked, he immediately jumps into action. He has never sent a single letter or made a pronouncement on series attacked on Hausas. That goes to show you that he is an interested party in the whole issue. The statement of Gbong Gwom Jos even showed clearly that it is his agenda because he (Gbong Gwom) is his brother.
We have confidence in CDS
The crisis is only in Beromland. Even in Berom land it is mainly the people from Du who are creating the problem. That is the place the Governor comes from. The whole crisis started from his village. People did not go down to history. If you talk of Dogon Na Hauwa, it is the name of an Hausa man. They were driven away from the village and Beroms entered their houses. Government has to intervene so that people that are being thrown out of their villages are returned back. People of Dogon Na Hauwa, Kuru that were being killed should be allowed to return to their villages.
The government should go and dialogue with them. They should rebuild their houses and take them back. That is the solution. It is unthinkable to believe that people that have stayed for 300 to 400 years will remain a settler or he cannot be provided with job and enjoy scholarship and employment. Let me give you examples. Do you know that Yorubas migrated and became indigenes of Kogi state? Can you as all the Sunday Awoniyis or Adebayos to go back to their state? Can you tell the Igbos in Asaba that founded the place to go back to Onitsha? Or can you go to Rivers State and tell the Igbos in Okigwe that they should leave and go back to Abia? Or go to Kwara and tell the sultanate or the Gambaris that they should leave and go back to Sokoto?
They only got there during the jihad. But the Hausas have been here for over 1000 years. We are talking of a period of trans-Atlantic slave trade which was in about 16th century. We have told our people to cooperate and welcome the CDS. We know that with his coming, government is ready for peace. If he calls on us we are ready to give him candid advice. The only option is that all those Fulanis should be returned to their villages and for the government to pay them back their cows. These conditions are not too difficult to meet. Do you want them to be roaming about in Nigeria and be homeless?
This people have nowhere to go. Do you know that there was problem recently in Zonkwa in Kaduna state? Government said those of them that had their houses burnt should be resettled and reconciled with the people there and that is why we do not hear anything about them again. During the Zango Kataf when people's houses were burnt down, government rebuilt the houses and asked the people to come and stay and reconcile with the people there. Is it only in Plateau case you will say whenever people are thrown out they should go away forever and you expect that there will be peace. We expect the government to play its role of protecting lives and property. But if it fails to do so, then there is a problem. There displaced people must be paid compensation.
Hausa-Fulanis must be given equal opportunities
It is not that we want to be regarded as indigenes; we are indigenes of this state. We founded this place and should be given equal opportunities as normal human beings and carry out our activities. For the past 50 years, we cannot get employment or scholarship in this state. We have 90 percent of unemployed youths in Jos, which is abnormal. There is no state that has as much as that. Our youths are now becoming drug addicts and this is why we have high rate of crisis.
These youths are all roaming about; no scholarship, no employment; nothing. How do you think we can have peace without solving that problem? Even if you bring the battalion of soldiers in Nigeria here, immediately the soldiers leave, there will be crisis, unless you go to the root cause of the crisis and solve it. The press must bring out the truth so that we solve this problem. We have 777 local governments in this country.
Out of this, it is only in Jos north that the people from that very place cannot enjoy the good things of life; no scholarship, no employment or anything. Even the markets they owned have all been burnt down. They no longer have markets in Jos. So they do not encourage entrepreneur because of crisis. The business environment is not healthy because the state government does not allow people to come in and invest because they do not want non-indigenes. They do not give Certificate of Occupancy even to Igbos or other tribes. They even discourage the investors from coming to the state to employ the youths. The rate of employment in Plateau is escalating.
We need our own rulership
The constitution is clear about these things. But have you ever seen where a non-indigene goes to settle in the centre of the city? Even in your own village, if some strangers come to your village, is it not the king that provides for them where to settle? In this case, the Hausas are in the heart of the city because they are the founder of the city. They have about 15 Hausa chiefs that have ruled Jos for over 200 years, while the Beroms have two or three.
The issue of Gbong Gwom Jos started during the period of Solomon lar. The Rwang Pam was given a certificate by one European administrator. He was given the certificate to come and become Sarkin Berom in 1948. That was when the last sarkin Hausawa, Sarki Ishaku died. The problem the Hausas in Jos had with Sardauna was that they were always in opposition group, always having alliance with UNCP, NCNC and NEPU groups. When there was election, they supported the southerners as president. That was where their problem started with Sardauna.
The stool of ther Gbong Gwom Jos is one of the bones of contention; but we are not interested in the issue of the rulership of Jos now. All we are saying is that recently there was a problem in Tafawa Balewa in Bauchi state with the Seyawa. The emir of Bauchi said he could not give chieftaincy to settlers but at the end of the day the government of Bauchi made a compromise and gave them their chiefdom. The same thing should be done to the Hausas in Jos.
If the Tivs can have a chietaincy title in Benue and the Emir of Zazzau would concede to the katafawas in Southern Zaria, why not Jos Hausas? The Hausas are over one million people. If now there is a crisis, you cannot call on any Hausa man and say take care of your people. The Gbong Gwom Jos said he does not recognize any sarki; whether you are Hausa, Yoruba or Ibo. He called them last week and warned that he is the only Sarki.
No, you are 'foreigners'
From Kenny Ashaka and Mariam Agboola, Jos
T hat Jos, the capital of Plateau State hitherto known for its serenity has lost its glory is no more news. The tin city is now a shadow of itself following an endemic crises which have defied solution. But the tragedy of the Jos situation is that it has created more questions than answers. In this interview, former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftancy Affairs in Plateau State, Aminu Agwom Zang, a native of Jos, Anaguta by tribe speaks on the history of the crises. Excerpts…
My name is Aminu Agwom Zang. I am a native of Jos. I am Anaguta by tribe, native to Jos in all of its meaning and ramification. I was born about 50 years ago; grew up in Kano, Kafanchan, Zaria and Jos. Part of my primary education I did not start from Kafanchan because of the nature of the work of my late dad, a policeman.
He was transferred to Zaria and I continued there, from where we came back to Jos. I did my secondary school education here too. And then went to the university, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; then Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi. I had a stint with the Radio Plateau. That was after my secondary school education before I went to the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria.
I came back home and has since then been trying my hands on business and politics. In 1990, I was the Supervisory Councillor for Education in the then Jos Local Government Council. At various times, I contested elections. In 1993, I won elections here in Jos to the National Assembly, precisely House of Representatives. In the year 2003, by his grace, because of my active participation in politics, I was in the campaign team of Chief Joshua Dariye as zonal coordinator for the northern zone. When he won election, I was compensated with the appointment of commissioner. I was Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for the second part of his four years. Right now, I am into business again. I have a factory. I produce water. It is called Dupia and in my dialect, it is called spring water. I am also into the importation of enzymes.
The price of hospitality
When you are in a relationship with somebody, it is expected that you will mutually benefit from the relationship. And such a relationship must be borne out of trust and respect for one another so that you co-exist meaningfully. But a situation where when it suits the other party, you are a necessary friend and when it suits him, you must consistently be playing the second fiddle. It gets to a time where you take stock and now ask where the relationship is going. Am I truly benefiting from this relationship or as it were, I am merely into it as a servant.
From time, you know that the average Middle Belter is a timid person. But you know with education and exposure, everybody is now beginning to redefine and rediscover himself. Now, he wants to carve a niche for himself. In doing that, you begin to discover that you have not been treated fairly. Agreed in any relationship, somebody must play the fool for the thing to thrive. But for how long would you continue to play the fool. It is when you weigh it against the fact that you have to account to your children and your children's children, then you are left with hardly any option but to now begin to redefine such relationship again.
We are paying the price for our hospitality. As it were, our people are very hospitable people. You will hardly suspect that people will pull the rug off your feet, on account of which you deal with people on face value. And today, one is amazed that the Europeans claim to have discovered Nigeria. Some people also said they founded Jos. It is mind boggling and amazing that a claim like that can be thrown up by people. How did they found it? And I know that it couldn't have been by conquest. If you go to Ilorin where you have an Emir, there can be explanation for that. But here you don't even have an Emir. All these things are as surprising as they are abusive.
Its bunkum for Hausas to say they founded Jos.
All the claims these people are making are just contraptions. We have had our traditional institutions from time immemorial and when they came here to settle, characteristic of their style, in fact, anywhere you go to, including Lagos where there is a congregation of Hausa people, they will have their leader who they will always like to refer to as Sarki. Even in my village, they have somebody there who they call Sarki. So, anywhere you find more than five, six people of Hausa-Fulani stock, they usually have Sarki. So, there is nothing hard and fast that they had a Sarki then. Oh yes, they have always had and they will always have.
Hausas cannot be indigenes in Jos
How we got to where we are today is a long history, one that will suggest that these people that have come now would want to assume total political control, to some extent traditional and some other stuff like that. You see, you can only be accommodated in these climes today if you are tolerant of the cultures of the people that you have come to live with. But then if you now come and you want to institutionalize these claims to Sarki, of course, people will resist.
So, many things developed, suspicion crept in and it was only waiting to blow up. I think the government, too, were not helping matters, as it were, particularly during the military administration because you discovered that they were posting people of Hausa-Fulani extraction here. So, they try to at least fan those claims that their brethren on the ground were postulating. That built up a lot of acrimony. As it were, until you live within the dictates of your host community, respecting their values, their culture and what have you, you are bound to be resisted. We were not conquered. So, if they are coming like one Army of occupation, you can be sure that anybody will resist that.
That they were born and brought up here does not give you the status of indigene. It doesn't work anywhere. Like the Hausa-Fulani in Obalende, Lagos with a huge presence, would they say that because they have lived there after the First World War, which is over a 100 years ago, they have become indigenes of Lagos State? Haba! There was even once somebody gave an example of a settler in those days. They call him Mallam Umaru Altine. He even rose to the position of the Mayor of Enugu.
This man was a trader. He went to Enugu and settled there in 1940. But what he did was to join the Zikist movement then. And he became a member of the NCNC which was pushing for the exit of the British colonialist then. After sometime, appreciating the role he has played, embracing their culture, integrating himself into the socio-political arrangement on ground then, he was made the Lord Mayor of Enugu in 1952. There is nothing you cannot become.
But then, the bottom line is that you have to integrate yourself; you have to respect the culture of your host community. In the same token when Sardauna visited Enugu and discovered that one of their own was made the Mayor of Enugu, there was this Kano-based Igboman too. As if in reciprocating that gesture, he was made a member of the Northern Region House of Chiefs in Kano. So, this issue of settler/indigene kind of thing, if you say citizen, it is entirely a different thing. If they are talking of citizenship, no doubt they are citizens, but that they are indigenes, as far as I am concerned, they are not correct.
You can't Islamize us
I was asked sometimes ago, what is it that this people want? I replied that I do not know what they want. If it is the right to stay here, they have the right to stay here. They are doing their businesses without any hindrance. They have aspired to many offices. Even the member representing my constituency in the state House of Assembly is an Hausa man. For traditional institution, they can have their Sarki, but to govern over their people there; nothing to do with the land except if it is in the sky.
I think the solution is for them to know that that thing they may be looking for, they cannot get it. So, the sooner they left that thing, the better for us. They can go ahead and do their businesses and contest for any office. So what else do they want? Let them know that scholarships are received from an applicant's state of origin.
I am going to give you this book, 'The History, Ownership, Establishment of Jos and Misconceptions about the recurrence of Jos Conflicts. There is this man that was Minister from here. His name is Nakande. If you go through this book, you will see where this man filled his form. State of Origin, he wrote Kano. But they are the people pushing for the ownership of Jos. Now, this man is from Kano. If now you want to enjoy scholarship from Jos, how will it work?
Even then, some of them have benefited from this scholarship. I can tell you that on my honour. I am at a loss as to what they want. Is it that we must be Islamized? That one is not possible. Nobody has denied anybody victory in an election. When Samaila Mohammed won the chairmanship of Jos North, who denied him? I went to the House of Representatives. But a Hausa went before me. I succeeded an Hausa man.
It is an aberration to substitute the governor with the Chief of Defense Staff as the Chief Security Officer of Plateau State.
People have made various comments on this. But one thing that I pray and hope is that the President is not caving in to any pressure from any quarters because that is what they did during Governor Dariye's administration. To make sure a state of emergency was declared, they went and brought Ali. Ali came, served and left. But then, the problem has not stopped. The thing is socio-political. It is still going on. So if the President is caving in to pressures, it will be very unfortunate. But then to say that it is a direct indictment on the governor and the Gbong Gwom, I think we will be getting it wrong because the military has been part and parcel of the attempts to solve the problem.
They have always been here. Are they now going to be here in a different way? Are they going to bring soldiers from outside the shores of Nigeria? Soldiers have been with us. Policemen have been with us and I know that the governor does not have the right to deploy troops even as he is the Chief Security Officer of this state. It is the constitutional responsibility of the governor. So, we are waiting to see the details of the operationalization of this new directive.
Who now becomes the chairman of the state security council? Who is the chief security officer of the state because it will amount to the usurpation of the power of the governor if, for instance, he is substituted with the Chief of Defense Staff. It will be an aberration. I see them partnering like they have been doing; maybe we will now notice more deployment, more movement of troops and may be more vehicles and helicopters so that the helicopters that have been hovering, if there was one, there will now be two or three now. There is no way they will succeed; either the governor or the CDS without active collaboration.
Jos leading to national crisis
One reprisal attack begets another. What we should do now is to draw the line, agree that enough is enough. We are ready to live like we used to live. For anybody to say that the Fulanis were wiped out from the villages you mentioned is not true. These people left on their own volition because of the tension that has been there. Of course, there is no way, in my right frame of mind I will go to Ungwar Rogo, except if I am going on a suicide mission.
And even these 'Achaba', (commercial motorcyclists) go to Bauchi road and tell them to drop you at Bupia Plaza (along Gada Biu area), pay N1000, he will not come. In the same token, those people who are in the area where the Beroms are thickly populated will rather leave than stay without being able to sleep. I fear more for the sicknesses that will develop in our people for fear of even living in their houses. In fact, most people are sleeping in farms with the hazard of cold weather. Let us not be thinking of the dead only; we should also be thinking of the fall out of how many people would fall sick.
If we are able to draw the line and sincerely come together and say we have had enough, the Fulanis, if they want to come back can do so. But if you come and stay and then kill one Berom man, kill one Anaguta, kill one man from another tribe, then they are not likely to let go. That is why I said one reprisal attack begets another. The unfortunate thing now is that I want to travel up North now; but I cannot go because if anything happens, they will begin to stop vehicles on the road and if you are unfortunate to look like a Christian, even around Bauchi Road, here in Jos and they hear that they have killed a moslem, you are gone. In most cases, it is for no reason of your own.
You do not know anything about their grouse. In fact, some don't even know Jos, let alone put up a claim to Jos, they are killed. I believe we should think more of the fall out that this thing has the potential of generating a national crisis. In fact, that is my fear for it. For instance, like in Dilimi, where the Igbo spare part market is located, they have all left there. Even where they stay to sell electronics, you find them having skeletal trading.
They said they killed some Igbo people along that Bauchi Road. Now if the Igbo people in the East hear this one now and begin to pounce on the Hausa-Fulanis that are there, then we will have a national crisis on our hands. So I like the new approach that there would be heavier deployment of troops to Plateau State so that this thing is nipped in the bud.