NIGER STANDS STILL AS SHEKARAU, WIFE TAKE NUPE TITLES
Bida, the traditional headquarters of the Nupe kingdom, and indeed the entire Niger State, at the weekend practically stood still for the Kano State Governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, and his wife, Hajiya Halima. The amiable politician and his wife were conferred with the titles of Waziri Raya Kasan Nupe and Saraunia Raya Kasan Nupe respectively.
Virtually every top official in the Niger State government was in Bida to be part of the colourful turbanning ceremony.
Also turbanned was the host governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu who was honoured with the title of Sodangin Nupe, as well as his wife, Hajiya Jummai who bagged the title of Garkuwan Matan Nupe.
The turbanning of the Kano State first couple and others was part of the activities to mark the second National Nupe Day held in the ancient city.
The Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar aptly captured the mood of the day when he confessed that the attendance surpassed his expectation.
'I am indeed short of words to express myself. I am overwhelmed by the turn-out of dignitaries.'
If the royal father was overwhelmed, the recipients were no less delighted. 'It is a memorable occasion, a great history. It is a honour done to us the recipients, particularly myself and my wife and I want to assure you that we shall be good ambassadors of the Nupe kingdom'
'This honour done to us is a manifestation of the determination of the Etsu Nupe to create avenues for unity and national cohesion among the various ethnic nationalities in the country,' the Kano governor said, expressing the hope that the Nupe Day has come to stay and will be sustained.
Chairman of the occasion and former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar congratulated the Nupe as well as those turbanned, describing the awards as rewards for their good works, which he advised, should be sustained.
Minister of Culture, Abubakar Sadiq said the occasion should bring about national cohesion and cultural reawakening for the people of the kingdom.
The Nupe, he said, have one of the best crafts in the world and promised that his ministry will continue to celebrate with them in order to promote the culture. He disclosed that his ministry intends to establish a number of cultural centres across the country, promising that one of them will be cited in Bida.
Gombe State governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Danjuma Goje in his address said governors in the country will continue to support traditional institutions. He thanked the Etsu Nupe for the honour done to his colleagues and their wives.
He announced that all the governors present would donate a 36-seater bus to the royal troupe that entertained the guests at the occasion.
Governor Aliyu was full of praises for the chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum and governor of Kwara State, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki whom he said had offered purposeful leadership to the forum. He said Saraki had through good leadership thwarted efforts by some unnamed people to draw back the hands of progress being championed by the governors.
He was particularly grateful to the governors, the Etsu Nupe and other dignitaries that graced the occasion.
Governor Saraki, in his remarks, assured Nigerians that the present crop of governors in Nigeria will continue to strive harder to provide the people with the dividends of democracy.
Vice president Namadi Sambo who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed admitted that there had for long been a general decay in all sectors in the country which he said would equally take some time to correct.
He enjoined leaders at all levels to put in their best in order to leave the county better than they met it. He particularly called on leaders in the North to endeavour to focus on education. 'Contesting election is not enough. You have to contest, win, and work for the people,' he stated.
Later, in an interview with journalists in Minna, Governor Shekarau said he was full of gratitude to the Etsu Nupe and his council for the honour done him and his wife by the awards.
'I feel good, I feel great. It is very pleasing to be so recognized not by individuals but by a kingdom that spread across states like Niger, Kwara and Kogi.
On what role the traditional institutions can play in a democratic Nigeria, he said: 'I will love to see traditional rulers to continue to play the advisory roles they have been playing. That is what they have been doing anyway, whether we put it in the constitution or not.
'That is why in Kano, we insist that local government councils must maintain a healthy relationship with their District Heads and we at the state level had maintained good relationship with the emirate council.
'Our people at the grassroots level recognize the traditional institutions much more than the democratic institutions. For example, nobody will go to a councillor to settle quarrels; they will rather go to the district head or the village head. The constitution should allow them to play this advisory role.
'There are those who argue that they have for long been kept out of partisan politics. To me that is how it should be. They don't need to be partisan before getting involved in government. Let them be concerned wit the welfare of their people without necessarily being involved in partisan politics.'
In attendance at the colourful ceremony were the emirs of Gwandu, Kaigama, Patigi, Saragi, Lafiaji, Songa, and all the seven other emirates in Niger State.
Governors of Kwara, Kogi, Taraba, Gombe and Katsina States were among other dignitaries that graced the occasion to felicitate with their turbaned colleagues.