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… AS COMMUNITIES QUERY LOCAL GOVT'S RELOCATION

By NBF News

The relocation of the headquarters of Tafawa Balewa Local Government area in Bauchi State from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu by the State House of Assembly is generating a lot of controversies. Bununu Isa, an official of the council, is, like many others, not finding his new office welcoming. To many workers like him, the new place has a lot of inconveniences.

Members of the Sayawa ethnic group in the local government area have now approached the court to challenge the decision of the lawmakers to relocate the headquarters. They maintained that the House has no constitutional right to relocate the headquarters of the council from Tafawa Balewa town to Bununu.

But the lawmakers are insisting that their decision was taken in order to find a lasting solution to the recurrent ethno-religious crises that have, for long, bedevilled Tafawa Balewa Local Government.

Tafawa Balewa is located about 83 kilometres away from Bauchi Metropolis on its southern part. The community is populated by people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, including the Jarawa, Fulani, Hausa, Sayawa, Kanuri,Tapshinawa (angas) and other tribes.

Communal crises had been lingering in the area for over 50 years, with different violent clashes occurring in 1948, 1959, 1977,1991, 1995, 2001, 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Hundreds of lives have been lost while property worth millions of naira have been destroyed.

Two main reasons have been adduced for the cause of the frequent clashes in the area. These include chieftaincy and ownership of Tafawa Balewa town

Various governments, both military and civilian, set up judicial commissions of inquiries aimed at addressing the problems associated with the crises. This led to the creation of Bogoro District, Bogoro Local Government area and the creation of the Sayawa chiefdom. In spite of these measures, however, peace still eludes the area.

But the House of Assembly has maintained that the relocation of the headquarters to Bununu crisis would put an end to the problem.

A member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly Abdulmumini Hassan Ningi argued that since all the recommendations could not address the problems, the lawmakers could not sit and watch people being killed and maimed.

Ningi said the House relocated the council headquarter to a safer area where local government workers could work for the development of the area. The House also relocated the palace of the district head of Tafawa Balewa fromTafawa Balewa to Zwall. He said government has been unable to bring development to the area as a result of long period of crises.

Ningi said: 'A series of attempts by government to rebuild the area is being frustrated by some group of individuals who have arrogated to themselves the right to determine who lives in the area and who doesn't.

'Every activity of government in that local government area is being carried out with fear which makes the act of governance impossible in Tafawa Balewa town. Civil servants have no access to their offices in the local government headquarters and all communities in the area are affected in one way or the other to the extent that no services are delivered to the community.'

With the relocation, civil servants like Bununu have resumed duties at the new headquarters for administrative convenience.

Some of the communities are kicking, however, insisting that the relocation was against the 1999 constitution.

For instance, members of the Sayawa community are opposed to the relocation from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu, and the relocation of the palace of the district head from Tafawa Balewa to Zwall. But the Hausa Fulani communities and other tribes in the area supported the relocation of the headquarters to Bununu.

Secretary of the Sayawa Council of Elders, Barrister Bukata Zhadi noted: 'There is conspiracy in what the government did against the community. It's not fair and it shows that Yuguda has violated his oath of office in which he pledged to carry all along without discrimination.

'Since they did what they want, if Yuguda likes let him take Tafawa Balewa to anywhere, not only to his Fulani people. He has no right to do that. It is against the 1999 constitution. His Attorney-General and the lawmakers did not give him or the lawmakers a honest advice because you can't go against the constitution.'

But the spokesman of the Hausa-Fulani Community, Aminu Mohammed Tukur has a different opinion.

His words: 'What the lawmakers did is a welcome development; it will bring lasting peace and development in the area.'

Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Yahaya Mohammed Miya maintained that the action was backed by chapter 5 of the 1999 Constitution as amended pertaining to the issues of protection of lives and property, and the right of every citizen to move freely and reside anywhere in Nigeria. He also cited Section 4 of the Bauchi State byelaws 2007 which says the House could tinker with any local government council if there is a persistence security breach in that local government.

Miya said: 'Government did a lot to ensure peaceful co-existence among the people and what we did was not against the constitution. We are backed by the 1999 Constitution and Bauchi State Byelaws. We only relocated the headquarters of the local government but the name of the local government remains Tafawa Balewa as it is in the 1999 Constitution.'

As the debate over whether the action should stay or not goes on, civil servants like Bununu have continued to work in very challenging environment with the relocation.

The town lacks several social amenities such as water, electricity, office accommodation, working materials, staffers' accommodation and lack of good access roads to the temporary local government secretariat.

When our reporter visited Bununu, people were seen fetching water from boreholes and wells because the tap water sunk in the town by the government was not running.

The government uses the maternity, Government Secondary School, Bununu and the ALGON building as the temporary buildings.

A resident of the area, Alhaji Umar Shehu commended the state government for relocating the headquarters.

Shehu, however, urged the government to hasten the construction of a local government secretariat and provide social amenities that will attract people to come and invest in the area from all parts of the world.

He said there was the need for government to upgrade the Bununu town to a district status and upgrade the hamlets surrounding Bununu to villages in order to bring speedy development in the area.

All effort to speak with the caretaker committee chairman of the local government, Alhaji Idris Ibrahim Halilu failed.

Secretary of the local gvernment, Umar Adamu Wurno said workers are happy with government's effort to bring them to a safe place where they will do their legitimates duty peacefully without fear or intimidation,

The State Deputy Governor, Sagir Aminu Saleh said the decision of the Bauchi State government to request for the relocation of the headquarters of the crises-ridden headquarters would speed the development of the area and the state in general.

Saleh said the relocation of the headquarters of the local government was done by the state government in good faith aimed at providing a lasting peace in the area as well as bringing development to the local government.

He called on workers in the local government to dedicate themselves to working for the betterment of the people of the area and the state at large.

Saleh advised people of the area to always live in peace with one another and to desist from anything that would retard development in the area.

But for workers like Bununu, the major problem that trailed the relocation of the headquarters is the dearth of basic amenities.


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