THE KADUNA PEACE COMMITTEE: A POLITICAL GIMMICK FOR 2019 OR A NEED?
By Rev. Fr. Paul Danbaki Jatau
One thing that stands out is the fact that when a society has gone through traumatic experience of massive human suffering brought about by religiously or politically-motivated and generated conflicts, such as genocides or brutal killings, politically enlightened and conscious people have often deliberate on how to fashion a formula to mend the broken ends and bring about social peace and cohesion so that society would heal and move forward. We have seen failed promises, brandished lies, double-mouthed statements etc. from this present administration.
It was a song that eventually metamorphosed into a cliché in both the southern and northern parts of the state that the ousting of the hitherto inept PDP in the 2015 general elections would usher in a new era of accountability, integrity, justice, fairness in the distribution of resources and the fear of God in handling the affairs of the state. This is in connection with the Governor’s formal declaration to run for the Governorship of Kaduna State on November 3rd, 2014: “we must move Kaduna State from a state where people live in mutual suspicion; where few people feel unsafe or insecure and where nothing gets done. It is disheartening that Kaduna State which used to be a melting pot of religions, cultures and industry has become a battlefield of ethnic and religious divisions due to incessant conflicts, denial of opportunities and relentless narrowing of the space for political freedom and expression. We now have a state where a small self-centred clique controls the state’s resources while the generality of Kaduna people are excluded from political and economic opportunities”. That dream became a MIRAGE!
On assumption of office, the ‘projected saint’ shocked everyone who believed in him when he said:
=Whoever is not comfortable with my leadership style “… go jump from mount Kufena…” (17/10/2015)
= all PDP members in all the 23 Local Government Areas in the state are viruses… ( 30/3/ 2016)
= Sen. Shehu Sani, Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts and Deputy Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee of the 8th Senate are kingpin of an APC faction in Kaduna State (“APC AKIDA”); are ants he will kill and crush.
= over 800 people were killed in post 2011 elections crisis. And most of the killings took place in Southern Kaduna. That the press under reported the issue ( 6/5/2016)
In the words of the Catholic Bishop of kafanchan, Joseph Danlami Bagobiri, “the Governor has made several efforts in the media to discredit figure of casualties that were arrived at through painstaking research, and is known for trying to change the true narrative by presenting the victims as the villains and the aggressors as the prey. The Governor has also the penchant of using state apparatus to insult, denigrate, intimidate, arrest and put in prison all voices of dissent from Southern Kaduna who dare to challenge his biased handling of the crisis. Among those that have fallen victims of his tyranny include: traditional rulers, journalists, youths, political leaders, academics, while threatening our lawyers and other leaders (Religious and Unions) with arrest for daring to speak out against the genocide.”
Ruminating on some of past lies told by His Excellency, certain mind boggling questions arise:
- Is the Governor sincere in his sue for peace or is it another mischievous move?
- Since the members of the Kaduna Peace Committee were hand-picked based on their integrity, is he working towards soiling their reputation?
- What is the Governor’s relationship with Bishop Idowu Feron and other members of the committee?
- If he truly means business, has he apologised to the people of Southern Kaduna publicly and recanted his lies?
In societies where the leaders have their people at heart, victims are entitled to full justice after trials of the perpetrators who, if found guilty are given adequate punishment. In Kaduna State, however, there has not been such. Even if there was, the victims have been the ones at the receiving end. The perpetrators are COMPENSATED INSTEAD. Reacting to a $350m loan request by the Governor El-Rufai, Senator Shehu Sani opined that, “it is our duty as a committee to make sure borrowing is a last resort, we will not approve loans that will end up in private pockets or be used to pay Fulani herdsmen to stop killing in Southern Kaduna” (FOCUS NIGERIA 30/10/2017).
To buttress this, I ask:
==How many herdsmen has the Governor arrested and prosecuted?
==Whose money did he used to compensate the herdsmen that destroyed lives and property in Southern Kaduna? Tax payers’ money?
POSSIBLE METHODS ADOPTED BY HIS EXCELLENCY TO CAJOLE THE PEOPLE
There are some approaches that have been employed by some leaders who violated or committed crimes against humanity but eventually made the victims look like the guilty thereby justifying the perpetrators. These include:
Here, the perpetrators of a conflicts or genocide set the terms for trying the victims, while exempting themselves from scrutiny. European powers that conquered and plundered Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries employed this approach extensively. Despite the trails of massive human rights violations they left behind, they have never accounted or paid reparation for the incalculable harm done to Africans.
In Uganda, after the usurpation of power on 25 January 1986, by the National Resistance Army (NRA) under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni, the victorious NRA used the logic of victors’ justice to create the Commission of Inquiry into Violations of Human Rights (CIVHR). The terms of the Commission’s work was circumscribed to inquire into “the causes and circumstances” surrounding mass murders, arbitrary arrests, the role of law enforcement agents and the state security agencies, and discrimination which occurred between 1962 and January 1986.”
Since the terms of reference focused only on “the role of law enforcement agents and state security agencies,” violations of human right committed by the NRA could not be investigated, as the NRA was a rebel or an insurgency group. To ensure that no searchlight would be placed on actions committed by the NRA, the Commissioners were appointed mostly on the basis of political patronage. The political goal of the scheme was for the Commission to justify the NRA rebellion against a democratically-elected government and in the process whitewash the role of the NRA in violations of human rights in the country. Indeed, it became a taboo to investigate into the NRA’s violations of human rights during the civil war from 1980 to 1986 that it instigated. Equally telling, there has been thunderous silence about the alleged genocide the NRA committed in the 1980s and 90s in Northern Uganda and gross violations of human rights in other regions of the country.
“THE OSTRICH HEAD IN THE SAND APPROACH”
In this approach, usually ruling elites try to induce national –collective– amnesia in the people by the use of political rhetoric and other gimmicks to make people forget violations of massive human rights in the past.
This approach is predicated on the presumption or the wish for historical injustice to simply disappear. In other words, leave the dead to bury the dead. Rwanda used this approach after the massive social dislocations and human rights violations in 1959 and the mid-1970s. This approach probably contributed in small measure to the genocide of 1994.
CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME
On thursday, 8th September 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the “Change begins with me” campaign on behalf of the APC led Government. According to him, Nigerians can contribute to “change” through the way “we conduct ourselves, engage our neighbours, friends and generally how we relate with the larger society in a positive and definitive way and manner that promotes our common good and common destiny…”
I applaud the initiative of governor El-Rufai for realizing that Peaceful and conducive atmosphere remains the best for all and for any meaningful development and should be the prayer of all because neither party, nor tribe, nor group can survive under a convulsive environment.
If His Excellency, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is a patriotic Nigerian, let the PEACE he is suing for begins with HIM. Kaduna citizens are waiting patiently for him to:
=disclose, arrest and prosecute the herdsmen that killed the innocent people of Southern Kaduna.
=the source of the money used in compensating the Fulani herdsmen
=publicly recant his hate speeches and the lies levelled against the people of Southern Kaduna.
=reinstate the dethroned traditional rulers.
=extend a hand of friendship to to political allies like Senators Shehu Sani, Danjuma La’ah and Hunkuyi
At the inaugural ceremony of the Kaduna Peace Committee, His Excellency observed that “never again would there be conflict in Kaduna.” This is possible only if the Governor means business and not usual business as usual.
KADUNA PEACE COMMITTEE
I congratulate the members of the above named committee who were hand-picked probably because of their past records. I pray God to direct them in the discharge of their duties.
My wish also is that at the end the members of the Peace Committee would come out with their shoulders high, their integrity intact and past records unstained.