Five months to the end of his tenure, Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i of Kaduna State has been crowning traditional rulers in the Southern part of the state, a move observers say is political which can either shove up or further alienate his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the zone.
Within three months, our correspondent reports that the governor presented staff of office to eight traditional rulers in the zone, out of which five were given staff of office in December alone.
Among the people who ascended thrones are Zamani Dogonyaro as the Agom of Kachia; Bitrus James as the Dnatayi of Dnata; Luka Kogi Yabuwat as the Agwam of Kajju; Abubakar Balarabe Karma as the Sarkin Gwantu and Abdullahi Dan Iya as the Sarkin Jere.
Others are Lemson Barde of Odion Yenkpa; Habila Sa’idu as Agom of Godogodo and Halidu Ibrahim of Fadan Ayu.
- Elections: Lalong explains why Plateau, others will vote APC
- Domestication or globalisation of health policy in Nigeria?
Our correspondent further reports that many of the stools became vacant after their occupiers died in 2021. For instance, Agwam Luka Kogi Yabuwat of Kajju succeeded Agwam Malam Nuhu Bature who died in December, 2021. Agom Habila Sa’idu of Godogodo succeeded Agom Ilya Ajiya Antang who also died in 2021. Odion Barde Lemson of Yenkpa and Halidu Ibrahim of Fadan Ayu succeeded their predecessors; Odion Sako Gajere and Yahaya Mamuda respectively, who both died in 2021.
Abubakar Abdullahi Balarabe Karma was crowned the Sarkin Gwantu after the chiefdom, then Numana Chiefdom, was restructured and split into Arak and Gwantu chiefdoms in January, 2022. The second-class traditional ruler of Gwantu, Brig Gen Ilya Yamma (Rtd), relocated to Arak to serve as a third-class chief. Yamma, who is from Arak succeeded the then Etum Numana, Gambo Makama, who was killed alongside his wife in his residence at Arak on the eve of 2018.
However, the coronation of Bitrus James of Dnata and Zamani Dogonyaro of Kachia followed the creation of Dnata and Kachia chiefdoms from Jere Emirate and Adara Chiefdom respectively. The creation of Kachia Chiefdom followed the split of Adara Chiefdom into Kufena and Kachia chiefdoms four years after the late Agom Adara, Maiwada Galadima, was kidnapped and killed by bandits in 2018.
The Kaduna State Government had while announcing the creation of Dnata Chiefdom from Jere Emirate in Kagarko LGA and Arak Chiefdom from Gwantu Chiefdom in Sanga LGA said it was part of the administration’s reform of traditional institutions.
Gov El-Rufai attended four out of the eight coronations, while his Deputy, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, who is from the Southern part of the state and currently the deputy governorship candidate of the APC in the state; and Sen Uba Sani attended the other four.
Speaking at the coronations, El-Rufai said his administration was out to secure, strengthen and better the welfare of the traditional rulers in order to discharge their duties effectively.
He advised the monarchs to see their appointments as a call to service and called on the people to provide support for a smooth administration.
However, coming on the eve of general elections and five months to the end of his tenure, political observers view the wave of coronations by El-Rufai as simply a political game aimed at swinging votes from the people of Southern Kaduna.
Our reporter, who witnessed the coronation of Agom Kajju in Zonkwa, Zangon Kataf LGA, reports that the turnout was poor.
Although supporters of the APC-led government described the wave of coronations as “spreading prosperity”, their critics faulted the timing, saying it was either political or aimed at further subduing the people of the area.
“It’s indeed a good development for the Government of Kaduna State to present staff of office to chiefs in Southern Kaduna, especially since some communities have spent years or months without a traditional ruler,” said Rev Waziri Gambo, who spoke with our reporter.
His submission was, however, faulted by the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) which believes that the government’s strategy is not political but provocative and aims at downgrading the traditional institution in the zone.
“Where is prosperity when you abandon people and leave them without a shepherd to protect and promote their cultures for more than a year? This was not the case of Zazzau Emirate when Dr Shehu Idris died. How many days or weeks did it take to install Ambassador Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli as the next emir?” asked Luka Biniyat, spokesman of SOKAPU.
Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday, Biniyat described the coronations as a “deliberate policy that seeks to downgrade” the traditional institutions by lowering them from their first-class status.
“It is a provocative insult and negative progress for our revered culture and tradition. If it were politics, he would have upgraded our traditional institutions and even created new ones to gain more converts to the APC.”
Biniyat further said the zone would only vote for a governorship candidate willing to undo what he described as “the unacceptable tinkering” with their traditional institutions carried out by the present government.
Also, Auta Allahmagani, a politician from Zangon Kataf LGA, said, “They have done the coronations to win the favour of the people because of the wrong assumption that what they are doing will get them votes for the general elections.”
Comrade Augustine Bayei, a youth leader, said the governor’s decision to coronate the chiefs and create new chiefdoms in the zone was aimed at reviewing “his battered relationship with the people” and to create a soft landing for the APC governorship flag bearer.