18 Royal flap in Kaduna over ‘renaming of emirates’
The committee set up by the Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, to restructure the 32 emirates and chiefdoms in the state has completed its work. What is left, according to government sources, is for the committee to submit its work to the governor for implementation.
However, there have been concerns from across the state bothering on the terms of reference of the committee.
The terms of reference include to examine the existing nomenclature of the graded chiefs, which emphasizes ethnic identity, and propose new ones based on town/location of the chiefdom taking due cognizance of the historical antecedents of the chiefdom; to study the cultural affinities, long-standing historical antecedents and other peculiarities of the people within a chiefdom/emirate and advise on possible adjustments; to propose alternative system of boundary delineation between emirates/chiefdoms in the state to mitigate the incidence of incessant boundary disputes.
The committee is also to advise on the possibility of placing the staff of the district and village administration under the control and supervision of the Local Government Service Commission (LGSC) to guarantee their career progression in the service, and to advise generally on ways to improve the operations of the traditional institution in the state, to restore its glory and esteem amongst the people.
The 13-member committee is chaired by the State Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Jafaru Ibrahim Sani, while the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Stephen Joseph, is the secretary.
Three traditional rulers are on the committee and they are the Chief of Zangon Kataf, Agwaptyap Dominic Gambo Yahaya; Chief of Gbagyi, Sa-Bagyi Danjuma Barde; and Ciroman Zazzau, Alhaji Sa’idu Mailafia.
The committee also has a number of academics like Professor Abdullahi Ashafa of History Department and Professor John La’ah, Dean of School of Science, Kaduna State University; as well as administrator Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria, Professor Shehu Dalhat.
Director General, Kaduna Geographic Information Service, Ibrahim Hussaini; Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Chris Umar; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Rural and Community Development, Ibrahim Sambo; Special Adviser (legal) to the Governor, Aisha Dikko; and former Permanent Secretary, Auwalu Aliyu Damau are the government officials serving in the committee.
Initial fears expressed about the committee were that it was out to further reduce the number chiefdoms and districts in the state by merging some. Others were however of the view that the exercise was targeted at a particular section of the state.
A lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication Kaduna Polytechnic, Balarabe Sa’id, said the action is a matter of reflection as far as local government autonomy is concerned.
“I want to believe the renaming is essentially the restructuring or deregulation of the traditional institutions. I feel that the policy is not necessary in the first instance because the initial composition acknowledges more autonomy for the districts than what is being contemplated,” he stated.
Emmanuel Ado, a Kaduna based radio host and syndicated columnist however supports the idea of renaming the traditional institutions in the state.
He told our correspondent that the traditional institution as it is needs reform to discharge it functions.
He said, “The problem is the fixation of the media with just a minute aspect of the committee work. Even at that, the communities have the opportunity to make input into the committee’s work. Overall I think the traditional institution needs an injection reform for it to discharge its functions.”
President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Dr. Solomon Musa, however said renaming of districts and chiefdoms is not in the interest of the communities neither is it in the interest of the people.
He said it does not reflect the yearning of the people. “That is not what the people want. Government should do what the people want.”
He advised the state government to consult further with the people. “Government should listen to the people and do what they want and not what it wants. Engage the people and not impose what it wants. That is the secret of any successful government,” he said.
The committee chairman, Jafaru Sani, had earlier explained what the restructuring was all about, saying it would give traditional rulers more power.
“What we are out to do is that nomenclatures that reflect ethnic groups and tribes will be changed because such system excludes significant populations living in their areas. By that, we also hope that the settler/indigene dichotomy will be abrogated,” he said.
The exercise will enable the traditional rulers to have the command and respect of all people living in their domain irrespective of their ethnic affiliations. “There is no need to change the nomenclature of any chiefdom or emirate bearing the name of a town or local government area,” the commissioner said.
“The committee will readjust the boundaries of some of the chiefdoms and emirates. Currently, we have 57 boundary disputes from the newly created chiefdoms and emirates. We want to reduce these crises to the barest minimum,” he said.
Chairman of Centrum Initiative for Development and Fundamental Rights Advocacy, John Danfulani, however feels it is not proper for the government to rename the emirates and chiefdoms now.
He said the chiefdoms were created as a result of a long struggle against what was seen as internal slavery triggered by colonial conquest.
To him, changing the names will take off the ethnic identity of such chiefdoms. “I believe it will not be accepted by the people and its implication is wiping out the ethnic identities of such chiefdoms,” he said.
Danfulani who was a former lecturer with the Kaduna State University (KASU), said what the people need at this point in time is peace and development while he warned the state government against delving into issues that don’t need any attention.
But a government official who asked not to be named since the report has not been officially submitted said the idea of the exercise is noble.
He said this is because it would bring all persons within a particular territory under the jurisdiction of the traditional ruler instead of the current practice which presupposes allegiance only to members of ethnic groups.
He said there won’t be any clash as what the government has set out to do is prevent a situation where people living in certain places would not feel obliged to pay homage to the head of the district where they are living as his nomenclature does not include them.
“If you have a traditional ruler whose office identifies him only as a ruler of a particular ethnic group and you have others who are not of that ethnic group living in those places, what it means is that they are not under his domain, but when the name of the town is attached to the office, then it will be clear that whoever lives in that territory is under his authority,” he said.
Our correspondents learnt there was a clash in a particular community where the people of another ethnic group living in a local government refused to submit to the authority of the traditional ruler as they say he is head only of his ethnic stock.
“It is this kind of peculiar situation that the government is trying to avoid,” he stated.
A resident, Aminu Yakubu, however described the move to rename the districts and chiefdom as a wrong one, saying the Makarfi-led administration carved them out to foster peace and take governance close to the people.
Emir of Zazzau’s Palace