Tra­di­tional rulers can help solve ris­ing in­se­cu­rity – Emir of Deba

Sunday Trust - - PAGE 3 COMMENT - From Haruna Gimba Yaya, Gombe

Al­haji Ahmed Us­man was ap­pointed the 37th chief, and the sec­ond Emir of Deba in Ya­maltu/Deba Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Gombe State in 2017. He was re­cently coro­nated and pre­sented with his staff of of­fice by Gov­er­nor Ibrahim Has­san Dankwambo. In this in­ter­view with Daily Trust on Sun­day, he spoke on his plans to de­velop the emi­rate, herders/farm­ers clashes and how to pre­serve Tera lan­guage from go­ing ex­tinct, among other is­sues.

How did you feel when your name was an­nounced as the new Emir of Deba?

I in­her­ited this throne, which be­longs to my fam­ily for many gen­er­a­tions. How­ever, I can­not re­ally say I felt any­thing spe­cial when I was ap­pointed. I was only full of praise to the almighty Al­lah for giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity to in­herit the throne of my fore­fa­thers.

Did you ever dream of suc­ceed­ing your fa­ther?

This is the wish of ev­ery prince. There is no prince that doesn’t want to suc­ceed his fa­ther. How­ever, when one is oc­cu­py­ing a par­tic­u­lar po­si­tion and feels that he is in lux­ury and can­not leave that for the throne, or feels that he would be dis­turbed, then he can de­cide not to throw his hat into the con­test to suc­ceed the king when there is va­cancy.

But be­ing ser­vice to hu­man­ity and hav­ing grown up in the sys­tem, I will say I felt hon­oured to rule my peo­ple as their emir.

Which of your pre­vi­ous work places do you pre­fer?

Since I joined the Bauchi State civil ser­vice in 1987, I worked in the Min­istry of Works, Hous­ing and Trans­port un­til my re­de­ploy­ment to Gombe State as prin­ci­pal quan­tity sur­veyor when the state was cre­ated in 1996. I also worked in the fed­eral civil ser­vice as as­sis­tant di­rec­tor and pi­o­neer head of mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion unit of the Bor­der Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Agency (BCDA), Abuja.

I also worked as se­nior spe­cial as­sis­tant on due process to Gov­er­nor Ibrahim Dankwambo. I reached the pin­na­cle of my ca­reer as per­ma­nent sec­re­tary and head of the Due Process Unit un­til my ap­point­ment as sec­ond Emir of Deba in 2017.

But in all these places, I en­joyed work­ing at the Due Process Unit the most be­cause it is di­rectly re­lated to my field of study, Quan­tity Sur­vey­ing. So I can say it is the most prefer­able to me.

What are your plans for the emi­rate?

This type of lead­er­ship is not like the civil ser­vice where you have a blueprint of projects you want to ex­e­cute, whether to im­press peo­ple or to leave a legacy when you leave the of­fice. As tra­di­tional rulers, our con­cerns is to at­tract de­vel­op­men­tal projects and ser­vices that will im­prove the stan­dard of liv­ing of our peo­ple. So I will use my in­flu­ence and con­tacts to bring any­thing pos­i­tive that will ben­e­fit peo­ple of Deba Emi­rate.

But for now, there is no spe­cific plan. But we have a plan to de­velop the emi­rate in ed­u­ca­tion and pro­mote our cul­ture. How­ever, the re­sults of such in­ter­ven­tion can take at least five years be­fore it man­i­fests. It is only a demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment that can take a spe­cific time to achieve cer­tain goals be­cause they have a spe­cific ten­ure. But we are pray­ing to Al­lah to bring a mean­ing­ful de­vel­op­ment to the emi­rate dur­ing my time and be­yond.

What as­pect of these de­vel­op­ments do you want to pur­sue?

I want to first fo­cus on the ed­u­ca­tion of our chil­dren. Un­for­tu­nately, our chil­dren are left be­hind in the area of western ed­u­ca­tion and I will do what­ever it takes to make sure that this bad trend is re­versed. In the past, Deba was among the most de­vel­oped in ed­u­ca­tion, even in the old Bauchi State. But now, we are se­ri­ously left be­hind. I think most of the blame goes to par­ents, whom we sus­pect to have ne­glected the ed­u­ca­tion of their chil­dren. It is painful to see these chil­dren roam­ing the streets as po­lit­i­cal thugs.

But it can­not con­tinue like this if we re­ally want to de­velop. Par­ents must sit up and make sure that their chil­dren are en­rolling in schools.

Dur­ing my time in the civil ser­vice I con­sti­tuted a com­mit­tee to at­tend to youths with prob­lems in their ed­u­ca­tion. I told them cat­e­gor­i­cally that I would sup­port who­ever had is­sues with his ed­u­ca­tion, to be best of my abil­ity.

What can you say about girl-child ed­u­ca­tion?

This is a very im­por­tant as­pect. I will place more em­pha­sis on the is­sue of girl-child ed­u­ca­tion. I am al­ready lead­ing by ex­am­ple, be­cause I have made it a tra­di­tion in my fam­ily that my fe­male daugh­ters must ac­quire western ed­u­ca­tion be­fore I give out their hands in mar­riage. There­fore, I am us­ing this op­por­tu­nity to call on par­ents to al­low their daugh­ters to get western ed­u­ca­tion be­fore they are mar­ried off be­cause it will ben­e­fit both of them if these girls are ed­u­cated.

What roles do you think tra­di­tional rulers can play in pro­vid­ing so­lu­tion to the lin­ger­ing in­se­cu­rity prob­lem in the coun­try?

This is one of the func­tions that tra­di­tional rulers can play to main­tain peace. Tra­di­tional rulers would play a vi­tal role if given the op­por­tu­nity be­cause we are closer to the peo­ple. I be­lieve that if gov­ern­ment would give us a spe­cific role, we will play a big part in en­sur­ing peace and or­der in our com­mu­ni­ties.

Gov­ern­ments are try­ing on their part, but if we are given a spe­cific role, we would make a lot of dif­fer­ence.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has done a lot and there is im­prove­ment in se­cu­rity, but gov­ern­ment needs to do more to solve the nu­mer­ous se­cu­rity chal­lenges we are cur­rently fac­ing in the coun­try.

What are you do­ing to pre­serve the Tera tra­di­tion?

One of my pri­or­i­ties is re­viv­ing our cul­ture and tra­di­tion. We’ll make sure that we in­cul­cate such in our chil­dren. We want them to know their back­ground and cher­ish our val­ues as left for us by our fore­fa­thers.

As it is to­day, if we are not care­ful, soon our chil­dren will for­get how to speak their mother tongue, the Tera lan­guage. As such, I am adding my voice to the call of teach­ing our chil­dren the indige­nous lan­guage to pre­serve and pro­tect it from go­ing in­stinct.

We are also or­gan­is­ing two cul­tural fes­ti­vals, the Nguti Phale Gwaji and Nguti Phale Kwadomdi (ma­jor and mi­nor cul­tural fes­ti­vals), to pro­mote and cel­e­brate our cul­ture. It will be or­gan­ised an­nu­ally.

How do you re­lax?

I re­lax by read­ing news­pa­pers and other ed­u­ca­tional books. Also, I do visit my sub­jects in their vil­lages. I also en­joy trav­el­ling, which also gives me the op­por­tu­nity to re­lax by see­ing places.

Can you de­scribe your typ­i­cal day?

Well, I can­not say that my life as an emir is bor­ing. But when I was in gov­ern­ment, I used to wake up in the morn­ing, pre­pare and reach of­fice around 8am and I stay there till 5pm some­times. But as an emir there is no rou­tine. I go out when­ever there is need for me to do so. For in­stance, if there is a prob­lem that needs my at­ten­tion, I will go out and at­tend to it.

But my day starts af­ter the Subh prayer (early morn­ing prayer), af­ter which I will at­tend to my house­hold is­sues till 8am. At 10am I will be at the palace at­tend­ing to is­sues at hand, re­ceiv­ing com­plaints from my sub­jects till 2pm when we will pray and rest till 4pm. I will go to the palace again from 4pm till 6pm when I pray Ma­grib and close for the day.

The for­mal time to be at the palace is be­tween 10am and 4pm, but some­times when the is­sues at stake are so hot, I even for­get to eat my lunch.

This type of lead­er­ship is not like the civil ser­vice where you have a blueprint of projects you want to ex­e­cute, whether to im­press peo­ple or to leave a legacy when you leave the of­fice.

Emir of Deba, Al­haji Ahmed Us­man

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