Traditional rulers can help solve rising insecurity – Emir of Deba
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