“We must learn to live together as brothers or we perish together as fools”- Martin Luther King
Monday, January 1st, 2018 will remain the saddest day for the Gbagyi people both in Minna Emirate, Niger state and elsewhere. On this fateful day, the Emir of Minna, Alhaji (Dr.) Umar Faruk Bahago, in an emotion-laden voice told a mammoth crowd that included his subjects, Dignitaries and invited Guests, who had gathered to witness the turbanning ceremony of the newly appointed District and Village Heads, that the ceremony would not be conducted because the Niger State Government had directed the suspension of the exercise. His Royal Highness could hardly conclude his address as he was overwhelmed by emotion, leaving the crowd distraught, disappointed and ANGRY.
It is a known fact that His Royal Highness, the Emir of Minna, had requested Government approval for the creation and appointment of new District and Village Heads and which approval was given vide letters dated 9th March, 2016 and 14th November, 2017 reference no. MLGCD/SEC/26/S.15/VOL.1 respectively, having satisfied all legal, customary and conventional requirements.
Based on these approvals, arrangements were concluded for the coronation of the newly appointed District and Village Heads to take place Monday, January 1st, 2018 at the Emir’s Palace, Minna. Public announcements were accordingly made to that effect and invitations issued to dignitaries both within and outside Niger State.
It is surprising and disheartening that the same Government that had given approval for the appointment of the said Village and District Heads some months earlier would turn round to order the cancellation of the same event less than 24 hours to the time fixed for it, apparently based on a Petition by a group of persons whose antecedents are too well known to everyone including Government. Even more surprising is the fact that the Government would prefer to accede too easily to the request of these persons in complete disregard to the sensibilities of the Gbagyi Nation and what the institution of the Emir of Minna symbolizes.
The claim that Government acted in order to secure peace and security is not only spurious but hypocritical. In the first place there was no indication whatsoever that security was being threatened by the turbaning ceremony. In fact despite the mammoth crowd at the venue of the ceremony, no violent incident was recorded after the Emir announced the cancellation of the event inspite of the fact that people were angered by the decision. Secondly, the government action in this respect is hypocritical because whilst it chose to act swiftly in the case of the turbaning ceremony event, Government has not acted with the same dexterity in the case of the most serious security threat posed by the activities of Kidnappers, Rustlers, Armed Robbers and Criminal Gangs who have sacked and taken over several Villages in Rafi, Shiroro and Munya Local Government Areas of Niger State. For example, in Rafi LGA- Pandogari, Ringa, Zara, Kusherki, Gidigori, Polewaya, Madaka, Tugunguna, Sambuga, Tungan Bako, Kawo, and Uregi villages have been under sustained attacks by the said criminal gangs and Villagers are being kidnapped and/or killed on daily basis. Ditto Shiroro LGA where villages like Allawa, Maganda, Dogon Gona and Daganu are suffering the same fate. In fact in Maganda Village, all the residents have been sacked and the Kidnappers and Criminal Gangs taken over the Village which is now being used as their operational Headquarters. Also just yesterday, a Sharia Court Judge in Allawa was kidnapped and remains in captivity till this moment and nobody in Government is concerned about it. It is the same story in Munya LGA where Tsohon Kabula, Bakin Nyanyi, Rigogo, Fwapeyi remain sacked by Kidnappers and Criminals with no response from Government to the distress calls made some weeks ago.
For the Government to be too willing to respond to a mere petition at such a fantastic speed, akin to the speed of light, as against the more serious security breaches in the state where lives and properties are being wasted on a daily basis makes the sincerity of Government in this regard suspect. This is why, as a people, we must all tread with caution and think deep! We must introspect if we, as a people, must avoid stepping on a “banana peel”. What is also instructive here is that all petitioners are of the Gbagyi extraction and subjects of the Emirate. Also the office of the Emir of Minna is a Gbagyi traditional institution and in fact the highest traditional institution in Gbagyi land vis-a-vis the Minna Emirate Council. This matter is therefore undoubtedly our affair. Our traditional institutions are primed to resolve issues such as the subject matter in dispute. Therefore we must not allow the overbearance of external forces in the resolution of our internal matters. This is why the petitioners and everyone of us must exercise caution. We must rethink our “Politics” as well as our methods. We must continue to strengthen our unity as we prioritize our objectives for our maximum benefit. As advised by the Late Rev. Martin Luther King: “We must learn to live together as brothers or we perish together as fools”!
Sen. David Umaru.