Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday said the Southern Kaduna crisis is more serious than what many see because there is a 37-year-old history behind it with 11 incidences so far since the first crisis broke out in 1980.
The governor, who spoke at a session with select journalists in Lagos, identified as the reason the crisis has not abated for 37 years the fact that governments at different times did not make a scapegoat of their various inquiries, save for an effort by the General Ibrahim Babangida-led federal government in 1987.
El-Rufai, who also spoke briefly on the issue of cabals in the President Muhammadu Buhari government, declared that there is no government or institution without a cabal or two to three trusted people with whom decisions are made.
He, however, denied being part of the cabal as being insinuated in certain quarters.
Classifying the challenge of the state into three headers; Infrastructure development, security and youth unemployment and out-of-school children, the governor further broke down the security into three areas namely cattle rustling and rural banditry; growing urban gangs by frustrated young and unemployed people and the third being incessant attacks on communities in Southern Kaduna.
According to him, while government has contained the first two of the security challenge considerably because it could understand their bases, the crisis in Southern Kaduna; has proved recalcitrant because it is not only 37 years old, but also because there are constantly religious, ethnic and political slants to it. The elements of religion, ethnicity and politics, he further said, have made it very difficult to tackle for obvious mischief of those stoking the crisis.
But in taming the Southern Kaduna crisis, the governor said his government had come up with a three-pronged approach of first stabilising the place, enforcing an enduring prosecution process and building a lasting peace.
While there is a subsisting 24-hour curfew imposed on the town with steady helicopter surveillance system to stabilise the place, government is gradually taking many of the identified culprits to court, where they are meant to face stiff prosecution and a conscious effort to reunite the people through constructive engagement for lasting peace.
Already, he said the federal government, as part of the peace initiative, had approved two military garrisons – one in Southern Kaduna and the other in Kachia – adding that a foundation of one had already been laid recently, in addition to heavy combined security deployment.
He said the current crisis started post-2011 general election, won by former President Goodluck Jonathan, and that a former governor of the state, the late Patrick Yakowa had figured this and addressed it through negotiation and compensation but his untimely passing resuscitated the internal strife.
“It usually starts with a dispute between two people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds. They don’t get resolved. It is mostly ethnic and not religious…We are ready for this. We will prosecute at least once in our four years. We did a lot to contain this.
“There is no peace without justice and no justice without a foundation of law and order. Our problem is that we appease criminals and negotiate with them. But that has to stop. There must be sanctions and rewards; stick and carrot. But we use the carrot the most,” adding that the crisis is also neck deep in a lot of politics ahead of the 2019 elections.
The complication of the Southern Kaduna crisis, he argued, is further defined by the fact that the Fulanis exist in about 14 African countries and have the unrestricted rights of cross-border migration as sanctioned by the ECOWAS.
On the issue of cabal, he didn’t pretend about it because he thought it is a norm in governments and corporations, saying it is a natural instinct that people in position of authorities share their thought process with a few they could trust and that it is such idea mischief makers tag as the cabal system.
“There’s always a cabal. In every government or institution, there are always two or three people you can trust with whom you take decisions. So, there’s always a cabal. But the issue is whether the cabal is a positive or negative one. However, whether I am a member of the cabal, the answer is no. My primary assignment is Kaduna,” he said.
He alluded to other efforts of the government in the area of infrastructure development.
For instance, El-Rufai said his administration is striving hard to catch up with other Northern states that have left it behind many years ago, even though Kaduna gave birth to them and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
With a major focus on education, which accounts for about 35 per cent of the 2016 and 2017 budgets and which has seen to a significant boost in school enrolments, the governor said he has been laying a solid foundation for governance in the state.
Apart from the situation in Southern Kaduna, which El-Rufai claimed is being contained considerably from all angles, other forms of insecurity like kidnapping, robbery and gang wars have equally been decimated with a determined and effective security team he instituted.