Outgoing President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Mr. Solomon Kaptain Musa, in a speech during the handing over of the secretariat of the union in Kaduna, to newly elected executives, led by Hon. Jonathan Asake, which held on Saturday, December 7, 2019, chronicled the activities of his four year tenure and the challenges before the Southern Kaduna people.
Below is the full text of the speech, tagged “State of the union address”.
We were voted in on 29 November, 2015 and inaugurated the same day. Actual handing over was done on 8 December, 2015. We had our first CEC meeting on 12 December, 2015. At our maiden meeting we resolved inter alia that:
- SOKAPU is and shall remain throughout our watch politically non-partisan. Our party shall remain Southern Kaduna. Nothing more, nothing less. We kept fastidiously to our promise.
- We are not an opposition party to governments whether at the Local, State or Federal level. We are and shall be partners with governments at all levels, with development agencies and development partners. Consequently, we shall work with all the aforementioned for the development of Southern Kaduna. Where a government does well, we shall cheer and encourage it, but, where government does not do well, we shall have the courage of our conviction to tell truth to power.
- We chose quiet diplomacy. We chose to lobby, to tow the path of dialogue, of reasoning, of persuasion and of knocking at doors. We chose discussion and dialogue over confrontation. We chose to build bridges rather than burn bridges. We chose the path of consultation.
- We resolved to pay courtesy visits on our traditional rulers, members of the national and state assemblies and on the governor of Kaduna State. Indeed, we carried out visits to the palaces in the first instance of all first class royal personages. We also went to Abuja to meet with our National Assembly members, albeit, we succeeded in having a meeting with only the Distinguished Senator. Subsequently, members of the State House of Assembly visited us in our secretariat.
We immediately fixed 5 February, 2016 for our first NEC meeting. Unfortunately, 3 of our respected BOT members got an injunction from the court restraining us from carrying on any functions from 5 February until the determination of the case in court. We could not hold NEC or AGC meetings throughout the year. Happily, the case was struck out in our favour in November, 2016.
Unfortunately, from April 2016 when we were barely 3 months in office, Southern Kaduna came under unprovoked and concentrated terrorist attacks. From Godogodo to Aso; Ninte to Goska; Attakar villages to Chawai villages; from Samaru Kataf to Kajuru to Mbok Nandu – all came under fierce attacks. Pregnant women were not spared but suffered gory attacks, were raped, babies ripped from their wombs; households losing virtually all their members; villages completely razed down; peaceful villagers roasted in their sleep in their houses reminiscent of the Jews burnt during the holocaust.
With regards to the Governor, we wrote three letters requesting to pay a courtesy visit to his office. None of the letters even though received was acknowledged by way of a response. Indeed, one of the main decisions taken to discuss with the Governor was to thank the Governor for the decisive step he took to curb the menace of cattle rustling in Birnin Gwari axis. We also wanted to point out some flashpoints that we identified as vulnerable spots through which terrorists could invade and attack Southern Kaduna communities. We wanted to suggest proactive measures that could be taken to anticipate and forestall the machinations and devices of the terrorists.
For some reasons, even though we were a new EXCO and we never granted any press statement or said anything negative against the government, the doors of the Kaduna State government were firmly slammed shut against us. We reached out to our son in government house to inform him of our efforts. Regardless, our overtures of goodwill and open mindedness were rebuffed. Our prominent son in government failed, refused or neglected to build any kind of bridge between our people and government. Instead, his pre- occupation was that of being the chief advocate for all indefensible, draconian, nepotistic, genocidal bigotry against us. For him, any form of dissent amounted to confrontation, rebellion and partisan opposition against the government. For him our call on our people, Christians and Muslims alike to take all available legal means to protect and defend themselves against terrorists amounted to a call to take the laws into our hands. Paradoxically, when the Emir of Birnin Gwari and Emir of Anka called on their people to defend themselves against killers, our son in government kept quiet. Our son in government did not have the gumption to condemn them. Our son in government kept mum. Our son in government saw nothing good in our people. Our son in government was not picking his calls or responding to text messages. Our son in government was more interested in condemning his people in order to took good in the eyes of bigotic chieftains. The questions is cui bono (for whose benefit?). Sadly, he that was loyal and not confrontational cannot point out any benefits that he attracted to Southern Kaduna. He was merely but a tourist in government
For us, we took solace in the fact that, truth is a bridge that never collapses, no matter the weight of lies heaped on it. He who keeps quiet and seals his mouth in the face of injustice is actually a partner and an accomplice with the oppressor. We were more concerned with the verdict of history than with temporary and transient benefits and allure of the moment. What will be our gain if we preside over funerals of our people? Is it not better to stand with my people in hunger, in perils, in distress, in deprivations than to be decked in royal regalia, eating dainty dinner with the king and dancing in palaces constructed on the graves of my people? I resolved to fight injustice against all my people regardless of ethnic or religious proclivity. Injustice against the Bajjus, the Hausas, Adara, Fulani, Moslems, Christians, pagans is still injustice. No other epithet for it. Injustice is injustice.
As far as I know, SOKAPU is the only Union in Southern Kaduna that embraced all ethnic nationalities and religions. SOKAPU is also the only cultural and community organization that draws membership from persons of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. At the risk of sounding immodest, SOKAPU is the most pan-Kaduna State, pan-Nigeria and pan-peoples socio- cultural organization in Kaduna State and Nigeria. We are and have been arguably, the most patriotic, hospitable, peace loving and law abiding people and organization in Nigeria. Unfortunately, our liberality is taken for granted. Unfortunately, our warmth and hospitality is taken for docility and weakness.
Our vision, our dream, our goal was to tackle the developmental challenges of Southern Kaduna. We wanted to tackle the economy. We wanted to empower our people. We wanted economic emancipation for our people. We wanted to seek first the economic kingdom before the political and other kingdoms. We wanted to set Southern Kaduna on the path to agricultural, educational, cultural, infrastructural renaissance. We wanted our people to be empowered. We wanted to chronicle our history ourselves. Unfortunately, we came under physical attacks and pogroms. Our traditional rulers were physically attacked. We lost the Etum Numana. We lost the Agom Adara. The Agom Akulu was kidnapped. The Chief of the Akurmi nation was unjustly incarcerated for months. Our traditional rulers domains were balkanized. Then a wise man with monopoly of wisdom decided to change the name of their chiefdoms to the ones he felt he must assign to them. Agwam Bajju was changed to Agwam Zonkwa. Gwatyap to GwaTanje. His argument is that chiefs ought to bear the title of towns/villages eg. Emir of Kano, Emir of Daura or Emir of Katsina. What about titles like Etsu Nupe? Lamido of Adamawa? Tor Tiv? Ohinoyi of Ebiraland; Shehu of Borno. Traditional rulers were caged such that they cannot travel or meet among themselves except with the permission of the maximum ruler of the State. We were taken back to the colonial era.
Let me restate that the present leadership under my watch had its cardinal focus to tackle the developmental challenges of Southern Kaduna. We are a community development association. We are neither a political or religious group; nor are an opposition group to government. We saw government as a partner in development. We wanted to support, pray and work with government. We, however, believed that no individual, person or government possesses the sole capacity to develop Southern Kaduna. A greater bulk of developmental effort was to be carried out first by us Southern Kaduna People; secondly in conjunction with governments, non-governmental organizations, development partners and agencies. Our capacity to carry out quiet but aggressive diplomacy and contacts was a sine qua non. The need for our people to mobilize themselves both at home and in the diaspora to achieve and attain these quests is indisputable. Unfortunately, the killings, the terrorist attacks punctuated our march to development. We had to face the existential threats staring us. We were on the brink of annihilation and near extinction akin to the aborigines of Australia.
In the face of genocidal attacks against our people, certain questions came to the fore. One burning question is: where were our governments, local, state and federal? Indeed, where were our governments? Our governments, particularly, the state and federal governments refused to perform their constitutional role to secure the lives of Southern Kaduna citizens. What played out, sadly, was very unbelievable-nay-stranger than fiction. As mentioned earlier, the Kaduna State government in partnership with four other state governments deployed aerial and ground combatants to fight the menace of cattle rustling in Birnin Gwaris Kamuku forest. Yes, cattle rustling. The President, General Buhari wore combat uniform and went to Zamfara State to flag off a special military action against cattle rustling. Yes, you heard it right, a special operation to dislodge and kill cattle rustlers in Zamfara State. Sadly, for Southern Kaduna, government refused to send the army or the air force to the flashpoints of Southern Kaduna to save human lives. While government deployed troops to Birnin Gwari and Zamfara to deal with the menace of cattle rustlers, government refused to deploy troops to save the lives of human beings. Cattle was more precious to our governments than the lifes of Southern Kaduna People. Southern Kaduna lives were counted for less than cattle.
We were defenseless
We were perplexed
We were helpless
We were being decimated
We were being terrorized
We were becoming a land forgotten and abandoned.
We were a land daily burying our loved ones.
We were becoming a land filled with orphans, widows and widowers.
We were now a land filled with destitutes and internally displaced persons.
We were a land filled with hungry and malnourished people;
We were a land where daily weeping and gnashing of teeth were the sounds heard.
We were on the road to Kigali.
We were on the highway to Rwanda.
We were on the road to perdition.
Again, you ask, what was the response of the government?
a. Private universities and tertiary institutions;
b. Re-delineation of electoral constituencies;
c. World Congress and International Cultural Festival;
d. Economic Summit; Investment and Entrepreneurship;
e. A Marshalls plan for reconstruction and rehabilitation;
f. Private media outfits (Print and Electronic);
g. Development of our tourist sites and museums;
h. Cottage industries;
i. Value addition and processing of our vast agricultural products;
j. Research and Documentation;
k. A Southern Kaduna library project;
l. History book; Who is Who projects;
Honour and Awards for our distinguished citizens;
n. Relief materials for our internally displaced people;
o. Unique traditional attire for the Southern Kaduna people, including distinct regalia for our royal personages;
p. Building of secretariat for SOKAPU;
q. Handshake across the Niger;
r. Constitution Review;
s. Talents, creativitycreativity, innovation- Artificial intelligence;
t. Political Sensitization meetings before the elections;
u. Luncheon for 300 S/Kaduna professionals in Kafanchan;
v. Vibrant press engagement;
w. Vibrant relationship with diplomatic corp and inter alia;
x. Took position on the issue of restructuring
We must think and work strategically with regards to the issues of:
- Our unity. Some personalities have vowed to break our ranks and our unity.
- Indigene certificates
- Where to register
- Where to contest elections
- Cultural Renaissance
- Community Policing
- Documentation/Report/Data keeping
One issue that came to the front burner of national discourse is that of restructuring, state creation and separation. This issue has been adequately ventilated by the South West; Niger Delta, the East and other groups. The North recently came out to advocate the separation and break up of this country. For a long time, Southern Kaduna did not contribute to this discourse. Fortunately at the stakeholders meeting on 4/5/2017 and the Town Hall meeting in Hamdala Hotel, Kaduna the issue was raised and the need for us to liase with other groups as well as taking a position was emphasized. We advocated the implementation of the 2014 Confab report as well as the creation of Gurara State.
In summary, what is the state of our Union?
- The Union was faced with a court case for the greater part of 2016;
- The greatest challenge the whole of Southern Kaduna faced and is still facing is that of existential threat; threats of annihilation, decimation, extermination, pogrom and indeed genocide.
- We face mounting humanitarian crisis. Thousands have been displaced without shelter, food, clothings or bare necessities. Unfortunately, unlike in other parts of the country, no IDP camps have been set up, nor any significant intervention in the form of relief materials have been afforded our people by relevant agencies of government. The insecurity situation made it difficult for all our farmers to go back to the farms.
We are faced with the challenge of government insensitivity, outright discrimination, hostility and disdain against our people. We face economic and social terrorism. For example, in 2016, government and security agencies failed, refused or neglected to protect the lives and property of Southern Kaduna People, Government of Kaduna State imposed unnecessary and punitive curfews against our people. Government closed down vital institutions of higher education. Government refused to confront our attackers but instead is intimidating, arresting and detaining the victims; Government refused to carry out projects in Southern Kaduna; Government insulted and denigrated Southern Kaduna traditional rulers. elders, professionals, clergy, women, youths, SOKAPU and indeed our entire people. Appointments into key positions of authority were skewed against our people.
SOKAPU is the umbrella body for our 53 ethnic nationalities. It is the special purpose vehicle that is designed to ensure the attainment of the developmental goals and dream of our people. The structure of SOKAPU consists of amongst others, the CDAs, Chapters, Branches and Wings.
Special groups and individuals are supposed to be members. The finances and funding of the Union have become very important and critical now. All AGC members and organs are called upon to play vital roles in funding the Union. It is necessary to point out that despite or inspite of the paucity of funds we faced, we were able to carry out a vibrant media engagement; carry out international engagements; as well as carry out critical national engagements. We thank chapters that invited us to have engagements with them- Rivers, Lagos, Plateau and Niger State Chapters.
To achieve all our dreams, all hands must be on deck. There is the dire need for human, material and financial resources. We appeal for support for SOKAPU/ Funding through registration by CDAs, by individuals, payment of Dues and Funding .We also appeal for trust and confidence in leadership
This meeting is about Southern Kaduna. I want to thank all of you for your sacrifices. I urge you to engage in frank discussions and profer concrete and workable recommendations as our way forward.
Thank you and God bless.