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Ethnic Minority Conflicts and Governance in Nigeria

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Rotimi T. Suberu

Chapter Four

Ethnic Minorities and Political Turbulence in Kaduna State

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1Ethnic minority tensions and conflicts in southern Kaduna have probably engendered far more serious violence than any other forms of communal instability in recent Nigerian history. Because these conflicts and tensions have deep roots in northern Nigerian history, it is useful to examine this historical background before proceeding to discuss the complex facts and facets of ethnic minority political turbulence in Kaduna State today.

Historical Background

2What is presently known as Kaduna State emcompasses the area of the old Zaria (Zazzau) emirate-cum-province. In his historical-cum-anthropological study of Government in Zazzau, 1800—1950, M.G. Smith identified two broad cultural segments in this emirate province. The first of these segments is what Smith referred to as the Muhammadan Hausa-Fulani group. The group constitutes about 60 per cent of the emirate population, occupies mainly the northern part of the province and dominates the structure of traditional governance as expressed in the emirate system (Smith, 1960:2).

3The second ethnocultural bloc of the Zazzau kingdom comprises a ”pagan population” of some thirty tribes. These are located in the southern and western half of the territory. However, throughout this pagan-dominated half of the territory are to be found the Hausa ”in enclaves, walled towns or open villages which are the foci of economic, political and administrative life in their respective areas” (Smith, 1960:2). As shall be demonstrated in the course of this chapter, this pattern of settlement has contributed enormously to the crystallization of the contours of socioeconomic conflict between the Hausa population and the pagan communities.

4More importantly, however, complex forms of clientage and vassalage have developed between the dominant Hausa-Fulani bloc and the pagan population of Zazzau. The pagan tribes were traditionally the legitimate target for slave-raiding, the exaction of tribute and other forms of domination by the Hausa-Fulani. The political and military vulnerability of the pagan groups to Hausa-Fulani hegemony arose from their relatively inferior technology, smaller settlements and decentralized modes of political organization, all of which rendered them relatively defenceless in the face of Hausa-Fulani expansionism and imperialism.

5However, the pagan communities differ in their degree of penetration by, or subordination to, the Fulani emirate system. Indeed, some of these communities had successfully resisted conquest and incorporation by the Fulani power-group. Thus, the Kagoro, Jaba and Moroa populations of southern Zaria have enjoyed some degree of independence from the emirate system. Although involved in diverse forms of historical, political and administrative relationships with the Zaria emirate, these three groups have been able to retain their integrity and autonomy as independent chiefdoms since the colonial era. Consequently, the core emirate population accords the pagan populations of Kagoro, Jaba and Moroa a higher status than pagan groups that are incorporated and subordinated within the emirate society itself (Smith, 1960:242).

6The incorporated pagan populations are closer geographically to the Hausa settlements and enclaves than the independent pagan groups. Consequently, these incorporated populations are more vulnerable to cultural, economic and political domination by the Hausa-Fulani power group. While the independent pagan populations are ruled by their own chiefs, the incorporated pagan communities are administered by emirate-appointed district heads. Such district heads have often been nominated from the Hausa-Fulani group, although pressures from the pagan communities have sometimes led to the appointment of elements from the indigenous tribesmen to this position.

7This unequal historical political relationship between the Hausa-Fulani group and the pagan community has been compounded by religious differences. Islam is the religion of an overwhelming majority of the Hausa-Fulani. The religion also provides the doctrinal or ideological foundation for the emirate system On the other hand, different forms of animistic worship have traditionally predominated amongst the pagan populations. Moreover, looked down upon as infidels by the emirate population, and often arbitrarily and oppressively subjected to the Muslim judicial and legal system, these pagan populations have become particularly receptive to Christian conversion and education. Thus, historically, the leadership of these minority populations has been dominated by mission-educated elites, many of whom have also been employed in occupations related to the Church, mainly as pastors or vernacular teachers of religion (Yahaya, 1980:28). Today, these ethnic minority elites occupy a frontline position in the Christain Association of Nigeria (CAN), which has persistently and violently attacked the hegemony of Muslim Hausa-Fulani elites in the North and in the whole of Nigeria.

8The political, cultural and religious cleavages between majority and minority communities in the Zaria emirate have been reinforced by economic imbalance between the two groups. Although blessed with heavier rainfall and denser woodland than northern Zaria, the southern districts of Zaria are generally relatively more underdeveloped than the northern section of the emirate. Moreover, even within the southern Zaria area itself, socioeconomic opportunities and infrastructure improvements have tended to be concentrated in areas or enclaves inhabited by Hausa settlers (Smith, 1960:2; Yahaya, 1980:74).

9Official sources have often attributed the relative economic backwardness of southern Zaria to the sparse population of these areas, and their lack of viable internal sources of revenue (Yahaya, 1980:75). To the southern Zaria intelligentsia, however, the underdevelopment of their communities is the result of deliberate and persistent neglect by the emirate officials who, until the 1976 local government reforms, also dominated the system of local or native administration.

10The aforementioned differences between majority and minority communities in Zaria over traditional political control, culture, religion and resource distribution have predictably often escalated into violent agitations and confrontations. C.S. Whitaker (1970), for instance, reports that at different times during the 1946-66 period, riots were staged by the ”Kataf and other related peoples in southern Zaria province” over certain oppressive features of the emirate system, particularly the headship of Fulani ruling families over predominantly non-Fulani districts.

11More specifically, A.D. Yahaya (1980:28) notes that in 1942, political protests developed among the Kaje ethnic group of the Zangon Katab district over perceived discrimination by the Native Authority administration against the southern Zaria population. Similar protests took place in 1948 among the Kataf of the same Zangon Katab district. As Yahaya (1980:28) explains:

These protests, which in certain cases were reinforced by violence, were the beginnings of what was to become a continuous demand for political recognition and participation (by Southern Zaria groups).

12Such protests often escalated during periods of major political developments or tensions, such as the demise of the Emir or of a Fulani district head in southern Zaria.

13The protests were geared towards the realization of specific southern Zaria demands which included, increased autonomy and control over local matters; the indigenization of all district head appointments in southern Zaria; the establishment of independent chiefdoms for all the southern Zaria tribes; an end to the proliferation of village heads as a strategy of divide-and-rule by emirate officials; an end to deliberate acts of discrimination and maladministration by the Native Authority administration against the southern Zaria population; the establishment of a Customary Court of Appeal for non-Muslim groups to complement the existing Sharia Court of Appeal; and, more recently, the subdividion of Kaduna into one or two new states in order to mitigate or eliminate the minority status of the southern Zaria population.

14Official responses to these demands and protests have varied from outright repudiation and denunciation of the claims of the southern Zaria communities to genuine efforts to mollify these communities. Thus, although Native Authority officials often dismissed agitations by the southern Zaria population as the work of a ”few vocal malcontents and missionaries” (Yahaya, 1980:73), the regional or state governments have sought to implement appropriate redressive policies. These policies have included: the prohibition of discriminatory acts by Native Authority officials against the southern Zaria population; the promotion of political decentralization through the establishment of village and district councils; the establishment of an Outer Court in order to facilitate the participation of southern Zaria groups in emirate affairs; the employment of southern Zaria indigenes as emirate and Native Authority functionaries; the establishment of new Native Authority departments and welfare projects in southern Zaria; and the transfer of the independent districts of Moroa, Kagoro and Kwoi from the Zaria Province to Jema’a Division (Yahaya, 1980:73-75).

15Although the aforementioned policies were hardly effective in defusing ethnic minority conflict, they nevertheless ensured that this conflict did not unduly polarize Kaduna State or the country at large. Indeed, the local government reforms of 1976, and the inauguration of the egalitarian-oriented Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) Government in Kaduna State in 1979, would appear to have substantially ameliorated the fears and grievances of the southern Zaria population.

16However, the re-introduction of military rule in 1984, and the frenzied religious mobilization in the North that followed the controversy over Nigeria’s purported enlistment in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1986, appeared to have opened up a new phase of ethnoreligious conflict in Kaduna State. This era of conflict has witnessed three major outbursts of ethnoreligious violence in southern Kaduna and Kaduna State in general, viz; the Kafanchan disturbances of March 1987; the first Zangon Katab disturbances of February 1992; and the second Zangon Katab disturbances of May 1992. Each of these flashes of ethnoreligious violence will now be discussed in turn.

The Kafanchan Crisis of March 1987

17The Kafanchan disturbances of March 1987 started as theological disagreements between Christian and Muslim students of the Kafanchan Teachers College, Kafanchan, in the Jema’a Emirate of southern Zaria (Ibrahim, 1989). These disagreements rapidly degenerated into a fracas which spilled into Kafanchan town and ignited age-old tensions between the politically dominant Muslim Hausa-Fulani settlers located in the town centre on the one hand, and the numerically larger and predominantly Christian and/or animist non-Hausa-Fulani natives inhabiting the town’s suburbs, on the other. According to one source, ”the indigenes of Kafanchan resented the Hausa rulership because it deprived them of their wealth and power, virtually making them strangers in their own land” (Sunday New Nigerian, 15 March 1987:1). Indeed, the intensity of this ethnic minority opposition to the emirate rulership was demonstrated by the angry rebuff and physical attacks visited by the indigenous Kafanchan elements on the Emir of Jema’a, Alhaji Isa Muhammadu, when he tried to intervene in the Kafanchan College of Education imbroglio (Sunday New Nigeria, 15 March 1987:1).

18However, the fiercest phase of the Kafanchan crisis was played out in such areas as Kaduna city, Katsina and Funtua, where Muslim mobs attacked Christian and/or southern Nigerian migrant communities and their properties (mainly churches and hotels) in retaliation for the alleged killing of muslims and burning of mosques in Kafanchan town.

19According to official estimates, the Kafanchan crisis claimed nineteen lives, and resulted in the destruction of 169 hotels, 152 churches, five mosques and 95 vehicles (New Nigerian, 17 April 1987:9).

20Apart from the relatively heavy toll on lives and properties, three other features of the Kafanchan crisis may be noted. First, the sheer magnitude of the crisis induced the intervention not only of the state government but also of the federal authorities. The latter used the army to contain the riots, and subsequently established a judicial tribunal to try rioters apprehended by law enforcement and security agents.

21Second, the Kafanchan crisis marked the assimilation of the ethnic minority ferment in southern Zaria into a federation-wide, inter-regional and inter-religious struggle involving northerners and southerners, and christians and muslims. In short, the tensions between majority and minority communities in Kaduna State had acquired a national character, with telling implications for the safety of southerners living in the North, and for the relationships between christians and muslims throughout the federation.

22Finally, the Kafanchan crisis presaged a new wave of ethnoreligious turbulence and violence in northern Nigeria as epitomized in subsequent riotings in Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba States, as well as in the southern Zaria local government area of Zangon Katab. It is to the convulsions in Zangon Katab during February and May 1992 that we now turn our attention.

The Zangon Katab Riots of February 1992

23An outbreak of ethnoreligious rioting that was far more serious than the Kafanchan crisis took place during February 1992 in Zango, a town in the Zangon Katab Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Complex historical, political, cultural and economic factors were at play in this outbreak of communal rioting. But the basic details may be briefly described as follows.

24The Zangon Katab Local Government Council, under the chairmanship of a Kataf, Juri Babang Ay ok, had in January 1992 announced the impending relocation of the Zango weekly market from the Hausa-dominated town centre to a new site on the outskirts of Zango town. The ostensible and/or real reasons for this move included the congestion in the old market centre, with little or no space in the market to accommodate new traders; the poor hygienic conditions of the old market; the unsuitable location of the market in the midst of residential houses belonging to the Hausa; and the need to reduce Hausa commercial domination and expand opportunities for emergent Kataf traders in Zango (Citizen, 17 February 1992:23-24; Mahmood, 1993:36-39).

25The Hausa community in Zango predictably resisted the relocation of the market. The community claimed that the newly proposed site was a part of the muslim annual Eid praying ground. It also argued that the relocation bid was a vindictive design to hurt its economic position. Consequently, the community sought and obtained a court injunction, with accompanying police protection, restraining the relocation (Mahmood, 1993:36).

26The conflicting Kataf and Hausa positions and actions over the market relocation issue escalated into violent confrontations on 6 February 1992, the weekly (Thursday) market date on which the use of the new market site was expected to commence. These clashes, according to official estimates, left 95 persons (mostly Hausa) dead, 252 others injured and 133 houses and 26 farmlands destroyed.

27In retrospect, it would seem that the market relocation issue had merely provided a convenient opportunity for the outpourings of Kataf resentment of Hausa-Fulani domination of cultural, political and economic life in Zangon Katab. Specifically, the Kataf resented their continued incorporation within the Zaria emirate, the alleged appropriation of land around Zango by the emir of Zaria and the Hausa farmers, the derogatory references to the Kataf as ”arna” or pagans by the Hausa population, as well as other forms of unequal sociocultural exchange between the two communities (Mahmood, 1993:36-37). These grievances and differences polarized Zango town at elite and mass levels, so that relationships between influential Kataf elites and the Hausa community leaders became sorely strained. The real extent of this polarization did not become apparent, however, until May 1992 when an even more devastating outbreak of communal rioting convulsed Zango and several other places in Kaduna State.

The Zangon Katab Riots of May 1992

28The Kaduna State Government-appointed Justice Rahila Cudjoe Commission of Inquiry into the February 1992 clashes in Zango town had barely concluded its public sittings when a new wave of riotings broke out in the town during May 1992. The riotings eventually engulfed other key cities of Kaduna State such as Kaduna, Zaria and Ikara. The immediate and remote causes of this renewed outbreak of violence in Zangon Katab included:

  • A written threat by Kataf village heads and community leaders indicating their intention to repossess Kataf land allegedly appropriated, and handed over to the Hausa, by the Emir of Zaria in 1920.
  • The subsequent uprooting of crops on farmlands belonging to the Hausa by Kataf youths as a part of the aforementioned agenda of land restitution by the Kataf.
  • Retaliatory attacks on Kataf and/or Kataf farmlands by the Hausa.
  • A letter written by the extremist Izalaru Islamic Group to the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, seeking his assistance in waging a jihad to defend the rights of the Muslim Hausa population in Zangon Katab.
  • The failure of the police to arrest and prosecute those implicated in the February 1992 riots, and to search for, and confiscate, weapons used during these earlier disturbances.
  • The alleged manipulation of the proceedings of the Rahila Cudjoe Commission of Inquiry into the February 1992 disturbances. These proceedings were, indeed, eventually boycotted by the Kataf (Mahmood, 1993:36-39; Citizen, 25 May 1992:10-19).

29Two main factors were responsible for the escalation of the Zangon Katab riotings into retaliatory campaigns by muslim mobs against christian and/or southern Kaduna and southern Nigerian groups in Kaduna city, Zaria, Ikara and other areas of Kaduna State. These are:

  • Reports and rumours of the annihilation and dispossession of Hausa muslims by ’infidels’ in Zangon Katab.
  • The emotions evoked among Kaduna muslims by the sight of dead or severely injured bodies of the Zangon Hausa as they were conveyed into Kaduna city from Zango (Mahmood, 1993:37).

30In sum, 471 persons were officially confirmed killed in the May disturbances, with 250 and 188 of these deaths occurring in Kaduna city and Zangon Katab respectively. According to police sources, 518 persons were injured, and 229 houses and 218 vehicles were destroyed in the same riots (New Nigerian, 20 July 1992). These official figures may, however, represent an understatement of the scale of casualties and destruction during the May 1992 riots. Indeed, the presentations of the Zangon Hausa community to the relevant Government investigatory panel included names of some 1,528 members of the community who reportedly died in the disturbances (The News, 7 June 1993:20).

Government Responses to Ethnoreligious Conflicts in Southern Kaduna

31Official responses to recent violent outbursts of ethnoreligious discontent in southern Kaduna have been mainly regulatory in nature. In the wake of the Kafanchan crisis of March 1987, for instance, the Kaduna State Government set up a six-member committee, under Mrs. Hansine Donli, to identify the immediate and remote causes of the crisis, assess the extent of damage engendered by the riotings, identify the key culprits and make appropriate recommendations to the Government (New Nigerian, 14 March 1987:1) However, except for a press conference addressed by Donli at the end of the public sittings of the committee in April 1987, little is known both of the report of the committee and the Government’s White Paper on it.

32The Federal Government, for its part, established a five-member tribunal, under Justice A.G. Karibi-Whyte, to try, in ”summary fashion”, all those arrested for participating in the riotings (New Nigerian, 17 March 1987:3). Although all suspects were allowed legal representation of their choice, appeals against the sentences of the tribunal were disallowed. Rather, such sentences were made subject to ratification by the Armed Forces Ruling Council. The proceedings and judgments of the tribunal eventually became the object of heated opposition from several Islamic groups, which felt that the tribunal had overlooked the atrocities committed against muslims in Kafanchan during March 1987, while imposing harsh sentences on muslim youths implicated in the subsequent ”reactive” disturbances in Kaduna, Funtua, and Katsina.

33Government responses to the February and May 1992 disturbances in Zangon Katab have followed the pattern of the official reactions to the initial Kafanchan crisis. The Kaduna State Government, for instance, appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the Zangon Katab disturbances. Headed by Justice Rahila H. Cudjoe, the commission had the following terms of reference:

  • Inquire into, investigate and identify the immediate and remote causes of the Zangon Katab disturbances.
  • Assess the extent of damage caused by the disturbances.
  • Ascertain and identify the roles played by individuals and groups in causing tension and outbreak of violence.
  • Determine the extent of loss of lives and property.
  • Examine any other matters incidental to the aforementioned terms of reference;
  • Recommend appropriate penalties for culprits as well as measures to forestal future disturbances (Citizen, 15 June 1992:14).

34The Cudjoe Commission submitted its report to the Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Dabo Mohammed Lere, in June 1992. Its findings, like those of the earlier Donli Commission, have, however, not been officially released. Nevertheless, the Kaduna-based Citizen magazine has published important revelations about the activities of the commission. According to the magazine, the recommendations of the commission included the following proposals or measures:

  • The President of the Federal Republic should take appropriate disciplinary actions against the chairman of the Zangon Katab Local Government, Juri Babang Ayok. Ayok was indeed removed as chairman on 21 May, and charged for murder before a federal tribunal which, however, acquitted him.
  • Appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against other persons implicated in the riots, including members of the police force, and the Kataf and Hausa communities. In particular, the activities of Kataf ex-servicemen within and outside Zangon Katab should be investigated with a view to ascertaining their roles in encouraging, funding and equipping Kataf rioters.
  • The police should conduct a comprehensive security search in Zangon Katab in order to curtail and control the possession and use of firearms and other dangerous weapons in the area.
  • The controversial market should be moved to a neutral site and provided with basic infrastructures or facilities, while a new weekly market day, other than Thursday, should be adopted.
  • A committee should be set up to verify claims for compensation by individuals and groups displaced during the disturbances.
  • The Zangon Hausa community, in particular, should be resettled and rehabilitated (The Federal Government eventually released the sum of ₦25 million for the reconstruction of houses destroyed in Zango town). Further, a police barracks as well as a detachment of the National Guard should be stationed in the rehabilitated Zango town.
  • A more suitable location should be provided as an Eid praying ground for the Hausa community of Zango town.
  • Derogatory references to the Kataf as ”Arna” or ”Kafirai” (unbeliever or pagan) should be discouraged.
  • The Kaduna State House of Assembly should look into the issue of the establishment of a Customary Court of Appeal in the State (Citizen, 15 June 1992:13).

35Finally, on the crucial issue of demands for chiefdoms by the Kataf and other southern Kaduna groups, the Cudjoe Commission called on the Kaduna State Government to accede to these demands in ”deserving” cases, provided that ”it is adjudged that such a grant would guarantee peace and stability in the state” (The News, 7 June 1993:20). It, however, condemned vehemently:

.... the approach adopted by the Katafs and their resort to violence in order to press home their demands for a chiefdom. As a deterrent to others, the Katafs shall be the last to be considered for the grant of a chiefdom among the southern Kaduna groups (The News, June 1993:20)

36Notwithstanding the commission’s proposals for the compensation and rehabilitation of riot victims and the establishment of chiefdoms, however, its recommendations suggest a general preference for a regulatory, rather than a redistributive or a reorganizational, approach to ethnic minority problems in southern Kaduna. This is also the approach that the Federal Government has tended to pursue.

37Thus, in the wake of the May disturbances, two presidentially appointed seven-member tribunals were set up by the Federal Government to try the suspected rioters in accordance with the Civil Disturbances (Special Tribunal) Decree No. 2 of 1987 (now Civil Disturbances Act Cap 53 of the Laws of the Federation 1990). The two tribunals were headed by Justices Benedict Okadigbo and Emmanuel Adegbite respectively.

38Both tribunals were subsequently to sentence 14 persons to death, and many other individuals to various terms of imprisonment, for their alleged roles in the May disturbances. Among those sentenced to death were some leading Kataf tribesmen, including retired General Zamani Lekwot, a former military Governor of Rivers State.

39Yet, the proceedings and judgments of the tribunals provoked cutting strictures, fervent demonstrations and frenzied litigations from various human rights’ bodies, members of the Bar, the Press and southern Kaduna groups, and other interested observers. Some of the reasons for this opposition include:

  • A statement, allegedly made by President Ibrahim Babangida, after visiting Zango town, that the tribunals he appointed would presume suspects ”guilty until proved innocent” (African Guardian, 25 January 1993:19)
  • The hasty promulgation of Decree 55 of December 1992 which purportedly ousted the competence of regular courts of superior record to make orders against actions of the tribunals which violate constitutional provisions on fundamental human rights.
  • The improper or illegal constitution of the Okadigbo and Adegbite Tribunals, each of which had seven members, in violation of the provisions of the Civil Disturbances Decree which prescribe a tribunal of five members.
  • The ethnoreligious imbalance in the composition of the Okadigbo Tribunal. The tribunal had four muslim members, including three Hausa-Fulani. It was, therefore, perceived by the Kataf as susceptible to being influenced by the extreme emotional bitterness among muslim and /or Hausa-Fulani elements over the fate of the Hausa in Zango. It should be noted, however, that a similar religious imbalance was evident in the composition of the Adegbite Tribunal, which had five christian and two muslim members.
  • The extremely hostile attitude of Justice Okadigbo to the Kataf defence counsel and witnesses.
  • The discontinuation of legal representation for the Kataf tribesmen following the decision of their lawyers, led by Chief G.O.K. Ajayi, to withdraw from the Okadigbo Tribunal in protest against the anomalies enumerated above.

40Predictably, the death verdicts of the tribunals provoked a legal and political impasse. The National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) — the successor to the AFRC — was not able to ratify the tribunals’ decisions because of the political sensitivity of the issue. Moreover, these decisions became the subject of various legal actions in the Supreme Court which restrained the Government from carrying out the death sentences on Lekwot and others. Eventually, the Government was constrained to commute the death sentences to short prison terms.

41In view of the controversial and counterproductive character of its regulatory policies on the southern Kaduna crisis, it is useful to consider Government’s attitude to alternative policy options for containing the crisis. The most important and compelling of these options remains the policy of reorganization, involving the establishment of new chiefdoms, states or even local government areas in the southern Kaduna region.

42Indeed, as from October 1992, the issue of chiefdoms for the Kataf and other southern Kaduna communities featured very prominently in the deliberations of the defunct Kaduna State House of Assembly. Members of the House from southern Kaduna, in particular, worked vigorously to put the issue on the agenda of public policy in the state. Thus, defying the intrigues and opposition of conservative elements and the emirate establishment, the House of Assembly on 19 October 1992 established a seven-man committee, under Alhaji Isa Aliyu Shika, to investigate the issue (Newswatch, 7 December 1992:28). The committee received a total of 71 memoranda by individuals, organizations and communities from all sections of the state. Thirty-seven of these memoranda involved demands for chiefdoms from such southern Kaduna communities as the Bajju (Kaje), Kataf (Atyap), Kadara, Chawai, Kurama, Gbagyi, Kono and Kagarko of Zaria Emirate, as well as the Ninzam, Ayu, Numana, Caninkon and Kagoma of Jema’a Emirate (Newswath, 7 December 1992:28; New Nigerian, 29 December 1992:16).. Twenty-nine of the memoranda were of a general nature, while the remaining five involved demands for more districts.

43In the report it submitted during December 1992, however, the Shika Committee simply concluded that the constitutional competence to create new chiefdoms or districts lies with the executive rather than the legislature. Sadly, the Committee could not decide on whether to advise the House to forward the memoranda on new chiefdoms and districts to the State Governor for appropriate action, or to institute a constitutional amendment that would enable the House legislate on the establishment of new units of traditional authority. More importantly, the Committee could not advise on the merits or demerits of the various memoranda presented to it. Such an advice could have served as an important input into any future executive action on the issue of new chiefdoms. In essence, perhaps owing to the opposition of the conservative political establishment and traditional ruling class in Kaduna to the idea of new chiefdoms, the Shika Committee was content to reduce its own work to a mere rigmarole.

44The executive, for its part, adopted the position that the creation of new chiefdoms was politically and financially inexpedient. In the words of the National Republican Convention (NRC) Governor, Dabo Lere:

The main problem is the number of tribes that are involved.... Everybody wants a chiefdom, and we have so many tribes. This is physically impossible. And in these days of lean finances, if you make a chief, the chief is entitled to a lot of regalia, you have to build a palace for him, you have to buy him not only one car but cars that will befit him... and so on. And these things cost money. Instead of spending that money creating hospitals or... roads, you spend the money creating so many chiefs (African Concord, 8 February 1993:19).

45Given the attempt by Governor Lere to portray the demand for new chiefdoms as economically diversionary, it is instructive to note that the southern Kaduna groups see such chiefdoms as a means of accelerating development in their areas. Indeed, the southern Kaduna communities often attribute their relative backwardness to the insentivity of the emirate authorities to the developmental needs of these communities. This insensitivity is said to be underscored by the unwillingness of the emirate to make any serious efforts to attract development to the southern Kaduna region. In essence, Governor Lere’s apparent postulation of a dichotomy between political autonomy and economic development would appear unconvincing to the southern Kaduna people.

46Pressures and proposals for a reorganizational solution to the southern Kaduna problem have not been limited to demands for the establishment of new chiefdoms. The Government has also had to contend with pressures and proposals for the creation of new states and/or local governments in the southern Kaduna region.

47The subdivision of Kaduna State into Kaduna and Katsina States by the Babangida Administration in September 1987 was widely approved by the southern Kaduna groups since this reorganization gave them a relatively more enhanced position within the new and smaller Kaduna State. However, the euphoria in southern Kaduna over the excision of Katsina from Kaduna soon evaporated as the southern Kaduna elites became increasingly disenchanted with what they described as ”a grand design to scheme us out of the affairs of Kaduna State” (National Concord, 13 June 1988:16-18). In particular, the southern Kaduna elites inveighed against their inadequate representation in the critical decision-making sectors of the Kaduna State Civil Service, and the systematic manipulation of political appointments and civil service postings and promotions to favour indigenes of mainstream Zaria. In the words of the southern Kaduna elements:

The totality of evidence, both direct and indirect,... points to the fact that some senior public officers in the state civil service who hold key positions in the state government, particularly from Zaria Local Government Area, have formed the habit of manipulating Government machinery in order to achieve a total enslavement of the people from the other local government areas of the state (National Concord, 13 June 1988:16).

48Following the May 1992 disturbances, allegations of the victimization of southern Kaduna civil servants in general, and the Kataf ethnic class in the bureaucracy in particular, became even more strident (Kukah, 1992:1).

49It was in this context of deepening inter-ethnic distrust and bitterness that proposals began to emerge for the further subdivision of Kaduna State into Zazzau and Jema’a or Gurara (Southern Zaria) States, along the lines of the Hausa/Fulani — non-Hausa minorities’ divide (Jibrin, 1993:5). As trenchantly articulated by a group of southern Kaduna indigenes in Plateau State in May 1993, such a subdivision could help to mitigate, if not eliminate, the following ”social facts” of the southern Kaduna situation (The Guardian, 30 May 1993:A17):

  • The wide gap in socioeconomic development and political representation between the northern and southern parts of Kaduna State.
  • The systematic attempts to reduce the peoples of southern Kaduna to ”second class citizens, slaves, drawers of water and hewers of wood.”
  • The political and cultural subjugation of the southern Kaduna people under the emirate system, and the failure to create chiefdoms for these peoples.
  • The perpetration of various forms of religious discrimination and persecution against southern Kaduna groups.
  • The concentration of a disproportionate number of educational institutions in northern Kaduna at the expense of the southern parts of the state.

50However, although the case for a southern Zaria state had also featured prominently in the report of the 1986-87 Political Bureau, and the Federal Government has become increasingly lavish in its state reorganization policies, the prospects for the subdivision of Kaduna appear to be poor for at least three reasons.

51In the first place, considerable differences exist among the affected communities over the demarcation and configuration of the proposed Zazzau and Jema’a (Gurara) States. For instance, competing claims have been made to the important city of Kaduna by both the Hausa-Fulani and the non-Hausa-Fulani blocs. Such divisiveness, it would be recalled, has been the Achilles’ heel of demands for new states in other parts of the country, including the Rivers State. Secondly, the state creation strategy cannot resolve, and may in fact compound, the position of the Hausa settler communities of southern Zaria who may become isolated, alienated and marginalized in the proposed Jema’a or Gurara State. A final and related problem is that with the departure of the Hausa-Fulani power group, the establishment of Jema’a State may simply open up a new phase of competition and conflict among the diverse communities of southern Zaria. Nevertheless, the relatively complex and dispersed ethnic structure of the Jema’a State will probably produce less polarizing and destabilizing outcomes than the centralized ethnic structure in the present Kaduna State (cf. Horowitz, 1985:39).

52Finally, Government has faced intensive pressures from minority communities in the southern Kaduna region for the creation of additional local government areas in the region (The Guardian, 3 August 1992 and 30 May 1993). These pressures were never satisfied by the extensive reorganizations of the local government structure undertaken by the Babangida Administration during May 1987 and August — September 1991. Both of these reorganizational exercises increased the number of localities in the country from 301 to 589. Consequently, like other groups in Nigeria, the southern Kaduna communities have continued to agitate for additional local government areas as a means of bringing ”government and development” closer to their region, and of giving more effective expression to the cultural complexity of this part of Kaduna State. Despite the Federal Military Government’s continuing commitment to the creation of additional local government areas in the country, however, the deluge of competing demands for new localities from several parts of the federation, the increasing official sensitivity to the counterproductive effects of too many local government areas, and the entrenchment of the local government territorial structure in the Federal constitution, all make the prospects for the creation of additional areas in southern Kaduna somewhat uncertain.

© Institut français de recherche en Afrique, 1996

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