Saturday, August 22, 2020 7:31 am
By Ike Okonta
Yesterday the Nigerian Bar Association withdrew its invitation to Nasir El Rufai to present a paper at its annual conference, pointing to his less than noble response to the recent killings in the southern part of Kaduna State which he presently governs.
One had expected Governor Rufai in his response, put out by his media adviser, to carefully explain the complex situation in southern Kaduna and to promise to further exert himself in ensuring that the killings are put to a stop.
He did neither. In a fit of injured pride he claimed that the NBA disinvitation was a non-issue and that the people of Southern Kaduna were in the wrong. This is unfortunate. The people of Southern Kaduna constitute an ethnic and religious minority in Hausa-Fulani-dominated Kaduna State. By that fact alone they are in a vulnerable position. Their complaints ought to be listened to carefully with a view to addressing them with despatch.
This has not happened. Instead, Southern Kaduna political and intellectual leaders including Dr. Obadiah Mailafia have been insulted and shouted down by Hausa-Fulani cheerleaders in the mass media they control, not least the Daily Trust newspaper.
Northern Nigeria is in turmoil presently , ranging from the depredations of Boko Haram in the northeast to banditry and kidnapping in the northwest to farmers-herders clashes in the north central. The present situation in the north is one that calls for soul-searching and a vigorous attempt to find out what has gone wrong politically and economically in the north.
Pretending that all is well in the north and that the people of Southern Kaduna are crying out without just cause is pampering over a festering wound. Southern Kaduna is in trouble. Likewise the wider north is in trouble.
This is the time to seek through going solutions to deep-rooted problems and not shouting down a part of the north because it happens to be inhabited by ethnic minorities.
–Dr. Ike Okonta, a policy analyst and writer, fellow of the Open Society Institute, New York, research fellow in Oxford University’s department of politics and international relations, and co-author of Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights and Oil, writes from Abuja