Saratu Ali's Rejoider on the Jos Genocide: What Yar'Adua Must Do


Aminu Muhammad Baba

Permit me to comment on the letter by one Saratu Ali , which appeared in the Sunday Trust of the 21st of December 2008. It appeared as a rejoinder to an earlier article of the same title by Garba Deen Muhammad. I was initially worried that Daily Trust should find the letter good enough to be published, but I later thought well, perhaps to befit the column’s title, the letter was allowed to take over the column that week. She accused the columnist as an armchair academic and his paper as partial in its coverage of the Jos crisis, yet that is what her letter succeeded in portraying. It is so full of insinuations and wrong assumptions which are not supported by facts on the ground. For instance, she cited other Plateau tribes that are discriminated upon as minorities in Bauchi and Kaduna states but did not cite a single case in those states, or any of the northern states, where a plateau tribe was so hated as a group to the extent of executing a Hitler-like extermination of the scale we just witnessed in Jos. Her fellow tribalists keep making misguided assertions about the impossibility of a Berom standing for an election in Fegge, Kano or other locations in the core North. In my opinion, it is very unfair and really unnecessary to compare the situation in Jos North, Yelwan Shendam or Zangon Kataf for instance, with the situation in the core North. But if they keep on insisting on this absurdity as an excuse for their misbehavior, then they should be reminded once again of our collective history: Using historical and even contemporary facts about cultural sophistication between the Hausa-Fulani and any other tribe in the North, not just the ones in Plateau, one would easily see that it is not by mere chance that we wake up to find the former in sufficient number in other lands that are not indigenous to them. History can bear witness to the fact that they did not come to occupy their present settlements forcefully through invasions or land usurpations. That is why they lived peacefully with their hosts, the fore fathers of their present killers. Also those making this comparism have not told us instances where a Berom or an Angas was refused to stand for an election in Fagge or kebbi, or where they won an election and were denied, or for that reason, had their tribe massacred. They conveniently forget the fact that democracy is about acceptability, it is about trust and it is about numbers. When you put up two or more individuals for an elective position and keep rigging constant, the person with more abundance in these variables ultimately wins. So if a Berom or an Angas, or any minority Northern tribe, wants to win an election Northern Nigeria or any where in the world for that matter, these are the considerations to make. Coming back to Sarah’s accusation of one-sided report by Daily Trust, why should anyone honestly feel that the reports need be otherwise? If the nature and scale of the killings and property destruction is so heavily one-sided, should the report be otherwise? Thankfully in the front page of the very edition in which Sarah’s letter appeared, is a report about the crisis by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a US-based NGO. It listed in its report, and I quote; “more than a dozen separate incidents in which mainly Muslim men and youths were gunned down by men in uniform after the governor gave a shoot-at-sight order”. Pictures of the corpses, the places affected and the resulting refugees have been taken for the world to see. What other evidence does one need to be convinced that this is a one-sided massacre targeted at a particular group of people.

Among her insinuations is that all the religious uprisings are caused by the Muslims. What particular report did she rely upon in arriving at this unkind and wicked conclusion? I’m sure even her CAN mentors would not agree with her on this allegation. For all I know, and this is one of the detrimental weaknesses of our current crop of leaders, none of the reports, if any, of the various investigative commissions, was made public. The only one we can objectively and authoritatively rely and refer to is the proceedings of the public trial following the Zangon Kataf crisis. Sarah is advised to go back to news reports of the proceedings, in which the master-minds were exposed to the whole world. Incidentally, Zangon Kataf is a typical replica of Jos North to any one familiar with the two locations. I really do not need to go to detailed history, since the records are there to show that the Hausa-Fulani Muslims are more tolerant and restrained by their culture and religion into initiating barbaric actions against fellow human beings. They have a better heritage and are more obedient to the code of ethics of their religion and culture than any other group of people in Northern Nigeria. This is an indisputable fact. That is probably why the ancestors of the present generation of Plateau and Southern Kaduna tribes did not have any problem in accepting and accommodating them in those places where they are being exterminated.

Finally, on a more positive note, I sincerely hope that the Nigerian government should use this recent crisis and the report of similar crises all over the country as an input with which to come up with sound constitutional and institutional remedies against this madness. We should for once sit up and be serious as a Nation. Anybody who takes a look at advertisements in our newspapers for instance, would think that this is a nation of sycophants and praise singers instead of a serious community committed to nation-building. You see human beings being advertised like Maggi Cubes on Bill Boards and pages of Newspapers. You see full pages taken up by politicians, traditional rulers, business men and even civil servants, to congratulate each other for chieftaincy titles, promotions and federal or state appointments. Do not ask me of the physical movement of tribesmen and cronies trooping to the residence of a newly appointed or elected individual to “congratulate” him. You would think that person won a lottery and not saddled with a onerous responsibility. The frightening aspect is that in all cases the person receives them with equal ritual, gleefully indulging them in their fantasies. Every year we witness hundreds of people being given National Merit awards. Even universities and professional associations are not left out. They lavishly award honorary degrees and honorary memberships to “outstanding individuals”. Yet this country has not moved an inch since independence. We are even retarding instead. We resort to killing ourselves on the slightest incidence of provocation. What impact are all these “honoured” people making? After receiving all the awards, the chieftaincy and honorary titles, do they all go back home, hang them in their sitting rooms and sleep? This could only mean we are either giving honour to whom it is not due, or our criteria for recognizing and rewarding merit is greatly flawed or perverted, or both. Allah ya sawwake