ARE HAUSAS SETTLERS IN JOS?
by Comrade Richard Tersoo Mnenga
Before the amalgamation of the Niger lands by the British to give birth to Nigeria, Hausa people very much like the other composite tribes of the geographical area that became known as Nigeria had lived very much like distinct sovereign nations. The advent of the British Colonial masters however changed this status quo completely and the Hausas first of all found themselves in the Northern protectorate and later through rechristening, Northern region alongside other ethnic groups.
Unlike other minority ethnic groups who were more of stateless societies, the Hausa/Fulani had already into existence, a central traditional institution which made them have a unique system of administration. Some of the minority ethnic groups didn’t realize in time to have a central and unique traditional institution and as a result of this, most of their cities were governed by Sarkis who were Hausas. Apart from the towns in the far North who had Emirate Councils, some major cities in the North Central had Sarkis who were mostly Hausa men.
In Tiv land, it was in 1934 that the idea of a single chief for the Tiv started which was mainly supported by the younger educated elements. Many people opposed this with mixed reactions until in 1946 when a Tor Tiv was elected and appointed in 1947. Before this period, most of the major towns like Makurdi were governed by non Tivs until in 1945 when the Chief of Makurdi, Mallam Audu died and the agitation for a Tiv Chief grew as they saw themselves as the majority.
Even with the enthronement of a Tiv Chief thereafter, there was no tension or victimization between the Tivs and Hausas who co-existed peacefully. Everybody enjoyed the basic rights accorded to citizens. This mutual relationship was what facilitated the emergence of Alhaji Al-hassan Maikeke as the Chairman of Makurdi Local Government in 1998.
In Jos the area in question, the Sarkin Jos was upgraded to be a first class Chief after the 1956 election when the Northern Elements Progressive Union NEPU won some of the major towns in the North. The party won in Zaria, Maiduguri, Gusau, Potiskum, Kaura Namoda and as it went into alliance with the Berom tribal Union, it also captured Jos Metropolis.
The Northern elements progressive union NEPU having won the Jos metropolis, was asked to nominate somebody for the GbonGwom Jos who was elevated to be a first class Chief. Mr. Bitrus Rwang Pam, the Secretary of the party in Jos nominated his father Chief Rwang Pam who was a Teacher at the Elementary School Ryom to become the first Gbon-Gwom Jos.
It is a thing of note that Sardauna then as the premier of Northern Region had all the powers to elevate the traditional institution and make the Hausas to continue its ruler ship as done previously, but as a leader who wanted to give all Northerners a sense of belonging, he opted to do what he did as Berom was majority tribe in Jos metropolis.
I once had a chat with one of my Plateau friends, Mr. Alex Yakubu Pam and he funnily told me that:
our problem with the Hausa is very simple, if you go to any state in the far North, you will find a Sabon Gari which is usually reserved for non indigenes but the reverse is always the case in the major towns in North Central where Hausas are given the freedom to stay in any area of their choice, a Hausa man will never give you the liberty he wants from your town in his own town. Another point is that we couldn’t resist the Jihad and were easily captured, the Jihadists didn’t get enough confrontation and resistance because our ancestors were busy with ‘mos’ (the native alcoholic drink) and gave little attention to their enemies unlike other minorities who vehemently opposed the forceful conversion bid. Our lukewarm attitude paved way for Hausa domination and we are now at the receiving end. This act has greatly contributed to the Hausa domination on the Plateau which has since made them in charge of the economy.
The import of this write up is to seek for clarification on the “Settler vs indigene syndrome” in Nigeria. Our nationalists were not foolish to have done few instances I will state below.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe an Easterner won an election in Lagos which was not his constituency but the electorates considered his integrity against race. Being one of the leading nationalists who was out to utilize all the possible avenues at his disposal to liberate Nigeria from Colonial rule, he was considered a father.
The greatest of all was the sanctuary which the Tiv people gave to the late Ibrahim Imam who fled the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) persecution in his home base of Borno and was elected by Tiv people to represent Jemgba constituency in the Northern house of assembly. The Kanuri man was made by Chief J. S. Tarka to adopt a Tiv name “Iwarwar Gatie” to enable him feel at home, Iwarwar is a specific grass that can be grown anywhere even on a tarred and this signified that the fled Politician was capable of operating anywhere. These people stated above where overwhelmingly voted in the said constituencies even as they were not originally form there.
Michael Audu Buba (waziri Shendam), Isah Haruna, Ignatius Durlong, Sule Kola, Selcar Miner, Abdu Abubakar and Clement Gomwalk who were Sardauna’s major gateways to Plateau province never worked for the trash we are now experiencing. If most of them were to come back to life and see what is happening, they would have preferred to immediately return to their graves.
Our foresighted leaders who at the instance of Governor Hassan Usman Katsina were not stupid to tour the whole North preaching the cause of Northern Unity in a stable Federation. Governor Katsina (of blessed memory) saw elements of disintegration in the North after the demise of the first Republic and called on the leaders of the defunct political parties namely, Mallam Aminu Kano-NEPU, Chief J.S Tarka-UMBC and Makaman Bida-NPC to come together and unify the North so that anytime Political activities are allowed, the North will be one.
When he later asked them to choose five members each from their defunct Political parties, Mallam Aminu Kano nominated Tanko Yakassai, Yarima Balla, Abubakar Zukogi and Yahaya Sabo. Chief Tarka nominated Bitrus Rwang Pam, Gayus Gillama, Mallam Maiyaki and Isaac Shaahu while Makaman Bida chose Shehu Shagari, Yusuf Maitama Sule, Ahman Pategi and Abba Habib. These people successfully accomplished their mission with Umaru Dikko as their Secretary. In their message, they made it categorically that Northerners are one people and should peacefully co-exist regardless of their different persuasions. During this time, it didn’t occur to anybody to dispute the ownership of Jos or any other major town in the North.
I am compelled to write this because people prefer using sentiments in discussing such issues and this can never end the numerous crisis we do have in this country. If an Igbo man can be voted in as a member of Kaduna state house of Assembly what is wrong in making a Hausa man who has been ruling Jos before the creation of the seat of Gbon-Gwom Jos the Chairman of Jos North Local Government? Let’s say what is supposed to be said. I am from the Minority tribe and I am not in anyway supporting Hausa/Fulani domination but this indigenes Vs settlers syndrome is causing us more harm than good. Can we equate the damages incurred in the last crisis to the gains to be derived from being a local Government Chairman? I can understand that Alhaji Sabo Bakin Zuwo who succeeded Abubakar Rimi in 1983 as the governor of Kano State was an emigrant who came from Nupe to settle in Kano like wise the present governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau who is said to have come from Babur, a tribe in North Eastern Nigeria to settle in Kano. Both of them were over whelmingly voted against people who are believed to be the real Kano indigenes . Late Mamman Ali of Yobe was born and brought up in yola but was voted to the Executive office in Yobe. Isa Yuguda was a Fulani from Adamawa state yet, now the Number One citizen in Bauchi. Saraki of Kwara was also a Fulani settler yet, doing the best for the kwarans. For Namadi Sambo who was one time a commissioner in Bauchi was speculated to be a Bendelite from Edo yet a Governor in Kaduna. Why is the case of Jos spectacular? Above all, Babangida, Abacha, Abdulsallami where all settlers in their resfectives States yet they yield their best for the states and the entire country.
It is an undisputable fact that most of the people in Jos North can’t claim any other place than the area in question and their population is reasonable and capable of influencing the out come of an election anytime elections are done, so should we continue fighting and killing innocent people over a cause that can be hardly actualized?
As I earlier said, I am not in the position to decide the true position of things, but using these few analysis I want to ask my fellow compatriots that “Are Hausas Settlers in Jos?”
To be continue
Comrade Richard Tersoo Mnenga
Deputy Secretary General
Northern Development Initiative
No 11 Niamey close off Fulani Road
Ungwar Rimi G.R.A Kaduna