By Lamela Umaru Lakorok
The ongoing Mai Tangle stool debacle in the Tangale nation is emblematic of the Fulani conquest strategy in Gombe State, and therefore, a wake-up call to all minority tribes in the Middle Belt of Nigeria. We must draw the attention of the world to the design and implementation of the Dan Fodio conquest motif that was interrupted by the British colonization of Nigeria. The Fulani has claimed that the end of the British colonial government, which had favored them in the indirect rule implemented in Northern Nigeria, was the start of their full control of Nigeria.
Hindsight, they say, is 20/20. We see the past actions of the Fulani emirate system where they used the Middle Belt military powerhouse to almost eliminate the Igbo tribe in the name of patriotism and unity of Nigeria. We see the use of religion as a political tool to divide families and tribes both in the past and the present. For the Fulani enthusiasts, it is not enough that one embraces Islam, one must accept the Fulani language and culture as tantamount to the religion itself or one is considered a second-class Muslim. Their hiding behind religion to impose their political rule on a people is the brains behind the recent developments in the traditional rulership of Tula, Dadiya, and Tangale in Gombe state. The government imposed on these tribal groups Muslim rulers of a specific blend. For instance, previous Mai Tangles had embraced Islam and have many descendants who are Muslim, including one of the contestants for the current throne won by Dr. Musa Idris Mai Yamba. With a stellar resume in law enforcement that culminated in the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, Alh Ahmadu Gimba Magaji was not considered a worthy Muslim by Gov. Inuwa Yahaya. What is it in Mallam Mai Shanu that Gov. Yahaya finds qualifying for the Mai Tangle stool? The fact that he has certificates in Public Administration and Human Resources Management? Well, apparently, he would not find his education useful in Tangale because he could neither administer nor manage a people he does not know, and they do not like him. However, we know that his marriage to a Fulani woman guarantees a Fulani progeny will later rule Tangale were this callous act to stand. Does this sound familiar? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. We know the strategy, Gov. Yahaya!
Look at the traditional rulers of the minority tribal groups in Gombe state. Why do they get wives from the Fulani tribe? Do the Fulanis otherwise intermarry with Muslims of minority tribes? Why only their rulers? Narrow your vision to the Tangale situation, why is the Hakimi of Bare and a certain prominent Muslim family in Bare so intent on having Mallam Danladi Mai Shanu as the Mai Tangle? The man does not live in Tangale land, he does not associate with Tangale people, he does not own any property in Tangale and does not speak the Tangale language. Why did the Galadima of Bare and the Hakimi of Tudu Kwaya vote for such a man and not Alh Magaji who, as mentioned above, is a Muslim with an impressive resume and lives in Billiri? Why do they believe Gov. Yahaya should choose his candidate from Gombe and bring him to the Mai Tangle palace? If the choice of the governor were to stay, Mallam Mai Shanu’s half-Fulani posterity will eventually be the rulers of Tangale, and this by the sanction and blessings of the Galadima and Fawu families in Bare. When the Tangale people demand the recognition and installation of the legitimately elected ruler, they hear certain Muslims hiding behind the pretext of religion and saying the unquestionable action of the governor was the will of God. In other words, the governor is now the god of the Tangale people. Such myopic reasoning collapses the moment you reverse the scenario.
When one begins to analyze the strategy above, one ponders on the recent crisis in Billiri and notices that only certain families were “targeted” as if to make a statement. However, before you conclude this was the case, ask yourself what has the burning of the houses and a Mosque got to do with the protest? Why the quick write-up by someone purporting to be Alhassan Fawu alleging 70 Mosques were burnt in Billiri and asking for the sympathy of the Islamic world? Also remember that in the history of Tangale religious pluralism where Christians are the majority, there had never been a religious conflict in Tangale, not even when Tangale Christians were killed in Gombe and Bauchi. Why the random arrests of people all over Tangale and Kaltungo? Did the victims know who attacked their home? If so, why hasn’t anyone been charged? Instead, more people are being arrested at the instigation of the Galadima family members. Did they know who attacked their family or should we start looking at the possibility of “self-inflicted wounds”? Every Tangale person abhors the violence and the resultant tarnishing of Tangale image. Yet, the governor does not hesitate to impose a curfew on all Tangale people and pledge to compensate these specific families for their loss. Who was it that attacked two innocent women cracking the head of one with a stone and breaking the leg of another, the very incident that started the violence? No one is either arrested or charged with that crime. Why is there a move by the same group of people to separate Tangale by religion? The Tangale Community Development Association is not a religious organization. Why the recent attempts to circumvent the organization by some people? If anyone wonders why the Tangale nation is in crisis today, one does not need to look further away from the synopsis above. There is a systematic plan to destabilize Tangale by a specific group of people who want to advance the cause of the Fulanization of the minority tribal groups beyond Tangale-Waja.
The inauguration of a so-called Commission of Inquiry into Billiri Violent Protests by Gov. Yahaya is a farse. The governor has portrayed himself as an objective leader seeking truth through the establishment of a commission. However, the governor is an interested party in the scuffle. If the purpose of the commission is to explore the truth of what led to the killings and wanton destruction of property during the crisis, why did the governor arrest and continues to arrest people without charges? He has already acted as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner when he not only arrested the people, but also denied them bail according to the rule of law. Setting up a commission of inquiry two months after the event, during which time the governor made repulsive and inciteful comments about the situation and the people of Tangale, is dubious. We advise the National Assembly to set up an independent committee because the governor’s integrity is compromised, and a committee setup by him is already tainted by his actions.
Compare the response of Gov. Yahaya to the Galadima and Fawu families in Bare, with his response to the recent burning of homes and places of worship in Nyuwar, Lunguda. Eyewitnesses reported seeing strangers on motorcycles the day of the attack. Co-incidentally, the chief security officer of the state, the governor, happens to have his phone off for the rest of the day and night of the attack. No one is arrested or held responsible for the violence, and the state is promising food relief to the villagers who lost everything. Watch, you will see that the governor is blaming this on communal clashes, not religion. Why were churches burnt down in a “communal clash”? Again, the strategy of divide and rule is for the first time attempting to divide the Lunguda and Waja tribes. Next would be Waja and Cham, and who knows what comes next? The end goal is the same, conquest of the tribes by subversion. The governor must stop hiding behind the façade.
It is time for Tangale-Waja, and indeed, all the Middle Belt region, to wake up and try to save what is left of their identities. Do not be deceived by the couching of religion, it is a wolf in sheep clothing. The Fulani agenda, as seen in all of Nigeria, is the desire for power. Gombe State is only symptomatic of the problem. Nigeria is at risk of dismemberment. We do not cede our tribal rights and identities to another. It is for this reason that the Tangale people remain united in purpose against the lawless actions of the governor.
Finally, we extend our heartfelt condolences to our neighbors in Jessu and Nyuwar for the recent mayhem that resulted in the loss of lives and properties. We caution everyone in Tangale-Waja (Gombe South) to be wary of the enemy’s tactic of divide and rule. We have co-existed for centuries and will continue to exist together until the end of time. Please, extend a hand of love and fellowship in place of hate and violence. Let there be room for conversation and discussion of sensitive subjects, rather than emotions. Let us make use of our elders from neighboring tribes to initiate reconciliation where needed.
“A stitch in time saves nine”
Long Live Dr. Musa Idris Mai Yamba, Long Live Tangale, Long Live Tangale-Waja, Long Live Gombe state
Lamela Umaru Lakorok is the General Secretary of Tangale Community Overseas (TCO)