There is palpable tension in Jalingo as facts emerged that the state government may have concluded arrangements to create chiefdoms within the Muri emirate territory as well as other parts of the state.
Quick News Africa reports that the Muri emirate territory ,which is dominated by Fulani , covers Lau, Karim-lamido, Jalingo, Ardo-kola, Zing, Yorro, Ibi, Gassol and Bali Local Government Councils in the state.
Sources told our correspondent that at least 10 chiefdoms were expected to be created in favour of some ethnic minorities in Kunini, Kona, Jibu, Dampar, Suntai, kwararrafa, Sardauna, Lau habe, Jibawa and Bunga.
One source said the plan was perfected after an intense lobbying by some powerful politicians in the state, who believed that ” ethnic minorities must be liberated from Fulani domination”.
He said already vehicles had been procured and would be allocated to the chiefs as soon as they were appointed.
” A special adviser to the governor is saddled with the responsibility of harmonizing and documenting all the demands for the creation of new chiefdoms and possible upgrade of some chiefs in the state”, the source said.
Another source said the move might not be unconnected to the desire by Gov Darius Ishaku to garner more support to actualize his second term bid.
” Yes, it is connected to the reelection bid of the governor in 2019. Don’t forget, these people have been clamoring for independence from Fulani emirs for a very long time.
” To be fair to the minorities, they need chiefs that will represent their culture and traditions. The truth is they want leadership at their own door steps.
” With the coming of the new chiefs, a sort of parity will be achieved in terms the number of Fulani chiefs and that of other ethnic groups ,” he said.
Dissatisfied by the plan to create chiefdoms in Muri, a prince of the emirate council, Alhaji Buba Mafindi, protested against the plan, saying the ” move to balkanize Muri is a grand conspiracy that is inimical to peace”
Speaking at a press conference, Mafindi, who said he spoke in his capacity as a citizen, wondered why the state applied ” ethnic jingoism in favour of minorities to marginalize majorities”.
He cited tribes like Kona at Bakin Dutse, the home town of state PDP chairman, Mr. Victor Bala, as a ” small tribe that do not constitute even a ward in the council”, yet a chiefdom would be created in the area.
” We have investigated and gathered reliably that because of political advantage, this government surreptitiously wants to elevate Bakin Dutse to a chiefdom over the majority of Fulani at Mallum, Lamido Borno, Yelwan Tau, Alin-gora, Zangon kombi, Iware, Mayo renewo and Tau wards.
” Likewise in Lau where they want to create kunini and Lau habe chiefdoms without consultation with the chief of Lau. This will undermine the position of the chief of Lau , and it means the chief will be technically removed,” he said.
The prince alleged that the state had concluded arrangement to send an executive bill to the state house of assembly to actualize the sensitive exercise, ignoring the fact that Muri emerged through historical conquest which predates colonialism and survived military administrations.
Mafindi said what Tarabans were interested in was good governance and judicious use of their resources, not balkanization of territories that its political and divisive consequences could not be underestimated.
” What we want is justice and good governance and not divisive tendencies. If the governor is sincere about the balkanization, how come he has not included his home town Takum where for over 20 years, there is no substantive chief,” he said.
When contacted, the Special Adviser to Ishaku on Political Matters, Alhaji Abubakar Bawa, said he was not briefed on the said proposal.
” I am not aware of this move. And you know I cant tell you what I don’t know; even though I recognise the fact that democracy is about addressing the yearnings and aspiration of the people,” Bawa said.