The attention of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) has been drawn to the violence and destruction of lives and property that have rocked Biliri, one of the chiefdoms in the Tangale Waja Nation in Gombe State over attempts by Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya to impose an unpopular candidate as the new Mai Tangale.
The Forum is also aware that the planned imposition of the new Mai Tangale is in line with a deliberately crafted plot by Hausa-Fulani oligarchy to impose a candidate that is unpopular with the people in order to disturb the peaceful co-existence of the people along the religious divide.
We are shocked that Governor Yahaya who had vowed to stick to the choice of the Tangale kingmakers is now reneging on his promise. Going by the level of destruction unleashed on Biliri by thugs and hired arsonists that are opposed to the popular choice for a new paramount ruler for Biliri, it is clear that the Gombe State Government is driving the town down the valley of worsening insecurity.
Without any form of doubt, the SMBLF has been convinced beyond all reasonable doubts that Governor Yahaya is behind the orgy of violence and deployment of soldiers responsible for the unprovoked murder of no fewer than four peaceful protesters at the weekend. The active participation of thugs, popularly called ‘Kalare’, an equivalent of Boko Haram, who were in the Governor Yahaya ’s convoy were sighted destroying a church as the convoy departed Biliri town on Saturday.
From all accounts available to our Forum, we are sad that Governor Yahaya who should be the champion of peace has turned out to be the mastermind of the crisis. We are at a loss why the governor is not interested in announcing Dr. Musa Idris Maiyamba as the new Mai Tangale, having polled five votes from a total of nine votes, leaving the two candidates for the exalted position with two votes each.
It is reported that Governor Yahaya has vowed to choose a Muslim as the next Mai Tangale of Biliri. If that happens, such an action is capable of not only worsening the security conditions, but also could serve as a prologue to havoc on the peaceful co-existence among the people. From the religious population of the town, it is most unlikely that the Biliri people who are 95 percent Christians would succumb to the choice of accepting the successor to 14th Mai Tangale Abdu Buba Maisheru who was Chairman of the Northern Christians Traditional Rulers’ Forum.
For the record, Christians constitute 95 percent in Biliri that is one of the six chiefdoms in Tangale land. There is no doubt that out of the six chiefdoms in Tangale ethnic nationality, three are ruled by Muslims who constitute less than 10 percent, with Kaltungo having been turned into an emirate in order to bar Christians from aspiring to the Mai stool. The other two chiefdoms with Muslim monarchs are Waja and Tula. In total, Muslims constitute less than 15 percent in the entire six chiefdoms.
It is clear from the foregoing that the current attempt at imposing a Muslim on Biliri is aimed at entrenching a plot that is outside the Tangale ethnic nationality. Governor Yahaya has shown to be a hater of Christianity and is deploying religious discrimination for political objectives. He is engaged in fanning embers of religious discord with the sole aim of throwing not only Gombe State into firestorm of religious acrimony but the North and the entire country.
Just recently, Governor Yahaya refused to appoint the state senior judge, Justice Beatrice Iliya, as the State Chief Judge on account of her faith. He refused to appoint a legal luminary, Barr. Mela Nunghe (SAN) as Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General on the simple reason of not sharing the same faith with the governor. To suppress the people and being them under Islamic dominance, he appointed a district head of Muslim faith to rule over Tudu Kwaya, an area comprising 75 percent Christians.
From the above, it is clear that Governor Yahaya is both a present and future danger to the peaceful existence among different religious adherents as he has abandoned his oath of office and is strictly determined to impose Muslims over other faiths to ensure their suppression. Looking at the fragile religious atmosphere pervading Gombe state and most ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt Religious, Governor Yahaya’s politics does not promote ethnic and religious cohesion. He is a symbol of a dangerous deviation to what is needed in building unity across ethnic and religious divides.
We wish to call Governor Yahaya to desist henceforth from pursuing efforts aimed at enthroning an unpopular candidate for the people. As a Forum of leaders for all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, we condemn the premeditated attempts by the Gombe State Governor at facilitating the deployment of soldiers to murder peace-loving people of Biliri whose only offence is demanding through peaceful protest the confirmation of the most popular candidate for the vacant stole of Mai Tangale.
We call on the governor who is involved in stoking fire of ethnic and religious warfare over the new Mai Tangale to cease from plotting against the popular choice of the people. The peace of most of the Middle Belt Region has been engulfed by worrisome ploys to enthrone Islamic domination by suppressing other faiths. Any attempt to discriminate and use political power to enthrone Muslims as monarchs in areas dominated by Christians can augur well for the people.
We call on President Muhammadu Buhari and relevant security agencies to ensure that peace is not threatened by the actions of Governor Yahaya who is now determined to go against the popular will of the people as expressed by the votes of the kingmakers. It is not too late for the Gombe State Government to arrest the drift to anarchy.
Finally, should there be any breakdown of law and order in Biliri and the entire state over the crisis rocking the Tangale Nation, we shall hold Governor Yahaya responsible for such. He has the power to stop the ominous clouds of frightening spectre threatening to rain on the Tangale Nation by simply announcing the popular choice of the people.
Chief Guy Ikokwu
Senator Bassey Henshaw
Dr Isuwa Dogo