Governor Buni and the fragile peace of Potiskum

Fri, Jun 25, 2021
By editor


CO authored by Archibong and Munkail Asab was published in Firstnewsonline on 14th April 2021. This was followed by a second article with the caption THE TRAVAILS OF FIKA EMIRATE IN POTISKUM authored by Archibong was published in the Blueprint Newspaper of 14th June, 2021. Finally, the duo authored the article captioned THAT POTISKUM PRISON DEBACLE in the 21st Century Chronicle of 15th June 2021. The contents of all the articles are almost the same with minor additions. This write-up attempts to address the issues raised in the three articles combined. Let us say from the onset that the authors have failed to understand that the travails of Fika Emirate in Potiskum are its own making and therefore self-inflicted.It is foolhardy to assume that all its intrigues and machinations to dislodge people it called ‘indigenous’ to the area would be taken in good faith or ignored. The subsequent paragraphs will examine the lies and mischief contained in the three articles and also point out a vital event in the potiskum old prison facility saga which the Emirate, its cohorts and praisesingers deliberately refused to highlight to the general public. First, let us correct the lies and misleading assertions by the Emirate and Archibong. (a) Potiskum as a local and impactless chiefdom. Surprisingly, Fika Emirate admits that there existed the pre colonial Ngizim chiefdom based at Potiskum. It added that the chiefdom was local and ‘impactless’ and despite being the indigenous tribe, the Ngizim or other tribes cannot lay claim of ownership to the Potiskum historic well located in front of the Old prison facility. It was that so called impactless chiefdom that the British patrol visited towards the end of 1902 A.D during the reign of Mai Gabau, the 13th ruler of Potiskum who was sick and sent his representative to meet the British patrol. Following that meeting,the representative, Mai Bundi was confirmed as the 14th ruler of Potiskum with a second class staff of office. To test the veracity of the claim by Fika Emirate and Archibong, we make reference to one of the works of the late Professor John Lavers, an expert in Fika and Bolewa history and an in-law of Fika Emirate ruling class. In his work published in the New Nigerian Special Supplement of 22 December, 1972, Lavers revealed that when the team visited Fika, it recommended that the then ruler, Moi Sule be appointed a third class chief.This clearly indicated that in the opinion of the team, Fika was far behind Potiskum, thus not lending credence to the impactless chiefdom picture advanced by Fika Emirate.


(b).Claim of Bolewa conquering resistance by Ngizim and Karai Karai


Fika Emirate claims that in the quest to form a central administration in Potiskum, the British moved the Emir of Fika from Fika to Potiskum in 1924 and the enthronement of Fika Emirate and Bolewa leadership was met with resistance by the Ngizim and Kare Kare who were conquered by the Bolewa tribe. From pre-colonial times, the sources have not recalled instances of war between the Ngizim of Potiskum and Bolewa of Fika. However, there were cases of joint campaigns against Fika enemies. When Buba Yero of Gombe waged wars against Fika, the Ngizim of Potiskum on the strength of request from Fika fought alongside Fika troops and that assisted in no small measure in addressing Gombe menace against Fika. The section of Fika Town today referred to as Nga Nguzum is a testimony to this fact. It is inhabited by descendants of troops sent from Potiskum to assist Fika defend itself against attacks from Gombe but were requested to stay permanently for fear of recurrent attacks. In the 1915 resistance in Potiskum, the main target was the British and the reorganisations they introduced which subordinated Potiskum chiefdom to Fika. It was British firepower which was decisive in defeating that resistance, recapture of Potiskum and subsequent judicial action against those perceived to be the leaders of the uprising. Fika Emirate should provide the time, place and reason(s) for the war in which they conquered the Ngizim, if any. Afterall, it has admitted that the ‘Ngizim tribe appeared unrepentant, unbulged and resolute in their agitations at various dimension till date. The explanation that the British invited the Emir of Fika to Potiskum for administrative convenience and socio-economic development of the area has racist undertones. It reminds of the civilising agent hypothesis. There is no evidence that the relocation was at the instance of the British colonial power. Some of the writers on the issue described it as ‘abandonment’ which the Collins English Dictionary Online gives the meaning as ‘to leave the place…permanently or for a long time, especially when you should not do so. Oral sources suggest that the transfer may not be unconnected to the intra struggles among the Fika ruling family especially between Lawan Sulyman who settled temporarily at Mamudo expecting to be appointed the next Emir after the death of his father, Moi Disa and Muhammadu Idrissa who eventually got appointed to succeed their father. Due to the tension in Fika, the new Emir developed the habit of travelling to Potiskum where he had some European friends to rest, which he continued to do until the unilateral and unsanctioned decision to finally abandon Fika for Potiskum in 1924.


(c) Claim that Potiskum story is akin to the Ilorin and Afonja dynasty Fika Emirate and Archibong claim that while reality has been accepted in Ilorin for mutual co-existence, the Potiskum story is being exploited dangerously. First, it is not correct to say that the realityin Ilorin has been accepted because the descendants of Afonja have continued to protest over what they call the injustice meted out to their forefathers at any fora which cares to listen to them. The analogy between Ilorin and Potiskum case is mischievous because the circumstances and facts are not the same.In the case of Potiskum both the British and Fika Emirate were external forces.Malam Alimi was said to be an itinerant preacher who settled in Ilorin and was providing services to Afonja in his struggle against Oyo. So were the fulani as well as Hausa and Nupe slaves.They had become integrated into Ilorin society.Prior to 1924, how many Bolewa had settled and become fully integrated into Potiskum society? Did they come in with the consent of the indigenous Ngizim? At some point in their relations, there developed a problem between Afonja and Mallam Alimi or his descendants leading to the death of the former and the enthronement of the latter as rulers of Ilorin. One of the arguments made against Afonja descendants is that they never ruled Ilorin. The same cannot be said of Potiskum. When the British arrived the area in 1902 A.D. the thirteenth ruler was on the throne and they confirmed the fourteenth ruler and gave him a second class staff of office.Fika Emirate had never conquered Potiskum and like the British,it was also an external intruder who was never welcomed.


(d).Threats and assassination attempts against the 43rd Emir of Fika It is shown that the 43rd and current Emir of Fika Alhaji Muhammadu Abali Ibn Muhammadu Idrissa was threatened and his installation ceremony nearly suffered a stalemate. He also escaped assassination attempt by a suicide bomber who Fika Emirate discovered to be of Ngizim extraction. The problem with installation ceremony arose due to complain from Pataskum Emirate Council that the venue of the ceremony was located in Dogo Nini village area of Kasugula district of Pataskum Emirate. There was fear that the encroachment was deliberate in order cause a breakdown of law and order which could then be used against Pataskum Emirate. After intervention from various quarters, the issue was resolved and the ceremony went ahead successfully. Fika Emirate has been trying to link insurgency activities in the area to some ethnic groups or the case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. From all indications, investigations carried out did not bear their allegations out.It is now obvious that insurgency is not about ethnicity or religion. However, they should tell us when and who discovered that the suicide bomber who made an attempt to assassinate the Emir was an Ngizim and whether, if it is true, the entire Ngizim are rendered culpable because of his misguided actions.


(e.) Old prison conflict as a manifestation of the age long annexation plan against Fika Emirate.


Fika Emirate and Archibong believe that the old prison issue is a plan crafted to annex the Emirate by subtle means. They claim that the prison is situated in an area known as Anguwar Bolewa, an area alloted by the Yobe State Government to the Emirate as Kara District. It should be observed that the old prison and its surrounding is located in Bunduri ward and not Anguwar Bolewa as they want us to believe. A casual check shows that Bunduri is under Lailai District and not Kara district. The issue involved here is not annexation but that of traditional institutions remaining in their ancestral areas founded and handed over to them by their forefathers. Agreed, two Emirs cannot stay in one town.The Emir of of Fika should go back to his ancestral land in Fika and solve the numerous problems facing the town. The Emir of Pataskum is already in his traditional domain as founded and handed down by his forefathers.


(f.) Claim that the approval to Fika Emirate was given by General Abdulrahman Dambazau, the former Minister.


Fika Emirate claims that the approval for ownership of the Old Prison facility in Potiskum was given by General Abdulrahman Dambazau, the former Minister of Interior. However, the letter of approval dated 2nd October,2015 was conveyed by the Personal Assistant to the Permanent Secretary on the latter’s behalf. Gen. Dambazau reported to the Ministry after inauguration in November,2015. He could not have given approval on the matter over a month before his inauguration and posting to the Ministry of Interior.In the light of that, the circumstance under which the approval was given is itself suspect.It should be noted that Fika Emirate itself kept the approval a closely guarded secret but that did not hide the fact that some people were, from time to time, seen taking measurements at the facility. The delay in acknowledging unusual activity at the facility was to make sure that suspicion alone was not the basis for action. Subsequently, the Emir of Fika himself visited the facility personally and that was followed by a release of photos of the visit and a statement that Fika Emirate was the new owner of the facility. It was at that point that the complaint was filed.


At the beginning of this piece, I indicated that there was one vital thing which Fika Emirate and Archibong deliberately omitted in their write up. A complain was also submitted to the National Human Rights Commission alleging violation of cultural rights which are also human rights. In response, the Commission convened a meeting with all those affected by the matter namely Federal Minstry of Interior, Nigeria Correctional Services, Fika Emirate Council and Pataskum Emirate Council.At the meeting held on 16th December, 2020, Fika Emirate tried to stop the meeting on the ground that since it was a complain on cultural rights, the Commission lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.This objection was overruled when sections of the Act setting up the Commission were read which clearly showed that it had jurisdiction to listen to the complain. The Ministry of Interior said it had written to Fika Emirate conveying the Hon. Minister’s approval to convert the Old Prison facility into a female Correction Centre. He added that the letter was delivered and duly acknowledged. He was asked to submit copies of that letter to the meeting which he did. The Nigerian Correctional Service also reported that based on the directives from the Ministry,it had despatched the contractor to site to start work. To its dismay, some hoodlums chased away the contractor and work was stalled. Throughout the meeting, Fika Emirate’s three man delegation never raised any objection to issues raised. There was satisfaction that consensus had been reached to allow Correctional Service continue with its project. This outburst by Fika Emirate therefore defies all sense of reason and it is this kind of tactics it uses to keep on prolonging peaceful solution to conflict in the area. This is why the only language it understands is to be sent back to its ancestral home in Fika. Government should hasten to oblige her so that we will be saved from senseless threats.


Mansur Abubakar Sadiq, writes from Sabon Layi,

Potiskum, Yobe State and can be reached on mohbilan@yahoo com


– June 25, 2021 @ 09:20 GMT|