Ethnic conflicts in Nigeria have attained a situation of pervasive phenomenon. It has turned Nigeria's urban and rural communities into battlefields and killing grounds. For instance the Ife-Modakeke communal conflicts of Oyo/Osun States 1999; Hausa/Fulani and Kataf of Zangon Kataf in Kaduna State 1999; Ijaw and Istekiris of Warri in Delta State, 1999; Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba ethnic conflicts in Oyo and Lagos States respectively, 1999/2000; Jukun/Chamba and Kuteb, Jukun and Tiv in Taraba State, 1998/1999; Igbakwu-Omor, Aguleri and Umuleri communal conflicts of Anambra State 1999.
The question to be posed here is why has the Nigerian state not sufficiently demonstrated any capacity to manage ethnic conflicts. Majority of these ethnic conflicts have political, economic and religious roots and connotations. However, ethnicity has become the only major logical recourse and expression of conflicts that are actually rooted in other structures of our society in Nigeria rather than ethnicity.
As observed by Sam Egwu, a lot of reasons have been attributed to the rise of ethnic conflicts in Nigeria, amongst which are: the increasing process of globalisation and democratic projects; worsening economic crisis and social injustices and inequalities; the re-emergence of neo-liberal ideology of market reforms and the attendant erosion of state legitimacy and capacity to manage these conflicts which have all led to the resurgence of individual groups under new ethnic chauvinism. The add-effects of these, of course, in political competition and struggle for political power in Nigeria, is violent destruction of lives and property to tunes of billions of nairas (Nigerian currency), stagnation of economic activities, social disorder, and refugee problems, as in the recent Kaduna crisis, February 2000; Lagos, Imo, Anambra and the Niger Delta area. Sam Egwu argued that there is structural or organic relationship between the crisis of adjustment on the one hand and the intractable problems of ethnic and other conflicts on the other. He also identified the unevenness guaranteed by the modernisation process, the very nature of the Nigerian state and the struggle for state power as major incentives to ethnic conflicts.(3)
The main assumption is the inability or weakness of institutional response to ethnic conflicts is a product of elite struggle, that is intra-elite rivalry to control the people through divide and rule style. The hypothetical issue is that the problem of ethnic conflicts in Nigeria appears to be seemingly intractable because of power play amongst the elite. Hence, the elites are fanning the embers of ethnic conflict to foster their class interest. The institutional forces deal with the crisis per say without identifying the forces, that is the real actors in the crisis who are always never identified. This is largely due either to the fact that the state knows the elite or those elites control the state.
One of the major problems of the post-colonial state in Africa has been their inability to manage ethnic conflicts successfully. This is rooted in Africa's colonial legacies inherited from colonialism. The no-colonial forces of weak economic base, political instability and problems of social integration have remained the main feature of the neo-colonial state.
2. Theoretical Conceptualisation of the State, Ethnic Conflicts and Institutional Response
The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeosie.(4)
And that political power as expressed is "merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another(5)" class. This view is more often referred to as the classical Marxist position on the state. However, in the post-colonial states of Africa and elsewhere, the problem of the relationship between the state and the underlying economic structure is more complex then is as expressed in the classical Marxist conception of the state in the European society. In colonial societies the process was significantly different. (6)
The imposition of colonial rule and state by the metropolitan bourgeoisie and its attendant contradiction embedded in exploitation of the colony led to a bourgeois revolution in the colony which led to the establishment of a bourgeois state, and the attendant legal and institutional framework.
bourgeoisie created a state apparatus through which it exercised dominion
over all the indigenous social class in the colony. This event led
to the development of a 'superstructure' in the colony which was 'overdeveloped'
in relation to the 'structure' in the colony. The basis of this
was in the metropolitan structure itself which was later separated from
the colony at independence. (7)
Hamza Alavi therefore argued that:
The post-colonial state and society inherited that over developed state apparatus and institutionalised practices used in managing and controlling the affairs of the indigenous social classes. The basic problem of the post-colonial state stems from the fact that it was not created by an ascendant indigenous bourgeoisie, rather by the foreign imperialist bourgeoisie, which continues to extend its influence on the post-colonial state after independence because of its links with the bureaucratic, military and political elites. Together, they constituted a powerful element in its class structure. (9)
where the apparatus of the state does operate under democratic form of
government in the post-colonial state "the political leaders occupy the
highest offices in the state, formally invested with authority over the
bureaucracy and military." (10)
This puts the politicians and political parties at the center of a complex
set of relationship because their relationship with the bureaucratic -
military oligarchy is both competitive as well as complementary.
The competitive facet of is greater where politicians who occupy high
public office influence greatly the careers of individual members of the
bureaucracy or the military. (11)
Overall, there has always been an oscillating situation between accommodation
as well as tension or conflict amongst the political leadership and bureaucratic
- military oligarchies.
The African state (more particularly the Nigerian state) as a power was implemented by the use of force through the elements of European imperialism arising from the needs of European industrial capitalism. Colonialism dissolved the traditional states in Africa, through violence and conquest, thus African States, particularly Nigeria, lacked the benefit and advantage of inherited traditions of governance. The contemporary African state inherited essential characteristics of the colonial state which was exported to Africa, fused together in related institutions which consist of mainly instrument of violence and coercion and they follow sequentially: (a) the military and police; (b) the judiciary (c) the bureaucracy. The parliamentary assemblies were only added as apparatus with only advisory capacity. (14) So Peter Ekeh concludes that "The modern African state, weaned out of colonial rule, was launched on violence and subversion." (15) This is more so because, the state and society have since independence continued to grow apart rather than converging. The state therefore suffer from legitimation problem.
In another related discourse, Mathew Hassan Kukah (Rev.) revealed that most states in Africa were the "products of arbitrary colonial arrangements." (16) This accordingly explains the endless debates, conflicts and bloodshed about internal and international borders which have become major source of instability in Africa. (17) Reverend Mathew contends that:
when the state fails to continue to serve as a platform for the individuals to attain their potentials, human beings tend to find alternative means of creating a sense of belonging. (Therefore) disengagement then sets in as men and women adopt new survival techniques ranging from belonging to armed gangs, cults and extreme religious or cultural groups, or they adopt false nationalist agendas cast in tribal and religious moulds. They then begin to unleash all forms of terror on the state, its citizens and agencies........ (18)
These strengthens the position that the Nigerian state was created as "a predatory state and (based on a Hobbesian Politics (which) ruined the prospects of development by spreading alienation, resentments, inefficiency and corruption", as observed by Claude Ake. (19) Therefore, the Nigerian people are politically disenfranchised and set upon by state violence, thus they no longer are available for supporting the state or its development project. The people have now retreated to ethnic or communal identity and local concerns. (20)
Theory Of Societal Conflict And Social Dis-Integration
The principal argument of Pareto, Mosca, and Michels was that in all societies past the bare subsistence level there has been and hence presumably will be in the future - one or a few small sets of the dominant, ruling elites. Regardless of the formal nature of the government - authoritarian, monarchal, or democratic if we examine the true distribution of power we inevitably find oligarchy of the few over the many. (21)
That is the elite groups constitute a very tiny percentage of the total population. But because of the economic and political powers of the groups, they control the rest members of the society.
Marvin Olsen also observed that:
Elites employ whatever social and cultural means are at their disposal to maintain their power and rule society, including such methods as control of the government or the economy, use of police and military forces, absorption (or cooptation) of threatening challengers, manipulation of mass communications and education, and creation of legitimizing myths and values. (22)
These elites largely influence several aspects of social life, and to a great extent shape the structure and activities of the entire society. These elite groups are the cream of society which sets the pace for societal development and determines the rewards and punishment for participation and non-participation in social, economic and political activities.
Each profession, occupation and life endeavour has its cream of official and unofficial leaders as its elite. Thus, we have economic, political, educational, traditional and military elites. According to S. P. Varma
Pareto (1848-1923) believed that every society is ruled by a minority that possess the qualities necessary for its accession to full social and political power. Those who get on top are always the best. They are known as the elite. The elites consist of those successful persons who rise to the top in every occupation and stratum of society. There is an elite of lawyers, an elite of mechanisms and even an elite of thieves and an elite of prostitutes. (23)
The elites in these different occupations and strata of society more often exist within the same class, that is those who are wealthy, also are intelligent, have an aptitude for mathematics, musical talent, moral character, entrepreneurial, etc. (24)
According to Vilfred Pareto, Talcott Persons and Harold has well, every society has it leaders in all spheres of life, who must dictate the pace of social, economic and political development. These leaders are called the elite who control other members of the society through knowledge, wealth, power and influence. The elites are the prime movers and models for the entire society. Their influence extends to all segments of the society including governmental, economy and international relations. (25)
The elite group take change of the functions of goal attainment, adaptation, integration and pattern maintenance. Goal attainment refers to the setting and realization of societal collective goals such as welfare, economic prosperity, security, education, health and freedom just to mention a few. Adaptation refers to the use and development of effective means of achieving the goals. The means of achieving societal goals include politics, administration, the military and judiciary, and resources. Integration involves the maintenance of cohesion of sub-groups and individuals within a society. Through fair treatment of each group to feel belonging. Pattern maintenance is the efforts of leaders (elites) to keep the society knit together emotionally and psychologically. (26)
According to Claude Ake, the African elite,
Besieged by a multitude of hostile forces which their betrayal of the nationalist movement and their political repression had created, the African elite developed a siege mentality. They became so absorbed in the struggle for survival that they could not pay much attention to anything else especially development. More often than not, the things which they did to hang on to power became impediments to development too. Among other things, they manipulated ethnic and communal loyalties to elicit loyalty and establish common cause with some communuties. (27)
By doing this, the African elites divide the African societies into hostile camps as well as other elites. Thus transforming ethnicity into a violent and highly destructive force in many African communities as experienced in the Jakun/Chamba and Kuteb communal conflicts of Taraba State in Nigeria.
According to the elite theory of societal conflict, as propounded by Pareto et al, a society disintegrates when the elites fail to perform the functions of goal attainment, adaptation, integration and pattern maintenance due to selfish interests or breakdown of corporate interests of the elites. This may lead to formation of new elite groups to replace the old orders. (28)
society disintegrates due to intra-elite war or conflict, members of the
society are divided behind the sub-groups of elites to subdue each other
in order to farm a new society governed by either the winning group or
a new set of groups.
The ruling/political elites of the Chamba/Jukun alliance evolved much earlier in history than those of the Kuteb elites. This basically based on accounts of Chamba/Jukun early contacts with Europeans and by implication early acquisition and exposure to western education. This by extension puts them ahead of the Kuteb in economic and material terms. Thus, the Chamba/Jukun elites greatly made their presence and influence at the state and federal levels of administration. For instance the Chamba/Jukun have more senior military officers, serving and retired than the Kutebs. These officers are believed to be the ones influencing and tinkering with the administration of Takum thereby marginalising the Kuteb. (29)
While the Kutebs who were predominantly mountain people, did not have this advantage of early contact with Europeans. Hence, they had a late start toward western education. However, the Kutebs have always exploited their numerical strength in population over the Chamba/Jukun alliance. The Kutebs often forge alliances during elections with the Tivs, another major group in Takum, to achieve their political ambition of scheming out the Chamba/Jukun alliance in the local political affairs of Takum. Granted that the Kutebs were exposed to western education much later than the Jukuns, they are now rolling out graduates in great numbers over the years in order to bridge the gap, reverse the images of the past, as well as increase their presence and influence at the local and state levels. (30)
Conflict and the Institutional Responses
Conflict, as I. William Zartman observed, is "an inevitable aspect of human interaction, an unavoidable concomitant of choices and decisions." This implication refers to the unavoidable situation in which conflicts arises from social-human relationship in order to meet their basic needs. (31) Stephen John Stedman describes conflict as arising from the interaction of individuals who have partly incompatible ends, "in which the ability of one actor to gain his ends depends to an important degree on the choices or decision another actor will take." That although conflict may result into violence, but violence is not an inherent aspect of conflict, rather a potential form that conflict may assume. (32)
discourse on conflicts, Etannibi E. O. Alamika views "social conflict
(as) a product of antagonistic interest between two or more opposing forces
or groups within the society. (And) conflict may manifest itself
on a continuum ranging from avoidance to warfare between groups at extreme
ends." (33) He further
stated that within these expression of conflicts that others are found
such as criminality, civil disobedience, riots, military take-over (coups),
succession, and terrorism. (34)
Conflicts can be categorised often by their origin, domain of expression,
and issues or grievances that are canvassed as observed by Etannibi.
Nnoli has aided our study by establishing first, the theoretical framework for understanding ethnicity and it relations to other facets of social and political lives. According to Nnoli, ethnocentrism is attitudinal in form and perceptual in content....... the members of a group are ethnocentric when they are proud of it and consequently inward looking. Their attachment to and pride in the group reflect their ethnocentism. (36)
ethnicity, he observed that:
Nnoli then concludes that it is the relationship between ethnic groups in a given polity or society that produces ethnicity. Thus ethnicity often leads to ethnic conflict where one ethnic group feels that it is been dominated by another or subjected to inferior position in the relationship between them.
describes ethnicity as associated with or a consequence of multi-ethnic
Sam Egwu contends that ethnicity is not an abstraction but an ideologically loaded concept, because it does not exist independently, rather it is always being pushed by the forces of class interests or the quest for power. That ethnicity can only thrive under the sufficient condition of ethnic pluralism. (39)
Most ethnic conflicts are associated with or rooted in land disputes. The inter-ethnic or intra-ethnic conflicts often manifest as religions, boundary, political and farmland/grazing disputes between groups within or outside a community. Similarly, ethnic conflicts are variously manifested as chieftaincy, religious, land, native/settler, and political disputes. Most ethnic conflicts are often manipulations for economic motives. The Jukun/Chamba - Kuteb ethnic conflict has its origin on conflictual meaning and ownership of Takum, chieftaincy disputes, mutual feeling of marginalisation, and creation of USSA Local Government and problem of boundaries.
responses refers to that role played by the Federal and State governments
or its agencies such as law enforcement agencies and the pattern adopted
by such agencies of the state in either managing conflicts, resolving
conflicts or bringing it to a terminal end.
What is very apparent here is that the process of institutional response by the state and it law enforcement agencies rather emphasises conflict suppression instead of conflict management and resolution. Invariably, the absence of an attempt at conflict analysis in order to determine appropriate measures for managing and resolving conflicting situations in social relations becomes evident here is the Jukun/Chamba and Kuteb communal conflicts. The conflict has dragged on due largely because of the absence of a decisive intervention from the state or its agencies as shall be clearly shown here. The ruling/political elite have used their influence within the framework of the state to manipulate the conflict to their advantage.
3. State and Institutional Response to the Chamba-Jukum and Kuteb Ethnic Conflicts of Taraba State
Pre-Colonial Settings and Genesis to The Conflict in Takum District Area
Historical accounts point to the fact that Kutebs, with Jukum and Tiv as neighbours, initially inhabited Takum. However, around the period of 1830, the Chamba's under heavy harassment from the Fulani migrated from Tibati region in Cameroon to Takum area. They settled around Jenuwa in Takum. However, Chamba accounts often claim that they conquered and subdued the Kutebs around Januwa and this established their rule over them. What was evidently clear from colonial accounts indicated, "Bands of Chamba who fled from Cameroon engaged in several forms of banditry and even slavery. The Chamba warlords forcefully seized women for wives and created such in-security............" (41)
The pre-colonial Takum, like some of the northern Nigerian cities was walled. The walls provided security to the Chamba as opposed to the hills providing security for the Kutebs. However, in their attempts to occupy Takum, during the first World War, the Germans destroyed parts of the walls. (42) The setting for the conflict between the Kutebs and Chamba/Jukun alliance on the other hand stems primarily from who actually owns Takum township and to a second degree Takum local government area. This also forms the basis of the chieftaincy disputes between the Kutebs and Chamba/Jukun, as well as the ensuing boundary disputes that followed the creation of Ussa Local Government out of Takum Local Government Area.
The conflict over ownership of Takum is tied to the chieftaincy disputes mainly because the centrality of Takum to the conflict is based on Takum being the seat of the chiefdom, in addition, Takum has evolved to the point that each group would want it as their ethnic headquarters, thus enhancing their psychological need, prestige, ego and control of the elites of each ethnic group over the chiefdom.
Colonial-State Response To The Kuteb-Jukun/Chamba Ethnic Conflict
The colonial state responded by introducing a significant political change in the political history of the Kuteb-Chamba relationship in 1912, by creating two districts namely Zumper district for the Kuteb and a Takum/Tikani district for the Chamba. "Each district was headed by a district head, with each head ruling over his ethnic group. Both chiefs resided in Takum, although the Zumper chief later moved to Lupwe, still within Takum." (45)
The creation of these two districts was a direct response of the colonial state to the persistence of Chamba warlords engaged in several forms of banditry and slavery through forceful seizure of women for wives, thus creating a situation of insecurity in defiance of the desire by the colonial authorities to stop the act. (46) The rationale of separate districts for each ethnic group to rule themselves was meant to put an end to the Chamba banditry and slavery menace which was counter productive to the overall interest of the colonial state and by extension its ruling elites. (47)
The creation of two districts as ethnic constituencies for Kutebs and Chambas in Takum finally failed by 1914, mainly due to the persistence of Chamba rulers in raiding Kutebs for slaves. As a direct response to the prevailing menace and state of insecurity, the colonial state, as a measure amalgamated the two districts into one district called Takum in 1914. Similarly, The Colonial State deposed and banished to Ibbi the reigning Chamba chief Yamusa for slavery. The other steps taken to arrest the situation was a creation of Takum Chiefdom from the two amalgamated districts to form a single chiefdom. "Ahmadu, a Kuteb was appointed as a third class chief of Takum and paramount ruler over a newly created Takum Chiefdom in 1914." (48) Moreover this has been the basis of Kuteb claims to the chieftaincy throne of Takum as an exclusive preserve of the Kutebs. The conflict in Takum takes it roots from this period 1914, followed by the events of 1963 and the gazette of 1975 which shall be discussed subsequently. The throne of the chiefdom has been occupied by only Kutebs since 1914, which has created a feeling of deprivation and otherwise because the Chamba felt short change by this.
The Chamba elites have argued that the deposition of the reigning Chamba Chief (Yamusa) in 1914 by the colonial state (British) was an excuse for some deeper political conflict between the British colonial office and Chamba people who had resisted British occupation of Takum and had invited the Germans to Takum. The Chambas argued that Yamusa was deposed by the British for daring to invite the Germans, as they maintained, "there were worst slave dealers than Yamusa in other parts of Northern Nigeria who were left intact by the British. (49)
In spite of these controversies between the Kutebs and Chamba claims, it may be safe to argue that the idea of paramount chief never existed amongst the two ethnic groups. What they had were kindred heads and leaders who presided over the various tribes and clans. The British colonial government created the districts in 1912, thus making the leaders paramount chiefs. The formalization of the two districts into a single chiefdom by the colonial state checked the banditry and slavery of the Chamba rulers and warriors. It is important to note that the Chamba people had their chiefs or leaders in Takum before the advent of colonialism, with their jurisdictions limited to Chamba districts (Tikari), and did not spread into Kuteb districts, because the chiefs were not paramount chiefs. These was the situation up until 1914 when the two districts were amalgamated into a single chiefdom under Kuteb paramount leadership. (50)
Since the1914 creation of the chieftaincy stool of Takum and enthronment of a Kuteb man (Ukwe Ahmadu Gbamkwe II 1912-1926), the Chamba did not concede, but consistently protested in several forms. The colonial administration had always made it position clear since 1914, in respect of which ethnic group should continue to occupy the Takum throne. The chieftaincy stool in Takum in the colonial period has been an exclusive preserve of the Kutebs. In addition, this supports Kuteb, claims that they are the first inhabitants of Takum, whether they resided uphill or down. This was the existing situation and structure up until 1963. (51)
4. The Post-Colonial State Institutional Response To The Kuteb-Chamba/Jukun Ethnic Conflicts
of the Government of Northern Nigeria and the 1963 Gazette
The foregone position of the colonial state that Takum chiefdom was the exclusive preserve of the Kutebs remained the official position of government even after independence. By the period of 1963, Northern Nigeria Regional Government made Laws for chieftaincy institution; the Takum chiefdom included in the exercise. On 28th March 1963, the Government of Northern Nigeria promulgated the Declaration of Native Laws and Customs relating to the selection of the chief of Takum Order. The Order in the Northern Nigeria Gazette No. 24 Vol. 12 of 11th April 1963 - Supplement E, became published. (52)
The Law consolidated the claim of the Kutebs to the stool of Takum as it gave only Likam and Akente families of the Kutebs ethnic group legitimate right to the throne. However, it allowed for the Jukun, Chamba and Hausa to participate in the selection process and reserved the post of the chairman of kingmakers and three other selectors for the Kuteb tribe. The last chief of Takum Alhaji Ali Ibrahim Kufang II ascended the throne in 1963 through the provisions of this Law. (53)
provided for seven king selectors in Takum, and they are:-
This sustained the position of the colonial state on chieftaincy matters in Takum since 1914. From the point of view of the Chamba, the changes made by the colonial state in 1914, was an act of usurpation and the publication of the 1963 Gazette was a culmination and it's wholly unacceptable to the Chambas. (55) The Chamba's described the 1963 Gazette as a political plot made by Ambassador Jolly Tanko Yusuf (Chamba Elite) to secure the numerically superior Kuteb for victory at the polls, using the gazette, based on his proximity to the then NPC regional government of Northern Nigeria and to the Late Sardauna of Sokoto. He became the "Gateway" elite into the Middle-Belt of Nigeria for the Northern government. (56)
In spite of these, the Chamba protestation persisted against what then, believed to be an injustice suffered by their people. Yerima Tikari led these protest for the Chamba ruling houses and they did not stop vying for the throne each time a vacancy arose. On the other hand, "the Kuteb elites believed that even if the Chamba contested (under the 1963 framework), such an act was of no effect given the fact that they were not eligible to do so in the first instance. It must be pointed out that prior to 1963, no Law expressly barred the Chamba from contesting, even though in principle, a Kuteb was expected, even by the British colonisers, to ascend to the throne."(57) The Kutebs have argued that there was widespread consultation involving all stakeholders to be affected by the decision before the 1963 gazette was enacted by the Northern Nigeria Regional Government based on vote of 19 for and 6 against, which restricted the chieftaincy of Takum exclusively to the Kutebs (the Likam and Akente clans). (58) This became the prevailing situation in Takum up to 1975. The 1966 coup and the demise of the NPC Regional Government in the North as well as the creation of new state brought about a dramatic turn to the Kuteb and Chamba/Jukun ethnic conflicts.
of the Benue/Plateau State Government and the Gazette of 1975
It has been observed that instability has been generated in Takum area because of the impression created by some people that the military government will change the existing order relating to the chieftaincy of Takum................ (59)
The letter assured the Kutebs that there would be no change in the process of selection of the chief of Takum.
Two and half years later, the military government of Benue/Plateau state dramatically changed it position on the issue when it issued another Gazette in respect of the selection of the Chief of Takum published in 1975. First it repealed the 1963 Gazette, secondly it made the Chamba families or clans of Tikari and Dinyi eligible to the throne of Takum for the first time since the creation of the chieftaincy throne. Thus, we have four ruling houses, two for Kutebs and two for Chambas. Finally, the 1975 Gazette changed the composition of the king makers by reducing it number from seven (7) to five (5). It made the Jukuns chairmanship of the Ukwe Takum King makers, reduced Kutebs membership from four (4) to two (2) and removed the Hausa membership from the body while retaining the two Chamba membership of the body. The implication is that the Gazette has eliminated the possibility of another Kuteb ascending the throne once a vacancy is created while creating a condition for Chamba ascendancy to the throne because of the Chamba Jukun alliance which will surely feature in the politics of the king-making process by the formation of the body. (60)
The 1975 Gazette attracted Kutebs litigation. The High Court of Justice, Jos and the court of Appeal, Kaduna, heard the cases. The case was dismissed on the grounds that the military governor can revoke an earlier order for a fresh one, and that the matter of chieftaincy was an administrative one and should be settled administratively. The Chambas now use this Gazette as the basis of their claim to the throne of Ukwe Takum - The Chambas see this order as fair and just, while the Kutebs on the other hand regard the inclusion of the two Chambas ruling houses in the Order as an unjustified and baseless incursion. The Kutebs have "attributed it wholly to the large number of influencial Jukuns (elites) in the Gomwalk administration serving in various capacities. They believe that close confidants of the Governor (Jukun elite) used their proximity to the administration to bring about a change of position." (61)
Since the repeal of the Order, the relationship between the Kutebs and Jukun-Chamba continued to deteriorate and manifested itself in hatred, suspicion, mutual distrust and ethnic rivalries. In 1976, there was a violent political clash in Takum, which led to the destruction of lives and properties.
Role of Gongola State Government in the Kuteb and Chamba-Jukun Ethnic
The first local government elections in Nigeria were later conducted in December, 1976. These political developments affected the nature of relationship between the Kutebs and the Chamba/Jukun alliance. The Kutebs for instance, protested over the demarcation of Councillor constitutuencies for the 1976 local government election. "The Kuteb see the demarcation (which they felt did not favour them) as the handwork of the Jukun-Chamba elites who were in government." (62) The 1976 local government elections became the avenue for venting the years of tension and frustrations which have accumulated, and on the part of Kutebs, it became a means of venting if anger over the previous years (1975) Gazette by the defunct Benue/Plateau Government. Violence finally broke out, particularly over manipulation of electoral wards, between 28th to 29th December, 1976. (63)
The Gongola state government responded to the disturbances in the usual manner and approach of responding to conflict situation by state agencies by setting up the Abubakar Girei Committee of Inquiry to investigate the conflict. The panel concluded and submitted its report to the Gongola State Government with the following recommendations:
First that the Jukun/Chamba and Kuteb conflict centered on the chieftaincy stool of Takum, The Panel therefore, recommended that the right to the throne be preserved exclusively for Kutebs, while all the main tribes in the area should make up the king makers' council. It added that the naming of the monarch in the Kutebs language as "Ukwe" was a subject of conflict. The Panel suggested that the title of "Chief of Takum” should be re-adopted to lessen friction. Finally, the Panel identified electoral anomalies as a trigger for the disturbances. (63)
The government was reluctant in releasing a White Paper on this Report. This further lightened the tension. While Chambas dismissed the Committee Report, Kutebs on the other hand were happy with the report but believed that government reluctance to act on the report was an act of dishonesty and refusal to pursue the truth and justice. The Kuteb attributed government reluctance to the presence of and interference by Jukun/Chamba elites in the Gongola state Service. As well as blamed key elite military officers of Jukun/Chamba extraction at the Federal level for exerting pressure/influence on the federal and state governments and thus the inaction of government on the committee report. (64)
In 1979, there was a transition from military to civilian administration in Gongola State under the Great Nigeria People's Party (GNPP). The ethnic rivalry between the Kutebs and the Jukun/Chamba became manifest in political affiliation. The Kutebs joined the Great Nigeria People's Party en-mass while the Chamba-Jukun embraced the National Party of Nigeria (NPC). Due to their support for the GNPP led government in the state, in 1981-1982, Ussa Local Government was created out of Takum local government. Majority of Kutebs were under the new Ussa local government and there were a large presence of Kutebs in Takum. However, the military take-over of government in December 1983, abrogated all local governments created by the previous civilian governors in the various states including of course Ussa local government. (65)
Under the new military regime, the military governor of Gongola state set up the Suleiman Gurin Committee of Inquiry, a response to the rising tension in the Takum local government area. Sole Administrators then administered the local government. In 1984, the sole administrator of Takum, Kaigama a Chamba man wrote, a petition against the Ukwe Takum, a Kuteb man. This, the Kuteb interpreted as an attempt to implement the provisions of the 1975 Gazette of the former Benue/Plateau state. This brought about rising tension and disturbances that led to the emergence of the Committee of Inquiry. (66)
The birth of tribal politics brought about suspicion between the tribal groups. This accounted for the suspicion by the Kutebs that the Jukun/Chamba elites in high places were influencial to the nullification of the election of Dr. Andokari A. Shiaki, as chairman of Takum local government in 1991. This suspicion was further confirmed, when in 1992 a Chamba petitioned the Gubernatorial aspirations of Dr. A.A. Shiaki. The Kutebs believed that ACP Danjuma Auta and General T. Y. Danjuma, influential Chamba/Jukun elites, were instrumental to the disqualification of the candidature of Dr. A.A. Shiaki. (67)
Role and Response of Taraba State Government to the Kuteb and Chamba/Jukun
government did not act on the recommendations of the Committee.
Hence, the two communities continued on a path of mutual hatred and suspicion
of each ethnic group spear headed by the elites.
The Taraba State Government also set up a Peace Committee in 1998 headed by the Taraba State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Adamu Aliyu. This Committee brokered the temporary peace and cessation of hostilities still enjoyed by both ethnic groups. Before this, the military administrator of Taraba State (Compel) Amen Edore Oyakhire in October 1997 sent a comprehensive brief on the chieftaincy stool in Takum Chiefdom of Taraba State to the Chief of General Staff, General Staff Headquarters, Abuja. Nevertheless, there was no response from government at federal level to the various committee recommendations. In 1998, the Federal Government set up a Federal Government High Powered Committee on Conflicts in Nigeria, to look into various conflicts in the country, which includes the Kuteb, and Chamba/Jukun communal conflicts. This introduces the role played by the Federal government in the conflict. (71)
4.5 The Role of Federal Government, the Creation of Local Government and the Kuteb and Chamba/Jukun Ethnic Conflicts
Fundamental to the creation of states and local governments are the following requirements: Contiguous landmass, administrative convenience, and history of the communities. Thus, Wukari division existed out of Takum Local government in 1976. Similarly in 1987, the democratic government of Gongola State created Donga and Ussa local governments out of Takum. However, this later ones were abolished with the advent of the military regime under general Muhammad Buhari in 1983.
Ten years later, the military administration of Gen. Sani Abacha came into the scene. Within the framework of the transition to civil rule, the Constitutional Conference recommended the creation of more local governments amongst other issues. Hence, the Arthur Mbanefo Panel went round the country to receive memoranda. In Jalingo, Taraba State, the Panel received three proposals all of which advocated the creation of Ussa local government from three perspectives. (72) The first memo, presented by General T.Y. Danjuma (rtd) and four other Chamba/Jukun elites wanted the Kuteb excised from Takum into Ussa. They claimed that Kuteb was oppressing them due to their numerical strength. The second memo by the Kutebs requested that the creation of Ussa local government to rally with the boundaries of the one earlier created in 1981. The movement for the creation of Kwararafa was required to harmonise both position, recommended the creation of Ussa Local government area based on the 1981 creation, and the Mbanefo Panel upheld the recommendations in its report to the Federal Government. (73)
The Federal Government of Nigeria created the Ussa Local Government along the 1981 boundaries upon this basis. A Circular Ref. GHQ/228/PM from the General Headquarters to the Taraba State government created the new Ussa Local Government on March 12, 1997. This came into being three days before the nation wide elections into Local Governments of March 15, 1997. Very interestingly, the Kuteb won the Chairmanship elections in both Takum and newly created Ussa local governments. (74)
The Chamba/Jukun elites protested the election results in a reaction to the developments. They maintained that the newly created local governments three days before elections created confusion, the boundaries were unclear and that many Takumites were not aware that new local governments existed The Chamba/Jukun elites further argued that what they wanted was not a geographical local government rather, one that would make political and representative relevance. While the Kutebs were satisfied with the existing situation, the Jukun/Chamba group became dissatisfied. Hence, in response to the Chamba/Jukun demands based on their influence at the Federal levels, thus dragging the federal authorities deep into the conflict. The federal government on the 28th of April 1997, issued another Circular adjusting the boundaries between the two local governments in favour of the Chamba/Jukun desires. This new boundaries came about mainly because of the Chamba/Jukun elites pressure and lobby at the federal government level. This inconsistency in policy by the federal government certainly erodes its creditability as an impartial arbiter in this conflict. Communities that demanded to be in Ussa Local government were pushed out and those who wished to be in Ussa or Takum suffer the same fate. These communities protested in writing to both the state and federal government. This adjustment, the Kutebs believed, was an attempt to further alienate them from the traditional ruler ship of Takum and implement the 1975 Gazette. Unfortunately, the federal government had itself dragged into the conflict situation by the elites. (75)
In response to this particular crisis and others of similar circumstances, the federal government under late General Sani Abacha, set up the Justice Danlami Rabiu's Boundary Adjustment Commission. The Commission was to visit areas where boundary adjustment had created problems. However, before the Commission could visit Jalingo, Taraba State capital, the Federal government ordered the dissolution of the elected councils of Takum and Ussa local governments, incidentally led by Kuteb Chairmen, while the federal government went ahead to implement the boundary adjustment ordered in April 1997 by the Circular issued and signed by Major General Lawrence Onoja. This policy inconsistency and the haste in implementation have seriously eroded the role of the federal government in this conflict as an arbiter. The Kutebs believed that the Chamba/Jukun elites had exerted their influence to reverse federal government policy based on committee reports and recommendations.
4.6 Institutional and Administrative Limitations Created in the Jukun/Chamba and Kuteb Ethnic Conflicts
One of the major remote causes of the re-occurring conflicts in Takum is the non-implementation of recommendations of previous committees and commissions or panel reports set up by both the state and federal government. This has become a major institutional failure and administrative inability on the parts of the state or its institution to resolve issues related to the conflict in both the past and present.
A lot of this institutional failure and administrative inabilities of the Nigerian state, attributed to the influence of elites in both ethnic groups. While the Chamba/Jukun elites have been able to use the federal institutions to reverse the policy of government, the Kutebs rely on their numerical strength and influence at the state level to either subvert or stall federal incursion in the area. Hence, we continue to witness a perpetuation of the conflict mainly because of elite leadership tussle over Takum.
of committee and commission or panel reports have greatly led to a sense
of frustration on both sides of the conflict. The Kuteb on their
part believed that government is in the habit of setting up panels of
inquiry into disturbances, only to do nothing with the reports of these
panels. This is so mainly because most of these panel reports in
one way or the other tend to be more favourable to Kuteb inclination.
Ever since the warning ethnic groups laid down arms for peace, resulting from the initiatives of the peace committees at both state and federal levels between 1997 and 1998, a situation of "fragile peace" is obtainable presently. This situation of "fragile peace" was obtained largely because of a false hope and confidence each group nurse that they will be favoured by government's decision when it implements the recommendations of the 1998, Hon. Justice Adamu Aliyu Peace Committee of Taraba State and the 1998 Federal Government High Powered Peace Committee.
These feelings can be attributed to the believe in each group that their elites will influence and tilt government decisions to their favour. (78)
It is evident that each ethnic group through its elites are confident that their lot will be improved by the anticipated outcome of government decision. This situation has probably helped to sustain the fragile peace experienced currently in the conflict situation. However, government at the state and federal level has maintained silence up until this moment even after receiving the reports of the two committees. Government intentions are not clear in maintaining silences. This pushes us to the conclusion that government silence is because of the pressures exerted on it by the conflicting elites from the ethnic groups involved. Hence, government silence does not remove the potential of a return to violent conflict situation, the youths involved in the violent conflicts are yet to be demobilised and weapons used are still very much in the armoury of the two communities. (79)
here has been that the inability or weakness of institutional response
to ethnic conflicts is a product of elite struggle. Moreover, intra-elite
rivalries to control people through divide and rule rather had perpetuated
the conflict situation and incapacitates institutional response.
The ethnic conflict between the Chamba/Jukun alliance on one hand and the Kuteb on the other hand centers on who was the earliest inhabitants of Takum; claim to chieftaincy throne; who ruled Takum first; Kuteb or Chambas; who controls land; creation of local governments and boundaries issues; finally the role and responses of the various governments in the conflict.
accounts points to the fact that:
here is that government silence on the issues involved will not solve
the problem. It has to take decisive actions and steps to resolve
the conflict. Government at the state and federal level must come
out with concrete policies on the conflict prejudices and biases, such
that would uphold governments important role as an institution of the
state by creating an enabling environment for peace. In doing so, government
must address and resolve the following contending issues in the conflict:-
Fundamental to the crisis is the issue of chiefdom. Therefore, Government must immediately establish the fact that before colonialism, there was no chiefdom. Instead, the various warring only communities had village head leadership, giving cognizance to the fact that the chiefdom was a colonial creation for colonial administrative conveniences. Therefore, historical facts must take precedence. In addition, on the ownership of Takum, initial inhabitants must be recognised first. But this is not to say that other ethnic groups who have come to settle their well over a hundred years can not have a say in the affairs of the area, and not necessarily the Chambas and Jukuns even the Hausas, Tivs, and other ethnic groups irrespective of their numerical size, as long as they have inhabited an area for well over hundred years and have become part of the history of the place should be able to have a say in the affairs of the area. This bothers on the fundamental problem of National Integration of various ethnic groups who now reside in other parts of Nigeria. In the light of the above, a National Policy for national imaging should be evolved within the larger framework of Nigeria to resolve the issue, minority and ethnic rights, Religious rights as well as other Fundamental rights.
of land, the study strongly recommends the elimination of each village
territorial limits and each community should be shown its limits to minimise
conflicts on hand. While each village head should be properly educated
on the procedure of land acquisition as contained in the Land Use Act
of 1976 and other related Laws.
In respect of cultural festivals, it is recommended that it should be abolished in Takum, until such a time that a condition of peaceful coexistence finally reigns in the district. While traditional and cultural festivals are to be limited to villages outside Takum district, within the limits and confines of the various villages. This is to be done in order to preserve our cultural heritages such that it would not be lost to time and conflicts. Moreover, it must be strictly limited to the various ethnic villages and under security permit.
In the light
of the above, the issue of local government creation should be handle
for a lasting peaceful situation, the youths of the various warring factions
should be demobilised and given re-orientation towards peace coexistance
and its benefits. This can only be attained through the creation
of Vocational Centers by joint action of state and federal governments.
While on the whole, a Joint Security Commission should be established
to disarm the youths and to collect the arms in the armory of the various
communities. This can only be the final step, if only government
defies the pressures of the warring elites and re-enact its role as a
partial and final arbiter of conflicts in Nigeria.
Footnotes & References
2. See Sam Ewe A The Political Economy of Ethnic and Religious Conflicts in Nigeria@. In Festus Okoye (ed), 1998, Ethnic and Religious Rights in Nigeria. Human Rights Monitor, Kaduna, Nigeria, pp. 15-37.
12. View Peter Ekeh: 1985l AThe African State and the African Crisis: paper presented at the first symposium of the Special Committeeon African of the United Nations University, held in Nairobi, Kenya, 4th - 7th March.
Refer to Marvin E. Olsen, op. Cit, pp. 114-122. See also Peter C.
29. Refer to shedrack Gaya Best (DR):@ Communal Conflicts Management: The Jukun/Chamba-Kuteb Conflicts in Takum, Taraba State@, A Research Report conducted under the auspices of Academic Associates Peace Works, Ikeja, Lagos. Funded by the British Council in Nigeria. December, 1998. Pp. 22-27.
31. See Stephen John, Stedman, 1991. A Conflict and Confliction Resolution in Africa: A Conceptual Framework@ in Francis M. Deng and I. William Zartman, (ed), 1991, Conflict Resolution in Africa. The Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., pp. 369-370.
33. See Etannibi E.O. Alemika, 2000; A Sociological Analysis of Ethnic and Religious Conflicts in the Middle Belt of Nigeria@. In Ethnic and Religious Rights. A quarterly publication of Human Rights Monitor, Special Edition, edited by Festus Okoye, April 2000, Kaduna Nigeria, p. 4.
41. Shedrack Gaya Best (DR.) Op. Cit, p. 4. The accounts were also reflected in the work of Rima Shawulu, 1988. A The Politics of the Ethnic and Religious Conflicts of Taraba state@ in Festus Okoye (ed) Ethnic and Religious Rights in Nigeria, Human Rights Monitor Publications, Kaduna, p. 83.
(b) See also, AA Comprehensive Brief on the Chieftaincy Stool in Takum Chiefdom of Taraba State@ by the Military Administrator of Taraba state, 1st Oct. 1997. To the Chief of General Staff, General Staff Headquarters, State House, Abuja, pp. 1-5.
The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author
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celles de l'auteur