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HomeNewsIN MEMORY OF 31ST MAY, 2019: A CALL FOR RESTITUTION

IN MEMORY OF 31ST MAY, 2019: A CALL FOR RESTITUTION

By Awemi Dio Maisamri.

From Saturday 16th February to Friday 31st May, 2019, a total of 104 days, I was in the gulag. Together with eight other Adara elderly scapegoats, we survived the ordeal. With dignity and honour, we took the blame for the problems of our community without evidence to back up the trumped up charges by our accusers. Until reluctantly, the government of Kaduna State under emperor Nasir Elrufai confessed that after three months of witch-hunting, there was no evidence of any wrong doing by us. That was after we had been victimized for being leaders in a community that dared to resist marauding Fulani herdsmen and their sacred cows.

2.So, on 31st May, 2019, we once more breathed the air of freedom but with little hope for justice and real freedom. This was because two days earlier, the emperor himself was just sworn in for his second term of four years. And as it turned out, the emperor used his second term to deepen and widen social injustice, exclusion and polarization. But it did not stop there. At his expiration, he also boldly declared his ambition to proudly bequeath the obnoxious legacy to the hapless people of Kaduna State and even Nigeria as a whole.

3.Thank God, emperor Nasir Elrufai is not God and not all his evil designs shall come to pass. That is why I have not lost the little hope for real justice and freedom. Because of his very low sense of justice, equity, fairness and compassion, the Kaduna State government under his leadership manifested these very deficiencies. Consequently, the government just released the nine (9) Adara elders unjustly incarcerated and continued its business as usual. There was no apology, no regret, no remorse, no sympathy or compassion for the suffering, humiliation and losses inflicted, talk less of any restitution. Perhaps this expectation will be considered as far fetched by most people because of the character of the emperor in particular. Also, the vindictive character of African governance in general provides little basis for better expectations.

4.Even so, it is fatalistic to resign to a culture of self pity, helplessness and impunity. What is right, desirable and even ideal must continuously be our goal, aspiration and inspiration. The wrongful detention of the nine Adara elders and several others in other communities is just one of the many undeniable wrongs that should not be quietly endured by disgruntled victims and their sympathizers. Several other actionable injustices also need to be diplomatically, politically and/or legally redressed. These include the indefensible and malicious scrapping of the First Class Adara Chiefdom and the demolitions and destruction of the livelihoods of already distressed citizens across the state. Others include the open discrimination and exclusion of Southern Kaduna indigenes from governance and his celebrated Islamic and Muslim supremacy agenda.

5.I am raising these issues because it is one year into a new regime. The godfather of this regime did everything to prepare the way for unholy continuity. But like all humans, he will win some and lose some. Part of his loss is that he can never get a person identical to himself to be his heir. And so, by design and default, there is bound to be continuity and change simultaneously. Let me first appreciate the change away from evil ingenuity, unapologetically divisive rhetorics and actions with crude arrogance of power. There also seems to be less insensitivity and lack of compassion and also less overt ethno-religious bigotry. That is just how much change can be gleaned so far.

6.However, victims of the gross misgovernment of the previous regime should not allow tokenism to lull them. Paperwork, verbal and social engagement, body language and small, token gestures of change should be appreciated. But these should not make us relapse and relax. Policy, legislative, legal and executive actions speak louder than words and intentions. It is agreed that current financial challenges in the state will definitely impede swift executive actions. Fortunately, policy, legislative and legal actions (which are some of the immediate remedies our people need) are not capital intensive. Therefore, there are a lot of quick wins and ripe low hanging fruits of this type which the new regime can provide to give us real hope and earn more of our confidence. And, I hope those who are close enough to the new regime will whisper this into the listening (?) ears of government.

7.In a nutshell, we have endured and survived the combined onslaught of uncaring, even punitive federal and state governments. Now, we deserve restitution (and not just relief) if indeed we have more humane leaders now. They should start the processes of reviewing and undoing the wrongs done to us. They should commence the act of making good the things that have been made bad. And they should provide compensation for losses and injuries unfairly and unjustly inflicted. There should at least be a return or restoration to a previous more equitable status. So, what shall the new government (s) offer or give us in return for our legitimate rights lost, benefits and opportunities denied or wealth/assets destroyed? What shall be offered or given in return for the deprivation, dehumanization and humiliation inflicted? Ironically, we are the ones to give the answers. If we say nothing, then we deserve nothing as recompense for the unmitigated catastrophe inflicted on us!!! I pray we will not be too naive, timid or intimidated to make our case for restitution.

8.Perhaps, we must be constantly reminded that the world system will only give us what we demand and are ready to work, fight and even die for. If our struggle, our fight and our sacrifices so far have not given us what we want, then we have to double our efforts or upgrade our strategies. It will certainly be worse if we recoil and start relying completely on voluntary concessions, goodwill, benevolence and philanthropy from our rivals or competitors. If we do that, then we should be ready to make do with less than 5% of our birth rights and our achievements. Therefore, we must continue the hard work, the pressure, the agitation and the struggle for a just society today and a brighter future. This is the moral obligation we owe ourselves and future generations of our kind. Otherwise, Lord have mercy.

 

Awemi Dio Maisamri ,

Former president of the Adara Development Association, @awemidiomaisamari

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