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Insecurity: The Continuous Unprovoked Attack on Mada Chiefdom by Reuben Rine

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The Mada people of central Nigeria are predominantly domiciled in Nasarawa State, with Akwanga as their seat of power, housing the paramount ruler.

They are generally peace-loving people who are mainly farmers with vast, fertile and productive farmlands.

Over the years, the Mada people housed strangers from different parts of Nigeria, especially their closed neighbours and also the Hausa-Fulani traders and Herdsmen. Most of these strangers carry out their activities (trading, farming and herding) unrestrained, and had over the years married from within the Mada people.

Furthermore, most of these settlers are now regarded are indigenous people, enjoying every right and privileges attached to been a Mada person. It is of interest here to note that the just elected governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. A.A. Sule is a product of this benevolence by the Mada people.

In spite of the few skirmishes and misunderstandings between the Fulani Herdsmen residing in different communities within the Mada Chiefdom over the years, no major crisis was recorded between the indigenous people and their guests.

Akwanga town, Andaha and other major communities within the Mada Chiefdom have long become refuge and places of succor to those displaced by the lingering Fulani Herdsmen attacks on communities in Southern Kaduna, Plateau State, southern parts of Nasarawa State and even Benue and Taraba States.

Over the last years, settlers (most notably the Fulani herdsmen) among the Mada people who have eaten fat from the land freely without any form of intimidation, disdain, and harassment have turned themselves into becoming enemies of their host communities.

These, they initially started in form of robbery on rural roads, deliberate destruction of farmlands and crops, contamination of major drinking water bodies, rape and confrontational land acquisition among others.
Not long enough, the atrocities by the Fulani Herdsmen against the Mada people translated into unprovoked attacks and killings of farmers, locals plying rural roads most especially in the night (since Mada people are known for nocturnal social events), rape and theft of farm produce to mention but a few.

Most recently, spores of Mada people were fortnightly attacked or maimed or killed or raped or on rare occasions taken hostage by suspected Fulani Herdsmen. These continuous acts of violence against the Mada people span through different communities within the Chiefdom.

One of the recent and widely noised violence against the Mada people occurred March 28, 2019, when suspected Fulani Herdsmen ambushed a teenager, Joy Danlami (19) with her younger siblings as they return from Katanza, a neighbouring village to Mante, their village. Although her younger siblings, Patience (16) and Aboy (14) escaped with gunshot and machete wounds, Joy was kidnapped, raped and brutally killed by the suspected Herdsmen.

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After the ambushed, the suspected Fulani Herdsmen later attacked the entire village of Mante, Nindan and Katanza burning and rampaging houses and properties. Hundreds of people fled their homes for safety following attacks by the suspected Herdsmen on the three communities. The displaced persons took refuge in Andaha and Akwanga town, the headquarters of the Local Government Area.

Most recently, about 16 people were gruesomely killed while several others sustained various degrees of gunshot injuries as a result of an unprovoked attack by suspected Herdsmen while celebrating the birthday party of a young boy in Numa village of Akwanga LGA on Sunday, April 14th. A pregnant woman, the celebrant with his parents, and an aged person were among the dead.

Are these continuous and unprovoked attacks on the Mada Chiefdom by suspected Fulani Herdsmen that had long settled within the Chiefdom? Or by the invading Fulani Herdsmen? Or better still, is it a joint league and connivance by the former with the later?

Suspected Fulani Herdsmen attacking neigbouring southern Kaduna communities were reportedly revealed to have come from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State. If that is true, by virtue of the proximity of the Mada Chiefdom with the southern Kaduna region, one may wonder if such ‘foreign mercenaries’ are gradually infiltrating the ranks of the Fulani Herdsmen long settled within Mada Chiefdom.

READ ALSO:  Understanding the Ruga Settlement Program and its Rash Acceptance by the Nasarawa State Governor

Communities and towns from Plateau State en route southern Kaduna, and from southern Nasarawa State into Benue State have long suffered from severe, coordinated and gruesome attacks by suspected herdsmen. These continuous unabated attacks on the indigenous people are obviously genocidal in nature.

The Mada Chiefdom and the Akwanga zone of Nasarawa State has been the only relatively peaceful terrain in-between the earlier mentioned States and areas.

With these unprovoked attacks gradually becoming more frequent and bloodier, one may wonder whose script the attackers are acting within the middle belt. Is this a case of subtle, sophisticated and coordinated annihilation of the indigenous people of the middle belt?

Since these suspected killer Fulani Herdsmen don’t live in the space or some celestial bodies, the onus now lies on the security organizations to swiftly fish them out and do the needful.

“A stitch in time saves nine.”
I’ll like to conclude this piece by calling on the government at all levels to urgently rise to their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and properties. Our people must not continue to live in fear, timidity, and danger.

Mada Chiefdom must not be further stained with blood bath. We don’t need IDP camps in our land. Also, all Mada sons and daughter must now come together to proffer solution to this evil perpetrated in the land.

 

Written By
Reuben Rine
kalomovaah@yahoo.com

 

 

 

The article below does not represent the opinion of Nasarawa Focus.

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Health

COVID-19 & Disability: More Than A pandemic by Aaron Akpu Philip

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𝘾𝙊𝙍𝙊𝙉𝘼𝙑𝙄𝙍𝙐𝙎 𝘼𝙉𝘿 𝘿𝙄𝙎𝘼𝘽𝙄𝙇𝙄𝙏𝙔: 𝙈𝙊𝙍𝙀 𝙏𝙃𝘼𝙉 𝘼 𝙋𝘼𝙉𝘿𝙀𝙈𝙄𝘾

In 2011, the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO) teamed up to produce the “World Report on Disability”. This was the first report of its kind that highlighted the issues faced by Persons with Disabilities. Laudably, the report made recommendations for actions in the inclusion and prioritisation of Persons with disabilities or persons who are differently-abled. Although there is still debate on how to address Persons judged to have disabilities, that is not within the remit of this article. For the sake of this piece, I will use “Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)” (Person first language).

The World Report on Disability mentioned that 15% of the world’s population experience disability. To put this in perspective, it meant one billion people have one form of disability or the other.

The “Foreword” of the report was written by Professor Stephen Hawking, a renowned astrophysicist who suffered from a motor neurone disease. At the age of 22, when Prof. Hawking was diagnosed, he was projected to have only a few years to live. Yet, despite being in a wheelchair for the best part of his adult life, he led a successful academic, professional and family life. He died at the age of 76. Although the success of Prof. Hawking can be attributed to his drive and passion, credit also goes to his family and community for providing him with the support to have a quality life. Without a supportive society, the growth of persons with disabilities will be stifled.

In the field of disability studies, two dominant models have been used to describe disability. While the Medical Model of Disability explains disability to be a medical condition that needs therapy or treatment, the Social Model of Disability argues that disability is an avoidable barrier that is placed by the society in the lives of persons with impairment. I have come to align myself with the social model of disability because it puts the onus on the society and not on the person with an impairment. In other words, if a person with a physical disability is not able to climb the stairs in a public building, it is not the fault of the person but the fault of the society for not including ramps or lift during the design of the building. As a result of issues like this, Persons with Disabilities have been marginalised across all sectors of the economy.

In Nigeria, research puts the figure of Persons with Disabilities to be between 20-25million. Although the authenticity of this figure can be contested, it provides the basis for reference. Nigeria ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and its Optional Protocol in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

However, despite several years of advocacy, it was only in January 2019 that Nigeria signed into law the “Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018”. This means that Nigeria has committed to ensuring the welfare and inclusion of Persons with Disabilities across all sectors of the society. Although it took too long for this to happen, Nigeria has shown a positive step in meeting the obligations of the UNCRPD. During all this time and to this very point, Persons with Disabilities have had little or no access to adequate healthcare, education, employment or livelihood because the Nigerian context remained discriminatory towards Persons with Disabilities.

The stereotype which has become internalised by persons with disabilities is almost as if “a person with physical disabilities is condemned to begging for alms on the street” while a person with intellectual disabilities is dubbed as a “Mad Person”. While we all lived our lives without marginalisation and restrictions, persons with disabilities have been living with the “𝙋𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙘 𝙤𝙛 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙘𝙧𝙞𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣” all their lives.

At this challenging time where the world and country is trying to cope with the pain of the Coronavirus pandemic, persons with disabilities have been in the lack of food, jobs, education and clean water for a long time. This is not just starting for them. This is “MORE THAN A PANDEMIC” for Persons with disabilities.

In the wake of this pandemic, the Nigeria government through the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and other bodies have cited figures of the “so-called” poor Nigerians who are receiving stimulus packages to cushion the effects of COVID-19. Unfortunately, very little is seen or heard regarding Persons who face a double Pandemic (persons with disabilities).

Thereis no better time for Nigeria to show the significance of the disability law it signed. This is the time to prioritise Persons with Disabilities in all parts of the country. Although the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs have been seen to be in touch with the “Coalition of Disability Organisations (CODO), more deliberate and aggressive steps are needed to cater for Persons with Disabilities.

I applaud many private individuals and development partners who are already working tirelessly to support PWDs at this time. I urge all in this space to deliberately include PWDS in all plans of support at this time. While this might not be treating the “Cause of the Causes”, it is what is needed at this time. Hopefully, after this pandemic is over, we will not forget in a hurry that there are persons among us who have always been suffering from the “Pandemic of discrimination”. It is hoped that we become more conscious of the presence of persons with Disabilities and reconfigure our thoughts and societies to suit differently-abled persons.

This is a call for the Nigerian Government (at Federal,state and local Government levels) and us all to prioritise persons facing the double pandemic of Coronavirus and disability. Let us move from just signing the law. Let us honour the law at this time of COVID-19. There is no better time.

Aaron Akpu Philip,
Doctoral Researcher/Sessional Academic,
School of Public Health & Social Work,
Queensland University Of Technology (QUT) Australia.

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COVID-19: Presidential Silence and Hypocrisy

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In elementary public health, it is common knowledge that the benefits of disease prevention far outweigh those of disease treatment, both in terms of cost and the improvement of quality of life.

This would have easily been applied by the Nigerian government in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to save money and the lives of its citizens. But as expected, those in the helm of affairs would prefer us to have a taste of the virus before appropriating huge sums which will eventually be cornered by them and their cronies for their aggrandizement.

With Nigeria’s weak and convulsive healthcare system, the government had all within its powers to save the nation from the present global commotion. In the first place, COVID-19 could have been prevented from entering the shores of Nigeria or worse still, the index case could have been well handled to prevent the progression or impact of the disease in the country while mounting robust surveillance and combative measures in our ports of entry to manage every suspected case without jeopardizing the safety of the larger society.

Although the present measures set up by the government are commendable, they came as mere afterthought aimed at “softening” the impact of COVID-19 while spending much on treatment and control of the further spread of the disease. With over 1000 cases of COVID-19 spanning through 40 African countries with over 20 confirmed cases in Nigeria, it’ll take concerted efforts to overcome this disease both in Africa and Nigeria.

While across the globe are taking full responsibility addressing and continuously updating their citizens as COVID-19 pandemic surges on, Nigeria’s Buhari seems to be missing in action. President Buhari seems to be mentally removed from any situation that does not serve his interests, even when the safety and wellbeing of Nigerians are at stake. His antecedence shows that he is bored with Nigeria’s problems and can no longer summon empathy. His inability to visit the site and victims of the recent Lagos explosion is a typical example. Also, his belated visit to Benue in the wake of the 2018 massacre of over 70 citizens allegedly by his kinsmen, the Fulani herdsmen came after a continuous outcry by individuals and civil societies.

The world over, governments are issuing incentives in the form of tax breaks, delayed tax payments, interest rates cut by financial institutions, cash handouts, stimulus packages, subsidies on foodstuffs, special allowances for frontline medical personnel, loans are restructure and reschedule with moratoriums, leniency in facilitating the import of raw materials, parts, and accessories with the suspension of stamp duty tax, rents are waived, essential services are provided at no cost and delay land-use fees for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Till date, no word even an unofficial address came from president Buhari despite the COVID-19 global crisis, soaring security challenges, devastating fire outbreaks and disasters in Nigeria. Tireless efforts by public health experts and other high-risk medical personnel working directly with COVID-19 patients and suspected cases were not even commended by Mr. President.

Measures taken to protect our lives and our fragile businesses, and the stepwise distribution patterns of the purported 1.1 trillion naira released by the Central Bank of Nigeria as a result of COVID-19 were not even explained in detail by Mr. President. Also, the “fraudulent” reduction of the pump price of petrol to 125 naira ONLY in the news further lays bare the hypocrisy in government while making Nigeria a joke and a laughing stock.

Incentives were not given to the citizenry by the government despite the closure of schools and the restriction of gatherings (including businesses) in line with global protocols of social distancing to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus. Unlike sane societies, Nigerians are always treated with disdain by their leaders across board and the government and those in charge of affairs are always not prepared for emergencies.

Hypocrisy in both government and governance is second to none in Nigeria. Despite the social distancing policies spearheaded by the government and their banning of social, business and religious gatherings across the nation, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu still called on all Nigerians to attend a public lecture where he intends to speak on Saturday, March 21, in Abuja. “Please find time to join us at the Barewa Old Boys Association, 2020 Annual Leadership Lecture, where I will be speaking on Media and Democracy: Challenge of Journalism.” He went further to write “His Excellency, Governor Nasir Elrufai is expected to chair the occasion, with the Ministers of Defence and FCT as special guests.”

Mr. Shehu’s open invite came despite the three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Federal Capital Territory and the raging suspicion of more suspected cases in and around the FCT and its environs.

This clearly shows the insensitivity in the corridors of power. Both Nigerian leaders and their handlers have little or no regard for the safety and wellbeing of the citizens.

The president’s refusal to address the nation portrays him and his handlers as leaders lacking in knowledge and understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If schools and places of worship are closed, what benefit will a public lecture be in spite of a global crisis? Or is the public lecture an essential service?
It is now well understood that Nigeria has a devious and double mouthed government that don’t practice what they preach.

Though late Mr. President can still address the nation as we await to hear reasons for his protracted silence amidst global crisis and chaos.
God bless Nigeria.
By:
Reuben Rine, a public affairs commentator/analyst
kalomovaah@yahoo.com

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Opinion

Save Toto LGA: Letter to President Buhari, By Mohammad Ohitoto

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Save Toto LGA: Letter to President Buhari, By Mohammad Ohitoto

Mr. President Sir, in writing this letter to you, I am not oblivious of the fact that it is possible you may not have visited the place called Toto LGA, in Nasarawa state. The area is largely an agrarian community of hardworking farmers, business men and women and fishermen.

Toto LGA is also home to a host of solid mineral resources, key among them, the best quality marble in the world – at least a world class researcher/geologist told me this about 10 years ago.

Mr. President, I have traversed the length and breadth of this country as a writer and journalist, I can authoritatively report that Toto LGA is uniquely one community where people have since prehistoric times scorned at the now common practice of demanding money for votes. Our people feel that money for votes is demeaning, and bribe taking is anathema to their culture.

You would agree with me, Mr President, that a community that sells its votes is doomed. It loses the moral right to demand for development projects when government is formed. This is because it has ceded that right the very day it took the bribe before casting the votes.

Without any prevarication, Nigerians must know that if we truly desire good governance in this country we cannot continue the morbid attitude of cash-for-votes as a basis for our choice of leaders.

However, Mr President, you know it is a convention all over the world that in politics, there is a sane but unwritten principle of give and take. When a people work hard to support political actors and have gone through the thick and thin to vote for them, then they may reserve the right to demand for development of their community from the leadership.

In this country, we have seen, in great amazement, a people who refused, against all entreaties, to support or vote the present administration to office but still have the temerity to launch daily social media attacks on the leaders and the administration, while demanding for the highest political appointments in the present administration. In spite of all the vitriolic attacks, this administration has approved and given them roads, bridges and other projects worth billions of naira. As things still stand, they are not done yet until they get an arm!

Mr. President, I would humbly request you to please go back into your political records, dating to 2003. You would discover that the people of Toto LGA have been consistent from then till date in demonstrating their faith in your brand because we believe that Nigeria deserves to break away from the cankerworm of corruption, security crises and the poor infrastructure which defined the way things were done for so long. We saw in you that capacity to tackle the ills of our society and proffer sustainable solutions. Today, there is evident that this administration is leading the way to reclaim our nation from the enemies within. Our support for you over the years has been justified!

Mr. President, we have been patient for four years to have a feel of the dividends of your administration. It would appear, however, that our patience is not yielding any benefit or resolving our travails as there is no one to present our problems to the appropriate quarters. Thus, we resort to writing you this letter.

Mr. President, our people are highly educated; they can hold the highest office in this country and function excellently but the purpose of this letter is not to ask for political appointments, not because we don’t need them but it would have to be first things, first!

Mr. President, Sir, I am a living witness to the huge investment this administration has made in infrastructure development across the six geo-political zones of this country in the past four years. The people of Toto LGA request that you kindly give unto us also a piece of the action by considering the re-construction of the Abaji-Toto-Nasarawa road.

The Abaji-Toto-Nasarawa road has remained neglected by past administrations. This road, passing through a combination of rich agricultural and solid mineral zone, is highly beneficial to Nigeria’s economic development.

This federal road also has the advantage of providing an alternative route for, especially, heavy duty vehicles and other commuters in the North-South movement and vice versa, thereby reducing the stress on the Abaji-Abuja-Keffi road.

In its current poor state, the Abaji-Toto-Nasarawa road has turned to a nightmare for the communities living there. Already, armed robbers, bandits and many other shades of criminals, taking advantage of the deep potholes, have made life hellish for the innocent inhabitants and other users of the road. Mr. President, please do this road for us!

I believe, Mr. President, one of your agenda, which is to tackle insecurity, is well worth it. All over the world, crime rates are on the rise; Nigeria is not an exception. The heat the Nigerian Armed Forces have turned on is winning, especially in the North-east conundrum. It would appear, however, that bands of bandits fleeing the heat have found in Toto, an operational base. Our people are regularly under attack. Kidnappers now visit at night to pick humans away, like chickens, from their houses and mindlessly demand ransoms in millions from poor folks; failure which the victims’ lives are wasted. Mr. President, beef up security in our communities because we know you love this country and you have the capacity to bring back sanity.

Lastly, Mr. President, Toto LGA is one of the most populated LGAs in Nasarawa state. And the influx of visitors is daily on the increase, probably owing to the proximity of Toto to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. We request the siting of a federal institution of higher learning here. Tertiary institutions have opened up communities and brought ripple development opportunities to hitherto small enclaves. It is our plea, Mr. President, that your kind consideration to site, at least one institution here, would bring life-changing opportunities to our communities and our people.

Mr. President, we know for a fact that you are a caring father and an uncommon leader because you have, in more ways than one, demonstrated a rare sense of respect and love for the common man and his aspirations.

I am trusting that you will come to our aid, wipe our tears, save us the agony and grant us the aforementioned requests.

Thank you, Your Excellency.

God bless Toto LGA!

God bless Mr. President!!

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!

Ohitoto writes via ohitotohms@gmail.com

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COVID-19 CASE IN NASARAWA
Confirmed Discharged Deaths
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