From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) at the weekend lampooned the Gombe State Governor, Mr Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya over what it termed a needless delay in confirming the selection of Dr Musa Maiyamba as the new Mai Tangale, the traditional ruler of the Tangale clan of the State.
The MBF at a press conference in Abuja noted that the delay has upset the hitherto peaceful atmosphere in the area, as it appears the Governor, who is a staunch Muslim is allegedly plotting ways to deny the newly chosen Mai Tangale, Dr Musa Maiyamba, a strong Christian, the chance to rule.
Dr Bitrus Pogu, President, MBF, called on the Governor desist from interfering with traditional matters so that the people can prevail in choosing a Mai Tangale irrespective of religion.
He said: “If the late Mai Tangale was a Christian and he worked with the Governor, whether it is a Christian or Muslim the people want now, it is not the business of the Governor to interfere with tradition. It is the people’s tradition. If it is the population that matters, everybody knows the Tangale people are predominantly Christians but even in Kathulgo, the traditional ruler is a Muslim and they are living with him and the other parts of Tangale lands have traditional rulers who are Muslims.
“But these people decided to elect a Christian this time, what is the problem with that? It is not a political but traditional position”.
Already, tongues are wagging as the Tangale Community Development Association has alleged that the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, may have influenced his Gombe counterpart to anoint a Muslim, hence the delay in announcing Maiyamba as the new Mai Tangale.
Also speaking at the briefing, the Secretary General of Tangale Community Development Association, Abuja branch, Mr Simon Brief, called on the Governor to do the needful by announcing Maiyamba as the new king having scored 5 out of the 9 votes cast by kingmakers.
Brief lamented that the Governor’s recent actions appear to relegate Christians in the state to the background.
He said: “Apart from the appointment of (a Muslim) Hakimi of Hudu Kwaya which is predominantly Christian, when it was time to constitute his executive, the most senior lawyer (Christian) who was supposed to be the Attorney-General of the State was given the Commissioner for Special Duties. What Special Duties? When the head is loaded and was recently confirmed Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Barrister Mela Nuge.
“Here comes again the time to appoint Chief Judge of the State because the tenure of the former one elapsed, he (governor) appointed an acting, which was supposed to be the most senior judge, Justice Beatrice Iliya. She was denied. As the time for acting elapsed, he kept appointing same person, NJC, NJI went into the issue and as I am talking to you now, she has not been confirmed as the Chief Judge of the State and she is a Tangale person and now this issue of Mai Tangale.
“We heard of the news of a certain Governor from a neighbouring state, which came to the State and when I asked which Governor, they said he was Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State. There is an adage in Tangale which when interpreted in English means – if an elephant has medicine for purging or diarrhoea, she should start treating herself first. How come your state is on fire and you have the effrontery to advise another State Governor who is living peacefully with his people?
“After the exit of el-Rufai from Gombe State, it is becoming tough for the Governor to act on his own because his mind was now corrupted by the appearance of his friend,” Brief said.
While condemning the violence that trailed the protest over government’s delay in announcing new Mai Tangale, Brief stated that the people of the area have been living peacefully irrespective of their faiths and warned against instigation of religious crisis in the land.
He added :”This struggle is not an issue of religion because the immediate past Mai Tangale was a Christian, who got elected after a Muslim died and that Muslim inherited a Muslim seat, Dr Iliyasu Maiyamba, then came Tafida Iliyasu Maiyamba all Muslims.
“We have never had it bad. We never fought ourselves because a Muslim or Christian is the one coming and it won’t happen this time around except somebody wants to instigate it, and we dare say that any effort or attempt to truncate the will of the people will be met with serious resistance.
“We are ready, we are not a fighting community but when you are pushed to the wall and you don’t have anywhere to escape, you have to push back to get a road to escape”.
Also speaking, an elder statesman and Gombe State Chairman of the Middle Belt Forum, Keftin Amuga, said the Governor’s action in sidelining Christians showed he might be pursuing an Islamic agenda.
“From the feelers I have, I am very suspicious of the motive Governor Inuwa has against our people, because anything which has to do with our people, he tries to bring in an element of religion.
“I am suspicious and to even start believing he is an Islamist Governor. Last year, when there was a vacant seat of a district head, though it is a predominantly Christian area, Hudu Kwaya, he went to appoint a Muslim there.
“When there was the time for him to constitute his administration after being sworn in, by the constitution our local government, he was supposed to be represented by our people, he now took up a settler in Tangale land and a Muslim.
“And this is the third time again, our people voted and this is an area that is 90 percent Christians, our people voted for a king, of the nine kingmakers five voted for Dr Idris Musa Maiyamba, who is a very strong Christian and the two that came far behind him are Muslims”, he added.