A RESPONSE TO HIS EXCELLENCY, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF GOMBE STATE, ALHAJI MOHAMMED INUWA YAHAYA, ON HIS PUBLIC ADDRESS REGARDING THE VIOLENCE IN BILLIRI ON 19 FEBRUARY 2021
Mr. Governor, thank you for the speech and for calling us to peaceful coexistence in Gombe state. We applaud you for emphasizing the need for unity in our beloved state. However, please lend us a listening ear as we seek to understand each other. So far, your speech did not address the key issue at stake.
Regarding point 5 in your speech, there is a discrepancy between you and the Tangale people regarding the interpretation of the Gombe State Law of 2021. Part III Section 3 (p.11) point 10 on Council of Traditional Kingmakers addresses a setting in which the governor had created a new emirate or chiefdom, the responsibilities of the traditional council include the nomination of three candidates from whom the governor chooses the king. That is to be according to the custom and traditions of the people. However, that does not apply to communities or tribes that have an established system of selection and appointment of a chief or emir. Part VI section 1 (p.20) covers the Appointment & Discipline of Traditional rulers. It states that “Upon the death, resignation, removal or disposition of an Emir or a Chief, the Governor shall approve the appointment of an Emir or a Chief on the recommendation of the Council of Traditional Kingmakers of the Emirate or Chiefdom.”
This is what the Tangale people are arguing as relevant to their setting. The kingmakers have done what is in accord with their customs and traditions as the law indicates. The expectation is for the governor to approve the appointment of the candidate with the majority votes. When they submitted the result of the election, they were not asking the governor to choose for them the next Mai, that would nullify our customs and traditions and make the governor the sole person responsible for choosing our Mai. That is why when after two days there was no announcement of the approval of the election, the people got worried and suspicious because they expected prompt action on your part. Remember that even in a situation where there is a new chiefdom or emirate, Section 21(2) states, “the Governor may dispense with the need of recommending three persons if the Customs and Tradition of a PARTICULAR AREA dictate otherwise.” The Tangale customs and traditions have shown a democratic system of election of a Mai, which cannot be rescinded by this law or the governor. Therefore, sir, with all due respect, when you stated in point 3 that, “forwarding of three (3) recommended candidates by the Tangale Traditional Kingmakers, from among whom I will select the candidate to fill the vacant stool of Mai Tangle as the law provides” you were mistaken. The intent of the law is to strike a balance between the role of the ethnic people in choosing their traditional rulers and the role of the state government in approving the choice of the people. This, sir, we believe is where there is a misunderstanding on the part of the state.
Sir, you said, “I undertook widespread consultations, conducted background checks and engaged in personal reflection in order to arrive at a decision that is in the best interest of the people and the state.” But we are saying that it is not your responsibility to choose for the Tangale people their chief. We want to make clear that we will not abdicate our customs and traditions. Beware that we are adhering to the democratic principles in our constitution where the candidate with the majority vote is declared the winner, just as in the gubernatorial election that put you in office. Any action that thwarts the will of the people for political, religious, or selfish expediency is not welcomed. We will always respect the position and role of the governor over the state, but he does not and cannot choose the Mai Tangle according to the law cited above. We will continue to advocate for a dialogue between the state and the Tangale people and ask that people refrain from taking the law into their hands. The violence that took place yesterday was very unfortunate and unacceptable. We are all members of the Tangale tribe and religion had never divided us in the past and should not divide us now.
Finally, you said, “I will do everything within my powers to protect the lives and property of our innocent citizens. We are a people known for our cherished peace and stability. Violence, sectarianism, and extremism have no place in our culture and tradition. Those conflict merchants who seek to profit from this violence by setting brothers upon brothers, families upon families, and communities upon communities, will soon be made to face the full wrath of the law.” We agree with you that lawlessness and violence or extremism have no place in our culture and tradition, especially, the Tangale people. Once again, we condemn the lawless acts of yesterday and those who instigated them. We hope that investigation of the incidence that sparked the violence will be done quickly. We also want to note that the longer it takes to announce the approval of the election, the more confusion and tension is created within Tangale land.
Long live Tangale, Long live Gombe State
Lamela Umaru Lakorok
Tangale Community Overseas
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