By Daniel Amasingha
All is not well with Minna Emirate a foremost traditional institution in Niger State. The relative peace enjoyed by the Emirate and by extension Minna, the Niger state capital, is being threatened as the Gbagyi Elders Forum is at war with the Emir of Minna,Alhaji Umaru Farouk Bahago on his recent appointment of 188 village heads and 30 district heads. The Gbagyi Elders’ Forum has warned the Emir to either reverse the appointments or face the wrath of the people..
In a strongly- worded petition addressed to the governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello the Elders called on the state’s chief executive to urgently intervene in the brewing crisis before it snowballs into a full blow intra-tribal war among various Gbagyi factions in the state. The Elders led by former Nigeria Ambassador to Tanzania, Ambassador Zubairu Dada and a Senior special Assistant to former Governor Muaizu Aliyu on Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Awaisu Giwa Wanna and Alhaji Abubakar Bosso in an interview with DAILY ASSET said the failure of the state governor to intervene in the issue as a matter of urgency may lead to break down of law and order in the Emirate which is hosting the state capital and major Federal establishments.According to them, the unilateral decision by the Emir to appoint his children and cronies as district, village and ward heads was done in bad taste and has generated bad blood between the original 18 district heads and the newly- appointed 30 district heads as the nine local government areas that constitute the Emirate were not carried along nor the titled chiefs in the various domains that the emir unilaterally decided to expand.
Speaking on behalf of others, Alhaji Awaisu Giwa Wanna noted that since the state government has decided to set up an investigative panel, the committee should look into the complaints with a view to finding a lasting solution to the matter arising and douse the disaffection generated by the exercise. He noted that, the calm and relative peace the committee brought to the Emirate soon after its sitting seems to be waning as “it is currently being replaced by individuals’ and collective despair, as well as restiveness and despondency.”
They warned that, failure to heed to their warning may lead to some unpleasant consequence which may not do any good and urged the government to release the reports of its findings and recommendations as it will go a long way in clearing misconceptions, right the wrongs , and ensure fairness, the rule of law and sustained peace in Minna Emirate.”The Emir’s unilateral application for the approval of Mr.Governor to create new District and village heads to the exclusions of local government councils who alone have the power to do so under section 11 of the Niger State Local Government Law as amended in 2001 runs contrary to the relevant laws of the state”
Alhaji Awaisu Wanna warned that, should the Emir fail to accede to the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the Emirate by making the administration of Minna Emirate more inclusive, then the Governor should dissolve the Emirate as presently constituted and allow the various Chiefdoms the autonomy they have long been denied.
“Out of Minna Emirate, we can create Bosso, Paikoro, Kuta and Minna Emirates after all, they were all distinct Chiefdoms before their amalgamation to form the present Emirate in 1958,” he said. The Gbagyi Elders alleged that the Emir has received the green light from the state government to go ahead with the turbaning of the newly appointed District and Village heads either on the 1st of January, 2018 or the 20th of January an action which they insists may threatened the peace of the state.
Reacting to the threat of the Gyagi Elders, a prominent official of Minna Emirate who crave for anonymity said there was no substance in the allegation of the Elders as the matter is already before a competent court of jurisdiction.
“Honestly I don’t know where they got the information that the Emir is about to turban the District and Villages heads. We have enough security issues on hand, and my prayer is let’s not create more problems for the government as these issues can be resolve amicably without threats.
DAILY ASSET’s investigation revealed that the main grouse of the Elders with Alhaji Umar Farouk Bahago, the Emir of Minna is the fact that allowing the Emir to have his way will automatically amount to entrusting future succession to the throne to the Bahago Dynasty which was actually “a recent creation in 1958” when the Father of the current emir, late Alhaji Ahamadu Bahago was installed as the first Emir of Minna with a gentle man’s agreement that the throne would rotate among the four distinct Chiefdoms that constitute the emirate namely: Bosso, Paikoro, Maikunkule and kuta axis.
However, upon the passing away of the late Emir, the then military Governor of Niger state acting in consonant with then Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida decided to abrogate the edit setting up the Minna Emirate which had as one of its principle objectives the rotation of the emir ship stool, despite protests that the then Government of the day had its way and installed the son of the late Emir , the incumbent Emir Alhaji Umar Farouk Bahago as the Emir in 1987.
Although this initially did not go down well with some Gbagys but, the later shifted their hard line postures towards the emir and embraced him in the interest of peace and development of the people of Niger East Senatorial district until the recent plan by the Emir to appoint about 188 village heads and 30 districts heads,their stand with the Emir is that the appointments negates all known laws in the state and to them the leading Geari traditional ruler is preparing ground for another of his sons to succeed him when he finally bows out.
Their position is reinforced by the posting of the district head to areas where there exists a well laid out structure for such appointments, since all those appointed were single- handily picked by the Emir to do his bidding in their new assignment and may likely continue their allegiance to the Bahagos when the process of selecting a new Emir presents itself.
As presently constituted, the only family that can lay legitimate claim to the Minna Emirship throne is the Bahago Dynasty because the Chiefdoms that gave up their right may have lost out legally speaking to the amendment of the local government and chieftaincy affairs law as amended 2001 which enshrined the rotational principles as part of the requirement to ascend the throne.
In the original law that established the Emirate, it was expressly stated that any of the District head from the 18 chiefdoms that make up the new emirate can aspire to become the Emir of Minna but, since the current emir was not a district head at the time his late father died, the law was abrogated in order to pave way for his ascension of the throne.Alhaji, Awaisu Giwa Wanna alluded to this when he accused the state government of being silent in the face of flagrant disobedience of the law by the Emir in expanding the emirate.
“ How can you post over 90 Village heads to Minna metropolis without any input from wards and the District heads? This kind of thing has never happened before .I think somebody some were wants the Gwaris to start killing themselves since traditional stool issues are very sensitive in this part of the world.”
It was also gathered that in an effort to stop breakdown of law and order some communities in Bosso, Maikukule and Alawa,Gurumana and Paiko axis as instituted over 27 various cases at different high courts in Niger state to stop the turbaning of the new appointees by the Emir as the situation is generating mixed feelings in the emirate.
DAILY ASSET’s findings however, revealed that the ongoing battle of supremacy between some Elders and the Emir is gradually telling on the cohesion and unity of the Gbagyi nationality, one of the largest ethnic groups that constitute Niger state as there are subtle moves to dismantle the Emirate. Observers said there was need for all well-meaning Gbagyi sons and daughter to come together in order to nib this crisis on the bud before it escalates , as it will serve the political interest of individuals to see these ethnic group go into 2019 with a divided house.