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The crowning of Emir of Katagum




“The joy of a dying father is the presence of a worthy successor…” – Late Dan Masanin Kano, Yusuf Maitama Sule


Ali M Ali

History was made last Friday, December 15th, 2017 in Katagum emirate of Bauchi State in particular. The 12th emir was appointed. It was classic. History beckoned, Governor M.A Abubakar, the advocate and respecter of popular will, hearken and Emir Baba Umar Farouq, the kingmaker’s choice, was appointed.
Stripped bare, history is no more than yesterday’s events related today. The past is more or less, the action or inaction of men and women of power who defined or shaped the occurrences of that era. Still, history, is no more than ordinary mortals doing extraordinary feats, of individuals who rocked the boat for good or bad, and often changed the course of history. Examples abound.
Webster dictionary defines history thus “the study of past events, particularly in human affairs.”
The present is the net result of yesterday’s incidences. And so it was with the selection and eventual appointment of Alhaji Baba Umar Katagum. He was a prince, actually the crowned prince, destined for the throne of his forebears.
Years before the passage of the patriarch and titan that was the 11th emir, the late Alhaji Muhammad Kabir Umar on December 9, 2017, it was manifest that Baba Umar Farouq’s majestic walk to the throne was unstoppable. He had an edge over the others. First he was the eldest of all the siblings. He was also the district head of Shira. In the traditions of Katagum emirate, the occupant of the throne of Shira is more or less, the “king in waiting”. Once on that throne, he assumes the status of the “heir apparent”. Unless due to some unforeseen circumstances, he is destined for the royal plum when a vacuum is created. It ceases to be an “if” and becomes a “when”.
As district head of Shira, one is being groomed to eventually succeed his forebear. For years, the late emir, the colossus that was Alhaji Muhammad Umar kabir who breathed his last on Saturday, was personally mentoring Farouq, the new emir.
The late emir was indeed, a goliath. A rare breed. An icon of statecraft. An old schooled that schooled the new school. He was actually a bridge between the two schools. An oasis in a desert. Sojourners questing for knowledge of the here and the hereafter naturally berthed at this oasis to drink from the fountain.
He walked side by side, with the venerated Ahmadu Bello, the first and only Premier of Northern region.
An embodiment of humility. His life trajectory at once engenders awe and respect.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia, details his earthly sojourn as follows: he was born in 1934 and received his education at the Bauchi Middle School between 1948 and 1949 after which he went to the then Clerical Training College now Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria where he studied local government administration between 1950 and 1951. He later proceeded to UK for another course in local government administration.
He also attended many courses and seminars within and outside Nigeria all in local government administration. Before his selection as the Emir, he had held various offices as Native Authority scribe at the Central Office in Azare in 1949 and then appointed as the District Head of Sakwa between 1952 and 1957, then he became the District head of Katagum in 1955 and in 1966 he was the NA Councillor for Natural Resources and from there he was moved to Shira as the District Head. He was also Minister of State, Premier’s Office, Kaduna (1957-1960), Minister of Internal Affairs, Northern Nigeria (1960 -1966); he had earlier been elected into the Northern House of Assembly (1952-1966) during when he was appointed parliamentary secretary, Ministry of Land and Survey in 1957. Between 1976 and 1978 he was the chairman of Bauchi State Housing Corporation. In the same year, he was appointed chairman of Bauchi State Development Board, Chairman, Board of the Governing Council of College of Islamic Legal Studies, Misau (1986 – 2001). He was also at different times, the Pro-Chancellor, Provisional Council of Federal University of Technology, Yola; Chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and Chancellor, University of Calabar.
As with all history makers, his death at the ripe age of 89, caused shock waves beyond Katagum emirate. Tears flowed in torrents. It created a vacuum difficult to fill. This is more against the backdrop of the 37 years he spent on the throne. But not to worry. A worthy successor was at hand – Alhaji Baba Umar Farouq, the district head of Shira
Even before he was appointed officially, the social media was awash with the news of his ascension. I was inundated with calls. Each sought to confirm if the rumour was true. Some of the mongers spoke with authority. They cited tradition to back up their argument. The late emir ascended the throne nearly 40 years ago after being district head of Shira. The eventual successor too, is eminently qualified and prepared for the job at hand. He is the oldest male of the children of the departed monarch. He is a retired federal permanent secretary. He is the choice of the kingmakers. Except for two contenders, all his siblings rooted for him.
The kingmakers presented three names to the government as required by law. History beckoned. Governor Abubakar did the needful. He lived up to his reputation of doing the right thing at the right time. He hearkens to history and affirmed the choice of the kingmakers. And their Baba Umar Farouq was announced as 12th emir. History again, has been made!

•Ali is a Special Adviser on Media and Strategy to Governor Abubakar of Bauchi

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Child abuse: The silent epidemic



In Nigeria as is in many other African countries, a child is regarded as the property of the community. However, in recent times it appears the community is no longer able or willing to care for the well -being of their ‘property’ as every day children are being abused and broken. A slew of sexual predators keep emerging and are constantly launching attacks on the Nigerian child. BIWOM IKLAKI reports…


According to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2015, one in four girls and one in 10 boys in Nigerian had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. But that was in 2015, we are made to understand that the numbers are not so low any more.


According to Christianah Akindole, a Child Safety Advocate and Founder of the Christianah Faith Foundation, which is an organisation that creates awareness and educates people on Child Abuse; the numbers are much higher.


“My team and I started with awareness and prevention nine years ago, but here we are doing crises response. It has been hectic for my organisation in the past three months; maybe these abusers have decided to go on rampage this year,” she said.


She cited many cases of child sexual abuse that her organisation has been called to work with and each is more pathetic than the last.


“First a father has been abusing his four-year-old daughter since last year. The sad thing is that the mother of the child is aware but the pastor had begged her to forgive him, she didn’t report and the abuse continued.


It took an observant teacher to report the case. Unfortunately, the child already has STD. Thankfully, the man is in prison now,” she added.


The Christianah Fate Foundation is one of a handful of NGOs like Child Protection Network of Nigeria, Mirabel Centre and others that are devoted to educating and being the first responders in these situations of child abuse. They approach the education holistically by organising workshops where they educate the parents on prevention, signs of abuse in their children or wards and how to identify predators.


They also train teachers in schools and churches because sometimes, the children are more open with them. They empower the children that no one should touch their private parts and what to do if this happens; because the adults may not always be with them and when they are alone is when they are most vulnerable.


In a workshop held recently by the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) where issues of gender and sexual based violence were addressed, Director of the Directorate of Citizens’ Rights, Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Clara Ibirogba, who spoke about genderbased violence, child abuse as well as sexual assault, said all the issues are public health issues


“In Nigeria, there is a rise in cases of domestic violence and child abuse, not because there is an increase in the crime, but because more survivors are coming forward and there is more reporting (in the media) of such cases.” She explained some reasons for the reluctance of survivors to come forward as “associated stigma, confidentiality, privacy and fear of repercussions”.


The Deputy Superintendent of Police and former Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos State, Dolapo Badmus, who is a passionate advocate of the sexually abused, as is evident on her social media, was also a resource person. She took her lecture from the police angle.


She lamented the difficulty for survivors to report cases of violence and abuse because most of them are perpetrated by family members. In some cases, the survivors are coerced to pull back by things like cash, beverages and food items. Sometimes even parents of survivors tend to shield the perpetrators from the hand of the law because they do not want the family name to go to ruins.


So it is obvious that there are more cases out there than are reported even though the reported cases seem to be alarming lately. On best practices by the media, she cautioned on the need to report these cases with a sense of responsibility rather than seizing it as a chance to win awards.


Dr. Olive Ogedegbe, a Clinical Psychologist, spoke on the psychological aspect of Sexual Gender Based Violence which include but are not limited to emotional imbalance; in which case the child would be withdrawn, prone to violence, timid, low self-esteem and tend to internalise domestic violence as the best way to handle conflict. Mrs. Akindolie cited a teenage girl who was brought to her because she had slit her wrists attempting to commit suicide after going through harrowing experiences.


“The girl had suffered so much abuse and could no longer handle the physical and psychological trauma, she wanted to die.” On what may be responsible for the increase in cases of child abuse, Mrs. Akindolie opined: “Many parents don’t have time for children anymore due to economic demands and making ends meet. They delegate duties to relatives or domestic staff who often take advantage of the children.


“There was a case of a man who abused five children; three were his relatives. People are too unaware and trusting. It should not hurt to be a child.” Also, the trend of internet and pornography after watching these, predators would pounce on the children.


The five abused children said he showed them these videos before turning on them. Parents allowed their children to be too accessible. On the way forward, Mrs. Akindolie lamented that the job has been left for only NGOs. The government has not been too supportive except for Lagos State which is more pro-active in terms of enacting laws to fight the scourge.

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Red Ants clear out ‘illegal invaders’ from Jo’burg properties



The Red Ants are a South African private security company specialising in clearing “illegal invaders” from properties. Two, sometimes three times a week, a convoy of trucks drives out of the gates of a sprawling farm in Gauteng province, carrying hundreds of men and led by “officers” armed with shotguns and handguns.


The company is rarely out of the headlines in South Africa and has been repeatedly accused of crimes ranging from theft to murder. It is fiercely criticised by human rights campaigners. But the attitude of the general public is more ambivalent – and the Red Ants themselves are fiercely loyal to each other and their employers. “We are a family. We look after each other … We have built a community,” says Johan Bosch, the farmer who founded and owns the company.


A lack of adequate housing is one of the most toxic legacies of the apartheid regime that governed South Africa for nearly 50 years. Families, migrant workers, students and homeless people pay middlemen for plots on wasteland around Pretoria and Johannesburg or in derelict buildings in the cities’ centres. Local authorities show little sympathy and say they have to enforce the law. Their chosen enforcers are the police and, to provide the manpower for evictions, the Red Ants.


Fattis Mansions was once a fashionable 1930s block of flats in the heart of the banking and legal district in Johannesburg. Wealthy, mainly white, residents fled Johannesburg’s centre during the late 1980s and early 1990s, leaving hundreds of buildings to be taken over by poor migrants from rural areas. Four hundred people shared three taps. There were no toilets or electricity. The city authorities have been clearing these “hijacked buildings” one at a time for years – often using the Red Ants.


The operation, involving 600 Red Ants, begins in the early morning, without warning. Wailing police sirens fill narrow streets. The Red Ants pour through an entrance, then proceed on rusting iron stairways and down filthy corridors. There is no resistance. The pushers, gang leaders and the rent extorters have gone. Rubbish, furniture, mattresses pile on the roadway outside.


The singing starts, low and purposeful, as the Red Ants work. Children are carried out, followed by distressed mothers clutching salvaged belongings in plastic bags. Most adults knew this would happen one day. For those too young to understand, the sky has fallen in.


Who are the men in the red overalls? They come from impoverished small former mining towns, from distant provincial villages in parched mountains, from Soweto, from hardscrabble neighbourhoods half hidden amid the urban sprawl of Johannesburg. Most are young.



Many are without basic educational qualifications. Some have criminal records. A few are former convicts. All are poor. They are paid the equivalent of $10 (£7.50) a day, plus some food. Many are squatters themselves.


One left neighbouring Mozambique to work on building sites but has struggled to find employment. “My wife said get a job … so I did,” he says, shrugging narrow shoulders. Another says he has siblings to feed and clothe and send to school: “No one likes doing this … But I go to church every Sunday and pray for my soul and I know my Lord is watching over me, even here.” All say they feel sorry for the squatters but “work is work”.


In charge are older men whose own life stories are intimately intertwined with the complex, troubled history of their nation. One fought in the 80s in the South African defence forces in cold war battles in Angola. Another, a former police officer from Soweto whose family was deeply involved in the struggle against apartheid, say his career ended when he denounced corruption. He says his work reminds him of his time in the police. He now suffers from chronic insomnia.

First you see the smoke, above the dry hills and the scattered corrugated iron homes. Then you hear the noise. If the operation is going well, it is that of a work site: hammers rhythmically striking metal, straining diesel engines, work songs, radios, and shouted orders. If the operation is going badly, the noise is of a battle: shattering glass, rocks striking plastic shields, stamping feet, shots, sirens and screamed abuse.


Sikhumbuzo Dlamini, a Red Ant leader, watches 650 men, equipped with crowbars and shields, and all dressed in identical red overalls and helmets, move through an illegal squatter camp on the ragged outskirts of Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. “We always win. We have to win … we are on enemy territory. We are a long way from home,” Dlamini says.


One incident prompts a slew of new allegations. The Red Ants are hired to clear squatters from land where a shopping complex is due to be built in Lanesia, on the southern outskirts of Johannesburg. The operation starts in the early morning. But the squatters are ready and fight the Red Ants with machetes, rocks and staves.


The eviction stalls and the Red Ants withdraw. Two squatters lie on the ground. One is dying from head injuries, the other is dead. Under a tree, huddled in a plastic chair salvaged from her makeshift hut, a widow sobs. The violence prompts investigation by private security industry regulators. The Red Ants deny wrongdoing.

Red Ants are injured, sometimes even killed. Kervin Woods died when land invaders opened fire in Lenasia South. The Red Ants said community members stabbed him, some using screwdrivers, after he fell to the ground. Preparations were made to set fire to his body when Red Ants started shooting, dispersing the crowd.

Woods’s funeral takes place in Soweto. The dead man’s aunt weeps, comforted by a handful of family members and neighbours. But this is primarily a Red Ants funeral. Senior leaders salute the coffin and deliver short eulogies before the rank and file sing hymns as the coffin is closed. Then, as a guard of honour, they follow a hearse to a cemetery where they sing as each takes a turn with a shovel to pour dry soil into the grave.

Handguns and shotguns are fired into the air in a final salute before the Red Ants return to their buses and their base for a memorial meal. Within days, they are out on another clearance operation.

South Africa is a fractured land. It is optimistically known as the Rainbow Nation, a reference to the diversity of its communities. But in a rainbow, the colours remain separate. The most striking divide in South Africa is economic. The Red Ants are on the frontlines of a conflict between those with land and those without, the haves and the have-nots, the winners and the losers in one of the most unequal countries in the world. During their 12-hour days, they are on one side. But when their work is done, they return to the other.


•Courtesy: The Guardian

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APC with Adams Oshiomole: A time Bomb



One need, no microscope to identify the serious crack on the political wall holding the All Progressives Congress (APC) together as a political party already caused by the outcome of the various concluded congresses of the party; but the singular issue that may finally seal the coffin of the party is if those forcefully pushing for the chairmanship of Adams Oshiomole the immediate past Governor of Edo State.


Oshiomole is a good man and very strict on principles no doubt about that, but his chairmanship of APC at this time is a time bomb.


Everybody is aware that those pushing for his candidature are not doing so for the general interest of the party but for their selfish interest haven felt under Oyegun, the outgoing chairman, that they were not given a free hand to manipulate the party to their wishes.


What these people seem not to realize is that APC is a conglomerate of varying interests and in order to for the party to succeed all the various interests must be harmonised and accomodated at every given time which is what Oyegun led National Working Committee were doing.


The time frame between now and the Party’s National Convention slated for june could be a golden opportunity for the party to make the necessary corrections that would save them.


APC is on the brinx of total collapse if care is not taken; if those pushing forward Oshomole are not curtailed or stopped completely. If the APC stakeholders, both the high and the low are correctly and currently feeling the mood and pulse of the members, maybe they would understand the situation and carefully avoid the “tsunami” that might hit the party should those pushing Oshiomole for chairmanship succeeds.


Majority of the members across the nation are aggrieved for one reason or the other and the outcome of the various congresses have excalated the greviance in the various quarters; the only thing that can save the situation is the choice of a chairman that would be open and accessible to all interest parties.


Who would be the next chairman of APC is the only miracle that can save the party. Its is not a hidden fact that a National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his camp are the ones behind the candidature of Adams Oshiomole. This group has blackmailed President Muahmmadu Buhari into submitting to their demands and desires in controlling the Party as that is the only way they can support the Presidents re-election bid.


The President looking helpless seems to be agreeing with them. This group being beclouded by their selfish interest failed to accommodate the other interests in the party and this can only bring doom to the party even before the election. For APC to succeed, all various interests must be carried along in the choice of the next chairman.


Other groups feeling intimidated by the Tinubu camp with the President’s reluctant support are just silently waiting for the party and of cause President Buhari to make the mistake by installing Oshiomole then they will explode the bomb and bet me that would be the end of APC as a party.


Come to think of it, with the wealth of experience that Oshiomole has acquired over the years as a former governor, won’t it be better the President appoint him a minister in one of the serious ministries like Power or Labour or Transport, those areas that we have so much deficiencies to help rejig his administration. Instead of a mere Party Chairman won’t ‘Osho’ be better off serving this nation on a wider scope?


Pushing the Comrade into a toothless APC chairman is a monumental waste of a great human resources. He should be given the opportunity to serve Nigeria on a higher level.


Yes, he is one of the foundation pillars of the party, but should we use the palm oil meant to eat a full chicken to eat only the tiny legs? What the ruling party needs at this point is somebody who is completely neutral from the interest game going on in the Party.


Its a critical time for our dear APC and every effort should be made to avoid stepping on the landmines planted all around the party. The mood of Nigerians is not in the favour of the Party at all and crowning with excalated internal rangling would be suicidal. With the Comrade as chairman the party would be heading to the grave not even the gutters. Consensus must be reached to accomodate all the various interests at the National Convention. Somebody like Clement Ebri, a one time governor of the old Cross River should be looked at.


He has integrity, he is neutral; strong willed; experienced and above all efficient. He does not belong to any camp and he is a very good manager of people. With Somebody like Clement Ebri, every nerves in the party would be calmed because its sure every interest would be at ease.

Ebri will receive acceptance among all the stakeholders and members alike. He is a perfect gentle and a true leader. This is the kind of consensus candidature that APC should be pursuing at this juncture. Knowing very well that Comrade Oshiomole is being projected by the Tinubu camp, how would anybody expect the Saraki camp to accept him? What about the interest of the nPDP, how are they sure of their future in the Party?


And many other interests right down to the various states, local government areas and wards. I pray that the APC stakeholders would come to their senses and do the right thing to save the situation for some of us that look up to the party to bring a good change. I pray that APC won’t come from their record breaking achievement as the first party to take over power from an incumbent President to being the shortest ever lived political party in Africa. A stitch in time they say, saves nine.


I call on the President also to please think about the mistake that is about to happen and find a way of convincing the Asiwaju camp to realize the implications attached to the Oshiomole chairmanship. I believe they will see reason. Clement Ebri is very a very accommodating gentleman who will surely protect all the interests in the party in such a way that the party might survive and continue to shine. Let common sense prevail and may the change in leadership be a positive change to all members.


Long Live APC.


Dr Lawal, is of the APC North Central

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