By Femi Oyelola
When Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i, announced last week that he would continue to sack workers, and embark on demolition of houses and other structures in the state until the midnight of May 28, 2023, many residents of Kaduna didn’t take him seriously. Some thought it was a joke, while others simply described the pronouncement as an empty boast. He “served” that notice precisely on May 20th in a public statement.
But just one day after, the reality of the threat dawned on them as El-Rufai matched his words with actions to present unpleasant parting gifts to some residents of the state.
The first set of Kaduna residents to receive the governor’s bitter gift were members of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky-led Islamic Movement of Nigeria, (IMN), as bulldozers were rolled in to demolish property belonging to the sect across the state.
It was gathered that the property is among the 48 marked for demolition by the outgoing governor.
Confirming the incident to our Correspondent, the Spokesperson for the IMN, Abdullahi Musa, said government officials led by heavily armed security operatives began the demolition exercise in the early hours of last Sunday.
According to him, the structures demolished included schools, hospitals, and residences belonging to IMN members.
“The government went further to Maraban Jos, where it demolished a registered Fudiyya Nursery and Primary School completely.”
Musa noted that all the schools demolished by the governor were duly registered with the State Government.
Next to be presented with this surprised parting gifts was the former Governor of the State, Senator Ahmed Muhammed Makarfi, as El-Rufa’i revoked the Right of Occupancy (RO) of nine properties belonging to the former governor, and the property marked for demolition.
The official notice of revocation was addressed to the Director of Cane Properties, Plot 11, Murtala Square, Doka, Alhaji Ibrahim Makarfi.
Listed among the affected property, were five plots in Mogadishu, three plots on Kwato road and one plot at Doka, all within Kaduna metropolis.
The letters of revocation and withdrawal of R of O, was signed by Mahmud Aminu, Registrar, Kaduna Geographical Information Service, (KADGIS).
The Gbagi Villa Community in Chikun Local Government Area, of the state was the next on the list of victims, as bulldozers were also rolled into the community on the 23rd May amidst tight security and the government immediately commenced pulling down structures.
However, the Gbagi Villa community members fiercely rejected the gifts, as women and youth of the area barricaded the roads and started throwing stones at the bulldozers in deaperate efforts to stop the demolition.
In response, security personnel started shooting into the air to scare off the protesting community members who remained adamant and this action forced the bulldozers to pull out of the community with a promise that they would return to continue the demolition exercise. This is the rejection of the unpleasant gifts from the governor by the community.
The governor’s gifts vary from demolition of houses to deposition of traditional rulers. Accordingly, two traditional rulers of Piriga and Arak Chiefdoms, Jonathan Paragua Zamuna and General Aliyu Iliyah Yammah, respectively received their unpleasant gifts from the Governor as they
were deposed from their seats by the outgoing governor.
A statement signed by the Commissioner of Local Government, Hajiya Umma K Ahmad, stated that the two traditional rulers ceased to hold their respective offices from Monday, 22nd May 2023, following recommendations from the Ministry of Local Government in line with the provisions of Section 11 of the Traditional Institutions Law No. 21 of 2021
According to the Commissioner, the traditional ruler of Arak chiefdom was deposed for an unacceptable response to a query by the state government over an unauthorised appointment of four district heads and his non-residence within his domain.
She added that the traditional ruler of Piriga was removed because of communal clashes between Gure and Kitimi communities and also his non-residence within the chiefdom.
‘’The District Head of Garun Kurama, Mr. Babangida Sule, will oversee the affairs of Piriga Chiefdom, pending the appointment of a new chief, while the Council Secretary has been directed to initiate the process for the appointment of a new Chief.”
With barely 48 hours for governor El-Rufa’i to vacate Sir Kasim Ibrahim House, fears of the unknown have gripped residents as no one is sure who the next recipient of his unpleasant gifts would be. But the governor would be remembered in history as a man that worked his talk, and if you dare him you do that at your own peril. There’s no iota of doubt that Nasir El-Rufa’i would not be easily forgotten in Kaduna State for the good, the bad and the ugly that characterised his eight years on the saddle.