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Is Kaduna still Nigeria’s Mafia city?

By Agaju Madugba

Kaduna was said to have been founded by the British in 1913, according to Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia. The area served as headquarters of Northern Region beginning from 1917 and several years after the collapse of the Northern Region, Kaduna, the capital city of Kaduna State, has continued to be regarded as the unofficial headquarters of northern Nigeria.

Located in the North-West geopolitical zone, the area is said to have derived its name from Kada, the Hausa word for crocodile, found in abundance in the Kaduna River.

Kaduna new government House2
Kaduna new government House2

The Gbagyi are said to be the original inhabitants of the present Kaduna metropolis. With civilization and influx of other tribes, the Gbagyi, a mobile population, vacated the area and moved further into the hinterlands and they are currently scattered as minority communities in various parts of the state and even beyond as the people also form part of the inhabitants of Nasarawa, Niger and the FCT, among other locations. Kaduna also served as headquarters of the defunct North Central State in 1967 and continued to retain the status after the creation of the state in 1975.

Kaduna once had a flourishing textile industry established by the late Sarduana. But the textile companies have since collapsed.
Kaduna is also host to the Kaduna Mafia, a group said to be faceless but known for its influence on both Kaduna state government and successive regimes at the federal level.

The people
With a total population of about 1.3million people (2006) and flaunting the tag of “Centre of Learning” Kaduna, the capital of Kaduna state is cosmopolitan and it is home to people from across the country, a development which may not be unconnected with its earlier tag of, “The Liberal State.”

But the area apparently lost its liberal status as a result of many years of ethno-religious violence as a number of people no longer consider Kaduna as a safe haven that it used to be. At the height of the 2000 religious riots, the then Governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi ordered the removal of the liberal tag attached to the state and adopted the Centre of Learning slogan.

Apart from the Gagyi whose population is found at the south eastern flank of the metropolis, complete with its chiefdom, the Hausa and Fulani, along with the Igbo, Yoruba and the indigenous people of Kaduna State, especially from southern Kaduna, constitute a large proportion of residents of Kaduna metropolis.

The Centre of Learning tag may as well be the most appropriate for a state that has perhaps the largest concentration of Federal Government educational institutions when compared with other states of the country. In Kaduna metropolis alone, there is Nigeria’s foremost military training school, the Nigerian Defence Academy, the National Water Resources Institute, the National Open University of Nigeria, the National Teachers’ Institute, the Kaduna Polytechnic, the School of Midwifery, the Arewa House, Centre for Historical Documentation and Research, of the Ahmadu Bello University, National Eye Centre, Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology, the Petroleum Training Institute and the Kaduna State University, among several others. Kaduna also serves as headquarters of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the umbrella union of the nation’s Muslim community as well as that of the 1Division of the Nigerian Army.

The Arewa House was the official residence of the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello. The Kaduna refinery is also located in Kaduna metropolis.

Kaduna: A killing field
Kaduna may have come into national limelight beginning from January 15, 1966, in the course of Nigeria’s first military coup, as Sir Ahmadu Bello fell to assassins’ bullets at the Arewa House.

The incident is reported to have engendered certain consequences culminating in the 30 months civil war. Kaduna was said to have provided a launch pad for that war following the reported mass killing of the Igbo from the south-eastern part of the country reportedly forcing the then Military  Governor of the defunct Eastern Region, Col. Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, to announce a secession and proclamation of the state of Biafra.

The rest is history but Kaduna has consistently made the headlines over these years as a veritable theatre of war. The state is said to have over 50 different ethnic groups with equally diverse cultural orientations and most of them concentrated in the southern part of the state popularly referred to as southern Kaduna. Ethno-religious upheavals are legion and irrespective of where a particular crisis begins, it eventually spreads to the Kaduna metropolis.

In 1987, intra-ethnic riots erupted at the southern Kaduna town of Zangon-Kataf and it spread to Kaduna leading to loss of several lives. In February and May 2000, the town was in flames again following government’s planned decision to introduce the Muslim Sharia’h legal system. The killings were so widespread that the then visiting President Olusegun Obasanjo equated the level of devastation with that of the three years of civil war.

The Miss World riots followed in November 2002, also leading to loss of several lives and in April 2011, Kaduna was also hit by the wave of riots that trailed the announcement of results of the presidential election that year. And, apart from elsewhere in Kaduna state, Kaduna metropolis has also had its fair share of deaths arising from the Boko Haram insurgency campaigns.

Perhaps thus far, the 2000 crisis dealt Kaduna the most devastating blow as the religious acrimony that ensued led to a certain level of segregated living in the town. The Muslim community moved to the northern part of the metropolis while a number of the Christians consider the southern part as safe haven and the River Kaduna Bridge in the metropolis apparently provides a natural gulf between the two communities.

Sir Kashim Ibrahim House
The Sir Kashim Ibrahim House is the seat of the Kaduna State government, named after the late Sir Kashim Ibrahim, a politician and close associate of Sir Ahmadu Bello. He was at various times Minister of Education, Minister of Survey as well as Minister of Social Services, all during the pre-independence period and later became Governor of Northern Nigeria in 1962.

Between 1967 to date, the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House has been residence for about 20 governors including military Administrators during the era of military rule, beginning with Abba Kyari who was the North Central State Governor between 1967 and 1975.

The Kaduna Government House has undergone various renovations over the years culminating in the recent construction of a new complex which was initiated by former Governor Mohammed Namadi Sambo who later became Vice President. At the conclusion of the April 2015 general elections, Malam Nasir El-Ruf’a’i of the All Progressives Congress emerged governor. Some other past governors of the state include Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Abba Musa Rimi, Lawal Kaita, Abubakar Tanko Ayuba, Lawal Jafaru Isa, Col. Hameed Ali and Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, among others.

The National Museum
Located within the headquarters of the defunct Northern People’s Congress, the National Museum at Ungwarn Sarki in Kaduna metropolis is one of the repertoires of the nation’s historical past, with a number of antiquities from various parts of the country. Significant among them is an animal bone with Arabic scripts which dates as far back as the early days of the introduction of Islam in the country.

Incidentally, according to the museum’s records, the bone has its origin in Ogun state, south-western Nigeria. Some other antiquities include, a Sango staff, equally from the south-west, Nok terracotta, from southern Kaduna state, a Benin bronze, traced to the ancient Benin Kingdom, various swords from the north, as well as the Ikenga from south-eastern Nigeria, among several others.

The quest by the museum’s authorities to introduce certain elements of innovation has led to the establishment of a shopping complex and a crafts village within the premises.    But, in spite of this, the museum does not seem to hold attraction to people, given the rather insignificant number of visitors.

Lord Lugard Footbridge
The Lugard Foot Bridge is 134 years old having been built in 1880 by Lord Frederick Lugard, at Zungeru, Niger state when he was Governor of the defunct Northern Protectorate during the period of British Indirect Rule. Lugard later moved the movable bridge to Kaduna in 1920 when he relocated the headquarters of the protectorate from Zungeru to Kaduna. The bridge is located across a tributary of the Kaduna River at the Gen. Hassan Katsina Park popularly called Gamji Gate, on Swimming Pool Road, Kabala East.

Lord Luggard foot bridge
Lord Luggard foot bridge

Lugard Hall
The Lugard Hall complex is also named after Lord Lugard who was Governor of Northern Nigeria and later Governor-General of Nigeria. The complex, according to the information office of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, is a replica of the British House of Commons and Lords. The complex has two structures, the Lugard Memorial Council Chamber and the House of Assembly. The Lugard Memorial Council Chamber which was known as the Northern House of Chiefs is about 66 years old. Late Sultan of Sokoto, Sir Abubakar 111 laid the foundation stone for the construction of the chamber in 1947. When it was completed, it served and still serves as a meeting place for northern traditional rulers.

The foundation stone for the House of Assembly structure at Lugard Hall was laid on May 18, 1959, by Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto. The structure has three wings of seven blocks and the main chamber has a sitting capacity for between 250 and 300 persons and members’ lounge which has capacity to sit 200 persons while the gallery for the public can accommodate 400 people. It served as the Northern House of Parliament and currently serves as the Kaduna state House of Assembly. An additional block was constructed in 1991 which currently serves as the printing press.

Kaduna “Obalende,” Yam Market
There is a popular saying that if you are a visitor and you do not go to the Kaduna “Obalande,” then it is assumed that you have not seen Kaduna. Named after Obalende in Lagos, Kaduna Obalende is located on Maiduguri Road, off Constitution Road, in the Sabon Gari area of Kaduna metropolis. Kaduna Obalende is popular for its night life activities and it has a number of hotels as well as Federal Club, owned by a private entrepreneur.

The name, Kaduna Yam Market, may be quite deceptive because if you intend to go shopping for yams there, chances are that you may not find a single tuber of yam in the so-called market. The Yam Market is another hangout for night crawlers who desire to catch some fun and it operates 24 hours. It is located at the popular Television Garage, a bus station, at the southern axis of Kaduna metropolis.

The Kaduna Mafia
Some reports trace the origin of the Kaduna Mafia to 1966 when some prominent leaders from the north were killed in the course of the first military coup that terminated the First Republic and brought in the short-lived administration of General Aguiyi Ironsi. According to the reports, a number of northerners came together with the sole aim of promoting the interest of the north in national affairs. Often described as faceless, the group is believed to have wielded considerable influence on successive administrations in the country, determining who gets appointed into certain positions.

But a Kaduna community leader, Alhaji Hassan Ibrahim (Sarduana Hayin Banki), says Kaduna Mafia may have ceased to exist. According to him, “the Kaduna Mafia was made up of some powerful northerners especially from the retired military class who had a lot of influence at all levels of government and things had to be done their way at that time. But nowadays, I do not think there is still Kaduna Mafia essentially because the northern unity or cohesion that once existed is no longer there. Northern Nigeria has been divided into different states.”

There are also those who trace the origin to Baruwa College which produced prominent Nigerians many of whom settled in Kaduna or operated from the city.

However, a Kaduna-based politician who pleaded anonymity told Saturday Vanguard that some members of the Kaduna Mafia still exist. He identified Alhaji Maman Daura, a former Editor of the New Nigerian Newspapers and cousin of President Muhammadu Buhari, and Dr. Maman Tukur, elder brother of former PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, as two surviving members of the Kaduna Mafia, who, according to him, have a great influence on the current administration. He also named the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and Abba Kyari, a retired army officer and former Governor of the defunct North Central State and currently Chief of Staff at the Presidency, as also belonging to the class that wields a lot of influence. Adamu was Buhari’s Personal Assistant at the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund.

Return of Kaduna Mafia
Another Kaduna politician who also spoke with Saturday Vanguard, Modecai Ibrahim, said that, “Kaduna Mafia were people who determined who got what in terms of appointments and contracts. But with time, they fizzled out. However, with the coming to power of Muhammadu Buhari as President and Malam Nasir El-Rufa’i as Kaduna State Governor, it is obvious that Kaduna Mafia has reincarnated.

“If you check the first appointments that Buhari made and those of El-Rufa’i, they are students of the old Kaduna Mafia or oligarchy. The Godfather of Kaduna Mafia has come to power in the person of Maman Daura. He has bounced back with his son in power. One thing you should know about Maman Daura is that there is nothing he asks Buhari to do that the President will fail to do. Buhari cannot look into the face of Maman Daura and tell him, no. It is impossible. What it means is that Maman Daura is the power behind the Presidency. Jafaru Isa contributed to the death of Kaduna Mafia and Mohammed Makarfi was one of those who buried Kaduna Mafia but the group has reincarnated.”

Kaduna Mafia not faceless
But a member of the Politics Committee of the Arewa Consultative Form, Alhaji Mohammed Abdulrahman, told Saturday Vanguard that Kaduna Mafia had its membership drawn from across all the geo-political zones of the country while the group existed. He named the late Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu and Alhaji Babatunde Jose as non-northerners who were part of the Kaduna Mafia, among others.

According to him, Kaduna Mafia used to exist but it is no longer there. I was an errand boy for them. It was not a registered organisation. The members were concerned with the protection of the welfare of the people irrespective of ethnic or religious background. They did everything possible to correct any wrong doings against the people but their activities were discreet.

I ran errands for them to different places including Lagos. I carried urgent messages that needed implementation to confront challenges facing Nigeria. They were not concerned about the north alone, they were concerned about Nigeria. They worked to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.

They did not live flamboyant lifestyle with exotic cars. Ahmed Talib, Yahaya Gusau, Mohammed Bello, Ahmed Joda, MT Usman, Gen. Hassan Katsina, Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, Yakubu Gowon, Gen. Babangida were among those who propelled the engine room for the Kaduna Mafia.

They ensured that things worked. If they noticed anything wrong they drew the attention of the appropriate people in positions to effect the desired changes. They were highly influential.
It was not a registered organization with an identifiable headquarters somewhere. It evolved and members were not people you could describe as roguish or criminal minded.

At a time, the late Hamza Zayyad was the de-facto Chairman. The late Shehu Yar’Adua was involved. Babatunde Jose was one of them. They called them Kaduna Mafia but the membership cut across all Nigerians from various backgrounds.

At that time, many people had houses in Kaduna because it was the headquarters of Northern Nigeria and the place was convenient for people to hold meetings and make things work. Kaduna Mafia existed but fizzled out because most of the people we have now cannot fit in and they cannot do what those people did in those days because they control so much money, making it impossible for them to have the state of mind to deal with certain challenges. The Kaduna Mafia had the fear of God and it was one of their major attributes. Today, people talk more about wealth, especially stolen wealth.

In those days of the Kaduna Mafia, it was an act of irresponsibility to accumulate wealth. Wealth acquisition was not part of their programme.   They were more concerned with how to use power for the benefit of the entire people. But nowadays, even the youth acquire so much money and they control political parties and nobody respects them.

It was the Kaduna Mafia that transformed into what later came to be known as the Committee of Concerned Citizens of Nigeria. The group used to meet at the Metropolitan Club, Ikoyi, in Victoria Island. At a time they published a list of 33 people who can save Nigeria.   Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Akintola Williams, Rotimi Williams, were among them but the group eventually fizzled out because a number of them died.

Some prominent Kaduna state indigenes
•Alhaji Balarabe Musa
•Mohammed Namadi Sambo
•Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar
•Mrs Nenadi Usman
•Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi
•Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa
•Gen. Zamani Lekwot
•Professor Ango Abdullahi
•Ge. Martin Luther  Agwai
•Admiral Ishaya Iko Ibrahim
•Alhaji Dabo Lere
•Dr. Shehu Idris, Emir of Zazzau
•Gen. Yunana Nom
•Gen. Dangiwa Yusu

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