"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
—George Orwell, Animal Farm
Governor Yero and El-Rufai of Kaduna State: A Conversation.
Tunga Lergo, Ph.D.
The Southern Kaduna voters, who for years have pitched tent with the PDP, are now faced with two choices for governor. While the PDP has been good to some individuals from Southern Kaduna, this has not benefited the people collectively. Southern Kaduna is still a neglected region, and it is still marginalized with respect to the federal government’s presence in terms of institutional and infrastructural development.
Most troubling is the grand agenda of allowing the Boko Haram-assisted Fulani herdsmen to systematically seize the indigenous people’s fertile land. Of equal concern is the deafening silence of federal and state governments in the face of the natives’ plight. Many people believe that the current government is giving tacit support, at the very least, to the Southern Kaduna genocide. Pressure groups, such as Southern Kaduna in Diaspora SOKAD and Southern Kaduna Indigenes Progressive Forum ( SKIPFo), have indicated a desire to take Governor Yero to International Court of Justice for his government inaction in preventing the Southern Kaduna genocide.
The PDP has enjoyed a near 100 % Southern Kaduna vote. But the winds of change are blowing through the state: Just as elections are upon us, there is a new kid in town—El-Rufai—and he is here with a vengeance. All of a sudden, the cozy relationship between the Southern Kaduna voters and the taken-for-granted PDP, with their derelict attitude toward security and development in Southern Kaduna, is in serious jeopardy.
El-Rufai has dumped the PDP horse and has ridden into town on an APC horse, not with the pomp and trappings of royalty, but in the simple garb of a talaka. While he is enthusiastically welcomed by the talakawa, the establishment is giving him the cold-shoulder treatment. We can almost imagine what they are saying behind closed doors: “This little brat thinks he can come and stir up the waters!”
The Southern Kaduna voter couldn’t care less about the establishment-talakawa’s grumblings about who will be the better governor. He or she knows where the shoe pinches the most. We, the elites, may think we know better, but it is the masses who know where the shoe pinches the most; they are the foot soldiers and the voters; they are the “suffering and smiling” folks. When it comes time to cast their votes, each of them will ask the same questions: What is on the other side of the fence? What does it profit me if I move from the familiar tent I have lived in for years to a new tent that may have more room and more facilities, but whose future promise is uncertain? Human nature is what it is, and politics is all about self-interest. There are those who will switch parties—they are the adventurous ones, those who have not found a cozy space with their current party. And there are those who feel that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush; they will stick with the better the enemy that I know than the friend that I don’t know mentality. The real choice in Kaduna State is not between two parties (PDP and APC), but between the two personalities of Yero and El-Rufai. So, in this gubernatorial election, the Southern Kaduna electorate is caught between a rock and a hard place: Yero, who is the flag bearer of their hero ( Yakowa of blessed memory) and El-Rufai, the prodigal son from Abuja!
This parodied poem illustrates the “collective” dilemma of the Southern Kaduna voter:
Brutus and Caesar
Yero and El-Rufai: What should be in that name?
Why should one name be sounded more than the other?
Write them together, each is as fair, both Hausa Fulani.
Sound them, they doth become the mouth as well.
Weigh them, they each weigh as politicians.
Conjure with their parties,
APC will produce a Zaria son as soon as PDP.
Now, in the name of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat doth these Hausa Fulani sons feed?
Only from Zaria doth all the candidates come!
Why must Southern Kaduna always play second fiddle?
My God, help me!
PDP and APC, thou art shamed!
The god of Kaduna State, thou hast lost thy education and fairness!
Where is thy liberalism? It’s gone with the crocodiles!
What is there for me that I should vote for either party?
Will either of these sons of Hausa Fulani stop the marginalization of Southern Kaduna?
Will Yero or El-Rufai bring salvation to Southern Kaduna? Will Yero or El-Rufai stop the Fulani pogrom of our people?
Will Yero or El-Rufai stop the systematic occupation of our ancestral lands?
Will Yero or El-Rufai stop the ethnic cleansing of ethnic and religious minorities in the state?
Will Yero or El-Rufai return our farms and villages that are occupied by Fulani herdsmen?
Our people are homeless in their land!
When shall we return
Yero and El-Rufai, what of these two?
Will either of these sons of Zaria bring fairness to the great state?
I look into their eyes, and what do I see?
Janus-faces, at best.
Me, I decided to look into the hearts and souls of Yero and El-Rufai.
What did I see?
Just what I expected.
What does each have to offer me and my kind?
I am just a poor Southern Kaduna voter.
I’m not asking for heaven, not for all.
I’m asking for physical, social, and economic security.
I’m asking to live, farm, educate, and feed my family
I have suffered for too long.
I have cried for too long.
No one wipes my tears.
Yero has done nothing about it.
El-Rufai has said nothing about it.
When shall we return home?
I leave the other askings to the elites and politicians:
Asking for the spoils of politics;
Asking for the lofty needs of political offices;
Asking for contracts, and all.
So many selfish askings.
They only cost your conscience, your principles.
Here we go, again!
The Ides of 2011 is here, when Southern Kaduna pogrom was birthed
But not forgotten.
I ask and I ask: Should I divorce?
I ask and I ask: Should I remarry?
What difference does it make?
I and my kind are caught between a rock and a hard place!
I am on my knees, begging for an epiphany.
My God, help me!
February is just around the corner.
Tunga Lergo, is a sociology Professor at Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Florida, U.S. A.