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In Adamawa Emirate land grabbing is an intolerable offence – Tahir

In Adamawa Emirate land grabbing is an intolerable offence – Tahir

For the first time in history, the Adamawa Emirate Council created the office of Kaakaakey (Spokesperson) for the Council and appointed Abba Tahir, a professor of Communications and former Vice President, University Relations at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) as the Head. A veteran journalist and Public relations practitioner, Tahir was the former General Manager, Adamawa State Broadcasting Corporation, Yola. He spoke to OBINNA NWACHUKWU on a number of national issues. Excerpts:

Prof, you were recently appointed the Kaakaakey of Adamawa Emirate Council. What does the word really mean and why is it important?

In Hausa language, Kaakaakey means the trumpet; the Trumpet is a communication tool, when it is blown, it means there’s a major announcement to be made in the community. You could say Kaakaakey in one bit and in another bit, you could say ‘Tambari’ which means the big wooden drum with a skin on top of it where you beat and the sound is bigger than the small shallow drums. Whenever the Tambari is beaten, the whole community knows that something is afoot, whether it’s an announcement for Salah, the new moon, a crisis or something critical and important. So, Trumpets means Kaakaakey and it is blown when there is a need to do that, especially on Thursday night heralding the Friday morning which is the biggest day of the week, as far as the Islamic calendar is concerned. So, at the Palace of every Imam, the usual royal drums are beaten soon after the last night prayer and alongside the drums, the Kakaaki is there, it’s a long flute.

Does the position have any relevance to the traditional institution?

This is the first time the title is being conferred on anybody in the state. It means me taking responsibility for speaking for the council on virtually everything; activities, events, ceremonies, issues, etc. The Emir receives visitors virtually every day and there are issues happening in and around the Emirate council that needs strategic communications, strategic comment, and so on. The council used to have an information unit with very skeletal personnel with not enough training, experience, exposure, and expertise, with a shrinking view of the world and what they should do to upscale the place and role of the Emirate council in the state, region, and country. There are so many opportunities around, there are so many issues that the Lamido deals with on daily basis and it’s important that a unit that has the responsibility for communication, protocol, and Public Relations should be able to be on top of the game and become a top adviser and provide the direction and guidance not only to the Lamido but other members of the council.

You said the office was created for the first time in the history of the Emirate Council. Why did it take so long?

I really can’t say why it took that long but Adamawa is the largest and most heterogeneous Emirate of the old Sokoto Caliphate. It should have happened long ago, Emirates that had it since the 16th century like the Katsina Emirates is a major king-making title in several emirates. So, I can’t really say exactly why that Kaakaakey didn’t happen, but there’s so many other titles coming on stream when this current Lamido came; there are still some titles that didn’t come and there’re still many titles that are available in the Adamawa Emirate but aren’t available elsewhere, but by and large, most of the titles that are here have commensurate portfolios in other emirates and vice versa.

Being an administrative position; does it attract a monthly salary?

It’s a volunteer position, the Kaakaakey position is not salaried, it is not given any allowance, but the office of information and protocol of the palace has some allowance.

A visit around Adamawa shows that there exist several incidents of farmers-herders crisis. What is the Lamido doing about this because it’s affecting their harvest?

Lamido has never encouraged herders to go into people’s farms. Incidentally, many of the herders you see are holding cattle not for themselves alone but for some of the farmers too. But it’s assumed that every herder must be a Fulani and he must be holding his own cattle, many of them no longer have cattle, some of them have cattle of course, but many are holding cattle in brief for others; for professionals who are in the city center in Yola, Abuja, Lagos or elsewhere in the country. One major thing that has escalated the crisis has been the gradual shrinking of grazing reserves. Grazing reserves that have been gazetted as grazing routes have been taken away either by individuals who are powerful or by governments who allocated them to either institutions or organizations.

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So, if a herder wants to move around the place that he used to move freely, and the place has been shrinking to the level at which there is no way he could freely move without affecting farmlands, I think it should not be considered as his own fault because when these changes were happening, they were not taken along and solutions or alternatives were not provided. And this is the mainstay of their lives, and it’s impossible for them to abandon it just like that. I’m not sure if there’s any herder that would feel happy getting into farmland to destroy farm produce, because the herders do not rely on the meat from their cattle or sheep alone for food, they also eat the grain that is being cultivated by farmers, this is just some of the basic issues.

What then is the position of the Emirate Council on this issue? Is the council in support of the movement of the herders or ranching?

Any step that is going to be counterproductive to the sustainability of the lives of the herders and even the farmers, the Emirate Council will not go for that. The Emirate Council is interested in having a harmonious Emirate and harmonious communities that will live in peace and harmony without any crisis. In the days or years when the grazing routes or the cattle routes were never tampered with, there was no problem at all.

But, the Emirate Council is excited about whatever government is doing to settle the herders so that we could begin to do livestock management or livestock breeding in a way that will be sustainable, more productive, more beneficial as it happens elsewhere around the world. Once the herders settle, the education of their kids will be guaranteed, health care would be guaranteed, they will have markets and even cattle markets will be just within the vicinity. They don’t have to move around; it has been affecting their lives and even land ownership has been an issue.

Why is insecurity so much in the North particularly northeast which Adamawa is part of?

Maybe because of poverty and the issues I raised. One, the region is one of the poorest and there are lots of non-school-going children. And even among the school-going-children who are graduating, there are no spaces in the University for them to enroll even for those whose parents can afford their fees. Thirdly, we have the longest border with Cameroon, and Borno and Yobe State are our immediate neighbors. We also share a long border with Cameroon and Chad. But these are just the issues and there is also the issue of maybe, foreign interests. There could be foreign interests, maybe interested in the oil, the possibility of oil prospects around this region that many of us don’t even know

The Lamido has been there for a long time, what would you say has been his key achievements?

Not very long when you consider how long his father ruled. The Lamido has been there for 11 years, by March 2022 he would be 12 years on the throne. He took over from his father who was the longest-serving Lamido in the history of the Emirate, he ruled for 57 years. He actually ascended the throne in July 1953, only two months apart from the ascension of Queen Elizabeth the Second, and spent nearly six decades. What I would say is that in terms of modern education, he is the most educated because he has a Ph.D. in Maritime Transport Technology.

Many who don’t know would think he has an honorary Ph.D., but he had his Ph.D. first before getting any honorary degree and he has been in the public service for a very long time. He has been a deputy governor, a Commissioner severally, chairman of many boards and parastatals. He was in the customs, Ports Authority. I think he has brought so many things to bear, he has changed the dynamics of the operational module in the palace even though he didn’t tamper with the traditional structure per se, but he has modernized the way things are done in the palace, he has brought a lot of improvements.

People now take the palace more seriously. You cannot just do anything and get away with it. For example, the Emir ensures people don’t grab land and do whatever they want with it. Not only ordinary people, but I’m also talking about people who are in authority. Everybody is very careful whoever gets anything gets it correctly and rightly. So, he’s a no-nonsense person, maybe because of his level of education, his exposure, his experience working in different places, but he has brought a lot of impact in the community. So, the emir can be recognized for being a no-nonsense leader.