In a development that caught many unawares, the predominantly Muslim, Hausa/Fulani northern part of Kaduna and its rival southern largely Christian area of other tribes, yesterday called for its split into two new states.
Speaking during the presentation and defence of their memos at the Senate ad-hoc Committee and the House of Reps Special Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution at the Hassan Katsina House, Kawo, Kaduna, both sides, infamous for incessant inter ethnic and religious clashes for decades, said creating new states from the present Kaduna State will go a long way at solving the bloody violence that seemed to defy solution.
The President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Hon. Jonathan Asake, who defended the memo of Southern Kaduna people said: “The wish of Southern Kaduna is to have a brand new constitution, not an amended one,” he said.
“But in the absence of that, we are here to make our inputs as a people who have suffered suppression and oppression for a long time,” he said.
“Southern Kaduna is made up of 67 ethnic nationalities spread in 13 of the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Kaduna State.
It has a land mass of 26,000kmsq with an estimated population of 5.1 million. We are endowed with an educated population and with abundant natural resources,” he said.
“Our land size is greater than that of Kano State which has a land mass of 20,000kmsq.
Yet Kano is a state of its own with 44 LGAs. Our population is greater than 21 other states of the federation,” he went on.
“We are demanding for the amendment of the provision of section 8 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which makes it almost an impossible task for the creation of a new state,” he insisted.
“We have been demanding for a state of our own for over thirty years and Gurara state was among the 18 states proposed in the 2014 Confab report,” he said.
“We are demanding for the creation of the Gurara state after the amendment. This will help in solving the incessant conflicts between our people and the other divide,” he said.
SOKAPU also asked for the removal of the Land Use Act from the Constitution and its amendment as a law, so that communities and families can have larger control of their ancestral lands.
“We stand by all the 2014 confab report which had captured most of our demands.
Similarly, the Northern part of Kaduna State, under the aegis of Kaduna Development Elders Initiatives submitted a memo signed by the Senators Representing Kaduna North Senatorial Zone, Sen. Suleiman Abdu Kwari;
the Senator Representing Kaduna Central Senatorial zone, Senator Uba Sani; all the House of Representatives members from the Northern part of Kaduna; all members of Kaduna State House of Assembly from northern part of Kaduna, their Chairmen of LGAs and Councillors.
Defending the memo of the group, Abdulkadir Ahmed said, “we are canvassing for the creation of New Kaduna State from the present Kaduna State and we want the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria amended to make this possible.”
“Kaduna South has been complaining of marginalisation ever since, even though Chiefdoms have been given to them and they occupy 60% of the workforce of Kaduna State,” he added.
“Let the state be split and if they are asking for Gurara state, let them have it,” he said.
“This will solve all the crises we have been having in this state,” he added.
“On our part, we are asking for the creation of ‘New Kaduna State’, which will include Kaduna North and Kaduna Central Senatorial zones,” he said.
“But there should be a referendum for each section of the state to decide on where it wants to belong,” he added.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who declared the meeting open, also asked for true Federalism, State Police and Financial Autonomy to Local Government Councils.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Kabiru Gaiya from Kano State, in .his opening remarks assured all that each of the memos will be well looked into and submitted to the National Assembly for further actions.
Many groups and individuals also submitted memos as the sitting continues till Friday.
Kaduna State Governor Mall Nasir el-rufai was the only one physically present at the Wednesday northwest session of the Constitution review as other Governors were all represented.