Those who misled General T.Y Danjuma to push for the military Gazette of 1975 to include his Chamba tribe to pave way for him to become a traditional ruler after his retirement should bury their head in shame – Pastor Muri
Our guest today is Pastor Rikwense Muri
trained in Christian Theology, Peace Building and Developmental Politics, Rikwense Muri is a PhD candidate in Peace and Conflict Studies at Babcock University Ilishan Remo, Nigeria. He has worked as a teacher, clergy, researcher, humanitarian officer, and development strategist. He is the convener of the Southern Taraba Youth Coalition for Peace (STYCOP), a Taraba-based independent youth advocacy group with membership spread across the entire Southern Taraba and Tarabans in Diaspora. He is a self-driven individual that is always seeking to serve in an engaging environment. He have excellent interpersonal skills in teaching, Mediation, Negotiation and Intercultural Dialogue with a track record of establishing positive relationships with multidisciplinary team. He underwent professional Internship Training at the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) Abuja, and Kukah Centre for Leadership, Faith and Public Policy Abuja in the area peacemaking mediation and research development. He was also professionally trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP), Quantitative Research and Innovative Thinking in Research, Teaching and Learning by the Pan-Africa Doctoral Academy (PADA) at the University of Ghana, Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution by the IPCR/UNISA, Grant Writing, M&E, and Project Management by Servelead Global. These experiences and Trainings has prepared him to add value to the world around him in any given task.
Can you briefly tell us about project STYCOP?
Southern Taraba Youth Coalition for Peace (STYCOP) is a Taraba-based independent youth advocacy group, with membership spread across the entire Southern Taraba and Taraba in Diaspora. Our Coalition’s mission is collaborates with various levels of the society – individuals, households, cooperative societies, the organized private sector, NGOs and government, to promote nonviolent response to conflict, Justice, equity and development in Southern Taraba.
Intercultural dialogue is at the core of the organization’s work and involves actively promoting conversations among Taraba’s ethno-political communities, as well as between leaders in faith and public policy. STYCOP aspires to become Taraba’s leading youth organization for the promotion of an active and engaged citizenry by providing support for inclusive dialogue and advocacy initiatives.
What motivated you to start STYCOP?
My experience of crisis as a child, my study of conflict and peace, and my desire to change the narrative. I believe when something important is about to happen, God prepares men to do it. Mobilizing the youths to be peace ambassador is long overdue. The youths have never been part of the solution despite being at the forefront of the violence. During quest for solution, they are being relegated and called small boys and girls. STYCOP want them to be at the forefront of finding solution to the crisis. Once the youth speak with one voice and say “no more,” sustainable peace will come.
Many organization like STYCOP have spring up and die without achieving their aims, what are you doing to ensure STYCOP doesn’t suffer the same fate?
STYCOP doesn’t have a political agenda and it’s not Government sponsored. Its members belongs to different Political parties and it promotes unity in diversity. Its registered and have Board of Trustees and Advisory Board. It believe that peace is worth bringing all of us on the same table to dialogue. STYCOP will remain and will impact Southern Taraba peace process. We are yet to even start fully yet we are already making impact in the state. We spend more time on the foundation because we believe when the good foundation is there, the house can be assured of strength. All we want is peace…. Everyone at STYCOP is free to do his or her politics. When an Advocacy group encourage diversity of views, ideology, ethnicity to be on the table of dialogue, we are sure of sustainability. Secondly, we have partnership with key Institutions of government and Nongovernmental Organizations. STYCOP is not about an individual but about people who desire sustainable peace which comes through love, truth, equity and justice.
You have been actively involved in political discussion, sometimes criticising the state governor, are you a member of any political party or political group?
Our crisis is caused by our wrong attitude to Politics. Our oppressive political environment is responsible for many of our problem. Shying away from Political analysis which is a major area of interest to STYCOP will defeat the agenda of the organization. In STYCOP we believe that the government is a major stakeholder in the peace project and her actions or inaction can affect the process. We support and criticise Government action and policies base on our analysis. This goes against the type of political engagement that Taraba state is used to. So many depending on the issue at hand either accuse us of being part of the Government or against the Government. I have my Personal Political view. But it’s not important in STYCOP Agenda. What is important is our collective aspiration for peaceful coexistence, equity and justice in Southern Taraba.
Recently some groups in the state gave Gov. Ishaku 30 Days ultimatum to address injustice meted on some ethnic groups in the state, is STYCOP among this groups?
STYCOP believe in dialogue not threat or Aggression. The 30 days ultimatum given to Taraba state government does not present our ideology towards sustainable peace. If Fulani, Mumuye, Kuteb and Tiv tribal leaders want to come together and speak with one voice and engage with the Government to address their grievances, it’s a good thing but it should not start with issuing threats and ultimatums. I believe there should be a better way to do what they have done. It creates tension and make other ethnic groups feel threatened and insecure? They should have used their majority status during elections instead of doing so now because they represent majority tribes in the state. Their agitation is legitimate but the approach is not. STYCOP is not among the group issuing this ultimatum because we are not a tribal group. We only exist to discourage any approach that can hinder peaceful coexistence in Taraba state. The question is what will happen after the 30 days ultimatum given to Government if their demands is not attended to? Instead of looking inward and assessing their Political leadership recruitment process, they are starting relationship with Government using threats. This is wrong and goes against STYCOP approach for peaceful solution to our agitations.
What about the issues raise by the groups particularly the issue of installing three third class chiefs in Takum which is part of southern Taraba, as an advocate of peace, will that have a positive impact on STYCOP mission?
Those issues are legitimate concerns that should be addressed by the government. The question is, are these issues emergency issues? How long have they been existing? How can we collaborate with Government to speedily address them? Can issuing ultimatum and threats a quick answer? I think the political undertone of the agitation is louder than the desire for solution. There are many areas that STYCOP have criticised and disagreed with the state government. But on this we beg to disagree with the approach of the tribal leaders. Nigeria is a republic, not just a democracy. In a republic, the rule of law and order supercedes the demands of the majority. The majority must be patient enough to wait to vote in a government that is in tune with their demands or they approach every issue in accordance with rule of law and order. Threats from a majority without following due process in a republic is not the best approach to resolving issues. We plead with our leaders to withdraw the ultimatum and meet with the government. The issues they are raising are legitimate concerns of their people, they should not allow the wrong approach jeopardize the results they wish to see.
The issue of installing three third Class Chiefs in Takum is just a wishful thinking of some people at the corridor of power with a proper analysis of it’s implications. Suddenly they have come to realized that the imposed military 1975 Gazette cannot be implemented after 24 years of vacancy of the Ukwe stool. One thing the Government should learn is that it’s easy to institute injustice but very difficult to implement it. It will be easy to create three Chiefdoms in Takum but how will the Government implement it? Takum is the traditional headquarters of the Kuteb, the Ukwe stool predate the existence of Nigeria as a sovereign nation. After its Independence and becoming a republic in 1963, the Ukwe was Gazetted into the laws backing traditional Institutions in Northern Nigeria. Those who misled General T.Y Danjuma to push for the military Gazette of 1975 to include his Chamba tribe to pave way for him to become a traditional ruler after his retirement should bury their head in shame because of the negative impact such wrong decision has caused to the Development of southern Taraba. We thank God our Father Gen Danjuma is alive to push for the correction of such mistake. We thank God the state government have instead of tempering with the Ukwe stool have created Chiefdoms for Chamba and Kpanzon in Takum Local Government at Chanchanji, Bete and Kashimbila towns. The next step is the installation of Ukwe Takum. Creating three Chiefdoms inside Takum is just in the imagination of people who lack simple analysis of implications of a wrong Government decision. Ukwe Takum can only be a Kuteb man. 1975 gazette is a failed project of Gen T.Y Danjuma and should be discarded. What should be done now is reviewing the 1963 gazette to make sure the Kingmakers of Takum are only Kuteb since the Chamba and Kpanzon now have their Chiefdoms created for them in Takum Local government. And all these new Chiefdoms does not have any external tribe in the Kingmakers. Same should be done for Takum for the sake of peace.
Lastly, On security do you think Governor Ishaku is doing his best and what are your suggestions on how to tackle insecurity in the state?
The Government is trying his best but is best is not yielding the needed results in security management and protection of lives and property. His administration need to do more than just their best. Poverty and crime are on the increase and people no longer trust the Government as a partner for peace building. This attitude should be addressed with a radical approach to the security sector. What’s the Government investment in peace enforcement, relief services, rehabilitation, reintegration, and rebuilding of destroyed Communities? Who are behind the insecurity in southern Taraba? What role is Political interest of politicians playing in the security challenges or Southern Taraba? How can empowering the local government areas help in reducing poverty and insecurity? The Government talks so much about peace but have no clear strategy and blueprint to achieve peace. The governor is surrounded by career Politicians who are not adding value to his rescue agenda. The governor have concentrated too much power on himself. And this is affecting the administration of the state. There’s need for a wholistic approach and reevaluation of the policies and decisions that has been taken so far to address insecurity in southern Taraba. This is not the duty of government alone, we must all add our voice and insist that the right thing be done that will enhance peace and security in Southern Taraba. Playing politics with this sensitive issue is the reasons we are left behind with solution to our known problem. Thanks for your time.
STYCOP remain committed to support Government and Communities in southern Taraba to look for the best way to get peace and development in our society. Together it’s possible.