For the past two weeks, Malam Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo, the Gombe State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, has been in the eye of the storm over the appointment of a new Mai Tangale for the Tangale/Waja Chiefdom in Billiri Local Government Area of the state. In this interview with Sola Shittu in Gombe, Jalo said the appointment of a new Mai Tangale who is a Muslim over the majority Christian community is not in violation of any law. Excerpts
The appointment of the new Mai Tangale by Governor Inuwa Yahaya was recently announced; don’t you think that is a violation of an existing court order?
Actually I don’t work with the court; I am also not the Attorney-General. I am not aware of any court process. We are doing our job because his Excellency has informed the world that whenever there is peace and calm in Billiri Local Government Area, he is going to make a pronouncement. I want to believe that he has fulfilled his promise by having peace in place for us to announce the next Mai Tangale. As you can see, we went there peacefully, addressed the kingmakers and the traditional council over there and delivered the message of the governor, by announcing the approval of his Excellency out of the three people that were nominated by the Kingmakers of Tangale Traditional Council. This has always been the case right from the time of the Northern Region, to Bauchi Province, Bauchi State and now Gombe State. This is a standard procedure and it is all over the federation, particularly in northern Nigeria. We make sure we follow all the processes and I can assure you that we have not violated any law of the land. We strictly adhered to all the provisions of the law before we gave the conclusion.
Do you think the appointment of the new Mai Tangale will bring lasting peace to the area?
Well, if you are coming from the traditional institutions; you know that sometimes we have these hiccups, it’s normal. It’s like our electoral contest in democracy; naturally, some people may not be happy with the outcome because they have a preferred candidate, but don’t forget the fact that we operate under the law. I think the important question is have we violated any law? So long as we have not violated any law, I think we are on a good course. We made sure that we consulted widely and we made sure that we have spoken on behalf of the Gombe people who voted us into power. The governor has the mandate of the people of Gombe State that was why he was sworn-in as the governor, so whatever action he takes, he is taking it on behalf of the people of Gombe State and I am sure he is speaking their minds.
The new Mai Tangale scored two votes out of nine, while Dr. Musa Idris Maiyamba scored five votes and was not appointed, don’t you see this as a violation of natural justice?
There are two Emirates or traditional councils that practice that process. We have the Yemaltu Deba or Yemaltu Emirate Council and Tangale who usually go out to do their selection in the public. If you ask me, not too long ago, the same thing happened in Yemaltu Deba and it was quite peaceful and they followed that process. The Tangale Chiefdom normally decided to do their own in public but most of the Emirates and the traditional councils don’t practice that method. Usually, they will sit down as Kingmakers to draw up guidelines and score the candidates and based on the scores, they will select the three names and send the names to the governor. It’s always at the discretion of the governor to choose whoever he wants. We are talking about the law here, so if the law gives you the power to operate; I know very well that those who made those laws have their reasons. Like the governor used to say, it is not just about nominating or selecting the name, he has to consult widely and also do a lot of background checks and I am sure that’s why he made that choice.
Definitely this selection will hurt some people, especially having in mind the series of protests and violence that recently broke out, what are you going to do to calm nerves and carry the people along?
The governor has promised that he is willing and ready to carry a lot of them along. He sat with them and spoke with them. That is why even before the announcement of the new Mai Tangale, one of them was made a Commissioner. In fact, the eldest son of the late immediate past Mai Tangale was appointed commissioner to tell you that the governor has the people in mind, particularly those from that traditional council. He is carrying everyone along and he is ready to pacify them and to tell them that he is for them and will do whatever to ensure that they live in peace, harmony and that whatever is due to them is given to them.
I am sure you are not unaware of the religious undertone in the Mai Tangale stool crisis, with the new Mai Tangale now a Muslim appointed to rule over a Christian majority community, do you think peace will still reign?
Let me answer your question by asking you this question; has there been a Muslim Mai Tangale before the Christian that died? Of course yes. The person that died before the late Mai Tangale was a Muslim. Was there peace, of course there was peace. The second one was a Christian, was there peace, there was peace of course. For this one, we are also going to have peace because there was no difference. It is the same family. The new Mai Tangale is from the family of Maiyamba not Maisheru; it is still the same royal family. All of them belong to the same lineage, some are Christians and some are Muslims. Historically, that was what has been happening, so why should this be different? If the immediate past Mai Tangale was a Christian and nothing happened, I am sure it is the same thing that we are going to see because it has been a tradition there. Whoever qualifies will go for the stool.
If this matter eventually ends up in court as a lawyer said they have gone to court, how are you going to handle it?
Well, we have to wait for judgement. I am sure the court will make a pronouncement and this government is a law abiding government. Definitely, we will respect the decision of the court because we are guided by the laws of the land and we respect the law. It is the same law that gave the governor the liberty to choose and I am sure he will respect whatever may come out of the court. That is the beauty of democracy, that’s the beauty of the Constitution we are following in this country and am sure this kind of thing happens in virtually all the states. So it is nothing new and I am sure within a space of time everything will be resolved amicably.