SOUTHERNERS living in Katsina State have expressed fears that they may soon become victims of ethnic pogroms following the recent inflammatory comments of several northern leaders including Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita representing Katsina North Senatorial District.
Over recent weeks, the political temperature in Nigeria has risen significantly after a few northern politicians upped the ante, saying southerners living in the north may become victims of pogroms. Last Thursday for instance, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State warned that northerners may start seeking revenge on southerners living in the north.
Governor Matawalle said: “No community, or region has the monopoly of violence. The north has more than what it takes to respond to any kind of aggression and hatred.”
Adding to his comments, Senator Kaita, in a piece he titled The North: When silence is no longer an option, warned of the looming danger to southerners living in northern Nigeria. He pointed out that northerners are fully capable of carrying out revenge attacks against southerners living in their midst in response to attacks on northerners living in southern Nigeria.
Senator Kaita said: “That the river is calm doesn’t mean there are no crocodiles beneath. That the north is taking physical and verbal insults stoically and with dignified silence doesn’t mean the north is either out of reprisal options or is lacking in expertise in how to play the game the way it’s crazily and irresponsibly being played.”
As a result of all these threats, there have been countless calls from the families of southerners residing in the north, with many of them being asked to evacuate now before the situation gets out of hand. One lady who did her NYSC in the north and stayed back to work there, said that with threats coming from a governor, she may have no choice but to heed the advice of her family and return home.
Another southerner said: “Finally, the time to leave the north for me has come. These northerners don’t joke at all as when they say something, they don’t just do it, they over-do it.”
One defiant southerner said, however, “I won’t leave the north. If they want to kill me let them kill me but I will send my family to the south as soon as school closes for holiday. Wherever man is, when it’s time to die, man must die.”
One other Katsina resident said: “Deep down inside where we know as home now is the north because this is where we reside and make a living. This is where we really feel at home and I only go to the south for ceremonies when it becomes mandatory, so if they say they will kill us, we have no choice than to run for our dear lives.”
Alhaji Mohammed Arigbabuwo, the chairman of the Yoruba Council of Obas and Chiefs in Northern Nigeria, added: “We are not happy with the governor’s statement. Such a statement should not have come from a leader holding the sensitive position of a state governor and
“I am sure that he is just trying to gain the support of All Progressives Congress in order to win a second term in office.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia, added: “I am disappointed at the way the man spoke. The problem is about herdsmen having issues with the local farmers and in the course of the clash people get killed.”
Even the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has distanced itself from Governor Matawalle’s comments. An ACF spokesman said: “It is not justifiable to say that because northerners are being killed in the south, we are also going to kill southerners in the north.
“That is not correct and ACF is against it. That is the easiest way to destroy this country if everyone takes the law into his hands and decides to take revenge. We are completely against that.”