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Kaduna centenary celebration: Keeping the North together



Kaduna centenary celebration: Keeping the North together

Kaduna State Government recently celebrated the centenary of Kaduna city as the capital of Northern Nigeria, Correspondent BABA NEGEDU takes a look at the thrills, glamour of the once in a life time event.


Even the atmosphere of the day gave an indication of what was about to take place, the cloudy morning which latter gave rise to the sunny afternoon provided the enabling environment for the cultural and historical display that took place at the centenary celebration of Kaduna as a city. It was Mallam Muhammed Ibrahim in a chat with Saturday Telegraph at the Murtala Muhammad Square, venue of the durbar and cultural Fiesta, that tried to put a tag to the spectacles that was going on. He said: “Let me tell you the people you are seeing here (the crowd in their thousands) are not invited.

Mark my words and ask anybody, when it is durbar in the north here you don’t need to invite anyone. All you need is to send the information out and the people will assist you to propagate it. ”I can tell you that some of this people must have trekked over long distances to be here. But that is the type of recognition and love that we from this part of the world have for durbar, it is the culture of the people and cherished and I can tell you it would be cherished for a long time to come.”

This in a sense tries to explain the volume of persons and the perseverance of the scourging sun to witness the durbar and cultural display for the grand celebration of the Kaduna Centenary as a city. However any ardent participants will tell you that the array of display from 11 emirates in the north and an estimated 3000 horses had also made up for the heat of the day.

This aside the cultural troupes from the 19 Northern states and 23 local government areas of Kaduna State. It was no surprise then that people came from all over the country and beyond to witness the showpiece that many people described as unprecedented.

The event also drew traditional rulers from Borno, Kano, Zazzau, Katsina, Gombe, Bida, Bauchi, Hadejia, Misau and Keffi among others leading teams of horse riding warriors and displaying their different cultures. Declaring the durbar open, the Shehu of Borno, Garbai El-Kanemi, paid glowing tributes to the leaders of the region who had in one way or the other contributed to its growth and development. He specifically mentioned Sir Ahmadu Bello and Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa and called on the people to ensure that the sacrifice made by them and others for the north should not be allowed to be in vain. The durbar proper was led by the Emir of Kano Lamido Sanusi and the Shehu of Borno, with other emirs and their entourage following the long colorful and majestic procession showcasing the rich culture and costumes of the north.

The procession in itself is a beauty to behold as hundreds of fully dressed up horses, with district heads, warriors and snipers on top matching in columns to the applause of the spectators, the scene was also followed by palace guards. There was also a retinue of hunters in between as their bout of gunshots intermittently rent the air with their fierce and battle-ready attires all adding to the splendour of the occasion.

The event was a sight to behold no wonder dignitaries from all over the north made it a point to be present. Among those that were sighted at the event include, former Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, deputy governors of Zamfara, Bauchi and Plateau states.

From across the country also came personalities like the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, among others. Even those that could not make it sent representatives like President Muhammadu Buhari who sent the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammad Musa Bello. Speaking through his representative, Buhari said Kaduna city is the melting point of Nigeria’s politics, a place where important decisions that shaped the nation had been taken. President Buhari also said the city is destined to play leading roles in Nigeria’s development in times to come.

The president also used the centenary celebration to address some pressing national issues, where he reiterated his administration’s resolve to solve the power problem among others issues bedevilling the country and its people. “I have noted with admiration that the state has achieved alot under Governor Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai who is a progressive governor as he has started implementing the vision he wants to see the state attain in the next 100 years”, the president said. According to him, many industries in Kaduna that are now comatose as well as other moribund companies across the country will be revived once the power challenge is solved.

Significantly, President Buhari underscored the relevance of the centenary celebrations, when he said that it was by no means a child’s play. In addition, the president tacitly endorsed el-Rufai by saying that the state has achieved a lot under him.

In his own address, el-Rufai gave an indication why the government and people of Kaduna state rolled out the drums to celebrate the city’s centenary as the administrative headquarters of the north. According to him, the centenary celebration was to showcase the rich history of Kaduna and the rich cultural heritage of the northern region. In addition, the event was also aimed at promoting tourism, boost the economy of northern states and promote unity and progress in diversity. El-Rufai further said that he was optimistic that Kaduna could be better and that the people were determined to regain its glory. The governor also paid glowing tribute to those who made Kaduna as a city.

He sais: ‘’We must make the next century one of peace, harmony and prosperity. We celebrate the first 100 years of Kaduna, not because they have been perfect. We celebrate, not because there have not been regrettable incidents in this city. “We celebrate because the promise of Kaduna endures. We celebrate because its residents are resilient.

We celebrate because there is a future, a chance to reclaim the glory, break new ground and make Kaduna an example of diversity and integration, a dynamo of progress and a model of development. We celebrate because the stains and losses of the past are not our destiny.

We celebrate because we know that we can be better, and Kaduna is ready to be great again”, the governor said. However the event proper started a day before with an exhibition of photographs depicting the actions of the past leaders and their contributions to the development of the region. Speaking at the exhibition, the state Deputy Governor, Bala Barnabas Bantex told journalists after going through the gallery that the significance of the exhibition was to ”look at the leaders of yesterday that had brought us to where we are today, leaders that were devoted to the development of the North, the younger generation do not know about them.”

“This is an opportunity for them to come here, because this is going to be a continuous exhibition for one week, for them to come and see how far we have come today”, he added. Bantex said looking at the pictures you can see clearly, see the element of commitment, humility in the leaders, It is also an opportunity to identify those that are associated with events in the country, events that led us to where we are today.” The deputy governor who spoke on the challenges between leaders of yesteryears and today, disclosed that before now we”had only three regions, the cost of governance was very low, much lower. We had gone into state creation. Even including states that are not viable at huge administrative costs to cater for and leaving very little amount to develop capital projects and so on.”

The deputy governor added:” I guess this is part of the reason why people said they did better because the cost of governance was relatively low compared to today. You can imagine 36 states, senators, governors, commissioners, that is why some of us are very cautious about this agitations for more states because it will increase the cost of governance”.

On his part, Chairman, Organising Committee of the Centenary celebration, Malam Balarabe Abbas Lawal, announced that December 2017 is Kaduna centenary month:”It is this spirit that the Centenary of Kaduna seeks to pay tribute to the people and communities that have built and upheld this city. The centenary seeks to review the first 100 years of Kaduna to learn lessons for the next 100 years”, he said.

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