As someone from Gombe State, it is important that I share my thoughts on the Mai Tangle succession crisis.
1. The Tangale chiefdom is a heterogeneous chiefdom comprising Muslims, Christians and animists, bounded by common language and traditions.
2. There have been Muslim and Christian Mais throughout the history of the kingdom. The last Mai, Abdu Buba Maisheru II who’s Christian, came on the back of successive Muslim Mais.
3. When the last Mai was appointed, breaking a tradition of successive Muslim Mais, there was no any violent protest from Tangale Muslims. The aggrieved parties only went to court to challenge the process.
4. The Gombe State Chieftaincy Law 2020, like many others across the country, only mandates the kingmakers to forward 3 recommendations to the Governor among whom he will now choose the new Mai.
5. The kingmakers forward three names to the governor for approval: 2 Muslims, one Christian, in line with the Law.
6. All the three names forwarded to the Governor by kingmakers are bonafide Tangale princes who are eminently qualified to inherit the stool of their forefathers.
7. In reaction, religious provocateurs started campaigning that the governor must appoint a Christian Mai to succeed the late Abdu Buba, threatening fire and brimstone.
8. To assume the Mai position as an exclusive Christian preserve is patently absurd and deeply insulting to other equally qualified non-Christian Tangale princes.
9. In the violence that ensued, Muslim Tangale people, their businesses, property and places of worship were targeted. This is a clear indication that the perpetrators are not after Tangale cultural determination but a carefully crafted campaign of sectarian blackmail and intimidation.
10. Tangale tribal affinity, and not religion, should be the basis of Tangale unity. The attempt by some extremists to impose an exclusively Christian Tangale identity is a recipe for genocide and must be roundly condemned by all men and women of peace and goodwill.
11. Government will not fold its hands and allow some extremist group of opportunists and conflict entrepreneurs divide our people to score cheap political goals. Government should live up to its responsibility of protecting all our people irrespective of their tribe or religion.
12. On our part, we all have individual responsibilities to preach peace and maintain good relations with other individuals, groups or entities. Tangale chiefdom, and by extension Gombe State, should not be allowed to descend into sectarian chaos. We have enjoyed decades of stability despite the prevailing situation in the Northeast. We must guard this peace jealously and not allow our collective security to be sacrificed on the altar of royal or religious politics.
13. This is the time for people of goodwill within Tangale land and beyond to stand and be counted and not succumb to incitement from outsiders. Struggle for royal succession is natural even between fathers and sons. There are established laws dealing with that and aggrieved parties know the right way to channel their dissatisfaction.
14. Tangale cultural elites have a clear choice, either they regard Tangale people as equal stakeholders irrespective of their religious identity, or they pursue the dangerous path of sectarian victimization and chaos.
15. There’s still a window of opportunity for the parties involved to call their people to order. Crises like this, in a multicultural setting like Gombe State, have far reaching implications beyond the borders of Tangale Land or the entire Gombe State. It is my hope that cooler heads and wisdom will prevail in the days ahead.