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Has Muri Solidarity Come To An End?

By Iliyasu Gadu 


Before the just concluded elections, I had a very heated but interesting discussion with a close friend of mine who hails from the northern Senatorial zone of Taraba state on the possible outcome of the governorship race.

Waxing politically vehement, he was like ''Iliyasu go and write it down. There will be power shift from southern Taraba, it will be the turn of either the central or northern zone to produce the next governor of the state after Governor Darius and this will surely happen''. 

Watching quietly as he spoke with all the passion, I asked him why he thought so. His cryptic and forceful reply was that ''we have the numbers. Out of the 16 local governments in Taraba, 11 are in the northern and central zones.'' For your information he went on ''all the 11 local governments constitute the former Muri province and by the solidarity of Muri people and sheer weight of numbers we will triumph over the Kwarrarafa people of southern Taraba'' he said.

So when I asked him how the ''Muri solidarity'' as he stated can aid the quest for power shift to either northern or central zone, he quipped with all the air of confidence that ''We all Muri's are one people and having existed under the same province for years we have come to create a bond of solidarity that binds all the ethnic groups into one people pursuing one cause especially with the way the Governor Darius administration has marginalized our people''.

The issue of Muri solidarity was no doubt one of the major themes of the governorship elections. And as my friend pointed said, before the elections many were led to believe that with two out of the three senatorial zones falling under the old Muri province, it was no brainer that if the Muri zone could get their acts together and stand resolutely behind a candidate from the area, then victory at the polls was very likely.

But the results of the governorship elections as declared by the Independent National Elections Commissions, INEC, went against this permutation.

Out of the 11 local governments in the former Muri province, only 2, Jalingo and Gassol went to Professor Sani Yahya of the New Nigeria People's Party, NNPP, who was the leading candidate from the Muri area. The other candidate Hon. Danladi Baido of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, who is also from the Muri area, did not even make the cut.

On the other hand the candidate of the People's Democratic Party, PDP, Lt. Col Agbu Kefas (rtd), swept the polls in 9 out of the 11 Muri local governments of the northern and central zones as indicated by the results released by INEC.

Overall from the tally of the results, Professor Yahya of the NNPP, could only claim victory in 3 out of the entire 16 local governments of Taraba adding just one, Ibbi in southern Taraba to the two he won, Jalingo and Gassol in the northern and central zones respectively. The remaining 13 local governments were won by Col. Kefas.

Before the elections some of the permutations projected Prof. Yahya to clinch Jalingo, Gassol, Ibbi, Bali, Ardo Kola, Lau, and Gashaka. He was also projected to do very well (meaning getting the required 25%) in Yorro, Zing Sardauna and Wukari local government areas. With this Professor Yahya was expected to win the governorship elections in Taraba as the permutations went.

So what happened to the much touted ''Muri solidarity'' that was to deliver either Prof. Yahya or Hon. Baido, the two leading candidates from the Muri area? Why did it not work as a factor at the governorship elections as expected?

For an answer to these posers we will need to go back to history.

Yes it must be acknowledged there is at present a ''Muri'' identity which encompasses all the numerous ethnic groups in the geo-political area of the same name. It was a creation of two historical personalities, Buba Yero and Hammaruwa from Gombe who sought to extend the Fulani led Muslim Jihad to these areas as agents of the Sokoto Caliphate established in 1804. Although they met fierce resistance from the indigenous tribes, they were eventually successful in their quest to establish a Fulani led suzerain in the area.

But before the advent of the Fulani led order in these areas, it was the Kwararafa entity, a loose confederation that held sway right up to Pindiga and parts of present day Yobe state.

Whereas the Kwararafa entity was a loose confederation that allowed for autonomous co-existence, the Fulani suzerainty was an entity of direct rule and control over the conquered people. And with the coming of colonial rule this was reinforced under the indirect rule system which

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