DR. SILAS ADAMU was late December last year elected as the President of Atyap Community Development Association, (ACDA).
In this interview with HASSAN ZAGGI, Dr. Adamu, said his major priority is to resolve the protracted Zangon Kataf crisis which has led to the loss of lives and property of residents of the area.
Being a conflict resolution expert, Dr. Adamu expressed optimism that with the involvement of all interested parties in the crisis, permanent peace will soon be restored in the area.
Sir, as an expert in peace and conflict management, how do you intend to put an end to the wanton killings in your kingdom.
I was given this responsibility recently based on the trust that my people have on me. It is quite a challenging time for my people, and I will do my best to ensure lasting peace in the area.
Banditry is a serious issue. It is a kind of gorilla strike of hit and run. We are working assiduously with the parties involved to proffer solution.
In the past, there was a crisis between the indigenous Atyap, indigenous Hausa and Fulani marketers, when the local government wanted to relocate the market in the area to accommodate more people against a smaller existing one which could no longer address the population and the craving for business by other traders. That issue led to crisis because some people felt the market should not be relocated to another area.
The current issue also has to do with land. It was said that someone went to the farm and was later discovered missing. A searched party was dispatched and they traced blood to where the dead body was abandoned.
So, largely, we are dealing with land. It is only the parties involve that can resolve the issue; the indigenous Atyap and indigenous Fulani and Hausa people in that community. These people have lived with us for a long time and have their own legal lands which was given to them by our forefathers which they occupy.
However, some people believe that the killers are Fulani people. But I want to assume they are bandits. There is a community where indigenous Fulani people fled the area and there is suspicion that they are the ones striking.
Largely, we have to know the positions and interest of the parties involved. In mediating, we must know the interest of all the parties involved and how to resolved and find common grounds where all the parties will agree. We must also know the history of the issue at hand. A mediator should ensure that the parties own the process of mediation. Differently, I intend to get the parties involved to proffer solutions to the issues.
I have met the youths of all the groups; Atyap, Hausa and Fulani, and directed them to write their reports. The Hausa and Fulani have their reports which we will look at it and think of a way out for all the parties.
Since you took over as the ACDA President, have you met the government?
We have not met the government yet. We need a clear cut picture first so that we will take it to government. Our Paramount ruler in the past set up committee but the findings and the resolution of the committee never go well with the people. I discovered that the parties never owned the process. It was as if the process was forced on them. But now, we want the people to own the peace process. We must empathize with victims and feel their pains so as to reason together.
As mediators we must get the confidence of the parties so as to get a possible outcome. We must get some level of confidence and trust from the people. As long as a peace process is not encompassing there can never be genuineness about it.
Also, Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Relocation must take place. Some victims are in hospital and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. No body empathized with them. They were abandoned to their fate. We cannot talk peace without solving their problems.
What do you think are other issues fueling this crisis
Aside owning land legally, another problem is delving into other lands that were not ceded to you. Also, that you have land does not mean you are above the government. The government also has the right to use it for other projects because land belongs to the government. We also believe that it is the duty of Government to protect lives and property. In the past, the security personnel only provided physical security to the people. Another narrative is that, government is involve. But I cannot say that until I have a proof.
Recently, there was report sent to me that bandits were mobilizing to attack a village; Gora, and that they (bandits) called and said they will strike. I called the commissioner for internal security, and I sent a message to him, which he acknowledged. After the message, I spoke with a security personnel. That night, government acted immediately and deployed the security operatives to the forest and drove the bandits away. That was something I did differently not to sit down and say government will not do anything. Information is necessary. I want to start doing things differently to ensure that permanent peace is achieved. It is good to share information when necessary.
What do you mean by physical security?
In my study, there is positive and negative peace. When you force people to stop fighting by imposing curfew, it is negative peace because the parties were forced to stop. That is physical security. In genuine peace, it must be all encompassing. Peace is not about physical security; there is economic, food, infrastructure, education, political, ecological etc. Genuine peace means, introduce physical security and assuage to their emotions by discussing the issues and bring the parties together to discuss the issues that led to the conflict and proffer solution.
For instance, youths involved in anti social behaviors are usually the instruments used in crisis. We should be able to engage them in meaningful ventures. We will also ensure ban on substances and ensure the youths are in productive engagements to take them away from those things.
How soon should we expect to see peace gradually being restored in the Zangon Kataf and environs?
I gave myself six months. The traditional ruler charged me to ensure peace by June this year. I will do my best to achieve that. I have commenced discussions with all the groups; youths, elite, etc. The youths are key because they are the ones always being used. I am consulting with all the people that matter to ensure final peace in our community.