EDU STATE MOVEMENT
When the White men colonialists first established their Colonial Protectorate over Northern Nigeria they saw Nupe as one of the leading, if not the leading, ethnicity in the whole of Northern Nigeria. They therefore immediately carved out a Nupe Province in 1908 even before their formation of Nigeria in 1914.
Tne Nupe Province
The Nupe Province was the first and one of the greatest provinces of the Northern Protectorate as it was officially created in 1900 when Lord Lugard declared the creation of five civil provinces with the Middle Niger, or Nupe, Province as the headquarters of the Northern Proectorate.
The Nupe Province actually started from the 1898 to 1900 period when Frederick Lugrad first created it as the Middle Niger Province. It came to be known as the Niger Province in 1908 and it was in 1918 that it was officially renamed Nupe Province.
The Demand for an All-Nupe Province
But by the 1926 through 1928 to the 1929 period when various peoples, best exemplified by the Yagba, Kamuku and Gbagyi peoples, began to agiate and even rioted for separation or inclusion in various provinces of their choice due to the utterly arbitrary and insentive manner in which the Frederck Lugard and his bunch of colonialist White men carved out the provinces the Nupe people also began to agitate for a wholly Nupe Province.
Before then the Nupe Province included other so-called non-Nupe ethnicities who were agitating to be carved out of the Nupe Province. These included the Yagba and the Kambari-Kamuku-Gbagyi peoples.
When others became serious in demanding to be carved out of the Nupe Province the Nupe people also began to demand that their Nupe kith and kins who were insentively craved into other provinces should be brought back into the fold of a single Nupe Province. These most especially included the trans-Niger Nupe people who were variously cut away by Frederick Lugard into the Ilorin Province, the Borgu Province, the Benue Province and other provinces. That was how the idea of a Nupe geopolitical entity first came into light.
But Frederick Lugard and his successor colonial governor’s were mortally afraid of granting the Nupe people a Nupe geopolitical entity. The colonialists never forgot the lesson of history to the effect that they met their greatest challenge in the hands of the Nupe Nation which culminated in the famous Battle of Bida in 1897. So, the White colonialists did all they could to suppress the Nupe demand for a pure Nupe Province.
Agitation for a purely Nupe Province however did not die out, it instead continued to gather momentum as the issue of the granting of Self Rule became more and more popular in colonial Nigeria.
The Second World War and the intense struggle for Independence in the 1940s and ’50s, however, came to dwarf the Nupe struggle for an All-Nupe Province.
But the moment Nigeria was granted Self Rule in 1958 and was preparing for full-fledge Independence around 1960 the Nupe agitation for an All-Nupe Province or State became increasingly serious.
But by this time Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna of Sokoto were beginning to see the Nupe agitation for an All-Nupe Province a threat to the national integrity of the Northern Region. Granting the Nupe people their demand for an All-Nupe Province partially independent of the overall Northern Region could set the precedence for a cascade of secessionist demands within the North.
But more importantly the Northern hegemonists didn’t want to grant the Nupe people a semi-autonomous Nupe Province because they needed the Nupe people, who constituted the most educaed and large civil service force in the North, to build and develop the North. The White men colonialists have used the Nupe people to build their colonial administrative capitals including Lokoja, Zungeru, Jebba and Kaduna and by the days of Sir Ahmadu Bello the Northern oligarchy was already using the Nupe people to further build Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto into the zonal capitals of the North.
It was the days of the secession of Southern Cameroon from Nigeria and the Northern ruling class was afraid of granting restive Nupe people anything that can smack of semi-autonomy.
That was why even when Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Tafawa Balewa empathized with Isaac Boro’s demand for a Niger Delta Province, they did not openly expressed their support for him in order not to emboldened the Nupe people back in their own backyard here in the North.
The North-Western State Blunder
That was the state of affairs when the first coup and counter-coup of 1966 came about. In the end Gowon was swept unto power as the military Head of State.
When the threat of the secession of Biafra became a reality, General Gowon countered the threats of Ojukwu by carving the erstwhile four into twelve new states.
Before creating the twelve states the Gowon military administrators asked the Nupe people to submit a memo on what are their demands in terms of an All-Nupe State. General Gowon being a military Head of State was not affected by the Hausa-Fulani hegemonist flair of the First Republic that was afraid of granting the Nupe people an All-Nupe State.
The original demand of the Nupe people was for all the Nupe people that the colonial White men have balkanized into different provinces in Niger, Borgu, Ilorn and other places to be brought back into a single All-Nupe State. Most importantly the Nupe people wanted the cis-Niger and trans-Niger Nupe people to be brought back into one single Nupe State. It was Lord Lugard the Anti-Nupe who deliberately established the Patigi Emirate on the other side of the Niger in order to accentuate the population of the Nupe people on the trans-Niger banks and then went ahead to wickedly carve the trans-Niger Nupes into the Ilorin Province. Now the Nupe people were demanding for a Nupe State that will include the Nupe peoples on both sides of the River Niger thereby correcting the wicked machinations of Lord Lugard since the days of 1898.
The Gowon authorities were therefore expecting the Nupe people to present a memo with their demand asking for all the Nupe people, on both sides of the Niger, to be merged into a Nupe State. But the federal authorities said that some minority groups from Northern Yorubaland, that is the Akoko, Bunu and Yagba people, will be added to the Nupe State.
But the moment the Gowon administrators asked the Nupe people to submit an official memo of their demand for an All-Nupe State a serious, and unfortunately divisive, debate broke out among the Nupe elders. Some Nupe elders from the cis-Niger area, that is from today’s Niger State, argued that they would prefer joining a North-Western State with the Sokoto people to the North than joining a proposed Kwara State that will include the Northern Yoruba people, the Igala people and the Nupe people all merged together though with the Nupes forming the majority.
Reverend Obayan, who was part of the committee set up by the Federal Government to write the memo of the Nupe people, stated that the Nupe elders from cis-Niger area eventually finalized a memo demanding for the cis-Niger Nupe people to be merged with the Sokoto people as the Southern half of a North-Western State while leaving the trans-Niger Nupe people to be merged with the Northern Yoruba people.
This was indeed a fatal mistake on the part of the Nupe elders for with this they missed the historic opportunity of reversing the evil seed of disunity that Lord Lugard the AntiNupe had deliberately palnted within the Nupe people back in 1898.
The Gowon authorities had no choice than to do what the Nupe elders wrongly asked for. This was moreso the case that the Gowon authorities had not time to revise the memos since they were in a haste to create states to checkmate the threat of cessation by Biafra.
The cis-Niger elders who engineered the merging of the cis-Niger Nupes with the Sokoto people had two issues they were holding on to. First they said that they are half-Fulanis and that their roots lies with the Gwandu and Sokoto halves of the Sokoto Caliphate. Secondly they said that the Nupes will dominate the North-Western State with the less educated Sokoto people and that the Nupes will be totally dominated by the more educated Yorubas if the Nupes agree to be merged into a Kwara State with the Northern Yorubas.
What ever the merit or disadvantages or not of these arguments the fact still remains that this line of argument serious entrenched a deep sense of disunity and distrust among the various Nupe peoples since those days. It the negative and divisive consequences of these arguments that we the Nupe people are still facing to this very day.
In any case General Gowon created twelves states in May 1967 and one of the states was the North-Western State the southern half of which was the cis-Niger section of NinNupe.
The Creation of Niger State
But the moment the North-Western State was formed the Nupe people realized to their shock that the Sokoto elites were no idiots or imbeciles. Even though the Nupe people far outnumbered the Sokoto people in being educated and as civil servants, the Sokoto leaders got a way round the situation by transforming the Nupe people into the civil service slaves of Sokoto. After all the capital of the North-Western State was at Sokoto.
After working as underclass civil servants in very uncomfortable conditions in Soktoto for some three or so years the Nupe people realized their mistakes and immediately began to agitate for the creation of a Nupe State they now call Ndaduma State.
But by then it was the period of the Biafran Civil war and the Federal authorities have not the ear to listen to relatively petty issues like the creation of new states.
Alhaji Egba Enagi, a respectable elder statesman and the father to Senator Zainab Kure, stated that they were members of the group that first came up with the idea of Ndaduma State in the 1960s when Sokoto became too hostile and suspicious of the large and dominant number of Nupe civil servants who overwhelmed the North-Western Region of those days.
Being the most highly educated people in the Northern Nigeria of those days the Nupe people dominated the North-Western region to the extent that the Sokoto people began to see them as threats. Sokoto women, for instance, preferred marrying Nupe civil servants than their own Hausa-Fulani kinsmen. That was how come about the fact that an entire generation of Nupe people with Sokoto mothers were born in the 1960s through the beginning of the 1980s.
We were saying that the Ndaduma Movement started in the 1960s back at Sokoto in those days when the Nupe people decided that they need to have their own Nupe State away from the jealous and envious Sokoto people. Alhaji Egba Enagi said they chose the name ‘Ndaduma’ because in those days it was fashionable to name geopolitical states after major rivers and the River Niger, known as in Ndaduma in local Nupe parlance, was the major river in KinNupe.
It was the Ndaduma Movement that resulted in the creation of Niger State. The name was changed by the federal authorities from Ndaduma to Niger because they felt that the state will also include other tribes like the Gbagyi, the Kambari and Kamuku as minority tribes even though the Nupe people will be the dominant and majority tribe in the state.
Niger State was created for the Nupe people in 1976 but the Nupe people lost the state when they could not agree on where to locate the capital of their Nupe State in KinNupe. The Bida people wanted the capital to be at Bida but other Nupe people wanted the capital of Niger State to be at their own particular or respective towns or villages. And, to compound and complicate the problem, the Etsu Nupe didn’t want a governor at Bida that will come and reduce his traditional powers.
So, while the Nupe people argued and wrangled among themselves on where the capital city should b located the federal authorities eventually chose Minna, out of KinNupe, as a neutral capital city since it Minna was a colonial settlement that belonged to no indigenous tribe. Even the Gbagyis were not the owners of Minna since they only lived in the various hamlets – including Bosso, Maikunkele, Maitumbi, Saiko, Paiko, and others – that were around Minna but not in Minna.
When Minna was made the capital city of the new Niger State the Nupe people practically lost the very Ndaduma, now Niger State, that they had vigorously fought for back at Sokoto.
The Nupes, being a civil servant people, again and immediately overwhelmed Minna and Niger State since all the other tribes in Niger State hardly had educated people or seasoned civil servants in those days.
But even though they dominated Minna and Niger State the Nupe people knew that Niger State was not theirs for the very fact that the capital city was located outside KinNupe.
That was how the idea of a new struggle for the creation of a new Ndaduma State started all over again in the early 1980s. And by the mid-1980s the agitation for the creation of Ndaduma State assumed serious and formidable dimensions as there were indications that the General Babangida military administration was interested in the creation of more states.
The Nupe people believed that they had a great possibility of Ndaduma being created since General Babangida was a Nigerlite just like them. But then, and again, the Nupe factors of disunity and distrust came in again as the Nupe people, the elite class in particular, became divided again as to where the capital city of Ndaduma should be located.
But more devastating to the agitation for the creation of Ndaduma at that particular time was the fact that the demand for the creation of Ndaduma State was more or less a popular and grassroots one with the elitist class of the Nupe society being lackadaisical about it. The Nupe leaders and elders exhibited a lukewarm attitude towards the creation of Ndaduma State because they had no unanimous view or opinion on the creation of a Nupe State. In those days the Nupe people of Kwara and Kogi were not even talking about a Nupe state and the Nupe people of Niger State were again busy arguing about where the capital city of the new Nupe state should be located while the Etsu Nupe was still contemplating whether he can accommodate a Nupe governor to come and share in his, the Etsu’s, absolute powers over the Nupe people.
With all these differences and problems among the Nupe peoples regarding the creation of Ndaduma it is not surprising that when General Babangida created nine more states in September 1987 Ndaduma State was not among them.
Instead of carving Ndaduma State out of Niger State, General Babangida actually cut part of Kebbi State and added it to Niger State. That was when it gradually became clear to the public that behind General Babangida were powerful hands that want the Nupe people to remain in Niger State where, incredibly enough, the Nupe have become more or less the underclass to a powerful non-Nupe oligarchy that have become the political ruling class of Niger State.
It was so painful and so shocking to the Nupe people that the very Niger State that they have struggled for back at Sokoto and the same Niger State that was created for the Nupe people is the same state that has now become their albatross. They are now trapped into a Niger State that they cannot call a Nupe state but a state in which they have actually become the servants of a powerful non-Nupe establishment despite the fact that they dominate the working, civil service, class of the state.
After the disappointment of 1987 the Movement for the Creation of Ndaduma State came to a sudden and abrupt halt. The agitators for the creation of Ndaduma State were so disillusioned and so frustrated they simply forgot about their agitation and went into other vocations.
But Nupe nationalism was unexpectedly and unwittingly revived a couple of years later when a civilian Governor Musa Inuwa came to power in Niger State. Governor Musa Inuwa’s civil service reform agenda of downsizing impacted negatively on the Nupe people since they form the overwhelming majority of the members of the Niger civil service force.
Nupe people felt Governor Inuwa was acting according to an anti-Nupe script. After all the minority tribes in Niger State are all becoming educated by then and are already having increasing number of civil servants who have by then started seeing the Nupe people as a threat. In other words the same scenario that happened at Sokoto was gradually unfolding itself again in Niger State. It was time for the Nupe people to pack their things and get out of Niger State was the view on both sides of the divide.
And so was the Movement for the Creation Ndaduma State unexpectedly revived again in the early 1990s. Even when Governor Musa Inuwa left office in 1993 the Movement for the Creation of Ndaduma State continued.
By 1995 Alhaji Shehu Ahmadu Musa and Professor Shehu Marafa Bida have emerged as the new leaders and protagonists for the Ndaduma Movement. The reputation, fame and clout of these two formidable Nupe people brought instant momentum and force to the Ndaduma Movement in the mid-1990s. But we should note the fact that these two, Shehu Musa and Professor Marafa, were not the only people leading or spearheading the Ndaduma Movement in those days. It is just that they are among the most famous in those days.
Interestingly enough Alhaji Shehu Musa, a seasoned administrator who was at a time the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, insisted that the Ndaduma Movement should be broadened into an umbrella sociocultural movement for the Nupe Nation and not just a movement parochially focused on just the creation of the geopolitical state of Ndaduma State.
Some factions within the movement opposed Alhaji Shehu Musa and accused him of trying to dilute the movement into a mere and toothless sociocultural movement that will divert attention away from the dire need of the Nupe people for a geopolitical state of their own.
But while the Ndaduma movement was on the verge of splitting into a cultural and a political movements news came that the then reigning General Sani Abacha was about to create additional states. This news instantly consolidated the Ndaduma Movement back into a movement for the creation of Ndaduma State and any pretension to its being a sociocultural movement immediately vaporized.
Almost overnight the Movement for the Creation of Ndaduma State burst out on the streets again and throughout the length and breadth of KinNupe, this time around including the Nupe people of Kwara North, people began to clamour for the creation of Ndaduma State for the Nupe people. And, this time around again, a sizeable number of the Nupe leaders and elites genuinely participated in the new-founded agaitation for the creation Ndaduma State.
But then, and again, the ugly faces of Nupe mischief, mistrust and disunity all reared up their heads again. The same ugly and divisive debates that had plagued and pestered the Nupe demand for a Nupe State since the days at Sokoto came up again with Nupe leaders, and even the masses, not agreeing on where the capital city should be located, with the Nupe elders not agreeing on who should get this or that position or office when the state is created, and with the royal fathers still afraid that the politicians will come and partake of their powers over the Nupe people.
The Lapai people said the capital should be at Lapai and the Mokwa people said the capital should be at Mokwa. And the Bida people and so many other Nupe cities and towns each insist that the capital of Ndaduma State should be in their particular town or cities.
General Sani Abacha consulted with all the stakeholders involved in the Ndaduma State issue. He did noticed that the agitation for Ndaduma State was a very pressing and very legitimate one considering the fact that the Nupe people are a well known and highly respected people throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria.
But General Sani Abacha was disappointed with the results after his consultation with Nupe leaders, Nupe elders and other powerbrokers from Niger State. One thing was clear, the Nupe people are not united or organized in terms of their demand for a Nupe State.
Meanwhile, and on the streets, the Nupe people at the grassroots were still clamouring for the creation of Ndaduma State. To them it was evident that Niger State will be partitioned into two with the Nupe people joining their Kwara North kinsmen to form Ndaduma State. And while the Nupes were celebrating that they were leaving Minna the non-Nupe people of Niger were also celebrating that the Nupe people are leaving Minna and Niger State for them.
But then the Nupe people received the shock of their lives when General Sani Abacha created six more states in 1996 without Ndaduma State. Riot almost broke out as Nupe masses blamed their Nupe leaders and traditional rulers as the ones who failed them.
After that other serious disappointment the idea of Ndaduma State almost died a natural death as all its proponents and agitators scampered away to find other things to do.
Three years later General Abacha died and, a year or so later, Engr. A.A. Kure became the new civilian Governor of Niger State in the new democratic under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Throughout the eight years Engr. A.A. Kure spent in power the topic of Ndaduma State never made the headlines in KinNupe. The reason was that even though Engr. A.A. Kure was not against the idea of an Ndaduma Nupe state for the Nupe people, he did not express his open support for Ndaduma State because he didn’t want to get himself involved in the bitter politics of where to site the Ndaduma capital which was by then being hotly contested by the Lapai and Bida peoples.
It was also in those days that the claim became popular to the effect that the Nupe people are already dominating Niger State so why should they leave Niger State for another, Ndaduma, State? The claim in those days was that since a Nupe man, Engr. A.A. Kure, was the Governor of Niger State then the Nupe people are the ones ruling and dominating Niger State and should, accordingly, not agitate for another Nupe state.
When Etsu Umaru Sanda died in September 2003 Alhaji (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar immediately succeeded him as the new Etsu Nupe. The new Etsu Nupe immediately exhibited an unprecedented interest in the Movement for the Creation of Ndaduma. He immediately became a rallying point for the lastest revival of the Movement for the Creation of Ndaduma State. He personally revitalized the Ndaduma Movement by bringing from different backgrounds on board including famously Professor Jerry Gana, Engr. Y.Y. Sani, Sentaor Zuruq, and many others.
Not long afterwards Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu became the new Governor of Niger State. Dr. Mu’azu Babangida may not be interested in the Ndaduma Movement but he certainly had no reason to downplay the Ndaduma Movement since, being an Hausa man, he could never got caught up in the internal squabbles of the Nupe elders regarding the location of the capital city of Ndaduduma State.
With the Talba Administration not downplaying the Ndaduma Movement and with the new Etsu Nupe being so passionate about the Ndaduma Movement the movement suddenly assumed unprecedented popularity under the leadership of Professor Jerry Gana as the Chairman of the Movement for the Creation of Edu State.
The Etsu Nupe Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar was also able to unify the Nupe people under the umbrella of the Ndaduma Movement. He successfully brought in both the Lapai people and the Kwara North Nupe people to come and paly active roles in the Ndaduma Movement.
It was around that time, somewhere around the 2007 period, that the Kwara North Nupe people insisted that for them to become active participants in the Ndaduma Movement the name of the proposed Nupe state should be changed from Ndaduma State to Edu State. This name, Edu, they brought from the name of the Edu Local Governemt Area of Kwara North.
Ever since then the clamour and agitation for the creation of Edu State have assumed legendary dimensions. But the present Goodluck Jonathan administration obviously has not the power, the guts or even the time to create more states at the present. That is despite the fact that the administration recently published a list of proposed states with Edu State as number two on the list as suggested by the National Cofab set up by the Jonathan administration.