At 100, the promise of Kaduna City Endures

Address by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, on the occasion of the celebration of the Centenary of Kaduna City, held on Saturday, 16th December 2017 at the Murtala Muhammed Square, Kaduna.


It is with utmost delight that I welcome you all to the celebration of the centenary of Kaduna city. It is a privilege to celebrate the evolution of history, to pay tribute to the people who made this city, to acknowledge the opportunities missed, and to look resolutely to the future, with determination that the next century will unfold in peace and prosperity.

Kaduna city is so steeped in the history of Nigeria in the last century. Like Nigeria itself, Kaduna Capital Territory was founded in the service of the colonial enterprise. But the interactions between the peoples brought together in the city created a new reality, enabled fresh connections and interactions, and unleashed forces that grew the city, gave it a new identity and enabled it to continue to thrive after colonial shackles were removed.

Kaduna Capital Territory was established by Lord Frederick Lugard, the British Governor who effected the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria. In 1902, the administrative centre of the northern provinces moved northwards to Zungeru. Lugard moved the capital of the North further north from Zungeru to Kaduna in 1917.

In selecting Kaduna, Lugard is quoted to have said that “the climate here is invigorating, the soil is good and adapted for vegetable and flower gardens, the water supply pure and inexhaustible, and the site is within 81kms of the great trade centre of Zaria”.

I am delighted to say that the comparative advantages of Kaduna city, as eloquently articulated by Lord Lugard, endure.

The British made Kaduna a foremost military and administrative centre. And they planned the city with care. As the capital of Nigeria’s most diverse region, Kaduna became one of the major places where Nigerians were being made out of the many peoples that migrated there. Military, administrative and commercial institutions became the major employers of labour as Kaduna was being made. Kaduna itself also made a lot of people, because it became a place of promise.

In its first hundred years, Kaduna has experienced highs and many lows. The thrill of industrialisation based on textiles made it one of the most vibrant cities in Nigeria. As the seat of the democratic northern regional government, it was the go-to city for the peoples of the diverse provinces that made up the northern region. And the military, which had settled in Kaduna before the arrival of the civil administration, remains a strong presence.

We pay tribute to the colonial administrators and the Independence Generation ably led by Sir Ahmadu Bello, and vigorously supported by our traditional rulers, who created the magic of Kaduna. We pay particular tribute to the Sardauna and two illustrious Northerners that became the first post-colonial governors of the Northern Region – Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi the grandfather of the incumbent Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi II, who acted as Governor for three months before being succeeded in a substantive capacity by Shettima Sir Kashim Ibrahim. May Allah Grant them Aljannah Firdaus.

Kaduna is proud to have hosted every significant Durbar in Nigeria’s history. In 1956, the Northern Region honoured Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth with a grand durbar here in Kaduna. This was repeated 1973 in honour of His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and the Festival of African Arts and Culture (Festac) grand durbar in 1977. We are grateful to God that by coincidences of history and geography, Kaduna is Nigeria’s Durbar Capital.

We are grateful to Almighty God that today, the Emir of Zazzau is here today to repeat the outing of 1977. We are equally happy that the Emirs of Kano and Gombe are here today in the footsteps of their grandfathers that played significant roles in the durbars of 1956 and 1977 respectively. We welcome all the eleven Emirs and their contingents from Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Borno, Niger and Kano State for being here to express their love and solidarity for Kaduna Capital Territory and Northern Nigeria.

These historical events and the Durbars associated with them refiected the highest points of our city.

The lows arrived in the 1980s, with tragic consequences. The decline of the textile sector was accompanied by an explosion of ethno-religious animosities which tore asunder one of the most integrated cities in Nigeria. Repeated episodes of violent conflict led to the repugnant ethnic and religious cleansing of parts of the city, creating segregated neighbourhoods.

A city that was created for everyone, with mixed neighbourhoods that enabled a Husaini Adamu Dikko to befriend a Jonathan Andrew Nok as kids, and made Tudun Wada such a prolific source of sporting stars was reduced to a conclave of separate ethnic ghettoes. This will not be allowed to stand. In the next century, Kaduna must reclaim its promise as a place of integration.

Despite the lows, we celebrate Kaduna because it is the highs of its history that best testify to the promise of our city. And because we have a chance to restore its promise. The tragedies of recent history have not erased the confluence of influences that made Kaduna such a place of diversity. Those of us who grew up in mixed neighbourhoods in Kawo Kaduna, forming lifelong connections across creed and tongue, know that we were enriched by such experiences.

We are committed to the social and economic recovery of Kaduna as a tribute to the resilience of the people who call it home. We are steadily pursuing the re-industrialisation of Kaduna, through the revival of cotton-textile-garment value chain. Unlike in the past when government employees dominated the city, most of the people who reside in today’s Kaduna metropolis are not public servants but people who have legitimate expectations regarding the delivery of public goods and job opportunities. These expectations include security, peace, a sense of order and compliance to development regulations.

We observed that rather than the determined development of new layouts, some of our predecessors chose to carve out existing neighbourhoods within the city. We do not think this is sustainable, or even desirable! This APC government has therefore passed a law to protect the Masterplan of Kaduna, and we have extended the city limits to 40km radius from the Post Office.

Towards the next century of Kaduna, we are determined to develop the eastern sector of the city to manage the orderly expansion of our metropolis. This will include residential and commercial areas. Our public servants are also working on the development of Itisi Dam – a new Kaduna Water project to build capacity to serve the water needs of a growing city.

From the painful experience of decline and division, we look forward to the resurgence of a city of tolerance, in which diverse communities uphold peace and harmony and set an example of what Nigeria can be.

Thus, 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. We celebrate because Kaduna must be a Northern dynamo of progress and a national 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.

Fittingly, this centenary is celebrated as a Nigerian affair with the peoples of the old Northern Region at the forefront. I therefore thank His Excellency, Kashim Shettima, the Governor of Borno State and chairman of the Northern State Governors Forum for his passionate support for this centenary.

We extend our gratitude to the governments of the 19 northern states for their various contributions to this celebration. Special thanks to their Excellencies, the Governors or Deputy Governors of Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Zamfara, and Plateau States for their presence here. We acknowledge the apology and warm wishes sent in by the Governors of Edo, Kwara, Benue, Nassarawa and Jigawa States.

We register our appreciation to our Emirs and Chiefs whose enthusiastic participation in the Kaduna Centenary reflects the enduring ties of history. It is important to specially thank their royal highnesses, the Shehu of Borno and the Emir of Zazzau, for their effort in making the grand durbar such a spectacle.

We extend our condolence to His Royal Highness, the Shehu of Borno, who lost some members of his delegation to this event to a fatal accident. Former Inspector-General of Police, Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum and Sardaunan Katsina, Ibrahim Coomassie, took leadership of the nitty-gritty of the Grand Durbar today. May Allah reward the Shehu of Borno, the Emir of Zazzau and Sardaunan Katsina for their exemplary leadership.

Our eternal gratitude goes to their Royal Highnesses the Tor Tiv, Etsu Nupe, Emirs of Kano, Bauchi, Gombe, Hadejia, Misau, Jama’are, Katagum and Keffi for their willingness to participate in the centenary. We condole with the people of Katagum emirate for the loss of the emir, and congratulate the new monarch. For this obvious reason, Katagum was unable to join us.

Former Heads of State General Yakubu Gowon and General Abdussalami Abubakar have conflicting engagements and are unable to join us. General Abdusalami Abubakar kindly sent a representative to this event. We are grateful to you, Your Excellencies.

I wish to acknowledge and thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his consistent support for Kaduna. The President has spent more of his life in Kaduna than his state of origin of Katsina, and has been there always for Kaduna. PMB is unable to be at this event because of ECOWAS commitments, but he kindly sent my brother, the honourable Minister of the FCT to represent him.

Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen. The last Grand Durbar in Nigeria took place here 40 years ago. We thank you for joining us today to make history. All of our Emirs here present at this centenary will be an indelible part of Kaduna, Northern and Nigerian history. Kaduna Capital Territory and its residents remain eternally grateful to you all.

Permit me to close by invoking the protection of Almighty Allah upon our land and its peoples, as we express gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us and as we pray that peace, harmony and prosperity will reign over this city, our state and our dear Nigeria.

God Bless Your Royal Highnesses, grant you all long life, in good health, wisdom and prosperity to develop your domains in unity and progress. God Bless Kaduna Capital Territory and our state. God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

God Bless you all.

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, OFR
Governor of Kaduna State

Source: The Unknown Nigeria

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