My thoughts and prayers remain with the abductees of Government Science College, Kagara. My supplications also extend to their families, friends and loved ones. Lest I forget other traumatized victims of the incessant insecurity bedevilling swaths of our embattled nation. We shall overcome as we await with trepidation the release of all our compatriots under captivity that includes Leah Sharibu, held now for 3 years and more than a hundred outstanding Chibok girls since 2014.
Kagara was in the halcyon days of a bygone era in Nigeria for any road traveller to or from the South West through the Birnin Gwari axis of the North West a must pass through. The increasing deterioration of the road and rising profile of the Lokoja axis made the thoroughfare of Kagara a road much less travelled. It has always been bandit territory albeit not to the level of organization of the present day.
Kagara due south lies less some 20 km from Tegina that is on the crossroads linking Kontogora less than 100 km away on one side and Zungeru, erstwhile capital of Nigeria on the other some 50 km away. Birnin Gwari is further north to it while more south is Kutiwenji. All the aforementioned are in Niger state but were part of North West State with capital in Sokoto between 1967 and 1975.
Niger state has a land mass of 76,363 square kilometers (sqkm) compared with Lagos, Anambra and Imo states at 3,345 sqkm, 4,844 sqkm and 5,530 sqkm respectively. Other large states are Borno and Taraba states at 70,898 sqkm and 54,473 sqkm. The FCT is 7,315 sqkm.
Why are we all from Kagara? I posit two reasons.
First, to paraphrase John Donne who put it in old school English way back in 1624; “No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine” (No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main)
Simply put we are all an extension of each other. North, South, Muslim, Christian. Our children were abducted. As Yiannis Chryssomalis better known as Yanni would compose “Niki Nana” in his Tribute album – We are one!
Second; “In ‘We are all Biafrans’, Chido Onumah takes on Nigeria’s indolent and reactionary ruling elite – civilian and military – and their allies, as well as bandits in uniform, scoundrels posing as statesmen, and conservative ideologues, religious bigots and ethnic chauvinists posing as patriots.”
It is against this background what happened at Kagara can be squarely blamed on Nigeria’s lazy and unimaginative elite. The viral pictures of the depressing physical state of the Government Science College, Kagara is an eloquent testimony to Mr. Onumah’s assertions in his 234 page 2016 must read book.
The greater Kagara area was part of the Nok Civilization of the Iron Age with archeological evidence dating back to 550 BC. It is peopled by predominantly the Gbaygi, Aguarra, Dakka-Karri, Kambai, Dukawa and Ngaski including the Nupe among others. It is a grassland savannah historically characterized by widespread migration and resettlement of a wide diversity of ethnicities due to perennial slave raiding campaigns that persisted up to the colonial era.
It became part of the Sokoto Caliphate as Sarkin Sudan Umaru Nagwamatse dan Abu Bakar (10th son of Sultan Abubakar Atiku) held sway up to 1876. He founded the historic Kontagora emirate in 1864. The title Sarkin Sudan literary means “king of the dark skinned” however figuratively it means “chief slaver” Umaru was also known as “Nagwamatse Dodon Gwari” – Terror of Gwari.
Kagara is the hometown of Dr. Abubakar Imam OBE CON LL.D (1911-1981) He was the founding editor of of the political north’s megaphone, Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo newspaper established in 1941 at Zaria. He was also a prolific author in Hausa. His ‘Magana Jari Ce’ is epic. There is also ‘Ruwan Bagaja’ which in primary school, I had participated in a dramatized version at the Emir’s palace in Kano.
Another notable son was Ibrahim Kagara who would come to be later known as Colonel Ibrahim Taiwo. There is also a distinguished alumnus of Government Science College, Kagara – Senator Shehu Sani.
As I conclude, I am overhearing on TV that a notable academic and first class monarch have both been abducted in the Andoni axis of Rivers state. Meanwhile, hope rising on the 53 passengers released in Niger state against the background of the collateral damage of 7 young magnificent officers of the NAF that died during part of the national service to retrieve the abductees of Kagara. The previous 53 were travelling to Kontogora from Zungeru when they were abducted on February 14, 2021.