Special Edition Interview with the Etsu Nupe Alhaji Dr Yahaya Abubakar CFR

Special Edition Interview with the Etsu Nupe Alhaji Dr Yahaya Abubakar CFR

VIP Magazine: What social contract binds you to your people?

First, I thank Almighty Allah SWT for giving us life and the time to observe this occasion, having bestowed upon us the stool of our forefathers for the past 19 years which we want to commemorate and celebrate with thanksgiving and prayers for our people, for peace, stability and progress in our land. It has been a very challenging seat of position, in which you are expected to lead your people right. And to do so, you observe their way of life – their past circumstances, present realities and future expectations, you read through history to understand pivotal points in terms of peace, stability and progress of the people, and then you consider how to contribute your quota as a community leader to improve the overall standard of living in the domain.  This way, one has set a direction that is relevant to our environment and geography as a people.

Predominantly, our people are farmers and fishermen given that our communities are stationed across the stretch of the River Niger down to the creeks and the ocean. Because agriculture is the mainstay in our communities,  we endeavour to engage our people in agricultural activities so they will be able to grow their food, feed themselves and have something to export. To achieve this objective, we have established numerous farm projects all over the place, and I took it upon myself to lead by example by being directly involved in farming – I have a fish and poultry farm, I produce rice and I even have a plant for palm oil production; this way, my people are encouraged to emulate my passion in promoting agriculture.

Promoting vibrant and cordial relationships in our communities is one aspect that I emphasise passionately. I always encourage my people to live well with one another and have the fear of Almighty God in all that they do and say. Advocating for peace within the communities is crucial to reducing the crime rate and combating all forms of insecurity in the land. So, I remind our people to worship Allah and encourage those who have to extend their hand of giving to those who are in need; that way the bond of brotherhood, and that communal relationship is strengthened among our people.

In the area of education, we have made remarkable progress. I believe that the best legacy that one can leave behind for the next generation is to Educate them and consider the deplorable state of the education sector in Nigeria where the young ones still struggle to gain admission into higher learning institutions. On our part and to complement the efforts of the government,  we have been able to pioneer the establishment of a university, the Edusoko University which is now fully accredited by the federal government.   Additionally, we have also established primary and secondary schools across our communities to increase the rate of enrollment for basic education.

VIP Magazine: You are a proponent of the creation of Edu State. , tell us more about the drive behind the agitation for the creation of Edu State.

We believe that our area is gifted by nature and rightly so. The Nupe communities stretch along the banks of river Niger cutting through Kwara, Kogi and Niger States. The Nupe tribe have contributed immensely to national development and as a people, we are blessed with a lot of natural resources.   getting a state among the existing states is a thing that will propel people to do more and go a long way to enhancing the standard of living of our people because they will be more engaged, tapping their natural resources and then things will go much better for the community and then the nation as a whole

The desire to have our state was initiated seat by our predecessor (may Allah grant him Aljanah Firdaus) who first named the project ‘Ndadumo State’ before it was later changed to ‘Edu State’. it was all based on the strong belief that we have enough manpower and natural resources to have a state of our own. We continue in that pursuit and we still believe that yes we will keep pursuing till Allah in his goodness makes it possible for us. inshallah!

VIP MAGAZINE: Considering the present insecurity situation in Niger state and Nigeria, what suggestion will you give to the government in curbing this menace that is ravaging the country today?

We believe that traditional institutions have a lot to contribute to the overall security architecture of the country starting from our domain as traditional rulers. However, there is a broken link between our institution and the authorities at the local state and federal levels.   Before the coming of the imperialists, traditional institutions in this part of the world had a well-established network of securing their domain, starting from the home unit and down to the wards, villages and districts under their rule.

It is a bottom-up approach where the leader of a home which happens to be a father and a mother together have the responsibility of maintaining the security in their home,  making sure that their children are well protected and provided for. From there, the responsibility for a cluster of houses, called wards, is borne by ward leaders who must maintain peace and security in these communities. Progressing upward in the chain of responsibility, we have village heads and district heads who coordinate security in their respective areas. Then you come to the emir who has so many districts under his emirate and he performs a coordinating role in maintaining peace and security in his domain.

This system and network have the benefit of being closer to the people and if it is adopted as part of our security architecture, it will no doubt complement the efforts of security personnel in combating crime. Unfortunately, the role of traditional institutions remains unrecognised within the Nigerian Constitution. And I must say that given the unique relationship that exists between traditional rulers and their people, we have a lot to offer the government at all levels in terms of assisting the government to develop and implement relatable policies. The moment the authorities at the local, state and federal level realise that we are part and parcel of progress, peace and security of the whole nation, I think the better it will be for all of us.

So, we believe that the time will come when the government will accept and recognise our willingness and desire to assist in keeping our people safe.

VIP MAGAZINE:  As the Chairman Coordinating Committee of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, what is the progress so far to get the role of traditional rulers and institutions recognised in the constitution?

Whenever this matter is discussed, we try to reiterate the importance and necessity of traditional institutions in Nigeria and give traditional rulers the constitutional recognition that will enable us to complement the government in advisory capacities. We are still pushing for a review, advocating for a return to the constitutional roles that the 1979 constitution availed of traditional rulers in advising the government on policies and how they would directly impact our people. We are in the best position for this because we know what is beneficial to us and what policy or programme would be most suitable for them. We can advise on the best approach for a policy or programme implementation. 

VIP MAGAZINE: Apart from your royal duties, what are your hobbies?

I used to have time to play golf. I love to golf so much that even now if I can’t physically go golfing,  I use my laptop or iPad to play. I also do some exercise to stay fit because I believe that it is important to engage both the body and the brain for a healthy life.


VIP MAGAZINE: What advice will you give to politicians aspiring to be our leaders at this time?

It is common knowledge in Nigeria that when elections approach, politicians go all out to induce people for votes. Many of them resort to name-calling and witch-hunting their political opponents just to get votes. There is an adage here that “ten people may chase after a fowl, but only one person will catch it”  Politicians must be aware that the positions they contest for are open to everyone qualified to join the race, so each candidate should play the game by marketing their capacity and vision to the people. Let voters know what you have to offer, and how you intend to improve their standard of living instead of inciting supporters to ravage and wreak havoc, leading to loss of lives and properties.

 As a politician, if lives are lost during your campaign because you have incited your supporters towards violence,  then you have blood on your hands and you will account for those lives at the end of the day.

VIP MAGAZINE: What is your advice to young Nigerians aspiring to political positions?

The art of politicking or governance requires an individual to be selfless and highly responsible. When youths aspire to these positions, they will need supporters and resources to fulfil their political ambitions. In getting the support and resources they need, I will advise them to pray hard and work hard to prove themselves worthy to the people while observing the rules of the game. And when God grants them their desired position, they must govern with integrity and harness our enormous resources to improve the standard of living of the people.

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