The city of Potiskum, Yobe State, has always been taken for a mini-Nigeria, a home for diverse ethnic nationalities, peoples, professionals until the recent plague of mindless and clueless ethnic animosities.
Potiskum had a recognised native administration established by the British colonial masters when the Bolewa tribe of Fika Emirate moved to Potiskum in 1924. This was for the establishment of a central administration where the indigenous tribes of Kara-kare, Ngizimawa, Nsamawa, Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri etc were harnessed for the socio-economic development of the area.
The 1924 British initiative met natural resistance of the indigenous tribes who abhorred the Bolewa dynasty which migrated and established her rulership in Potiskum. The Bolewa tribe was said to have fought and conquered the resistance spearheaded mainly by the Kare-Kare and Ngizimawa tribes. While the Kare-Kare bulged and cooperated with the Bolewa kingdom of Fika Emirate, the Ngizimawa is said to have lived and acted against the 1924 movement of Fika Emirate to Potiskum till date.
The Potiskum story is akin to the Ilorin and Afonja dynasty, a reality which the Ilorin people of Kwara State had lived with and integrated for mutual co-existence and socio-economic development of the area. But the reverse is the Potiskum story which has been exploited dangerously; a festering ethnic wound pinched by enemies of peace and mindless ethnic demagogues in diverse ways.
Yet, there are historical features to indicate that the Potiskum community is never owned by any of the so-called indigenous tribes. A case in point is the Potiskum well which no tribe could claim ownership of, thus indicating that all the tribes including the Bolewa all migrated at different times to establish in Potiskum.
The ethnic script all started with the break of Fika Emirate which was an amalgam of all the indigenous tribes in the area and the creation of another Emirate called Pataskum within the Potiskum metropolis by a former Governor of Yobe State; notwithstanding the dangers, confusion and animosities of having two emirs and two emirates in Potiskum.
With the already tense situation and time bomb of hosting two kingdoms in one city; political, ethnic and socio-economic columnists had a field day to throw missiles of annexation at Fika emirate, the main target of the sponsors of the emirate creation to avenge the 1924 historical reality. Ranging from the 42nd Emir of Fika, the late Alhaji Abali Muhammadu Ibnu Idrissa who was almost deposed and sent on exile to Yola in 2009; his successor, first son and current but 43rd Emir of Fika was threatened such that his installation in Potiskum almost suffered a stalemate, escaped assassination when an indigene of the key warring tribes of the area entered the Potiskum central mosque to exterminate him with a bomb but for divine intervention!
While the city of Potiskum has suffered massive infrastructural challenges, loss of investment and development opportunities due to the existence of two emirs and two emirates, the most recent is the cancellation of the approval to Fika emirate to transform the Old Potiskum Prisons facility into a museum for the preservation of historical artifacts by the current Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
The minister’s action is said to have been based on a protest letter by the Pataskum Emirate challenging the earlier Federal Government approval. They are said to make reference to the old Potiskum Prisons area as the House of Dawi which could not be substantiated and at best, a reconstructed history for ethnic aggrandisement.
Investigations have indicated that the minister’s action was without consultation or reference to the Yobe State Government on the true ownership of the area. The area of the old Potiskum Prison is a Bolewa nay Fika Emirate area known as Kara district, and was carefully stated as one of the areas under the jurisdiction of the Emir of Fika in his appointment letter as the 43rd Emir of Fika in 2009. The Bolewa people have lived in this area known as Ungwar Bolewa for the past 97 years, in fact, the Bolewa people cum Fika emirate would be celebrating a century of their movement from Fika to Potiskum in 2024.
The Minister of Interior’s action of cancelling the approval to Fika emirate by the immediate past minister of Interior, General Abdurrahman Dambazau to transform the old Potiskum Prisons into a museum is already fanning the embers of ethnic war.
Already, arrangements had been concluded with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments for the kick-off of the museums project, only for the current minister to bring up the issue of establishing a female custodial centre without the consultation of Yobe State Government and the people of the area on the true owners of the old prisons area.
It is crystal clear that the Minister of Interior may have been misled by powerful political, ethnic and bureaucratic forces in the Nigerian custodial service, among which is the Mai Pataskum, Alhaji Umar Bubaram Ibn Wuriwa Bauya, a retired prisons officer, to reverse the policy.
The above is considered as the manifestation of a shrewd plan to annex Fika emirate by subtle means. The cancellation of the approval to Fika emirate has also been discovered as a grand confusion in retaliation of the historical movement of Bolewa tribe cum Fika emirate to Potiskum in 1924.
The ideal thing to do is to uphold the approval earlier given to the Fika emirate to transform the old Potiskum Prisons into a museum.
Archibong is of the Nigerian Guild of Editors