By Ahaziah Abubakar Suleiman
From 2018 to date an uneasy calm has been witnessed amongst the Longuda and Waja people of Adamawa and Gombe States. An ethno-religious crisis engulfed the two tribes that have lived harmoniously for centuries leading to deaths, destruction of houses and farms in the area since 2018.
Recently, the crisis witnessed in 2018 roared its ugly head again with many homes in Dumna District of Guyuk and parts of Lafiya in Lamurde Local Government Arears of Adamawa State destroyed and scores killed. The spillover of the crisis in Adamawa State affected some communities such as Jessu and Nyuwar in Gombe State.
The Adamawa State Government did not waste time as it immediately set up a high powered investigating panel to find the remote causes of the crisis and proffer solutions that will mitigate the reoccurrence of the clashes in the area. The panel has since begun sitting and receiving memoranda from the public as to what happened.
A brief history of the two tribes indicate that they are the same and one people who have lived harmoniously for centuries and the way they have inter married leaves one to wonder why such people will be engaged in communal clashes over nothing. One could hardly differentiate who is who either Longuda or Waja in the area.
According to a document obtained from Arewa House Kaduna on the administration of Waja District in 1929, file no 9033 page 50 SNP 17, Waja District then had three major tribes, Waja, Longuda and Cham all with equal status. They were administered by local tribal chiefs who reported to the Emir of Gombe later Tangale –Waja Division.
As time went on Cham Chiefdom was created out of the District and because of the cordial relationship and inter-marriages between the Longuda and Waja they decided to live together in the newly created Waja Chiefdom with Headquarters in Tallase. Instead of the Longuda asking for their Chiefdom as the Cham people did when Waja District was being restructured for administrative convenience, theLonguda people elected to remain with their brethren the Waja with whom they had everything in common and had inter married so much so that they look like one and the same people.
For someone to wake up and say either the Longuda of Gombe State or Wajaare inferior to another is far from the truth since in the colonial era they were of equal status in Waja District created by the Colonial Master.
In Nyuwar which Is the ancestral land of theLonguda nation who migrated from Yemen to Kukawa in Present day Borno State toNyuwar- Wandaland inGombe State before spreading to Adamawa and other parts of the country for instance; you can hardly get upto 10% of the people who are purely Longuda or Waja. The inter marriages are deeply rooted such that almost every family have links with the Waja or Longuda.There is hardly a family that does not have either Longuda orWaja relations.
It beats the imagination of observers to actually believe that these people will take up arms against each other in the name of struggle for either farmlands or petty rivalry due to envy and unknown animosities.
Recently, the Longuda- Waja communities’ resident in Abuja went on a peace mission toGuyuk and Tallase the Headquarters of the Paramount Rulers of the Longuda and Waja People. The delegation was led by two former Deputy Governors of Gombe State Tha’anda Jason Rubainu of Longuda extraction and John Lazarus Yoriyo of Waja extraction with the Chairmen of the Longuda Community and Waja Community resident in Abuja amongst the delegation.
The combination of those who went on the peace mission spoke volumes of how the two tribes have coexisted in centuries.
While on the visit to the affected areas, the delegation was told of the existence of external forces that are held bent on disrupting the peace and cordial relationship that has existed over the years. They said the third party syndrome being sponsored by criminally minded persons who used the crisis to rub the locals of their assets particularly animals; was the major challenge facing them stressing that until such people were identified and brought to book there might be no end to the clashes.
In the Palaces of the two Paramount Rulers everyone expressed disappointment with what had happened a thing never heard of any time until in recent years.
The KwandiNuguraya the Longuda Paramount Ruler for instance told the delegation that his late father had a Waja woman as a wife and the union was blessed with many children who are his siblings so also the Bala’aWaja the Chief of Waja who said his elder sister married a Longuda man. They all wondered how possible it will be for them to rise against one another. The same sentiments was expressed by most of the delegates who gave testimonies on how they have lived in either a Longuda man’s home or a Waja man’s house peacefully without any discrimination.
If these people have lived so peacefully like this over the years, the question on the lips of many is who is the devil that is trying to cost friction and create animosity amongst the people?
The way forward in this case is as stated by the two traditional rulers when the delegation from Abuja visited them.
First is for all the District Heads to set up Peace Committees comprising of the two tribes who will interface with the people and nip it in the bud any threat to the peace in their area.
The activities of hunters and vigilante groups should be regulated. No hunter or a member of any kind of vigilante group leaves his/her district without due clearance from his or her District Head and wherever they are going to the District Head of that particular area must be informed well ahead of time. This is because it was observed that it was these set of people that have been used to perpetrate mindless killings and destructions.
All identified and alleged trouble makers should be monitored closely and reported to the security agencies for necessary action.
The Investigative Panel set up by the Adamawa State Government should be assisted by giving them all the necessary information to help in finding a lasting solution to the perennial problems.
Any District Head whose domain is used to launch an attack should be held responsible.
Those bringing religious coloration to win the sympathy of their faithful should be completely discouraged.
All District Heads should set up monitoring teams that will arrest those going to farms and destroying them with a view to identifying and arresting them prosecution. Unless such persons are arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law they might continue with such dastardly acts.
The traditional Festivals that usually bring the two tribes together in celebration should be organized now more than ever before to show the whole world that they are one and the same people and no individual will divorce that relationship.
All these and many more to my mind if addressed, the usual peaceful co-existence and celebrations that the Longuda and Waja People are known for will be restored.
AhaziahAbubakar Suleiman is residing in Abuja-FCT. Email: email@example.com