By Magnus Eze
To many, Dakwa is a community in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). But some residents say they belong to the neighbouring Niger State.
A visit to the settlement bordered by Zuba and Dei Dei communities in the FCT and Zuma in Tafa Local Government Area of Niger State will shock any visitor as the confusion is worsened by the ‘war’ of signposts bearing either of the two governments.
Strangely, there is another settlement called Dakwa in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) along the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway.
The truth, as checks by Abuja Metro revealed, is that Dakwa is torn between the FCT and Niger State while tension is rising by the day in the community over which is actually in-charge. While the FCT Administration has appreciable presence in the community, the people have nothing to show for identifying with Niger State.
The Dagachin Dakwa, Alhaji Zakari Garba Jagaba, who spoke to Abuja Metro through an interpreter, said they are part of Tafa Local Government Area in Suleja Emirate Council of Niger State.
Jagaba, who was turbaned 16 years ago by the Emir of Suleja, Mallam Awwal Ibrahim Mohammed, as the first village head of Dakwa, believes the community had been neglected because of the seeming tussle over where they actually belong.
So far, the only visible presence of government in the Dakwa axis that aligns to Niger State is a police station.
Dagachin Dakwa speaks:
“When I was crowned, there was no primary school; but I tried to see that there is a school. Though the land for the school was inadequate, the primary school was sited; but because of the endowments and consequent potential in this community, Bwari wants to be benefitting from us, to a point that during elections, they use it to get more votes.
“During the reign of Isah Dara Bwari as council chairman of Bwari, the issue was resolved in the presence of Kaduna State Government officials, but it played out again during the last election, when the number of votes in Dakwa was so high that even the Independent National Electoral Coission (INEC) faulted it, saying the votes were too much for just this place.
“We should have developed more than this, but for the issue of different people having interest in this place, claiming ownership; and this has slowed down the growth of the community. For instance, there is no hospital here; so in many cases, our people go as far as Gauraka near Sabo-Wuse in Niger State for treatment. This affects us adversely in healthcare delivery.
“The community has about 10 transformers, yet, we hardly get light at times for up to seven days. I appeal to the federal and state governments to look into our plight, and provide all the necessary infrastructure that would make life worth living in Dakwa.
“Also, there is no refuse bin here. This is not good for a big community of this nature, though as a leader, I have made written and verbal complaints to the appropriate authorities about the situation we found ourselves. So, my major concern here is to see how the issue of infrastructural decay can be tackled by the state and the federal governments”, he said.
Sarkin Dakwa counters:
But Alhaji Alhassan Babachikuri, the Sarkin Dakwa countered the Dagachin Dakwa, insisting that there is only one Dakwa in Bwari Area Council of FCT. He explained that the community has a rich history with leadership that has spanned 70 years, the first village head having been duly recognised by government in 1946.
Reminded that some signposts, including a police post within the community bear Tafa Local Government Area of Niger State, Babachikuri accused some settlers “with access to wealth” of trying to cause confusion in the community.
“You know, when you have money, you can do anything. You can get a police station and even mount signboards showing anything you like”, he stated.
On another settlement that also bears Dakwa in AMAC, the Sarkin Dakwa advised people to disregard the name, saying the actual nomenclature is ‘Ndanwannya’ (meaning, near the bridge). He said the inability of visitors that settled in the place to pronounce the name correctly made them to call it Dakwa, thereby making it appear as if there are two Dakwa in the nation’s capital.
The Sarkin Dakwa, who stated that the Bwari Area Council has provided the community with primary school and primary health care centre as well as donated transformers to them, told Abuja Metro that the area has continued to attract people because of its peaceful nature and the accommodating disposition of its successive leaders.
He therefore, urged the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to upgrade and provide better social amenities for the residents.
Investigation revealed that due to lack of a clear-cut boundary between the two authorities, the seeming dual status of Dakwa is a time bomb waiting to explode.
The Sarkin Dakwa told Abuja Metro that he recently stopped the activities of those he described as “unknown revenue collectors”, who had been milking the area in the name of revenue generation. He insisted that only agents of the FCT Administration can collect revenue from residents of the area.
He said the Niger State Government cannot begin to reap where it did not sow, noting: “Even if they gave birth to us, you cannot as a mother, expect to benefit from a child you abandoned and did not breastfeed.”
But his counterpart, who spoke to our reporter in the presence of his palace Secretary, alleged that they had been variously provoked by some youth who believed to be acting on the directive of the Sarkin Dakwa.
He stated that some riotous youth had on some occasions attacked his people, including disrupting activities in his palace, but that he always prevailed on his subjects to remain peaceful.
The area is usually tension -soaked during elections. Aside electoral violence, election results were reportedly cancelled in the area during the 2015 polls. Checks showed that during the recently held Area Council election in the FCT, one polling unit, 011A in Dakwa village of Kubwa ward had only a man and his wife in the register, while another polling unit in the area had only three registered voters.
It took the intervention of security agencies to forestall crisis when INEC ad hoc staff wanted to locate polling unit 011A to a side of Dakwa that did not go down well with the natives.
Our investigations further revealed that the side of the community which allegedly pledged allegiance to the Niger State Government is mainly peopled by “settlers”, while the Gbagis insist that they are in the FCT. As the fireworks raged, some residents of the area said many of the signboards in Dakwa started bearing Niger State between 2003 and 2006 when people wanted to evade the bulldozers of the then FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. According to them, there was fear that the community may be demolished at the time.
Babachikuri explained that the people were to be relocated the same time Wuse was resettled at Sabo-Wuse in present day Tafa Local Government Area of Niger State, but that was not to be because the expected compensation was not paid by government. He said nobody would contemplate that now because the government has not taken action for 40 years.
It was gathered that the linkage with Niger State started gaining ground while people who relocated from the demolished settlements in the FCT, needed nearby places to settle, and estate agents in a bid to convince them to pay for their property, told them that Dakwa was in Niger State.
Nonetheless, the Dagachin Dakwa, Alhaji Zakari Garba Jagaba, said the permanent solution to the issue is for the government to openly declare the status of Dakwa to avoid possible war between ‘brothers’.
History of Dakwa village headship
Dakwa is a community with a long history dating back to the 19th Century. The town was discovered by Muhammad Shagaya, the grandfather of Alhaji Musa Babachikuri during his hunting and farming activities close to River Dnabuyi, where he lived with his family until around1945 when some other people came from different locations and lived with him in the town.
Those who joined him were Usaman, Sule and Maichibi. It was at this point that Muhammadu Shagaya became the first ruler of the community in 1946. His reigned till 1958.
After the death of Shagaya, Muhammadu Maichibi, the father of Ahmadu Garkuwa took over as the next king and leader of the people in 1959.
He led the people of Dakwa to migrate from the remote part of the community to the roadside in 1962.
Maichibi died in 1965 and was succeeded by Ahmadu Garkuwa, who ruled for 24 years. It was during his reign that Abuja was created in 1976 and Dakwa fell under the FCT in Abuja Municipal Area Council. However, in 1998, Dakwa was returned to Bwari Area Council.
Earlier in 1989, the youths of the community, including Adamu Muhammadu and Muhammadu Babachikuri sought for reforms in the selection process of village headship due to the changing trend of development in Dakwa.
Consequently, Adamu Mohammed was chosen as the fourth head of Dakwa and he was crowned on January 12, 1990. Uncomfortable with being the king of Dakwaland, he personally tendered his resignation letter to the kingmakers on July 7, 1992.
On August 11, 1993, the kingmakers appointed another king from the Shagaya family and Muhammadu Babachikuri was crowned the fifth king on August 27, 1993, he reigned for 15 years, when he died on May 2, 2008.
It was gathered that during his reign, the town witnessed rapid development as non-natives from different parts of the country were accommodated in the town from 1994-2007.This made Dakwa the fastest growing town among the communities in the area.
After Babachikuri’s demise, his children met chose Malam Alhassan Musa Babachikuri as the sixth ruler and the third Dakwa monarch from the Shagaya family. Sequel to the peaceful selection, Alhassan Musa Babachikuri was on June 13, 2008, crowned the village head of Dakwa.
His appointment was officially endorsed by the Bwari Area Council on July 6, 2008.