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Lecture: "Nigeria: Forging Peace in Ethnic and Christian/Muslim Conflict"

Loyola press release - June 19, 2001

Presentation by Nigerian Governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi and State Department Attorney Mitchell Moss, A'85

Loyola University School of Law, Moot Court Room
Wednesday, June 27, 2001 at 7:30 p.m.

Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi
Governor of Kaduna State

When Governor Makarfi took office, Kaduna was one of the most fractious states in the Federation. He was out of the country receiving medical treatment in Germany in February 2000 when Kaduna erupted in civil unrest that cost thousands of lives and presented the Obasanjo Administration with its first major crisis. Immediately after the crisis, Makarfi began implementing measures to address the causes of a cycle of recurring inter-ethnic violence in Kaduna state. This approach has brought one year of relative peace and stability, and a return civilian control of Kaduna's security after military troops were called in to maintain order. Kaduna recently passed an expanded criminal Shari'a statute that was accepted by Muslims and Christians without protest. Makarfi is now focusing on returning economic investment and creating jobs in what once was the industrial center of the North. Makarfi was recently named PDP Governor of the Year, and appears to be a rising power in the party.

After restoring peace to his own state, Governor Makarfi embarked on a six-state tour--Edo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu and Kogi--to discuss with Southern governors and civic leaders the steps he had taken to overcome the conflict in Kaduna. He also apologized for the violence that resulted in the deaths of Kaduna residents who originated from those states, and invited those who had left the state to return. This was the first such effort by a Nigerian Governor, and was well received by the states he visited.

Born on August 8, 1956, Makarfi had his secondary education at Federal Government College, Enugu from 1973 to 1978. He attended Ahmadu Bello University from 1978 to 1982. He joined the Nigeria Universal Bank in 1983 and served as the bank's chief accountant, assistant general manager, treasurer, and international trade manager. He left for private business in 1992. He is the Chairman of Canes Industrial and General Merchants Limited, Makarfi Motors and Transport Limited, Kaduna Industrial and Finance Consultancy, and Hamdala Community Bank. He was appointed Commissioner for Finance by populist military state administrator Col. Ja'afar Isa in 1992.

Makarfi's wife Hajia Asma'u supports a non-governmental organization called Millenium Hope that assists underprivileged and disabled children. She is particularly concerned about the plight of children who have polio and children that are begging or hawking goods in the streets. International organizations estimate there are some 500,000 children living and working in the streets of Nigeria. Hajia Asma'u Makarfi enlisted UNICEF support for a program to provide a home and education for street children. UNICEF's Special Representative actress Mia Farrow visited the 200-student center on her recent trip to Nigeria.