Against the backdrop of the fact that security remains the pivot around which other stands of development revolve, BIYI ADEGOROYE, takes a look at the rising cases of insecurity in the country and called for urgent broad-based solutions in order to save the nation from rampaging criminals
“Hon Minister, tell the President that we have to take very good care of our people, security first. All these programmes, as good as they are, cannot be without security. Security is first and fundamental,” were the shrilling cries of the Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir Usman early last week, as he bemoaned the near collapse of the security situation in the country.
Wanting the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, to convey it to President Muhammadu Buhari, Usman added: “Every day I receive reports of kidnapping and killings from district and village head… Three days ago Magajin Gari (of Daura Emirate Council) was abducted, nobody is safe now, whether in your house or road, wherever you are.
“What are you to gain by killing, kidnapping people? It’s very unfortunate. I have not seen this kind of country; how do we live like animals? What we want you to do for us is to stop the fight. Many people have deserted, abandoned their farms in fear of kidnapping and killings and other atrocities, it’s very unfortunate.”
Though he was heavily perturbed by the share insecurity in the 34 local governments in Katsina State, his neigbouring state, Zamfara has a sore story to tell. The 14 local governments in the border country have practically become a war zone, as bandits have reportedly killed closed to 10 , 000 in the last nine years.
Such attacks which come in the forms of armed robbery, cattle rustling and killings were said to have ravaged vulnerable villages and rural communities, particularly in 10 local governments. In Maru Local Government villages affected are Lingyado, Tungar Baush, Yar Galadima, Dansadau, Bindin, Sangeku, Daqaga and Dankurmi.
Others are Kizara, Yanwaren Daji, Keta and Kwarin Ganuwa in Tsafe Local Government, the birthplace of Ibrahim Chafe, a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police. In Maradun Local Government, villages and towns like Gora Namaye, Magami, Tubali and Kayawere attacked, while in Shinkafi Local Government villages and towns like Tubali, Shanawa, Dolen Moriki, Jangeru and Katuru.
In Anka Local Government villages attacked include Agega, Tungar Kudaku, Dareta and Yargalma, and in each situation, humans were killed and the bandits also rustled thousands of cattle
In Bukuyum Local Government, people were attacked in towns like Kyaram and Adafka, while there were pockets of attacks in Wanke, Magami, Gidan Dogo and Tungar Jaki all in Gusau Local Government. In Birnin Magaji Local Government there were killings and cattle rustling in Kauyen Dan’ali and Nasarawa Mailayi. Rukudawa village in Zurmi Local Government also recorded some attacks.
Giving an insight into the killing spree in Zamfara, the Secretary to the Zamfara State Government, Professor Abdullahi Shinkafi, said the state was known to be the most peaceful until 2009/2010. “That was when we started witnessing banditry attacks in some parts of the state, which initially started for the first three years as an unfortunate annual trend. Then, gradually after 2011, it became a biannual happening and unfortunately gradually also it became a quarterly, later a monthly, now almost a weekly, and some time even daily affair. We are witnessing insecurity inform of banditry and abduction of people for ransom. Sometimes villages are set ablaze.”
He said it all started with farmers/herdsmen clash, which is a general trend all over Africa. “Wherever you have common interest in resources, you find people clashing over it. But then in 2011, presumably when we witnessed war in our neighbouring African countries, precisely Libya and Mali which brought about proliferation of weapons all over the place and also coming in of mercenaries. I think that was what changed the whole trend. It is no more farmers/herders clash, it is more of clear criminality and even the criminality has changed to something else. The emerging trend now appears as if we are fighting ideology.”
Besides alleged invasion by alleged rebels from neigbouring countries, Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir alleged that: “government officials, politicians and wealthy individuals who are enemies within and outside government are behind the incessant killings and kidnapping across the country.”
Though Sokoto, one of the states in the North-West had had cases of killings, another vortex of grueling story of insecurity is Kaduna State. Residents of local governments like Kajuru, Jaa’ma, Sanga have suffered all manners of attacks in recent years, leading to the demise of hundreds of them. The gruesome killing of 29-year-old Briton, Faye Mooney as well as other Nigeria in the area is still fresh in the memory.
Today, some parts of the state have become operational bases for kidnappers who making huge sums from the ransom obtained from the high and mighty. Not even the establishment of military bases in Zamfara, Katsina and Southern Kaduna has not assuaged the pains of the people.
Though the current spate of criminality, which has engulfed many parts of the north and cascading southwards, and manifesting in the forms of kidnapping, rape of farmers, have become source of serious concern. Last Monday, gunmen invaded Plateau Polytechnic and abducted the registrar’s sister, while on the same day, a professor at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Olayinka Adegbehingbe, was abducted by kidnappers who demanded for N50million ransom and received N5million before releasing him. A father and his daughter were also kidnapped in Ondo State even as the NYSC confirmed the abduction of corps member in Borno.
While President Buhari’s statement shortly after his return from London, seemed to have undermined the seriousness of this national security issue, when he attributed IGP’s supposed emaciation to alleged sleeplessness informed by his-round-the clock pursuit of the criminals, the Senate’s grilling of the Inspector-General of Police, Abubakar Adamu, last Tuesday assuaged the pain.
Shocking enough, the service chiefs have been addressing security in isolation, ignoring the nexus between criminality and socio- economic indices like unrealistic child-bearing in the face of a shrinking economy and growing army of unemployed youths-now at 38 per cent of a population recently put at 201million. Instead, they do not want upper ceiling in security budget and weapons’ procurement, ignoring the time-tested philosophy that no mortals can wipe out criminality.
Mr. Dele Sobowale, in a derring-do report, recently put his fingers on the matter, stating that the current spate of killings in the north portends that “a revolution is underway in that part of the country predicating his position on the fact that “the downtrodden constituting 99.9 per cent of the (northern) population, hitherto docile beggars, saying rankaindede to the privileged I 0.1 per cent, are sick and tired of begging. They are now demanding for their own share of “the national cake” to be delivered to them – at gun or cutlass points. Nigeria will never be the same again. The North is now gradually sliding into the dictatorship of the beggars or almajiris.”
Needless to say, the current criminal actions in the region are a function of misgovernment, crass poverty and failure of successive governors. About two years ago, the Emir of Kano, Dr, Lamido Sanusi, alluded to the socio-economic backwardness of northern Nigeria though the region had produced most of the nation’s leaders it is wallowing in wretched poverty.
Reeling various Human Development Indices of the United Nations Development Programme, released in 2000, the revered economist and former Governor of the Central Bank premised his argument on “the number of children out of school, adult literacy, maternal morbidity, infant mortality, and par capital income,” indicate that the North-West and North-East are the poorest part of the world. He said if the UNDP report was anything to go by, Borno and Yobe states, if they were a country were poorer than Cameroon, Niger and Chad. Regrettably, he said nobody was paying attention to this.
Sobowale condemned double standards and failure interrogate some questionable activities, stating: “A governor caught on video receiving bribe shows no remorse and even receives Presidential endorsement because the President and the governor belong to the oppressive class. …The chickens have come home to roost in the North and the revolt might spread all over the country. The former beggars have dropped their bowls and have acquired bullets and guns. They are now forcing the Haves, who have suppressed them to pay. Henceforth, it will be “Your money or your life.”
Similarly, in the view of the apex Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, some state governors and elites of being responsible for the spate of insecurity in the country. Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Chuks Ibegbu, said the elites, governors and corrupt system in the country have made the youths employed, hence, the high level of insecurity.
“We blame insecurity on the ruling elites and the corruption in the system which has made our unemployed youths to turn into hoodlums and now revenging on the uncaring society. As long as our ruling elites and uncaring government officials fail to take care of the people, so long will everybody be a victim of the incubus they created.
“The wind they sowed has turned into a whirlwind. They now run to the rail from Abuja to Kaduna and avoid the roads. But in the East, there is no functional rail the elites travel along so they must use the dangerous East-West Road or the comatose Enugu – Port Harcourt highway.
“This is the situation our elites and government officials have created for us all. The only solution is good governance and sincere leadership. Where is the security votes politicians corner for themselves? Some Governors take N1billion as security votes without securing anybody.
“They go with a platoon of security men as some of our elites do to leaving the people at the mercy of armed robbers, ritualists, assassins and kidnappers.”
Weighing on the comatose situation in the country, former Director of State Services, Chief Mike Ejiofor, who recently spent five days in kidnappers’ den, said security agencies should rise to the situation with every element of professionalism even as government sees this as a national emergency which must be addressed with a sense of urgency.
Like the Amnesty International said recently, the solution to the security problem in the country lies in good governance, any less would it be addressed by throwing billions of naira at it. Otherwise, beneficiaries of the current security budgets might as well be sabotaging peace process in order to sustain their source of