ZAMFARA, BORNO, KATSINA
As if they all held a meeting, governors of Zamfara, Borno and Katsina States all cried out over the worsening security situations in their states. Samuel Ajayi looks at the underlying messages in their outcries and why the nation might have to brace for tough days ahead
The Katsina State governor, Aminu Bello Masari, cut a pitiable picture as he addressed an extraordinary security meeting at the state capital, Katsina, less than a week ago. Pitiable because he sounded helpless and surprising because most in the rest of the country were not aware that Katsina State was facing such challenge as well. His words:
“The citizens are on a daily basis being harassed by bandits and kidnappers that are on rampage in the state The Katsina Government organised this one-day joint security and stakeholders meeting to proffer solutions to the state’s current insecurity challenge. Our state is currently under serious siege by armed robbers, kidnappers and armed bandits who arrest rural people at will and demand ransom, which if not paid, results in the killing their victims.The people of Katsina in the 34 local governments now sleep with one eye closed and the other opened. Our state is in a dangerous situation. Travellers are afraid of being stopped on the highway and arrested by kidnappers who demand ransom,”
He now enjoined his fellow citizens to “make sacrifices that will make our state safe and will allow people to go about their lawful business without fear of being arrested by armed bandits and kidnappers.”
Zamfara does not fare better. The state has been under siege for months if not years but it seemed to have gotten out of hand as villages upon villages were being sacked and farmers were being killed. Governor Abdul’aziz Yari has said that the problem could affect food production this year.
Yari lamented the incessant killings in the state and condemned the prevailing situation where as the chief security officer; he could not take decisions on strategies for protecting the state and its people.
“We have been facing serious security challenges over the years but in spite of being governor and chief security officer of the state, I cannot direct security officers on what to do or sanction them when they err. As chief security officer, the nomenclature is just a name,” he said
The governor also lamented that it was sad that killings in the state had continued despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to security agencies to bring an end to the incessant killings.
“We cannot keep quiet while our people are being killed daily. We are going to cooperate with all stakeholders to bring the situation to an end,” he said.
Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, has also warned the federal government to nip in the bud the killings do something about the killing in Zamfara State before the nation had another Boko Haram crisis in the state. The Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, said the wanton destruction of lives and property by bandits in the state was unacceptable.
Last week Monday, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State raised the alarm that the security situation in the state was getting worse. He added that he has not openly criticised President Mohammadu Buhari because he has always been given free access to developments concerning the security situation in the state.
Shettima was not alone in expressing discomfort concerning the security situation in the north-eastern state. The governor had held a security meeting at the Government House, Maiduguri. In attendance were traditional rulers, security chiefs, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and others. He told the meeting that the aim of convening the important meeting was not to pass blames or to pass any kind of verdict on our security agencies.
“I think the most inhuman way to go is to gather and condemn those who are putting their lives on the line and giving their lives in efforts to find peace. We are principally here as a family, as a people all affected by the situation in Borno State, to discuss suggestions that will hopefully contribute to combined ongoing efforts towards addressing the problem,” Shettima said.
He called that the security challenges being faced in the state should strengthen “our abiding faith and resolve to continually do whatever we can, in support of our military, the police, the DSS, our Civilian JTF, all para-military agencies and political authorities at the federal level, to end the Boko Haram insurgency.”
Coincidence or Sign of a Failing State
The security challenges in the three states have shown that perhaps, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, might have to look back at when it was in opposition and asks itself same question it was asking the ruling PDP then. It is instructive that these three states are under the control of the ruling party and even one of the states, Katsina, is the home state of the President. Apart from this, they are his strongholds as he seeks re-election. Will he rise to the occasion and restore law and order in these states?
Some social media commentators who spoke with THISDAY claimed that there might be more to the security challenges being faced in these states. That-boy Olusegun, a Facebook user, said he was particularly concerned about Zamfara. He said suddenly, there is increase in killings and attacks by bandits after it was announced by the INEC that the ruling APC won’t be able to present a candidate for governorship election in the state.
“If the ruling party could not present a candidate and now the governor is openly calling for state of emergency to be declared in the state, I won’t be surprised if it was a game plan to ensure that opposition parties don’t have a upper hand in the state during the elections. Nothing is beyond the ruling APC,” Olusegun said.
As for Borno State, perhaps, the claims by the ruling party that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated” might have come too soon. There are daily reports of the insurgents attacking military bases and particularly the fishing town of Baga. While the military authorities have dismissed some of these reports, the fact that the state governor himself has cried out shows that may be, the hen has finally come home to roost.
From Zamfara to Katsina and Borno, it is obvious that something does not just add with nation’s security situation.