The Bravery of Emir of Bungudu

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Emir Attahiru

RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

It’s a big shame that bandits are still rampaging in Zamfara State. Several local government areas in this state remain under the servitude of these terrorists. At a point, Zamfara traditional rulers were persistently putting pressure on the military to do the needful. Suddenly, agents of the federal government decided to silence them with threats and intimidation. They were coerced with allegation of aiding the bandits. Of course, virtually all of them chickened out of their legitimate demands. But the Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, has refused to be cowed. Emir Attahiru is now the lone voice exposing the flaws of the military operation in Zamfara State.

The truth this monarch wants the whole world to know about the Zamfara debacle is that killings by bandits are not abating despite the military operations against the criminals. Two weeks back, the bandits stormed Attahiru’s domain in broad daylight and killed 15 people. Emir Attahiru’s message to the military is a very simple one: “Nobody is saying they (military) are not doing anything. They need to do more by taking the battle to the enclaves of the bandits, instead of fighting them at the periphery. Most times when they strike and retreat, these bandits regroup and launch more ferocious attacks on innocent villagers, accusing them of inviting the security agencies. These bandits are still around and wreaking havoc. The security force should take the war to them.”

The traditional ruler also has harsh words for the military on their air strikes in Zamfara: “The air strikes undertaken by the military do not hit the main camps of the bandits. Reports from Mutu in the Tsafe Local Government Area, Tangaram in the Anka Local Government Area and Dumburum in the Zurmi Local Government Area, among others, are that the areas shelled were not the actual hideouts of the bandits and the victims were innocent civilians. The army has been telling us all this while that it has thousands of troops on the ground. Why is it taking them (the troops) so much time to neutralise these bandits and allow banditry and kidnapping to fester to this level in Zamfara State? If truly they have located and bombed the bandits’ enclaves as they want to make us believe, we won’t be where we are.”

The tactical loopholes in the aerial attacks pointed out by the Emir of Bungudu call for concern. The Emir observed that whenever the Air Force carried out aerial attacks, there were no ground troops to complement air raids and mop up the fleeing bandits. This, he said, allowed bandits to escape and mix with innocent people living in fear and at the mercy of the fleeing hoodlums. The military is yet to respond, appropriately to these loopholes.

If all the top traditional rulers in this state have been outspoken like the Emir of Bungudu, perhaps Zamfara State would not be in this mess. Traditional rulers in bandit-ravaged states must realise that the mess will eventually get to them if they refuse to speak out. This was exactly what happened to the District Head of Daura in Katsina State, Alhaji Musa Umar, who was abducted last week.Thus, Daura, the hometown of President Muhammadu Buhari, has joined the inglorious list of bandit-ravaged communities. This District Head of Daura is also Buhari’s in-law. Umar, a former customs officer, is married to the daughter of the president’s sister. He is also the father of Fatima, wife of Col. Mohammed Abubakar, Buhari’s aide-de-camp (ADC). As at press time, Umar had not been released by the bandits. Other traditional rulers, who have decided to remain silent amidst security crisis in their domains, must learn from the pains of the District Head of Daura. They must consistently speak out about President Buhari’s ineptitude in this vital area of security, in order to be secured.

It was encouraging to see the Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Usman, join the few top traditional rulers putting pressure on Buhari to perform his constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property of Nigerians. On Tuesday, Emir Usman bluntly told President Buhari to check the insecurity ravaging the North-west. The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, who visited the Emir, ahead of the national launch of the distribution of cotton seeds/inputs to farmers for the 2019 planting season, was asked to take the frank message back to his principal.

The Emir said that the farmers and herdsmen, who are the target beneficiaries of the government’s agricultural initiatives, had abandoned their farms and herds as killings and kidnappings had become rampant in the region, including Katsina, Buhari’s home state.

“Every day I receive reports of kidnapping and killings from the district and village heads. Tell the president that we have to take care of our people, security first. All these programmes, as good as they are, cannot be successful without security. Security is first and fundamental…I have not seen this kind of country; how do we live like animals? Three days ago, Magaji Gari of Daura emirate council was abducted. Nobody is safe now, whether in your house or road, wherever you are. What we want you to do for us is to stop the killings. Many people have deserted, abandoned their farms in fear of kidnapping and killings and other atrocities. It’s very unfortunate.”

While Zamfara State is in anguish, its bleary governor, Abdulazziz Yari, is busy investing the state’s resources in the construction of Jumu’at Mosques. Within two years, 140 of such mosques were constructed across the state. Yari is celebrating this. He says it is part of his government’s commitment to the development of Islam. However, this governor has not shown the same commitment to the welfare of thousands of people dying in IDP camps across his state.

Yari is not committed to thousands of children orphaned by bandits in the last nine years in the state. He is not committed to thousands of women turned to widows by bandits in Zamfara. There is so much suffering in the three known makeshift IDP camps in this state – the abandoned government quarters in Maradun LGA, the uncompleted Emir’s Palace in Anka LGA and a primary school in Tsafe LGA. Facilities are inadequate for the distressed IDPs. Also, the camps are overpopulated because of the large number of people fleeing their villages because of bandits. There is no water or clinic in these camps.The Zamfara State Emergency Management Agency is as good as dead. IDPs can’t feel this agency. People struggle for a meal a day in the IDP camps. Yet, Yari has been spending huge amount constructing Jumu’at Mosques. What a country! This governor should show commitment to saving lives in the IDP camps instead of building Jumu’at Mosques with tax payers’ money.

A Word for Governor Ambode

My dear Ambode, one of the areas I believe you have performed woefully for almost four years in Lagos State is in the payment of pensions. Lagos State civil service retirees are gasping for breath. Some of them have died waiting for their pensions. Many are bed-ridden with no money for medicals. Several others have become beggars. Retirees of the Lagos State Ministry of Education are the most pummeled. For over three years after retirement, many are still waiting for their pensions. More will die without getting the fruit of their labour. The truth is that your administration has not been faithfully remitting pensions to Pension Fund Administrators. Many of these retirees have spent the last 35 years of their lives serving the state. What they are now getting in ‘appreciation’ is humiliation from you. This has never happened in the history of Lagos State. It is a big shame that it is happening under your administration.

I am struggling to recover from the shock of the expose by the Chairman of the Lagos State Association of Retirees and PFA Pensioners, Michael Omisande, that those who retired from 2016 till date, were yet to receive a kobo. You know quite well that the PFAs will not pay until government credits retirees’ accounts.My dear Ambode, I am ashamed that you go about investing in grandeur projects, while the masses of the people of this state wallow in poverty. Your failings in healthcare, water supply, education and inner roads testify to this. Those around you won’t tell you this bitter truth. The full story of these flaws is for another day. Back to the issue of oppressed retirees. My dear Ambode, you still have 18 days to amend your ways regarding payment of pensions. For me, 18 days are enough to impact on lives. You must look for money and settle these retirees. I don’t care how you will do it. Just do it. A state that spent a terrifying $70 million on an opulent transport interchange has no business owing retirees.

The Persecution of Senator Adeleke

Federal forces are doing everything possible to cripple Senator Ademola Adeleke. He is constantly hounded, threatened, arrested and detained by federal agents. They got even angrier when this man was declared the authentic governor-elect of Osun State by the Election Petition Tribunal. I guess the ultimate aim is to make it impossible for him to access his mandate. Adeleke’s real offence is that he is insisting on retrieving the mandate freely given to him by the people of Osun State; nothing less. For me, this is the real ‘offence’ this man has committed. This is why multiple cases on the same issue are persistently filed against him in courts of equal jurisdiction.

This has assumed a preposterous dimension. Just on Monday, Adeleke honoured police invitation in Abuja and was arrested over the same issue of alleged forged statement of result and testimonial, which is already before a Federal High Court in Osogbo. His arrest was also a clear disregard for the extant order of a Federal High Court in Osogbo, Osun State, which had shielded him from any detention. If the aim of the federal forces is to get Adeleke convicted and put out of circulation, so as not to access his mandate, then, it is dead on arrival. I sincerely hope that the judges involved in all these cases will adhere strictly to the laws of our land. They must be seen on the side of the truth.

An election tribunal validated Adeleke’s election in a split ruling in March while an Appeal court reversed it on Thursday. He has proceeded to the Supreme Court.

Life Expectancy in Nigeria

I have spent quality time reading the 2018 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report on global life expectancy. It did not come as a surprise that my beloved Nigeria was poorly ranked. We have the world’s third lowest life expectancy rate of 55 years. UNFPA said the life expectancy of an average Nigerian is only better than those of the people in Sierra Leone, Chad and the Central African Republic. The three countries have respectively 53, 54, 54 years as their life expectancy rates. I was not surprised that life expectancy rates are even higher in war-torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, with 73 years, 65 years and 58 years respectively.

It is not just about Boko Haram, killer herders and bandits mauling Nigerians. Nigerians are dying in droves because of our shambolic health system and piercing economic problems finagled on the country by a failed leadership. Insecurity aside, life expectancy is also on the decline in Nigeria because of hunger, poverty, disease, malnutrition, and unemployment foisted on the citizens by successive failed governments at all levels. The last four years have been horrendous. Forces of good must continue to put pressure on governments at all levels to perform their constitutional responsibilities of providing security and welfare for the people. This is the only way forward for this country.