RingTrue By Yemi Adebowale
Security clumsiness is unending in beloved Nigeria. It comes with all the trappings of a failed government. For instance, what kind of explanation will our security agencies put up in defence of their failings seven days back in Runji Sakwab, Atyap Chiefdom of Zango Kataf Local Government Area Kaduna State, where 33 persons were murdered in their sleep, 19 of the corpses were burnt beyond recognition? How would they explain that terrorists spent hours in Runji Sakwab without appropriate response from them? Zango Kataf LG has a base of the Special Military Task Force called Operation Safe Haven, charged with maintaining peace and order in troubled parts of Kaduna State, yet, terrorists stroll in and out with ease.
On that day, April 15, the terrorists were not in a hurry to leave Runji Sakwab because they were very sure they would not be repelled by Operation Safe Haven. By the time they eventually left, the community was left in ruins. Runji Sakwab is the third community in Atyap to be attacked by terrorists within a space of about 30 days. Just on April 13, eight people were killed in an attack in Atak’Njei.
It is pertinent to note that Kaduna is a garrison state, with a huge number of military formations. Yet, terrorists roam unimpeded. The Commander-in Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, who promised to lead the war against terrorists from the front has not raised queries on the Runji Sakwab killings. No security man has been fired. No commander has been relieved of his job. The most shocking is that Buhari has not deemed it fit to condole with the people of Runji Sakwab.
In Southern Kaduna, the war is largely between herders and natives over grazing lands. The herders are also laying claims to lands. This has persisted for years, with thousands dead and so many families bereaved on all sides, but the natives have suffered the most. There are also some conflicts between the natives and Hausa communities. Attacks and counter-attacks have continued due to the failure of governments at all levels to take dispassionate actions to end the bloodshed.
The over 40-year-old crisis took a dangerous dimension under President Buhari and Governor Nasir el-rufai of Kaduna State, with people killed almost on a daily basis in Kajuru, Kauru, Jema’a and Zangon-Kataf and many other Southern Kaduna communities. The April 15 killings in Runji Sakwab were reprisals by Fulani militias. So sad that killers are scarcely apprehended. This is what emboldens them. What we have in Nigeria today is a compromised federal government that can’t protect citizens.
Our President derives so much joy grandstanding about curbing terrorism. He has nothing, in practical terms, to justify his unending vows to crush terrorists. Daily, scores are killed, many abducted and houses burnt across our country. The security glitches under Buhari’s government are ceaseless and consuming too many innocent lives. The security of the people is no longer on the priority list of this jaded federal government. When terrorists strike and there are no consequences, they are emboldened. This is exactly what has been happening in almost eight years of the Buhari government.
Security agents have also compromised. This is why the killings are persisting. Governor el-rufai must show greater commitment to ending the carnage in Southern Kaduna. This governor acts in a compromised manner. He is never there for the oppressed in this state. El-rufai enjoys grandstanding and persistently spins rubbish, without offering relief to victims of killings and kidnappings in his state. The attacks by terrorists in Kaduna State have equally exposed el-rufai’s incompetence.
A few years back, a former federal lawmaker, Shehu Sani, while lamenting the killings in Southern Kaduna, said: “No part of Kaduna is spared of terrorist attacks, violence, and kidnappings. However, the killings in Southern Kaduna by terrorists are systemic. The people of that part of the state are also institutionally treated like the blacks under apartheid South Africa.”
No doubt, human lives no longer have value in beloved Nigeria, but the utmost calamity is the death of sympathy from those who claim to be our leaders. A President jets out of his country amid killings of scores of citizens by terrorists! This is preposterous. Buhari and el-rufai should be ashamed of the statistics of killings in Kaduna State. In 2022 alone, a total of 1052 people, comprising 947 men, 82 women and 22 minors were killed by terrorists in Kaduna State, while 4,227 were kidnapped. In the first quarter of this year alone, no fewer than 214 persons have already been killed as a result of attacks by terrorists, communal clashes and reprisals across the state -196 males 14 women and four minors. A total of 746 citizens were kidnapped during this same first quarter of 2023.
For me, the Atyap Chiefdom, Fulani and Hausa communities in the troubled Zangon-Kataf LG must reconvene the peace summit summoned in August 2020. Back then, leaders from these communities met and brainstormed on a lasting solution to the persistent killings in the local government. It was heartwarming seeing the Agwatyap, Dominic Gambo Yahaya, discussing with the leaders of the Hausas and Fulanis at the Yakubu Event Centre in Ungwan Wakili, Zango-Kataf LGA.
Retired Air Vice Marshal Stephen Shekari and Dr. Salim Umar, co-chaired that 2020 peace summit. A communiqué at the end of the meeting called on all residents of Atyap Chiefdom not to take laws into their hands and instead submit all grievances to the lawful authorities. The communiqué appreciated the fact that all Nigerians have the constitutional or fundamental right to move and reside anywhere in Nigeria, including Atyap Chiefdom, without any fear, molestation or harassment from anybody or any source whatsoever. There was peace for several weeks in Zangon-Kataf LG after this landmark summit. Then, suddenly, the agreement collapsed.
The diverse communities in Southern Kaduna must learn to live in peace with each other. For years, I have been advocating for this. Forgiveness, reconciliation, community healing, roundtable negotiation over land and neutrality of government/security agencies are essential. That’s how to end killings in Southern Kaduna. That 2022 peace summit should be reconvened and expanded to include all the leaders of communities in the entire Southern Kaduna. As for the Commander of Operation Safe Haven, he must ensure that his boys operate dispassionately.
Next President of the Senate
The list of aspirants for the position of President of the Senate in the 10th Assembly commencing in June keeps growing. As at the last count, 10 senators were already jostling for the plum job. I’m not sorry to say that most of the aspirants are in the race for selfish reasons. Many of them have just been making noise with no clearly defined legislative agenda. Only two of them have been able to tell Nigerians what this country stands to gain if they emerge President of the Senate.
The poor quality of these candidates aside, I’m worried that some senators from the North-east are also in the race. This is an aberration. The North-east and the South-west have already been “settled” in this next federal political voyage commencing May 29 this year. With the South-west producing the President and the North-east producing the Vice President, no politician from these two regions should be contending for the remaining top four positions i.e. President of the Senate and the deputy, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the deputy.
This is the meaning of equity. The Federal Character law in the 1999 Constitution supports this. Our beloved country must be built on equity. We must emphasise equity if we truly desire progress. All the six geo-political zones must get a share of the cake. Those who argue that the Senate President’s job should go to the best hand are just jokers. There is no geo-political zone without high quality lawmakers.
The baloney that happened in 2019 when the South-west produced the Vice President and Speaker must not be allowed again. That was injustice to the rest of the country. Forces of good must ensure that this injustice is not allowed to persist. The ruling APC must uphold its principle of zoning and share the remaining top four positions to the South-east, South-south, North-west and North-central. Aspirants from the North-east and South-west must be forced to perish their ambitions. This is the way forward for our country.
The Aishatu Binani’s Twaddle
It was repulsive watching the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in Adamawa State, Aishatu ‘Binani’ Dahiru delivering an acceptance speech last Sunday after she was illegally declared the governor-elect of the state by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Ari. She said her election as the first female governor in the country would encourage other women to participate actively in politics. “You’ve made history in electing the first female governor in our dear country, Nigeria. This will no doubt broaden political participation by encouraging our daughters, sisters, aunties, mothers and indeed the girl child,” Binani added in the 21 seconds clip.
What nonsense! It was extreme desperation by Binani. This is a woman I admire so much because of her guts and brilliance, but she left me dejected. So, why did Binani, a supposedly educated person, fall to this level? She simply allowed herself to be consumed by the lust for power. Of course, Binani knew that Ari had no power to declare a winner in the supplementary governorship election held last Saturday in Adamawa State; that responsibility solely lies with the state collation officer appointed by INEC. The law is very clear about this. The action of the REC was a clear usurpation of the power of the Returning Officer.
I guess when it became obvious that Binani could no longer upstage the incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri of the PDP, who was leading with over 30,000 votes obtained at the substantive election on 18 March, Binani decided on that fraudulent option. She got the Adamawa REC and top security men on the same boat. Binani must have promised huge rewards. It is so depressing that top officers like the REC and some security chiefs mortgaged their revered offices for financial rewards.
Binani headed to an Abuja court last Tuesday, still hoping to legalise her fake result. She presented an ex-parte application asking the court to determine whether the INEC can take any further steps on the declared governorship election results made by the disgraced Adamawa REC.
Justice Inyang Ekwo did not allow her dubious plan to materialise. He asked Binani’s lawyer to first address his court it had jurisdiction to entertain such a matter. The judge subsequently asked the lawyer to file his address on the issue and fixed April 26 for a hearing of the ex parte application and the motion on the jurisdiction of the court. This case is now an academic exercise since INEC has concluded the collation of the Adamawa governorship polls and Fintiri announced as the winner.
Considering all the deadly and illegal moves by Binani, it becomes so difficult to reconcile all of them with her statement last Wednesday, after she had lost everything, including respect, that she remains a democrat.
She remarked: “I never did, I would never do such. I wish to reiterate that I am a democrat. I have always been a committed democrat and will never do anything to subvert the democratic process. I am not a do-or-die politician. In the past, I have won elections into the house of representatives and the senate in a free and fair manner.”
My dear Binani, there is no point crying. You messed up big time. You have disappointed so many people that hitherto respected you. Binani, initiating and carrying out illegalities? A big dishonor. Most Nigerian politicians care less about dignity. What a country!