Banditry and Killings: Why is Zamfara different?
By Idoko Ainoko
Zamfara State is in the news again. So much so that I am tempted to ask if the state is jinxed with misfortunes. I am quite appalled with the security situation in the state. I am also somewhat at a loss as to why the killings in the state have refused to abate despite the numerous intervention of our security agencies. As a start, I have been one of those that have stated that the killings in Zamfara are a function of two variables. One bothers on failure in governance, and the other on a covert power struggle between two supposedly political heavyweights, Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari and Mansur Dan-Ali, the Minister of Defence.
Political egos have turned the state into a killing field. On the part of the governor, his abysmal performance has further entrenched a regime of agitations that has manifested in the senseless killing and maiming of innocent civilians. And as the level of poverty intensifies, frustrated youths are everywhere taking to antisocial behaviour by way of political thuggery, drug addiction, armed robbery, and the likes. The rural folks are also not left behind. They have even resorted to banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, produce theft, ransacking of villages, and genocidal killings. All just to make ends meet.
According to Data from the NBS National Corruption Survey for 2017 published in August 2017, it reflected that Crime and Insecurity was the most critical issue affecting Nigeria with 38.3% recorded by Zamfara State. Isn’t this mind-boggling with regards to the fact that the defence minister is from the state and, as well as a democratically elected governor and chief security officer of the state as stipulated by law.
And yet, there is supposedly a governor who spends the bulk of his time in Abuja, roaming between countries and buying up properties like the world is coming to an end, while his state is up in flames. And guess what? As comical as he is, he would come up with a flimsy on how he has resigned as the chief security officer of the state from his abode in Abuja. Wonders shall indeed never end.
According to an inside source within the security agencies, it described the governor as a monumental failure and one that does not listen to advise but instead prefers to see things from the prism of his selfish interest. As a fact, the governor was once quoted as stating that he cannot spend a full week in Zamfara state because of the level of underdevelopment. To say I was astonished by this is more of an understatement because here was a man that was not under any form of coercion when he aspired to govern the state. And the last time I checked, the state capital is in Gusau and not Abuja.
That Zamfara is still reeling in underdevelopment is not surprising, and that the killings have refused to abate is also a manifestation of how meaningful governance has eluded the people thereby leading to increased crime rate and insecurity. Some school of thoughts would argue that poverty exists because of the inadequacy of government and the system we live in. And I would agree, and if we must tell ourselves the truth, people like Abdul-Aziz Yari should bury their heads in shame because they have failed woefully. Imagine a situation where killings are ongoing in the state and the governor is busy travelling from pillar to post or addressing press conferences in Abuja.
The minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali is also culpable in the Zamfara trajectory in my opinion. As a start, it is most despicable that the home state of the defence minister has been bedevilled with security challenges. I am also at a loss as to what qualified him to be so appointed as the minister of defence as colourless as he is. I mean, his foray in the military does not speak of any tangible contribution, both intellectually or otherwise. The closest he got to it was when he was appointed an acting director, military training. And that is the man that was so selected as defence minister. I wonder what we expect from such, hence why his home state has been on fire, and he seems confused.
The appalling angle to the whole story is that the Defence Minister has refused to come to terms with modern strategies in warfare, so much so that despite the intervention of the armed forces, there seems to be no headway in Zamfara because of what the duo of the defence minister and the state governor are doing. Some say they are in a superiority contest. Some say they are struggling for control of security budget. So also say both parties have been covertly fuelling the crisis so as they undermine themselves. In all of these, I think there is more to the drama in Zamfara state. The power struggle, the money, the control of political structures and resources, the quest for relevance and many others have made the Zamfara case different.
This is also despite the military operations like Operation Sharan Daji and Operation Whirl stroke II and others. Interestingly, one would have expected that since the defence minister is from Zamfara, he ought to have extended all the necessary support to the Armed Forces in securing lives and properties. But from what I have gathered, it appears the military has not enjoyed that support from the defence minister especially when it comes to military interventions in the state for reasons best known to him. Maybe he prefers the statuesque so he can further advance his political battles. While it is okay to fight political battles, but not at the detriment of the lives of innocent people, the killings in Zamfara must stop. And those in positions of authority that have in one way or the other through their actions and inactions contributed to the degradation of human lives in Zamfara state should bury their heads in shame.