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Time for hard measures to end killings

By Gambo Dori

MANY times on this page, I had decried the incessant killings prevalent in many parts of the North. In the past few days, Jos and Kaduna have flared up in the same persistent manner and around the same axes. In a piece I ran on this page on  July 10, 2018, titled  Getting peace back to Jos, I referred to the sense of dread and foreboding that normally engulfed me whenever I have to traverse Jos in the last many years, particularly from Riyom side.

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For the many that ride on that highway to the north-east and wherever, it is always a traumatic journey through Jos, for you  never know  when a communal crisis would engulf you on that route. The killings of hapless commuters had become so routine that many had given up that the route would ever be safe again.

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It therefore surprised no one that those gruesome findings were made at the Duru-Du District of Jos Local Government. The killings of innocent citizens in that area have been going on for a very long time. And probably because the  hoodlums perpetuating the killings were so well connected and the community accepted it, no one dared apprehend the culprits. But now as the investigations into the daring but unfortunate killing of General Idris Alkali unfolds, we pray that this community of killers, murdering commuters at will, and with impunity should at last get their comeuppance.

In the same piece I chided the security agencies in Jos for not taking preventive measures in other flash points when they learnt of the Barikin Ladi clashes. I was particular about the Bukuru-Riyom stretch. I wrote, ‘I still cannot fathom why security agencies failed to pre-empt the trouble makers by making a loud presence all the way from Angle Dee to Kuru, down to Vom and Riyom. The mere heavy presence of the security agencies even without firing a shot would have doused the brewing trouble and assuaged the situation. As this was not done innocent lives were needlessly lost’.

Fortunately, the tides are now turning against the highway murderers, if the measures intended to be taken by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufa’i, on a community that constitutes a flashpoint on Abuja- Kaduna Expressway do not fall through. Many readers will recall that Gonin Gora, a settlement just before Kaduna has become like Dura-Du, a hive of hoodlums ready to block the way and pounce on unsuspecting commuters whenever some communal crises had occurred elsewhere. Commuters would be stopped, barricaded, profiled and hacked to death in the most horrible manner imaginable. They have got away with these murders for so many years without any one, whether within the community or the security agencies, bringing them to book.

However, in his characteristically combative manner, Governor El-Rufa’i has now drawn the line promising that he would relocate the entire Gonin Gora community if their leaders do not rein in their murderous hoodlums – a statement that is already causing ripples now. Many of us are on the same page with El-Rufa’i on this. It makes no sense for our compatriots – the so-called angry youths – to be barricading public highways and inflicting criminal atrocities on totally innocent citizens whom in many cases have no relationship with what the problems of that locality. However, El-Rufa’i would need to make similar rattling threats to community leaders in other identified flashpoints engaged in such nefarious, murderous activities. Marrarraban Jos and Kawo have been fingered as containing such elements. After these gubernatorial threats of hard measures, any community that fails to fall in line would not expect any sympathy from compatriots wishing Kaduna, and this country, well.

These hard measures would still be mere palliatives. The curfews, the arrests, the threat of demolition, the sight of grim-looking soldiers armed to the teeth with sniper dogs howling and glaring about can douse the tension for a time. The real hard work is to find a permanent solution to this cyclical propensity for senseless violence in this part of the country. May be Governor El-Rufa’i will need to look across to some of the Northern cities of Kano, Bauchi, Damaturu and Maiduguri to learn how they uprooted the Boko Haram elements in their midst when the crisis was at its worst. Azare in Bauchi State is a shining example of a town where the community united to cleanse out entrenched Boko Haram terrorists that were causing mayhem and endangering smooth running on a major artery, the Kano-Maiduguri highway. There is no harm asking how they did it.

In the very long run, Governors of the Northern States must encourage dialogue among all the communities. To start with, a Pan-North community leaders meeting should be a starting-point to brainstorm on these incessant killings. The killings are dragging the North down to a cesspool of permanent economic degradation. As the North is degraded, it becomes a drag to the entire nation. I would encourage the governors to not only provide logistics for this meeting but should religiously implement whatever should come up as recommendations.

The poet in Vice- President Osinbajo

VICE-President Yemi Osinbajo officially opened the Ake Arts and Books Festival last week in Lagos where he told the heartrending story of how a childhood incident thwarted his ambition of becoming a poet. In his own words:

“When I was 10 years old, there was a girl in my class who I was quite certain at the time that I could give my life. So I wrote her a lovely poem over a weekend; I wrote the poem on Friday and finished it on Saturday. And it was, if I may say so myself, a work of sheer genius.

It ended with the dramatic words; “your warm embrace may be the last desire of my heart before I die!” I tucked it in my school bag and looked forward with a heart filled with love for Monday, to present to the object of my affections.

My mum, while cleaning out the bag, found the letter, and all hell broke loose. Needless to say, she beat the poetic genius out of me that terrible afternoon. But that’s not the end of the story. True love as you know, will survive even the worst brutality.

So, I bore my injuries as a worthy suffering. On Monday morning, I found the best opportunity to give her a freshly written version of the poem. I turned away as she took the letter, I didn’t want to behold the sheer pleasure as she read it…

…but as I turned around, I noticed that she had actually handed the poem over to the teacher and she was pointing at me! While my physical bruises have healed from that experience and what happened with the teacher, my capacity for writing romantic poetry greatly diminished.”

A pity! A pity! Our Vice-President would have been in the good company of noted poets who were great African statesmen. The first Angolan President, Agostinho Neto (1975-79) was one Africa’s greatest poets and some of his poems even ended up as national anthems of the country. Leopold Senghor, the first President of Senegal (1960-80) was another great African poet whom many of us had the privilege of reading. Senghor even wrote the epitaph that is now adorning his grave.

The twitter handle of the Vice-President later announced that story didn’t happen. It is just a creative contribution of the Vice-President, inspired by the theme of the Ake Festival: Fantastic Futures.

 

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