By Abdulkadir Sulaiman
Carelessness best describes this viewpoint expressed by Bashir Hassan from Katsina which was widely syndicated on online publications and also to respond to the reckless outburst of the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Yekini Nabena, which greeted the role Governor Muhammed Bello Matawalle played in securing the release of the abducted boys from Katsina State by bandits.
Bashir Hassan and Nabena went public with an outlandish allegation which is the trademark a mischievous individual and also APC as a party and the APC-led government.
While Bashir Hassan claimed many efforts of Governor Bello Matawalle were counter-productive and deceitful, Nabena in a statement credited to him in the wake of the abduction of some school children in Katsina State in what is known as the Kankara boys abduction, claimed: “Our security agencies have intelligence reports linking one of the North-West governors with collusion and sponsorship of violent and criminal activities of bandits. I won’t give details because of the sensitive and security nature of the issue.”
He further stated that “however, relevant security agencies must as a matter of urgency, investigate the report and determine its veracity. Human life is not what we should play political chess games with.
“We must shun enemies of the country including the PDP who seek political gains from issues of insecurity.”
His final words were: “Our security agencies must also be alert to plots to further destabilise the North-West region and frustrate the quick and safe release of students abducted from the GSSS.”
Kidnapping for ransom and banditry have become a pain in the neck of leaders in the North-West which made Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar (III) decry the spate of criminality and concluded that nowhere was safe in the country.
Even the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, also said that fleeing Boko Haram insurgents from the North-East have become bandits in the North-West.
It would be recalled there was a growing concern in northern Nigeria over the level of banditry and kidnapping in the state of Zamfara, which peaked between 2017-2018. It is noteworthy that the APC-led Federal Government has blamed those attacks on many overlapping factors, including cattle rustling, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, illicit artisanal mining, youth unemployment, poverty and inequality.
There is a strong opinion among Nigerians that it is further compounded by the weakened, stretched, and demoralised security services, deployed in 35 of Nigeria’s 36 states and the expanded activities of Boko Haram and its collaborators which has spread to the North-West region.
It is reported that many of the armed bandits are of Fulani origin, an ethnic nationality the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has been accused of pampering and absolving every allegation against them.
For the sake of fairness, it must be said that many of the victims of this banditry, which includes armed robbery, murder, rape, and cattle rustling are also of Fulani extraction.
Based on a 2018 report of Amnesty International, villagers in some Northwestern states lamented how they had pleaded with the government to help them after receiving warning letters from the bandits ahead of attacks but had received no protection.
The APC-led Federal Government repeatedly claimed to be tackling the situation, but the mounting death toll tells a different story.
“Previous military interventions have failed to end the killings, especially in rural areas of Zamfara. At least 371 people were killed in Zamfara in 2018 alone, and at least 238 of these killings took place after the deployment of the Nigerian Air Force.”
Villagers described feeling helpless and on edge, constantly bracing themselves for attacks. Men said they sleep outside their homes and in trees as a way of keeping vigilant, while women and children slept together in groups for protection.
During those periods, villagers described a pattern where they receive warnings ahead of attacks, including by phone, ordering them to pay huge sums of money or be killed or abducted, while in several communities, villagers were afraid to venture more than a few kilometres into the bush, which prevented them from farming.
In a village called Maru, villagers said the only time they see security forces is when they are escorting workers to the state governor’s farm.
He added that villagers would wait until the governor’s workers were being escorted and travel alongside them to take advantage of the security presence. This was in 2018.
All these soon became history just a year into the administration of Governor Bello Muhammed Matawalle as people of Zamfara felt safe and enjoyed dividends of good governance.
One can only imagine the chaos, threat to national stability the country would have been grappling with if “The Kankara Boys” were not brought back to safety.
A feat made possible because of the role played by Governor Matawalle. He looked beyond political affiliation and differences, and rather than being celebrated and appreciated, the APC would rather cast aspersions and doubt on his person either frontally or subtly.
I think it is time sponsored mischievous unpatriotic elements and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, called their rabid dogs to order and warned them against making unguarded statements that could set the country ablaze.
It is also time the APC stopped trading blame and admit that the leadership it has been offering Nigerians since 2015 is grossly incompetent and the greatest ineptitude known to mankind.
*Sulaiman a public affairs commentator, sent this piece from Gusau, Zamfara State.