Zamfara tech shutdown
Okoh Aihe

By Okoh Aihe

I BEGIN this material with a solicitation that you join me in prayers for a dear friend, Ahmed Abudulkadir, who was kidnapped on Monday along with his daughter in Bakori, near Funtua in Katsina State. Ahmed is a nice fellow, a genuine go-happy gentleman who has no time for misery and regrets.

Ahmed has served his people without holding anything back. He was General Manager, Katsina State Television, before joining the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, where he retired as the Zonal Director in Maiduguri. The Maiduguri Zone also includes Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi and Yobe.

Before the Maiduguri posting, Ahmed was Head, Public Affairs of the Commission. It will be pertinent to observe here that with all the dangers in the zone which includes the dreaded Sambisa forest, Ahmed traversed the whole of the area before retiring into farming in his native Katsina State.

Ahmed is a good man. Go to his Facebook posts and you will be overwhelmed with the love of one man for his family. Those who took him should look at the face of one gentleman that has given his best to his people and country and, please, release him to continue with his simple life.

Let those who know how to pray, pray that God should come through for Ahmed and bring him and his daughter home safely. Without a doubt things are spinning out of control in the country, demanding of all of us to encourage and support government in its actions to deal a lasting blow on the enemies of the land before the situation festers beyond redemption.

The nation is not at war but some people are going through war daily. They say there is peace and some unsavory developments are exaggerated; the peace is as good as a man and the young daughter being kidnapped and that man, who is a father, is unable to play the role of a father and defend his family.

Villages are attacked for hours and nearly obliterated but help does not come. The attackers choose very soft targets where they can engage in looting and in the dance of death unhindered and people are wondering what is going on in the land. Something has to give. And that came last week.

For the first time government took a decision to shut down telecommunications operations in Zamfara State to enable the gallant Nigerian forces intensify their operations in that part of the country, and the document which is top secret found its way to the public space and it has been trending ever since. I have asked myself severally, how did this happen? Who released this document without even contemplating the implications? 

ALSO READ: BANDITRY: Telecom in Zamfara shut down, blackout looms in Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Niger

This is to enable relevant security agencies carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the State”. I have looked at this material, I couldn’t find anywhere it is marked ‘Top Secret’. How could somebody make that type of puerile mistake where lives are concerned?  

Be that as it may, I have also tried to assess the behaviour of whoever leaked the letter; there is no justification whatsoever. I admit that this government may have engaged in some actions that were unwarranted and really irritating sometimes, making the citizenry to hold some of its actions in suspect, but that should not make anybody in the country to underestimate the danger staring us in the face.

I have been reliably informed that the letter was not intended for the public because of the security implications but the public got it; and I am suggesting that the public also get the more sobering message: which is to the effect that the situation in the land is no more a handshake between friends. It has never been. The hold has gone beyond the elbow and only this government enjoys the reason why it cannot declare these bandits terrorists.

Some guy spoke to me on Monday morning and painted a grim picture of what is happening in some of these states where the war on terror has been raging. The source explained that for whatever reason the bandits have taken arms against the nation, the acquiescing conspiracy of the locals, among them informants,  is even more dangerous and damaging. Among the locals are the agents who the bandits pay heavily; they include suppliers of food, diesel, fuel and other necessities.

My source lamented that it is worse when the security forces believe they are fighting for the people only for a tiny few among these people to betray their commitment and sacrifice with results that can be very discouraging, damaging and even deadly. “They have informants all over the place and they are paying those people heavily. The people are doing it as a means of livelihood without knowing the dangers their actions constitute to the nation,” the source said.

From all indications, what is being done is so technical that the ordinary folks were not supposed to be in the loop. There is a way the neighbouring states are affected, causing some parts of Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna and Niger to suffer some collateral damage by propinquity.

The technicality or those involved in the chain of implementation of the government’s directive shouldn’t be our concern but the results. I remain miffed by the fact that a communication was even released to this effect, which nearly jeopardised the entire process. My source is, however, encouraged by the results coming to them from the field of operations.

Here is my appeal. The situation in the land is so dire and so potentially explosive that we need, as a people, to escalate our thinking process and be able to squeeze reason out of irrationality. In the war against terror, government needs help and Nigerians should give it even at a cost. For instance, the people of Zamfara are under a very terrible situation at the moment.

The security forces are already paying the ultimate price with their lives.  How do we ever pay them back? The operators and their contractors with total service shutdown have taken their own cut. The rest of us should be ready to take a cut and support government’s actions towards bringing this nightmare to an end. This tech disruption in Zamfara is only but a phase that will soon pass.

Final take. Please remember Ahmed and his little daughter in your orison. 

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