•His call for self help an indication of a failed security system – Umar, Ozekhome, others

•Nigerians back MATAWALLE 

Gov Matawalle
Executive Governor of Zamfara state, Gov Bello Matawalle

By Dirisu Yakubu

Zamfara state governor, Bello Matawalle today, cuts the picture of a frustrated man. Waking up on a regular basis to news of senseless killing of innocent citizens and residents of the state, Matawalle’s situation is well understood by Nigerians including politicians of different political meanings.

Becoming governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2019, the Matawalle in July 2021 defected to the All Progressives Congress. Although PDP threatened to retrieve their “stolen” mandate from the ruling party, the governor defended his move, saying Zamfara needed to have federal government attention in stemming the tide of insecurity in the North-Western state.

As guest of the popular Osasu Show shortly after his defection to APC, Matawalle expressed hope that with the help of his colleague governors in the ruling party and the federal government, peace would return to Zamfara state.

“I believe with this coming together, I am going to work hard with my other colleagues so that we can get more from the federal government, particularly on the issue of insecurity. Even before I decamped, I knew the arrangement Mr. President had made to bring more equipment to our security agencies to fight the criminality in the northern region.

“I believe we will get more troops to come and flush out the criminals. I assure you that you will see a lot of changes, because we will get more improvement on each facility that we have,” Matawalle said while highlighting expected mileage of his defection.

The months that followed however turned the governor’s dreams to nightmares as bandits, taking killings and kidnapping for a sport, have taken their game to the next level. They kill, maim and kidnap for fun even as security agents appear overwhelmed and frustrated.

Despite constant assurances by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government that banditry, terrorism and similar vices would soon become a thing of the past; the killers are simply perpetrating their acts, leaving leaders short of what else to say or do. Tired of the “no show” from the security agencies, a worried and embarrassed Governor Matawalle last week, called on residents to seek legitimate ways of arming themselves against criminal elements in the land.

In a release signed by the Commissioner for Information, Ibrahim Magaji Dosara, the governor said: “Government has henceforth, directed individuals to prepare and obtain guns to defend themselves against the bandits, as government has directed the state Commissioner of Police to issue licences to all those who qualify and are wishing to obtain such guns to defend themselves.

“Government is ready to facilitate people, especially, our farmers, to secure basic weapons for defending themselves. Government has already concluded an arrangement to distribute 500 forms to each of the 19 emirates in the state for those willing to obtain guns to defend themselves.

“People must apply from the Commissioner of Police license to own guns and such other basic weapons to be used in defending themselves. A secretariat or centre will be established for the collection of intelligence on the activities of informants.”

However, Matawalle’s call to arms have been eliciting reactions from Nigerians of all walks of life, with some attributing his directive to an indication of a collapsed security system in the land.

Speaking exclusively to Saturday Vanguard, former governor of Jigawa state and a PDP chieftain, Alhaji Sule Lamido said Matawalle’s cry mirrors the failure of the ruling party to meet the expectations of Nigerians.

He said: “The governor of Zamfara was a PDP governor and he thought that he would be better secured in APC because as a governor, his primary obligation is to preserve lives and to him, that is why he left PDP for APC.

“What he is doing now is a clear testimony to APC failure because you are looking for succour, you are looking for security and you went and met death. So in his desperation to secure his own people, he can think anyhow and we do not blame him for thinking that way.

“The whole thing seems completely impossible but he is doing so out of desperation. It is a wrong approach. Getting people armed is not the best way because there are institutions in our constitution which are given the responsibility of securing Nigeria and its people.

“He is someone who went looking for security and found none. It’s like you are running away from death and you found yourself in a coffin with a grave already dug.”

Like Lamido, retired army captain, Umar Aliyu told this medium that the security situation in the land is getting so bad that prominent leaders are now calling on their people to resort to self help, saying, “it is a grave indication of the inability of our security agencies to protect the people of Zamfara state on the one hand, and an indicator of the frustrations that accompany such letdowns on the other.” According to Captain Umar, Zamfara state would not be the first to ask its residents to arm themselves against criminal elements.

“Zamfara state would not be the first of its kind. Eminent Nigerians who ordinarily should have known better, have in the recent past, had no choice, but to  call their people to self defence by arming themselves, when it became seemingly clear that they were hopelessly at the mercy of terrorists , as we have seen them proliferate today.” He added.

Asked for his take on Matawalle’s call for people to get their guns, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome noted that since the federal government has failed in its duty to protect the people; the latter are at liberty to find a way to protect themselves.

“Why not! When the state can no longer protect its citizens and non-state actors overpower it, it is called a failed state. There is the inalienable right to self defence and defence of property. Action and reaction are equal and opposite. When your traducer knows you have equal or superior firepower of reaction when attacked, he thinks twice.

“Hippocrates, the father of medicine theorized that desperate diseases require desperate remedies. To be sure, insecurity, banditry, kidnapping and Boko Haram constitute the biggest industries in Nigeria today. What do you want the governor to do? Sit down as an undertaker burying and mourning his citizens on a daily basis?”.

On his part, renowned security expert, Kabir Adams agrees with Ozekhome stressing that “failed centralized security arrangement,” leaves the governor with no option but to tell his people to help themselves.

“The development is shocking. It is a reflection of the failed centralized security arrangement in the country. It is also a reflection of the disharmony and lack of coordination of efforts in security management between the state and federal government. It is further a reflection of the attempt by some governors to use security as a weapon for political gains ahead of the 2023 elections, making  policy statements that are not backed by any intention or they know  are not constitutional just to achieve political benefits. This includes even governors that are of the ruling APC,” he said.

Taking a completely different stand on the matter is Superintendent of Police, Baballe Mukhtar of  the Zamfara State Command. According to him, a governor cannot instruct a police commissioner on issues such as gun licencing, saying “I don’t think the governor has the power to instruct the Commissioner of Police to issue licences, because the Commissioner of Police does not have the powers to issue licences.”

Whether Matawalle has his prayers answered or not, what is crystal clear is that the level of insecurity in Zamfara state and everywhere in the country calls for urgent solutions.

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