ZAMFARA State was back on the front burner for the wrong reasons last weekend. A wanted terrorist warlord, Ado Aleru, was turbaned as “Sarkin Fulani” of Yandoton Daji Emirate in Tsafe Local Government Area by the Emir of Yandoto, Alhaji Garba Marafa.
Aleru is a leader of one of the numerous bandit groups which have been raiding communities, killing people, kidnapping for ransom, ransacking food reserves and rustling livestock in Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina states. He was so notorious that in 2019, the Police declared him wanted, with a N5 million bounty on his head.
Three years later, Aleru had become so wealthy in cash and stolen livestock that he became amenable to dialogue with the hapless communities in Tsafe LGA. He decided to settle down to enjoy his proceeds of crime. The chieftaincy title was meant to be a show of gratitude by the traditional ruler for the relative peace that Aleru’s cessation of terror has afforded the people. Reports had it that over 100 bandits attended the chieftaincy conferment ceremony unchallenged last Saturday.
The above story is a summation of the picture of total failure of the Nigerian state and its subnational distributaries (state and local governments as well as the traditional institutions) to assert their powers of governance in that part of the country. The Nigerian Army, Police, Immigration, Civil Defence and other security agencies have failed to protect the citizens.
Governor Bello Matawalle, earlier this year, bought over 20 Escalade SUVs for traditional rulers rather than invest the money in reclaiming the ungoverned spaces seized by the terrorists. This was aimed at boosting his second term bid. The Police, which had placed the bounty on Aleru, had simply gone back to sleep while Aleru and other bandit leaders held the people hostage.
People are just holding on to juicy top government posts but refusing or failing to actually govern. After the suspension of Emir Garba Marafa, what next? Due to failure of governance, the poor emir and his community members had to concede some authority to the terrorist leader for their safety and peace of the grave yard.
The responsibility for this failure of governance rests squarely on the desk of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Matawalle. They were elected to protect the people but they have failed. Their failure has emboldened the terrorists and other criminals to the point of challenging the authority of the state at all levels.
Having suspended the emir, what steps will they take to ensure that the “peace” which Aleru brought will continue to prevail? If care is not taken, what happened in Zamfara could become the new trend in the North. Wealthy bandits and terrorists could buy their ways back to legitimacy in total defiance of the state.
That is unacceptable!