Last week, a group of personalities from the Respected Igbo Greats visited President Muhammadu Buhari. During the course of their indoor meeting, they appeal for the unconditional release of the leader of anti-state, killer and proscribed group, IPOB, in person of Nmandi Kanu, whose treasonous rhetorics, ethnic cleansing incitements and the group’s criminal acts are responsible for the lost of many lives, properties and crippling business activities in the South Eastern region of the country. This appeal, through the most senior member of the group seemed too heavy to the president (and first of its kind to publicly ask him to intervene on a matter before the court of law), but the courage to ask the president for that is awesome and commendable. For, despite the heinous crimes of their son, they still regard him as their “SON” As such, they can go all length to free him from the shackles of law.
Before the inception of the present adminstration, persistent insecurity was something synonymous to the Northeastern region due to Boko Haram terrorists activities. Farmers and herders clashes were mainly happening in some communities of the North Central states. But with efforts from community leaders, such clashes were mitigated to a manageable level.
Northern part of Nigeria is blessed with numerous resources including fertile land for farming, that makes the region the highest food producer in the country. Years ago, many people got out of poverty as a result of farming business.
But on a sad note, this arable region is today turning into a hell, the unprecedented insecurities rocking the region are beyond imagination. Bandits and kidnappers are operating with impunity in a broad day light without a second thought to the consequences of their criminal acts. Kidnappings and killings are no longer a jaw-dropping news.
Farming is the main source of income to the majority population of the Northwestern States. But today, many farmers in North West are left with two option; how to survive or farm to harness what will be paid for ransom.It was reported that in that region, for communers to cultivate their lands, they had to pay for a fixed levies by those bandits or face arson by the same criminals!
When the security situation of Abuja-Kaduna highway deteriorated, we assumed that the newly Abuja-Kaduna railway route would serve as an alternative to that highway of death, only to found out that the train services serves is a transportation medium for the elites and middle-class, because it’s ticket price is beyond the reach of a common man. Also, getting the ticket itself is proving to be a difficult thing. Unfortunately, even the railway route doesn’t prevent the bandits from carrying out their criminal and deadly attacks, as some months ago, a train on that route was attacked by these bandits!
What is worrisome and questionable is that, are these bandits ghost or are they hiding beneath the earth that they cannot be detected? How on earth can these criminals blocked a major highway and operate with impunity for quite a time without the security forces engaging them?
One wont be surprise, since they are powerful enough to once invaded one of most highly secured military facilities in the country, where in they killed and abducted some. By experience, it is safe to assume that there is no place they cannot strike. But fortunately or unfortunately, the insecurity situation in the Northern Nigeria is like a Covid-19 pandemic, where both the elites, middle-class and the lower class are not safe from it’s negative effects. We are all witnessed to how the elites, wards and their friends fell victim of these bandits. Here, how are they released is not the point of concern, but the point is that they are no more secured!
What can be done?
* All Northern governors should keep their political diiferences aside to face this banditry menace that is crippling their regional economy, by putting all hands on deck to channel more resources to fight these criminals.
* Create job opportunities for the millions of youths roaming the streets without a tangible work, for an idle mind is a friend of the devil.
* Collaborate with religious and traditional leaders to provide qualitative religious and western education in remote areas. Not only by building schools or more classrooms, but, by providing the much needed qualitative teachers with adequate teaching materials and decent incentives in order to attract skilled teachers that can sacrifice their time and energy.
* Domesticate death penalty as a law against whoever is found guilty of kidnapping, banditry or connivance in whatever way with these acts or criminals.
* Public executing of kidnappers, bandits, etc so as to serve as a deterrent to others.
* Allow the judiciary to function on her own without interference and ensure speedy trial of whoever is arrested in connection to those criminal acts.
* Political, traditional, religious and business leaders should imitate the Igbo leaders by taking their problems to the commander-In-Chief, to ensure that cohesive and coordinated action is taken to end these menaces.
* Mull the possibility of state amnesty for some of these criminals, who are low level criminals without bloods on their hands in order to create division within the syndicate of these criminals, So long as a sitting president like late Yar’adua can grant state amnesty to Niger Delta militants, even with their treasonable offences of undermining the state power and Igbo leaders to appeal for the release of criminal and treasonable Kanu (who by now is supposed to be cooling at a death gallow), it is logical to table this before the state powers, that is after a genuine contact and agreement with some of these criminal elements.
* Each community should be given a mandate to submit an actionable draft proposal for community security detail to it’s local government head, a plan in that includes law enforcement officers, ward heads, imams, pastors, school teachers and their likes as bona-fide community security supervisors and informants.
Finally, we pray for a lasting peace in Northern Nigeria and the country at large.
Sagir,, a graduate of economics, Bauchi State University, Gadau, writes via [email protected] or 07019718681