Let me tell you about three of the things that happened in my local government area over the past three days. One. Two girls and a woman were kidnapped inside Jibia town, the local government headquarters in Katsina state. Two. A man was killed in Kukar Babangida, a village on Katsina- Jibia highway. His offence? He resisted the rustling of his goats. He was killed and a goat was stolen from his house. Three. Bandits in their numbers were sighted approaching Jibia on many motorcycles. Security agents were informed in time and they “chased” them away.
The above are only examples of the daily occurrences in my local government area. It has been like that for some seven years. That is exactly the case with eight other local government areas in Katsina state. Earlier this month more than a hundred people were killed in cold blood in Bakori local government area. Heaven did not fall, Mr. President was “shocked”, retrogressive governors did not take him to court and life continued.
If, in spite of this, you expect me to blindly go to the nearest polling unit and choose any politician, you are not just unfair to me. You are wicked and heartless.
But who are the perpetrators of these crimes? Are they Nigerians? Yes, they are Nigerians and their leaders including their families and locations are well known to government. An average person living in any of the crises local government areas can tell you the name of the bandits’ leader in charge of his area. In 2016 and 2019 after killing many Nigerians, peace agreements were entered into between their leaders and Katsina state government and in both cases the bandits reneged.
One additional thing is well known. All the bandits’ kingpins are of Fulani extraction.
Since most Nigerians seem to believe that boycotting the polls is not a solution, victims of banditry and indeed Nigerians interested in peace should make up their mind on who to choose among the political powerhouses contesting for the office of the president.
I am struggling to make up my mind. It doesn’t seem as if there is a reliable person to handle the security situation in the North-west. But we can look for the lesser evil. Let’s see.
If the February 25 election were a referendum and voting for Peter Obi means voting for Biafra, the former Anambra governor would have been my number one candidate. In fact, I would have campaigned for him. Anyone who doesn’t want to live with me should not live with me. The only problem here is that Nigerians are going to the polls to elect a Nigerian President. Mr. Peter Obi, on the other hand, is being seen by many Nigerians as an Igbo and Christian candidate. Right now, we cannot be sure that if he wins Nigeria will not descend into chaos and a repeat of the Ironsi-era unitary system.
Mr. Obi may be good, but his kinsmen are not helping him.
I have attentively listened to Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso speak on the security situation in the North-west. Although he is a Fulani man, he is ready to deal with criminals as criminals regardless of their ethnic origin. Unfortunately, Dr. Kwankwaso doesn’t have the party and the spread. Even the more popular Muhammadu Buhari could not make it with CPC and all the northern masses behind him. I have been expecting Kwankwaso to make a last minute compromise and ask his supporters to vote another candidate with the required spread and a bigger party. I still expect him to be realistic.
What of Atiku Abubakar? An advert I saw by Atiku campaigners that depicted bandits as victims made me lose interest in the Waziri of Adamawa campaign. With that, my fear is that banditry will continue and even if it stops Waziri may end up forgiving our killers instead of making them face justice. Much as I respect Waziri I don’t see him as the solution to our predicament.
There are many pros and cons of voting for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Although the position of governors on currency redesign has left an impression that they are more worried about losing elections than the lives and property of their people. Mr. Tinubu can tap from their experience of dealing with bandits. Masari and El-Rufai are two governors who have been struggling with banditry in their states and at a point lost patience and were openly criticising the federal government and asking their subjects to protect themselves. Asiwaju may use them to gain a better understanding of the situation and use his skills to deal with it.
Luckily the Jagaba of Borgu is not a Fulani man and has thus no emotional attachment to the bandits. Likewise his running mate, Kashim Shettima. That is positive.
I am also impressed by the presence of other credible people around Tinubu, including Sheikh Isa Pantami, an academic, a professional and an Islamic scholar. To effectively address the problem of insecurity in the North, especially as it has to do with religion, Asiwaju needs Islamic scholars around him.
On the other side, I fear that if the North votes for Asiwaju he will assume that we are satisfied with APC’s handling of insecurity. After all, what would he lose if it is northerners killing northerners and northerners are satisfied with it?
It is also well known that most of the emirs in the North are Fulani and despite all the killings in the North-west, only few emirs speak against it. The Sultanate is not known to make appreciable efforts to see that actions are taken against bandits. The Sultan still retains his position as the Patron of Miyetti Allah Association even though he is supposed to be the leader of all Muslims and not just a tribe.
Recently, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who still retains the title of an emir vehemently reacted when some Fulani herders were attacked around Benue even though he kept mum about the murder of more than a hundred non-Fulani in Katsina state days earlier.
With all of the above, Tinubu may not get any reasonable advice if he decides to carry emirs into the fight against banditry with the belief that they are for the people.
Another fear is the possibility of bandits’ sympathisers around him. I was told that a Fulani writer who was once rationalising banditry has resigned his membership of the opposition party and is now fraternising with Tinubu as one of his confidants. If true, then we may be in more trouble with Tinubu as president.
Professor Jibia writes from Kano