The carnage going on in Zamfara state assumed another frightening dimension with the alleged threat by a twitter user by name ‘Amb Abdularahman Yahaya’, allegedly saying that the ace broadcast journalist, Ms. Kadaria Ahmed, does not deserve to live after “converting from Islam to Christianity”. Yahaya, who tweets @cardinalabdul, made the comment as part of series of expletives he directed at Kadaria when she bluntly described Abdulaziz Yari, Governor of Zamfara state, as “the most useless governor in the history of Nigeria”.
Kadaria had lampooned Yari during a protest against the ineffectiveness of Zamfara state government and the federal government in stopping killings in the state that has been a grave source of concern to national security considering the huge amount of financial resources and lives that had been lost as a result of the banditry. The persistent killings in the state have generated controversy within and outside the country, bringing the state into international disrepute.
Many observers believe that the apparent incompetence of the government to tame the crisis has aggravated banditry in the state. In the last few weeks, the government has taken a bold step with the suspension of mining activities in the state in the face of intelligence reports that clearly suggested a strong connection between the activities of armed bandits and illegal miners in the state that had been going on for several years unabated. This feat would not have been achieved without the collective support of all stakeholders.
The inability to control mining activities is attributed to the status of the sponsors of mining activities across the country. The government should go further by ensuring that the operation to halt unwanton killings that are linked to mining activities, is aimed at reclaiming every public space under the control of the bandits by arresting and bringing to book all perpetrators of violence and their collaborators, making the entire state convivial to investment, achieving total destruction of criminal camps and mopping up illicit weapons that are deployed in festering violence and attaining a full restoration of law and order.
The crisis in North-east has stunted development in the zone for many years. This should not be allowed to continue. There can never be development under an atmosphere that induces fear, acrimony, anger and violence. All these anti-development indices are clearly manifest in the situation under review. Government should always be seen as capable of protecting lives and property. That is why the killings in Zamfara are unacceptable. Relevant security agencies should deploy troops to the affected communities to protect the people from danger and exploitation.
The turmoil in the state is said to predate the current government. Activities of illegal miners had enjoyed patronage by local and foreign interest that had troubled the peace and tranquility enjoyed by the people over the years. This condition seems to have aggravated in the last few years because perpetrators of criminality are never apprehended and punished to serve as deterrent to others. This is what should be done to make the desired impact.
The federal government’s decision to send special forces to tackle the persistent violence is welcome even though it appears to be coming late at this time. There is the need to channel more energy to intelligence gathering rather than the use of brute force that has often proven to produce or yield desired results, especially going by the level of sophistry deployed by the bandits. Insurgents and bandits are generally well funded and equipped with arms and ammunition that can withstand that of the state.
While going for the military approach in taming the monster, there is the imperativeness to change tactics so as to yield better results. It is extremely difficult to attain this state. More importantly, the government should not treat with levity, the threat issued by ‘Amb Abdularahman Yahaya’, where he allegedly said that Kadaria Ahmed does not deserve to live. This is hate speech and should be discouraged. Over the years, tension and acrimony are spurred by the behaviour and body language of the parties. There should be deliberate attempt to restore life to the state. It’s unnecessary to encourage reactions and counter-reactions from those interested in the imbroglio. That is why provocative statements are jettisoned in the course of finding solution to burning matters that are engulfing the state.
What do we need to do now? Many things are required to restore life to the state without further delay. To begin with, it is necessary at this time to create an atmosphere that allows people to live in harmony with others. The peaceful atmosphere that has eluded the state for many years can be nipped in the bud provided all actors including the miners, government representatives and the media play their part well. The situation of things should be under firm control of the state. No hate speech and provocative statements. There is the need to establish the superiority of state power in restoring normalcy to Zamfara, North-east and other parts of the country. That is what should be the major concern of all and sundry.