Zamfara: Burying patriotism in the courtyard of bitter politics

It is often said that only in a place without elders will a she-goat be allowed to suffer the pains of parturition on a leash. In simple language, it is only in a place without elders that children are allowed to reduce the shared civic and social space into a rowdy and chaotic front where free-for-all fisticuffs become law with only the fit surviving.

Painfully, Zamfara has become that unfortunate state where so called elders who should take responsibility for the seeming annexure of the state by non-state actors have decided to relinquish their birth rights, throw-in the towel and join the enemies of the people of the state to fight the one person who is working to return sanity to Zamfara and rid the state of incessant terrorism.

Much has been said about the remote and immediate causes of banditry, so I won’t dwell on that. However, I can say without fear of contradiction that the main cause of the lingering crisis in today’s Zamfara is largely dirty and petty politics by so called political stalwarts who understand only their selfish interests, leaving no room for civilised engagement or compromise – playing politics with insecurity is their major stock in trade not minding the ripple effects of their ungodly venture.

Indeed, anyone not suffering from selective amnesia will sure remember that banditry predates the coming to power of Governor Bello Matawalle. And before his coming, many of these so called elders and leaders of Zamfara state were caught on record claiming to be looking for lasting solutions to the problem. On the strength of that, one would have thought that all these elders and political bigwigs of the state, regardless of party affiliation, will naturally join hands with Governor Matawalle to battle that menace that has more than reduced our beloved state to wasteland. Annoyingly, that’s not the case.

It is, particularly, depressing to see that people like erstwhile governor Abdulazeez Yari, Senator Marafa and their co-travellers who should ordinarily be seen actively engaging the present governor to find solutions – scratch that – help them end the menace of insecurity that they failed to curtail in its infancy, are up in arms fighting the same man trying to save the people of Zamfara state, their own people, from terrorists who massacre, kidnap, rape and tax them at will. Theirs is to celebrate any attack and puff up the casualty figures just to take political advantage by portraying the state as ungovernable. Sadly, the insecurity was nurtured under their watch.

It is shocking that these so called elders, who will still have the temerity to approach the harried, harangued, hapless and broken people of Zamfara state with political patronage, see nothing wrong with their actions. To imagine that people who can’t see past their political interests will have the guts and audacity to challenge a sitting governor who is only now trying to rollback years of their failure is nauseating.

But then, their behaviour is hardly surprising. Was it not these same people that failed to rein-in their selfish interest leading to the whole disqualification of the All Progressives Congress, APC, by the Supreme Court, clearing the way for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which placed a distant second, to emerge as winners of the polls? One would have thought they have learnt the vital lesson that the collective is always superior. Alas, like deaf horses, they have refused to relent in their charge towards obscurity.

Whereas one can dismiss the antics of the politicians with the wave of the hand, it is really hard to stomach the unstatemanly behaviour of General Gusau. As a national figure, the people of Zamfara state ought to be benefiting from his wealth of experience as a decorated military general. Unfortunately, the General has allowed his military instinct and razor-shap patriotism to be deadened by petty politics of bitterness and deceit. Interestingly, General Gusau is the biggest landowner in Zamfara state when it comes to mining. It is very curious that none of the expertriates, as well as locals in his employment, has ever been kidnapped. Of course, insinuations like this do not mean anything besides their incredulity, but it is nonetheless sure ground for curiousity considering the mines have proven themselves to be the greatest enablers of the crisis rocking Zamfara state.

In fact, his son, the deputy governor of Zamfara state, had once stood as surety to bail some arrested Chinese nationals who engaged in an illegal mining. Isn’t it complicating?

There are others from the neighbouring Sokoto state, particularly, former governor Attahiru Bafarawa, who seem not to see past the choices they make, but have also decided to appoint themselves as lords over the travails of the people of Zamfara. These are people whose relatives have been making interesting revelation bordering on existing relationships.

with the bandit kingpin, Turji, and other dangerous men of the jungle. Yet, these are the same people who have refused to stick with their troubles, preferring instead, to be poking their noses in other people’s business. As people of Zamfara, we already have more than our fair share of elders who have jettisoned their shame, so we don’t need the drama of others from across the border.

It amounts to an assault on the collective sensibilities of the people of Zamfara for people who can’t even manage their personal affairs to poke their noses in our business. Zamfara state has been unfortunate to be governed in the past by self-serving individuals, who, as it turned out, do not care what befalls the state as long as their vested interest are serviced. As it is, since they seem to have nothing meaningful to contribute to the progress of the state, they should, if they still have any modicum of honour left in them, steer clear of acts that will distract Governor Matawalle from rescuing our dear state from total collapse.

Muhammad writes from Gusau, Zamfara state.