Zamfara citizens’ abnormal life

What is daily living like now for Zamfara state residents as they struggle to keep body and soul together, eke out a living and go about their daily tasks under the milieu of yet another series of measures meant to tame seemingly rampaging security challenges in that state? Their daily chores had been dislocated by recurring insecurity in the area with dare devil ‘bandits’ raiding communities and villages, rustling cattle, stealing foodstuff, kidnapping persons and burning houses; leaving behind tears and sorrows in households, heartbroken people who are unable to access their farms for tilling, which together with rearing of cattle and other domestic animals, are their primary occupation. 
Many have been forcefully sacked from their farmlands. In some instances the new overseers of these lands literally conscript them to cultivate the land for them (bandits).

One can well imagine how these residents feel. Imagine having to till hectares of land under watchful eye of gun-wielding bandits. Fear envelops them. Thus, an occupation they usually undertake with pride and joy turns into sadness and humiliation for them. It is tantamount to slavery. 

In other instances, survivours of some other hard hit communities have found a way around occupation of their lands by reportedly paying a kind of ransom to the bandits to be able to gain access to their own farmlands for cultivation. 
In extreme cases these rapacious bandits have taken over some communities, administering them according to their whims and caprices. The bottom line is that most Zamfara citizens are not leading a normal life.

Indeed, practically all the elites in Zamfara state – politicians, leaders of thought, other influential and wealthy persons, in fact, just about any person that has the means,  have relocated to Gusau the state capital or Abuja. The state government has done virtually, everything in the books to stem the tide of this menacing insecurity ravaging the state to no avail.
Mining (Zamfara sits atop gold deposits) which experts consider as a key factor that propels banditry had been banned in the state without visible impact. A no-fly zone had been imposed, no result. Threat to derobe any traditional ruler in whose domain bandits strike had been actualised with a number of emirs sacked and banished, still the insecurity persists.
Restrictions on motorcycle operations and sale of fuel had been put in place, no dice. Security personnel of all kinds had been poured into Zamfara, the bandits continue to strike, even kidnapping school children. Government had negotiated and even bent backwards to grant them amnesty, yet Zamfara knows no peace. So, both the carrot and stick approaches to reign in the bandits had been employed and both have not solved the problem. What next?

In an apparently last ditch effort and last push to curb this seeming unending banditry the government has instituted stern new measures among which are closure of some fuel stations, ban on  village markets and those along the roads, further restrictions on movement with closure of some roads, ban on transportation of cattle outside the state, strict scrutiny of transportation of foodstuff and shut down of telecommunications and internet services for two weeks.

These are hard times for Zamfara citizens, especially the masses as these latest security measures bring in their train further hardships for the already baterred populace. Zamfara state is incommunicado now. Our mobile phones with their multiple functions have become an essential part of us in this 21st century. 

You can do so many things with it, from simple phone calls and playing games to organizing and attending meetings and conferences virtually, via zoom. For many Nigerians, not being able to perform anything with one’s phone is like staying in darkness many of us have become addicted somehow to phone clicking. 
In the midst of pervasive poverty and hunger (through runaway inflation) brought about partly by nationwide insecurity in diverse forms in our land, many seek to while away their sorrows through playing games, watching movies  and other entertainment stuff on their phones.
For those Zamfara citizens that are lucky to still be alive, these countless restrictions are like going back to the Stone Age, living in some Victorian era. But given all that they have suffered they are prepared to make and endure more sacrifices to enable them return to the good, old, normal life in their banditry-plagued state. You could say that they were already down to their depths and had lost practically everything. 

They had lost loved ones, lost properties, lost their freedom and dignity. So they are prepared to give up literally anything if only to restore normalcy to their daily lives, a normalcy that looks like a forlorn dream, given their bitter experiences over the years. It is in this light that one commends those residents  that are staying put in Zamfara  to live through this ‘dark  days’ which hopefully is temporary and would usher a bright new day for the citizens. 

This is especially in view of the fact that some people left for neighboring Sokoto State and Funtua in Katsina shortly before the new measures came into effect. I say kudos to all residents of Zamfara state at this moment. They are the brave warriors sitting through the ‘darkness’. Kudos also to Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle  for sitting it through with his people and also experiencing the pains of his constituents at this time, rather than jetting out to some comfort zones. A leader should experience both the good and bad times with his people, not staying aloof or watching their distress from afar. 

The ardent wish and hope of everyone in Zamfara state is that these latest, punitive restrictions would yield tangible result and that their sacrifices this time around would not be in vain.  Reports indicate that the armed forces and other security personnel are recording successes in their clearance operations in the state. May Zamfara citizens witness return of sunshine in the lives soonest!
Ikeano writes via [email protected] 08033077519

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