Without gainsay, the mere mention of Arewa which is another name for North in Nigeria’s context in the days shortly after Nigeria gained independence brought untold joys to the hearts of man. To many, it was the cradle of civilisation and a center of attraction considering the many things which were regarded as grandeur. Such things include the presence of several educational institutions (Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Bayero University Kano etc) the grain pyramids in Kano among others. Apart from this, Northern Nigeria is also worth mentioning due to the rapid rate of development, the various and spicy delicacies and the hospitable nature of the citizens residing there.
However, it is sad that a region which had produced several of Nigeria’s leaders such as the Current Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, Yakubu Gowon etc and which has been a cynosure to all and sundry both within and outside the country’s space has suddenly been set ablaze no thanks to the activities of enemies of the state who have been on rampage for over a decade. Thus, what used to be regarded as a center of civilisation has now turned to a citadel of insecurity, banditry, kidnapping among others.
We cannot argue neither can we dispute the fact that Northern Nigeria is one of the several places which have been regarded as dangerous. Apart from the Boko Haram insurgency which has been on for more than a decade, bandits have suddenly added an icing on the cake by operating in the North Western axis without restraint.
The profile of attacks and evil occurrences is rather at an astonishing rate. Need and media reporters have suddenly been busy that the causalities are now measured in hundreds. Just when it seems all is dying down and there is peace, another incident suddenly evolves making it difficult for one to enjoy peace. Worst of all is the prolonged silence of those in authority over the state of things. Things are without ado sliding into commotion.
In the last one month, there have been records of cases which makes even the heart of the strongest citizen to melt. The first was the report that farmers have been mandated by bandits to pay a whopping sum of close to a million Naira. The funds which according to the criminals was necessary so the farmers could market their products. Little wonder it was christened “harvest fees”.
The inability of any farmer to lay this fund emans that such farmer will not be able to harvest the produce. This will lead to the produce ravaging and spoiling in the farm while the families of such camera continue to wallow in hunger and poverty. The order which was first givnr in Zamfara State had also affected farmers in Katsina, Kaduna and Niger States inter alia.
Farmers in the above mentioned states were initially to lay the funds at the beginning of planting season. However, things suddenly took a different course as there was a jingle that they were to pay similar amounts to harvest their produce. Does this make any sense at all? Absolutely not.
As of that were a tip of the iceberg, these unscrupulous elements of the state captured and abducted over a dozen women in Zamfara. As customary of Nigerian leaders who are quick to sway off from reality, the Governor of the affected state made mention of it that the victims who spent few days in the den of the criminals had been rescued and no ransom was paid. However, international media organizations such as the BBC Hausa quickly threw more light on the incident as they affirmed that the victims spent close to three weeks in in captivity after been subjected to the highest form of maltreatment which included tortures, sexual assaults, hunger etc. It also affirmed that over five million naira was paid by families of the affected victims as ransom to secure their release. Several of these families went from pillar to post to secure these funds to pay the ransom. The action of the Governor has further affirmed that the continued silence of the nation’s policy makers are one of the major reasons the challenges in the north have not been successfully abated.
While many were still recovering from the shock of this incident, about 12 assistant superintendents of police deployed from Borno to Zamfara were abducted by bandits in the northwest. Shocking right? BBC reported that the spouse of one of the kidnapped officers received a call from her husband requesting her to sell of their properties as an avenue to pay the ransom demanded. This ransom was valued at about 800,000 naira. If security officials who are saddled with the responsibility of securing the lives and properties of citizens could be given such unfair treatment, what then will be the fate of innocent citizens who are relying on these same officials?
In similar reports, the district head of a village in Kaduna State and some other citizens were killed in cold blood. Also, some students of the Ahmadu Bello University who were travelling to the Nigerian French Village, Badagry, Lagos State were abducted along the Kaduna-Abuja highway. Amidst all the criticisms and outcries emanating from the public, the Minister of Police Affairs urged Nigerians to treat the media reports as fake and propaganda. According to him, Northern Nigeria was safe and habitable and there was no cause for alarm. One may need to ask the Minister to take a trip by road without any form of security escorts to ascertain the state of things. We cannot blame him afterall since the affected individuals were not his relatives or family members.
The body langauge and actions of both the Minister and the other leaders in the North are intertwined. We would not be quick to forget the meeting which the Northern Governors Forum held which had in attendance the crème de la crème personalities of the region. The meeting which was meant to be an avenue to reflect on challenges which affected the region and proffering practical and sustainable solutions ended in deadlock.
The Governors rather than these focused on trifle issues such as the antisocial media bill, heaping blames on the #endsars protesters as well as appraising the government for using lethal weapons to disperse the protesters. How ridiculous this sounds! I think these leaders need be tutored on the fundamentals of governance and effective leadership.
How long can Nigerians living in the North survive this? There is absolutely no difference in the heart breaking reports emanating from the states in the North. We would rather say some seems to be greater in impact and magnitude than others. Human lives do not have any value as they are been slaughtered like animals, farmers can no longer go to their farms due to fears of being kidnapped, parents are scared of releasing to their children to schools to be taught.
Our leaders who should be championing the cause of the masses are busy chasing shadows and misplaced priorities. The question then is this: Who Will Quell The Fires Of Violence and Insecurity In Northern Nigeria?