By Mal Ibrahim Dosara, Special Adviser to the Executive Governor of Zamfara state (Public Enlightenment, Media and Communications)
On Saturday, April 6th, 2019, some protesters came out in the Nigerian Capital Abuja, Kaduna and Sokoto cities to voice out their anger and displeasure over the security situation in Nigeria, particularly in the Northern states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto. Again, in the city of London in the United Kingdom, some other protesters also visited the Nigerian Embassy in London to summit letter of protest to the Nigerian government over the same security situation in Nigeria.
Public protests are essential ingredients of the democratic system. Therefore, as a democratically elected Governor of Zamfara state, Sen-elect Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar appreciates the concern shown by the protesters both in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom. The protesters didn’t do anything wrong for exercising their rights.
It’s however important to highlight certain key issues in order to understand the bigger picture of the reality of the situation in Zamfara State. Scratching the surface of a complex issue may lead to wrong conclusions.
The essence of any government anywhere is security. No responsible government would fold its arms to watch its people being killed and their property being destroyed, thereby impoverished further by bandits attacks. Many of the protesters apparently had no idea about the billions of Naira the Yari administration committed to security and his efforts to assist our security personnel in terms of logistics and equipment.
In trying to understand and tackle our security challenges, however, it is unhelpful to look for simplistic answers or engage in shadow chasing. Gov Abdulaziz Yari is particularly concerned about the activities and utterances of politicians who are desperately bent on taking advantage of our security problems to advance their own sinister agenda. The politicisation of people’s misfortune is not only irresponsible, but downright reckless and unpatriotic. These conflicts merchants are not actually concerned about the people, they are concerned about fishing in troubled waters.
It isn’t so much surprising though, that the protesters were largely people from outside Zamfara state who do not have a glimpse of the security situation in the state. This is why they allowed themselves to be used cheaply by those policians who lost out, but are bent on destroying the state at all cost. And once protesters allowed themselves to be used by politicians, they may ultimately destroy their own credibility. To hold Yari solely responsible for insecurity in Zamfara State is not only wicked and mischievous, but it is also clear evidence of the attempt to hoodwink Nigerians in order to make him the scapegoat. Other States have insecurity challenges just like Zamfara, but their governors were not held accountable for by their people. Instead, prayers of good – will and encouragement were showered on them. like other governors, Yari expended billions of Naira to support our security personnel, but mischief makers are playing down this aspect of the story, because their own agenda is to bring him down for their own advantage.
The protesters should have put Zamfara people at the back of their minds before allowing themselves to be used by those policians who feel if not them, let everyone else go to hell. It is unfortunate that the protesters did not even understand the magnitude and dimensions of the security challenges in Zamfara state.
If the protesters had understood the bigger picture of the complex security situation in Zamfara State, they wouldn’t have solely blamed Yari personally responsible for the security failure in the state. Take the case of our porous borders and the proliferation of small arms in the hands of kidnappers and cattle rustlers. Is it fair to blame Yari for these security deficiencies which these criminal gangs have taken advantage of? Does he have the power to stop the proliferation of arms into the country and into the hands of criminal groups? In fact, he shouldn’t be held accountable for these deficiencies and failures that the criminals took advantage of?
Another angle that the protesters ignored is the role of people within the affected communities who serve as informants to the bandits and kidnappers. Yari has held countless meetings with community leaders and even suspended and dismissed some traditional rulers for their link to the criminals and negligence that led to the bandits using local people for information and protection from detection. Can you say that a governor who went to this extent is doing nothing over insecurity? Have the security agents complained that Yari is not giving them active support and cooperation in the war against banditry? Has the President refused to send troops to the effected States?
Some politicians who are behind the protesters are using insecurity to fight Yari because of personal grudges and not because they actually care about the victims of insecurity in Zamfara State.
Again, at the time these protesters were on the streets insulting both Gov Yari and President Muhammadu Buhari, security agencies were in Zamfara state fighting the bandits. Just that fateful Saturday alone, the security killed over 58 of the bandits and arrested over 70.