“The problem of this country is not a shortage of ideas, but the lack of spirit with which to execute laudable ideas.”
– E.A Olofin
For some time now Nigeria, especially the northern part of the country, has been grappling with serious security challenges. Many states in the region have been turned into war-weary or battlegrounds, lives lost and property destroyed.
Any time one’s mind oscillates from one social media platform to another, it is greeted with terrifying discussions galore on the nagging security challenges in the region plus recommendations, even if unprofessional ones, on how to put an end to the unfortunate scenario; but what is missing is the strong will to put into practice those literatures of words.
I believe in Prof. Emmanuel Ajayi Olofin’s argument when he said that lack of that right spirit to come up with ideas and pursue them to their logical conclusion is the bane of our survival as a nation; and that slothfulness has created something distasteful called ‘ideological vacuum’.
I think it will not sound excessively careless outpourings if one chooses to say that our leaders’ inability to entrench strong institutions in place coupled with our complacent response to the inhuman policies is what is lingering the debilitating security challenges in the region.
We have politicians after, seemingly, every block; but we lack those who sincerely wish to practice what they preach. I am afraid both the leaders and followers are complete claimants. The happenings in Zamfara and Katsina States are clear pointers.
However, one, in appearance, may be “the north” – a phrase coined to show a higher sense of patriotism towards the region that one can lay down his life if need be – as they say or unashamedly preach “north first”; but ignorantly or consciously going against the region or doing nothing to rid the region of its recalcitrant vicissitudes.
Unlike in the past, when the so-called democratic humanists or socialists, name it, practiced what they preached for the benefit of all; today, Nigerians, a larger percentage of them, have thrown their patriotism to dogs. We do not care whether the country works against or it is flung into bewildering welter of internal crises. All we care are our selfish interests – nothing more; and the saddest part of it is that we have been waiting for “others” to put out the fire that is lavishly razing our exclusive possessions.
Now, there is a military operation after another. Bandits, armed robbers, cattle-rustlers, kidnappers and other forms of insurgents are being engaged. Some are relocating to other states and others are leaving for good. The question remains: what are the state governors, traditional institutions and the citizens of the region doing to help the federal government and security agents win this war?
For the security agents to succeed, we all have to contribute our quotas to the building and consolidation of peace in the region – by implication the country. It is a collective responsibility making everyone liable for the output of the federal government’s effort to address the security challenges in the beleaguered region.
On Monday, May 26, 2019, I was privileged to attend a seminar organized by Kano State Government titled Security Awareness Seminar Phase l and themed “Join us in Securing Kano State” at the Karaye Emirate Council, Kano.
The seminar, which was hosted by the Emir of Karaye, Dr Ibrahim Abubakar ll, had in attendance the security chiefs of the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Army, the National Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Nigerian Prison Service, traditional rulers, among other relevant stakeholders.
Karaye was chosen, according to Governor Ganduje, as a starting point for this all-important security campaign for its being a strategic location and for sharing a border with Katsina State which is battling kidnappings, cattle rustling and banditry teeth and nail.
Minds had been rubbed, ideas brainstormed on by especially the triangular of security agents, the government and traditional institution and people listened. What the government is after is to form an operational synergy between the traditional institution which is closer to the people and security agents on one hand; and to create a mutual understanding between the people of the state whose lives and property are being protected and the security agents on the other.
According to the governor, henceforth relevant stakeholders of each of the nine local government areas of the emirate will start active monthly security meetings under the able leadership of the district head – down to village heads; in addition to the state monthly security meeting chaired by the governor.
Speaking at the event, Ganduje said: “The purpose of this gathering has achieved its main objectives, because all the stakeholders have brainstormed. The traditional institution and its subjects have indicated their willingness to cooperate with the security agencies to ensure peace and stability in this part of Kano State and by extension Kano State as a whole.”
According the state commissioner of police, represented by the deputy commissioner, Alhaji Balarabe Sule, to timely curb the menaces, there is the need to comb Dan Soshiya and Falgore forests, among others, which are used by criminals as safe havens, adding that the real pastoralists using the forests should be identified and their names and pictures, if possible, documented.
To buttress his argument, he flashed back to 2016 when the state government ransacked Falgore Forest – a 1000-square-metert forest that links Kano State with Kaduna, Plateau, Jigawa and Bauchi States – to nip the menaces of kidnapping and cattle rustling in the bud back then.
The Commandant 3 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Brigadier-General Bamidele Alabi charged the populace of the emirate on patriotism, which he argued is the backbone of every peace-building campaign.
“We are ready to protect the state; but we need the maximum cooperation from the good people of Kano State. Our soldiers may be strangers; but the people know their environment the best. They can easily detect suspicious movements. Self-policing must be encouraged for this campaign to deliver,’ Bamidele Alabi explained.
The formula of know-your-community-and-your-neighbour-best, according Alabi, must be adopted by all and sundry and the overwhelming majority must be awoken to this to drive the goal home.
The brainstorming went on and on. Each of the chiefs tried to lay down some measures that if fully implemented will lead to a lasting peace in the state. One beautiful thing about the seminar was that each of the parties is willing to contribute its quota.
However, other things undermining security campaign in this country include our porous borders, which pose enormous challenges much more than anything else. A Nigerian remains one in other climes no matter how long he or she has lived there. But here other nationals cross our border at will, settle here and enjoy rights more than the sons of the soil.
Lack of a strong political will to address the socio-economic problems bedeviling the region is pauperizing its inhabitants and encouraging insurgency by the day; and idle hands, they say, are the devil workshop.
Ironically, we want to live in peace, but we want to cover up criminals. We want security campaigns to succeed, but we do not want to feed security agents with useful information. This, as Yusuf Bala Usman would say, is what the Kano security initiative emerged to challenge, oppose and overcome.
In sum, the northern states should borrow a leaf from Kano State. They should swing into to action and stop unnecessary wailings to satisfy their quest for lasting peace.
AbdulHamid wrote from Kano via [email protected]