North-West Governor Sponsoring Bandits?

By Casmir Igbokwe

We take so many things for granted in Nigeria. Last week, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) gave us some food for thought. The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabeba, said “our security agencies have intelligence reports linking one of the North-West governors of colluding and sponsoring the violent and criminal activities of bandits in the zone. I won’t give details because of the sensitive and security nature of the issue.”

Surprisingly, this did not cause any uproar. All we got were few feeble responses. North-West comprises Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states. Out of these seven states, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controls only Sokoto and Zamfara while the other five are controlled by the ruling party.

So, could it be that a PDP governor sponsored the kidnap of the about 344 schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State?  Recall that the bandits stormed the school recently and took the boys to Zamfara State. They reportedly kept them in a forest and only released them last Thursday, after the boys had spent six days in captivity.

Boko Haram terrorist had claimed responsibility for the abduction, a claim some government officials had since denied. What is even more surprising is that these criminals moved all the way from Katsina to Zamfara with these boys without any serious challenge from any quarters. The military apparently zeroed in on them when they were already in Zamfara.

Perhaps, the unnamed governor sponsoring these bandits facilitated their way to Zamfara. Perhaps, there is something government and security agents know that we do not know. Whatever be the case, the trauma these young boys went through is saddening. According to them, the bandits flogged them, gave them cassava and dirty water to drink. They walked some distance into the bush barefoot and those who got tired were flogged to join the line.

We thank God that the boys were rescued alive. Many people who went through similar horror didn’t return alive. For instance, a young seminarian, Michael Nnadi (18) was similarly kidnapped and later killed in Kaduna earlier in the year.

In 2014, some 276 schoolgirls were also abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State. It was not until a few years ago that some of them were freed. Even at that, over 100 of them are yet to be accounted for. In 2018, the same Boko Haram members abducted another set of 110 schoolgirls from their school in Dapchi, Yobe State. By the time they released them, Leah Sharibu was missing. She was not freed because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.

Apart from students, insurgents also go for other innocent members of the society. A few days before they abducted the Kankara students, they had slaughtered over 70 farm workers in their farm at Zabarmari village in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State. In February this year, they burnt over 30 innocent travellers in their vehicles at Auno, Borno State. Even those who were mourning were not spared as about 70 people were killed at a funeral in Badu, Nganzai, Borno State last year. The terrorists have killed at least 40, 000 people since 2009 when the insurgency started in Borno State. Elsewhere in Adamawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Taraba, Zamfara and many other parts of the North, terrorists and bandits determine who lives and who dies.

This is a country that claims to have a government. I have a feeling that the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) made a mistake by categorising Nigeria as the third most terrorised country in the world. We are behind Afghanistan and Iraq which came first and second respectively. But shouldn’t we have been the number one country?

Ironically, the President and many other principal functionaries of this government, including the security chiefs, are from the North. In fact, the bandits dared President Muhammadu Buhari by staging the abduction while he was in his home state of Katsina. The essence of leadership is to serve and better the lot of your people. The lot of northerners appear to have got worse under this present government. Yet the administration got its greatest support from the North.

Now, that support base is crashing. Buhari used to be a cult figure in the North. Today, the Northern Elders Forum is no longer happy. The spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, is also not happy. He had lamented recently that over 76 people were killed in one day in a community in Sokoto. In February this year, a large crowd of Maiduguri residents booed the President when he visited to sympathise with them over the Auno massacre. They chanted in Hausa, ‘Bama so! Bamayi!’ (We don’t want, we are not interested.) This is a state that gave him the widest margin of victory in the 2019 presidential election.

Do you blame them when only about 25 to 28 per cent of households in the North-East and North-West have access to basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation. According to the World Bank, the North accounts for 87 per cent of the poverty rate in Nigeria. The state of insecurity in that region is something else. The people are forlorn, dejected and helpless.

It is high time President Buhari took serious action. Mere rhetoric won’t work this time. The first thing is to investigate the APC’s weighty allegation. Officials of the ruling party should be made to reveal the name of that governor sponsoring bandits. Once he is identified, the House of Assembly of his state should begin the process of removing him from office.

Recall that a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, made similar allegation last August. Mailafia granted a Lagos-based radio station, Nigeria Info 99.3 FM, live interview alleging that a certain northern governor was the commander of Boko Haram. The Northern Governors Forum expressed alarm and called for thorough investigation. The Department of State Services (DSS) invited and interrogated Mailafia for hours. But rather than unravel the mystery, the government made a scapegoat of the radio station that aired the interview. The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) not only accused the radio station of using its platform to promote unverifiable and inciting views that could incite public disorder, it slammed it with N5 million fine.

An Igbo adage says when a child is crying and pointing to a particular direction, if his father is not there, then his mother will likely be there. For APC and Mailafia to be pointing at the same direction means there could be an element of truth in the allegations. I’m not privy to what Mailafia told the DSS. But with this new revelation from the APC, the DSS must tell us the whole truth about what is going on.

As the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, said, the onus to prove the allegation rested on Nabena. The DSS must invite him to say what he knows with concrete evidence. If he is unable to prove it, then the ruling party must be fined for sending us on a wild goose chase.


Umahi: Between lion and chameleon’s heart

One does not need the services of a soothsayer to know that governor Umahi’s thoughtless move is propelled by his presidential ambition. No quarrel against one’s ambition! But the issue is that of giving the PDP a bad name as a plausible excuse to pursue his personal agenda. Umahi is certainly in want of any cogent and verifiable reason for his embarrassing departure. Besides, neither the PDP nor APC has yet zoned its presidential slot to the South East. But after all is said and done and both the PDP and APC zone their presidential ticket to the South East, Umahi’s vaulting ambition could be terribly hurt. Yes, even his APC gamble might hit the brick wall knowing full well the undisguised ambition of the likes of Orji Uzor Kalu, Ogbonnanya Onu and others who have deeply acclimatized with the broom family and have so far exhibited years of unmixed loyalty to the APC.

–      Edet Essien Esq. Cal. South

I used to love the person of Adesina, until he got a juicy package from President Muhammadu Buhari. I hardly missed the Daily Sun from 2010 up to when he joined the ruling class; I thought he was a Christian who loved an honest Muslim leader by the articles he wrote. Little did I know he was doing ‘writing for stomach’ and not for conscience. So sad!

–      Anonymous, 

Dear Casy, permit me to say that Governor Umahi’s defection is like a woman tasting two husbands so as to know which one satisfies her whims and caprices. I only quarrel with him for engaging in mud-slinging against his former political party which amounts to biting the fingers that fed him. But that is the way of Nigerian politicians, especially, the ones that have thrown conscience to the dogs! As for Femi Adesina hailing Umahi as a lion, one can liken that to putting forward ‘usubodo’ drumbeats to a child while the child dances without the child knowing that ‘Usubodo’ drumbeats are the drumbeats of the spirits.

–      Steve Okoye, Awka,

Dear Casmir, it’s not right for a leader to rule with the voice of Jacob and skin of Esau. The greedy bulldog got drowned as it dropped its bone and jumped into the pond to grab a supposed bigger one not knowing it was its shadow. I’ve no hatred for APC but Umahi’s defection is ill timed and reason is flimsy.

–      Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, 

Dear Sir, the crux of the matter is that in Nigeria every politician believes he can speak for the masses because of his excess money against the poverty of the greater majority. Hence, their personal interest becomes the group or general interest. But democracy is still about the people. Thanks.

–      Iyke Nwabueze,

Umahi’s defection to APC did not come as a surprise. His utterances and actions were sometimes clear indication that his days in PDP were numbered. During the clampdown on IPOB members by Buhari’s administration he was in the forefront of the supporters of Buhari and subsequent branding of IPOB as terrorists. His decision to go to APC may be serious miscalculation in political climate as far as Ebonyi State is concerned. Senator Godwin Akpabio, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State is still a good example of failed ambition.

–      Pharm Okwuchukwu Njike,

Dear Casy, Emperor Dave Umahi has finally plunged into political suicide. He forgot that it took the British 30 years to conquer the Igbo because our people are republicans and democrats. Gov Chime of Enugu did that, his Udi people rejected him and his APC. I trust our people in Ebonyi state. Umahi used their money to build roads and bridges. That wouldn’t make him the tin god he is now posturing.

–      Eze Chima C. Lagos, 

Governor Umahi needs our support for Ndigbo to get presidential position come 2023. We Ndigbo should start in earnest to get the position. We should not sit down in our comfort zone to get presidential position.

–      Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia,

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, December 21, 2020

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