Unfortunately, Zamfara State is consistently in the news much more for the very bad reasons than for the good ones to the extent that most Nigerians have already been psyched up to believe that reports, narratives and discussions on the state should, as a rule, center around the negative happenings that have continued to characterise the political and governance processes as well as the inter-relationships amongst the various communities in the State. Almost all the endowments of the state have, in the face of the crippling crises, substantially lost their values as the natives and other residents are almost always on the run because of incessant attacks on them by violent criminals and can t.fore not enjoy such endowments.
The quick succession in which terribly unsettling incidents occur in the state is an abundant evidence that peace and security as the preconditions for survival and development are extremely rare, even if not completely non-existent. Is the conferment of a traditional title on a notorious bandit, Adamu Aliero, by the Emir of Yandoton Tsafe, Alhaji Garba Marafa, shortly after the Zamfara State Government announced its controversial decision to facilitate the acquisition of small arms by the people of the state for the purpose of self-defense not an enough indication that criminality is now the norm in Zamfara?
Even with the suspension of the Emir by the State Government and the establishment of a committee to probe his action, the recognition accorded the bandit by the traditional institution signifies an association between the community leaders and the perpetrators of violent crimes. It is also a confirmation of the allegation that criminality worsens in the state and many other places because members of the various communities including those in leadership positions are connected with the criminal gangs.
Perhaps, the explanation, as reported that the Alero has been so recognised because t. was an agreement with him that he would “stop attacking the communities and villages in the emirate,” in addition to his promise that he would “allow people to go to their farms,” has made some sense. It is an explanation that fits into the reality of the lives of members of a lot of communities who have continued to submit to the demands of their attackers just for them to be able to live.
But this is an excuse that can not sink in all those who continuously and appropriately analyze the rising insecurity in the context of the failure of the various strata of leadership in Nigeria. The expression of resolve by the Zamfara State Government to ensure the procurement of arms by the people of the state and the conferment of traditional title on a notorious bandit, which is another shocker from Zamfara, are perfect examples of a failure and a compromise on the part of the leadership at various levels.
All these are enough to convince everyone that criminality has taken firmer root in our society than ever imagined. In fact, the more the authorities make pronouncements or take actions towards the resolution of the security crisis, the more their failure or even complicity appear as, for example, evident in the arms-for-all policy and title-for-Alero initiative have fully shown.
Moreover, the speedy escalation, domestication and internalisation of violent crimes which are the most basic realities in a lot of communities have become the most crippling threats to the political and governance processes in particularly the Northern part of the country. Communities in the North, with the ones in Zamfara State as some of the worst-hit, have already come to terms with the fact that the authorities are largely not t. for them when it comes to the security of their lives.
The Tsafe event at which Alero was turbanned as the Leader or Head of the Fulani Clan (Sarkin Fulani) in the domain and which was reportedly attended by about a hundred bandits was a significant statement about not only the enormous power that the violent criminals exercise over the people but also the great extent to which their activities have been integrated into the established mechanisms for the local administration of those areas. They, by implication, determine the nature and scopes of the cultural, social, economic and political engagements of the members of the local communities.
If this latest happening in Zamfara is added or put side by side with the nefarious activities of the Bello Turji-led gang in Sokoto, the sack of hundreds, if not thousands, of communities in Katsina State and the take-over of a large territory by the two groups of bandits and the Ansaru fighters in the Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna State, a complete picture of the unbelievable occupation of the substantial part of the North-West by the violent criminals will readily come out. This leaves the dwellers of all those areas with no other option than to accept the reality of their existence as a people whose lives have been cruelly compromised by the authorities that should have, in practical terms, since guaranteed peace and security.
As not only participants in the activities in the local communities but also regulators of the affairs of the people, the criminals are most likely to be the major determinants of the nature of politicking in all those places w. they are already dominant. Their physical control over all those conquered territories is already an instrument that they use to determine the political preferences of the people.
As the country moves towards the 2023 General Elections, the current situation in the states w. insecurity is most heightened is a . of grave concern. It worries all well-meaning Nigerians that now even politicians, including the elected ones as well as traditional rulers and religious leaders have, by commission or omission, become allies of violent criminals.
It is not yet known how the five-member committee set up by the Zamfara State Government to investigate the conferment of the traditional title on the notorious bandit will go about its assignment and what the government will eventually do with the committee’s findings. As a perfectly conventional step towards the effective handling of such a matter, the establishment of the committee with Honourable Yahaya Chado Gora as the Chairman and a former Permanent Secretary in the State Civil Service, Musa Garba, as Secretary looks just normal.
Yet, taking into cognizance the past experiences, it is not something that can serve as the right kind of foundation upon which further actions on the issue and other related ones can be taken. It is continuously dismissed as one of such ploys that governments use to down. vital issues, especially considering the penchant of the Zamfara State Government and other critical segments of the political class in the state for the politicization and trivialisation of security matters.
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