One of the reasons Nigerians decided to sack the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government led by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 was the spate of insecurity in the country, especially the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East. Although, there were cases of kidnappings, armed robberies and other similar vices that were daily issues in the country, insurgency in the North, which crept into the Federal Capital Territory with the attendant bombings, killings and maiming of innocent citizens in Abuja and neighbouring states, such as Niger, Nassarawa and Kogi took the cake.
Many Nigerians were aghast at the seeming inability of the Federal Government to arrest the situation.
Entered Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, who promised to rout the insurgents and bring back normalcy to the country. Insecurity was a major plank of his campaign in 2014/ 2015 leading to the election in which he won. For sometime after his assumption of office, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief as the insurgents in the North-East were pinned to a corner, cut off from advancing beyond Borno and Yobe states and “technically defeated” in the words of the Federal Government.
But few weeks to the elections in 2019, all the gains seem to have vanished, not only in the North-East but more frighteningly in the North-West part of the country.
Last week, two governors from the zone, Bello Masari and Abdulaziz Yari of Katsina and Zamfara states cried out in frustration over the activities of bandits in their states. While Masari lamented that his state was under siege of bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers, Yari even offered to vacate his position to enable a state of emergency be imposed on his state. Masari also called on Police authorities to beef up security in Katsina.
Speaking at an extraordinary security meeting with the security chiefs in the state, as well as stakeholders from eight frontline local governments neighbouring Zamfara State in attendance, the governor said that Katsina, the home state of President Buhari was almost overran by criminals.
According to him, daily security reports reaching him indicated that no day passes by without reported cases of kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, among other crimes in the state.
According to Masari, “Our state is currently under serious siege by armed robbers, kidnappers and armed bandits who arrest rural people at the grassroots at will and demand ransom, which, if not paid, they kill their victims.
“The people of Katsina now sleep with one eye closed and the other opened.”
Yari, on his part, said that he was ready to sacrifice his position for a state of emergency to be imposed on Zamfara.
The governor was reacting to the worsening insecurity situation in the state.
After a meeting with President Buhari, Yari said his call for a state of emergency was not merely playing “politics.”
We find the emerging scary security situation in the North-West very disturbing. That is considering that Kaduna State, another state in the zone, has long been under siege of all sorts of criminal elements, who have made killing, kidnapping, cattle rustling and terror their past time.
Sokoto State, which, has not recorded any issues of insurgents, recently had its own share of the crisis when it was reported that some insurgents have camped in the state as well.
That leaves only Kano, Jigawa and Kebbi states as the only states that are relatively safe in the zone now.
We are disturbed because security is one of the cardinal reasons Buhari won the 2015 elections in the first place. We know for sure that the war in the North-East might have taken a toll on the security agencies and the resources of the country. But the emerging scenario in the North-West is even more confounding, considering that it is the zone of the president himself. That his home state, Katsina, could also come into the fray in the subject of insecurity is a real source for concern.
We are worried that gradually, the country is being opened up by criminals from different front.
We recall that President Buhari had previously blamed the instability in Libya and some North African countries for the insecurity in the country. The president alluded that some fighters from the areas, who had some weapons were trickling into Nigeria. Perhaps, what he did not mention was that Nigeria’s porous borders have enabled the criminals to walk into Nigeria without hindrance.
We are therefore worried at the inability of security agencies like police, Customs, Army and others to arrest the situation and bring peace in those areas.
We are also worried that as the 2019 elections draw closer and attentions of security agencies are shifted to the polls, the situation in the North-West and North-East might even become more troubling.
Lamentations by governors are not enough. The abdication of duties as the Chief Security Officer of Zamfara State, which Yari threatened is also not enough.
What is expected is for the federal and state governments to muster all forces towards stopping the menace. Nigeria cannot afford to have a North-West that is similar to the North-East in terms of violence. A stitch in time saves nine.