How Buhari and Masari allowed Katsina to become a killing field
Professor Abdussamad Umar Jibia
If you judge me as an opposition writer you are not being fair to me. I supported Buhari when he needed support. As a non-political person I never joined his party or any other political party. But since the time he joined politics in 2003 I made sure I voted for him and mobilized those I could mobilize to vote for him. My hopes, like majority of Nigerians, were thus high when he won the 2015 election. My prayer along with others who went on hajj the previous year was answered. Jonathan was defeated. The killing of innocent Muslim Northerners was thus over.
However, just before the inauguration of Buhari administration in 2015 something happened. I had a discussion with a more experienced colleague which like you may be dismissing this write-up, I dismissed as a hate observation from a PDP supporter. Of course I knew that colleague was not a PDP member and in fact, like yours sincerely he was never in politics. However, my love for Buhari beclouded my sense of reasoning. The person asked how Buhari could provide security for Nigerians while it was the same person who, as a military leader was toppled and arrested from his house with no iota of resistance. The point here is that if Buhari could not deal with saboteurs as a military leader with full autocratic powers how could he possibly do so as a civilian president? Whether my colleague’s observation made sense or not is left for you to say now that my choice president has spent four full years in office.
But I m not here to discuss sabotage. Sabotage or not, Buhari as the president of this country is responsible for the protection of lives and property of all Nigerians. He is answerable before God and then before Nigerians for any innocent blood dropped on the Nigerian territory. This is even more so because Nigerians voted for him for his promise that their security will be his top priority.
But Buhari is not alone in it. Along with him are 36 state Governors each of whom is roughly called the Chief security officer of his state. Let me not take you far. My state of origin is Katsina and I m talking about His Excellency Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, the executive governor of the state. Both Masari and Buhari are citizens of Katsina who took over power when there was relative peace in their state compared to its immediate neighbour, Zamfara. There were however rampant cases of cattle rustling and banditry especially in local government areas neighbouring Zamfara. That those cases will be over in a matter of a very short time was the belief of people like me who had confidence that APC shall be better than PDP notwithstanding that Masari himself was a full blown PDP member who only joined the Buhari political train after falling out with his best friend, the late President Yaradua.
Not long after the inauguration of Masari administration, he set up a security committee under the SSG, Alhaji Mustapha Inuwa. Mustapha Inuwa was a Commissioner of Education and later SSG when Yaradua was the state Governor. His committee was what could be described as a colossal failure. Inuwa’s committee did not prevent cattle rustling from taking place in any parts of Katsina state. A good number of villages were sacked and Inuwa’s security teams only arrived the scenes, when they did, many hours after the incidents took place. Perhaps they realized that the Government itself was not serious and they decided to stay in the cities and enjoyed their allowances, after all many of them had no families in the state. It was in this period, for example, that I lost an uncle of mine to the rifles of bandits. If you expect me to stop talking about my dear who was the religious leader of his people and the patriarch of my mother’s family so as to cover the failure of Katsina and Federal Governments you are in for a disappointment.
Somehow, sometime in 2016 Governor Yari of Zamfara state decided to grant amnesty to bandits and cattle rustlers in Zamfara state. That came as a relief to Katsina State Governor who was said to be spending a lot of money to pay security people ‘on patrol’. Thus, like a copycat, Katsina state Government also announced an amnesty for criminals. A 15-man amnesty committee was set up under our Mustapha Inuwa which was mandated by the state Governor to “meet with various gangs of cattle rustlers operating in the state with a view to identifying their grievances, and advice the government, accordingly”. Yes, those were the words of Governor Masari on the 12th of November, 2016, unfortunately. The implication was that the Government had identified ‘gangs’ of cattle rustlers who had been responsible for the murder of innocent Nigerians and it did know their locations. But instead of applying the might of Government to bring them to justice, it was going to meet them and even listen to their reasons for murdering Nigerians.
That was not all. The governor continued, “The government decides to employ dialogue after it had used force by about 80 per cent and yielded no much positive results”. In other words, the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with all its Police, Army, Navy, Air force, DSS, NIA, etc. had no strength to subdue bunches of criminals terrorizing villagers in one part of the country. Haba! This was said when the challenges were by far less serious than what we have now. Do we have any hope now?
After the inauguration of that committee, the lies began. Two months after the inauguration of the committee, the SSG announced that 28,000 cattle were surrendered by the cattle rustlers who had now repented. Out of that number, according to him, 24,567 had been returned to their rightful owners and 3513 died before they could be surrendered with some 99 still available. Here, one would be tempted to ask questions. Where is the list of those who repented and where are they now? Had the cattle rustlers been keeping the animals they rustled somewhere safely in expectation of this amnesty programme? This is only possible if there is complicity by some people close to Government. Who are ‘the rightful owners’ who reclaimed their cattle and which method did the committee use to ascertain ownership? I am yet to see their list. The villager victims of cattle rustling could not ask these questions for fear of being with-hunt by Government. After all, they saw some of the suspected cattle rustlers moving with Government protection after the amnesty declaration.
The meaning of all these is that the security of lives and property of the people of Katsina state was allowed to deteriorate by the Government (this Government) by not solving the problem when it was still at the infancy stage. Now that it has become much worse the Governor is running up and down and is sometimes seen shading tears. A friend of mine called them crocodile tears and many people may have reasons to agree with him. For example, on visiting the Jibia flood site last year the Governor openly shed those tears and promised to tackle the root cause of the flood. One year after, the problem has not been solved and if there is another rain similar to last year’s only the special grace of God will prevent another flood. Somehow, my darling President Buhari has shed tears on a number of occasions and his people in his home state are still being killed on a daily basis.
Did you say I am insulting Buhari and Masari? That may be your opinion. It is, however, the kind of opinion that has made Nigerians in leadership position to see every constructive criticism as an insult. But like the famous Caliph Umar b. Alkhattab said, “There is no good in you if you do not tell us the truth, and there is no good in us if we do not accept”.