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Northern leaders fault President Buhari on insecurity

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Gravitas Group berates Buhari for appointing brother-in-law head of NSPMC

By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU

The state of insecurity in Nigeria is bewildering and many observers and experts believe that, on this strength alone, Nigeria is a failed state.

The consensus of opinion of many informed observers is that the current administration has to all intents and purposes, not only been playing fiddle while the state of Insecurity slipped from bad to worse; but has also decided by default to play the game of Russian roulette with our security.

Last week, Ali Ndume, a high-ranking senator, representing Bornu north, threatened to leave the country if the current dysfunctions in the system persists, blaming the federal government for not doing enough to stem the slide into near anarchy, further accentuated by hardship and poor governance.

Before this rude awakening, many Northern leaders, unlike their Southern counterparts had chosen to be diplomatic or rather played the proverbial ostrich on the issue of growing insecurity.

But last week, aside Ndume’ angst, Nasir El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State blamed the federal government in a rare criticism of the Buhari administration for clothing the terrorists killing Nigerians in the toga of bandits.

El-Rufai has hailed the motion by the National Assembly urging the federal government to declare bandits operating in the North West and North Central regions of Nigeria as terrorists. Mr. El-Rufai said such a declaration would allow the military to go all out against the bandits without fear of recriminations from the international community.

The governor stated this last Wednesday at the presentation of the Kaduna State Security Incidents Report for the Third Quarter of 2021. The event was held in Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.

“We in the Kaduna State Government, have always aligned with the declaration of bandits as insurgents and terrorists. We have written letters to the Federal Government since 2017, asking for this declaration because it is the declaration that will allow the Nigerian military to attack and kill these bandits without any major consequences in international law.

“So, we support the resolution by the National Assembly and we are going to follow up with a letter of support, for the Federal Government to declare these bandits and insurgents as terrorists, so that they will be fair game for our military. This is the view of the Kaduna State Government.”

El-Rufai lamented that his state is still recording daily deadly attacks by bandits despite the investment the state government has made in the security agencies in the state.

“It is a matter of profound regret for me that our considerable investments in security are yet to manifest in the defeat or at least the considerable degradation of the criminals that menace our people.

“The State Government has undertaken capital expenditure to provide facilities that can multiply the capacity of security agencies to deter crime and conduct effective investigations of those that do occur,” the governor said.

He described the third-quarter security report as sobering, saying it shows the situation has not improved despite the government’s efforts.

“It is a sobering report, reflecting the real agony of our citizens and communities, their pains and losses, and the fears and anxiety that have created considerable distress,” the governor said in his review of the report..

“These figures indicate the continuing severity of the security situation. In our view, this compels an obligation to transparency on the part of the managers of security. It acknowledges the pain of our people, reflects precise figures on the nature and pattern of security incidents and provides the public factual information on this unprecedented challenge.”

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Rufai appealed to the federal government to carry out the planned recruitment of 774,000 youth to engage more young people and indirectly improve the security situation in Nigeria.
Last week, the terrorists upped their game by attacking Abuja-Kaduna -bound train with explosives according to media reports. On Thursday, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) confirmed that suspected bandits on Wednesday destroyed a portion of the Abuja-Kaduna rail track with explosives, forcing a disruption of train services on the route.

According to a report by the Nigerian Tribune newspaper, the Managing Director of the NRC, Fidet Okhiria, said the explosives damaged the rail track at a spot between Dutse and Rijana, an area that had recorded numerous bandits’ attacks along the Kaduna Abuja highway.

Earlier, a former senator representing the Kaduna Central district, Shehu Sani, had reported on his Facebook page that suspected bandits attacked the Kaduna-Abuja train. He said the bandits planted an explosive that damaged the rail track and shattered the windshield of the train’s engine, Wednesday evening.

Mr. Sani said the gunmen also opened fire at the train on Thursday morning, targeting the driver and the tank of the train. “It happened between Dutse and Rijana stations. The Driver struggled to move towards Kaduna Rigasa station.

“This early morning, I was on board when our train ran over another explosive damaged railings. The train nearly skid off its track, then we miraculously escaped. All Kaduna Abuja train operations need to be suspended for today until this issue is addressed,” Sani wrote.

The NRC had earlier on Monday announced the reduction of regular transportation of passengers on the route from 10 trips to four daily, citing maintenance work.

“Let me be frank, Nigeria is a failed state,all the indices point to this reality. Worse off is the issue of security. Well, some sympathetic to this administration say the government is trying but the reality points the other way”, says Professor Adeagbo Moritiwon, a public analyst and political scientist.

In spite of government efforts, he said, the security situation in Nigeria is deteriorating, beset on all fronts by outlaws of different hue.

“Indeed, the lingering conflict between herders and farmers in north-central Nigeria has been rated six times deadlier than the Boko Haram insurgency. The reason for this can be located in the Almajiri system that promotes begging and general attitude of kids taking care of themselves at tender age, thus open to recruitment by criminal groups.

“Northern leaders are responsible for this state of affairs. In Northern Nigeria, the quantum of youth with skills is minimal compared to its Southern counterparts. How can people who lack sets of skills and education be able to think independently?”

“Take the case of one of the most notorious of the terrorists which government calls bandits: Kachalla Turji, by many accounts, he is a 27 -year-old unemployed, but by vice of his terrorism, he has managed to amass millions. The impunity and amazing wealth of Turji through kidnappings have become a source of envy to other unemployed youth who have themselves turned terrorists”, Moritiwon stated.

Professor Aliyu Abdullahi, a sociologist and expert in criminology told Business Hallmark that “Apart from the nature of the education of the youth, which allows begging in the Almajiri system, many youth shun Western education, in a region where many have no skills sets, it is easy for them to be recruited into pseudo interpretation of religion, and an easy prey to religious charlatans like Boko Haram.

Abdullahi further stated that the filial piety between fathers and sons in Northern Nigeria, especially among the lower class without education is not tight, thus throwing children into the mercy of the hostile environment.

Abdullahi also blamed porous borders. “The porous Nigeria-Niger borders and difficult terrain is another issue. Nigeria’s border with Niger spans 1,497 km and is poorly policed by the Nigeria Custom and Immigration Services. The porous nature of these borders heightens the potential spread of terrorist activities into northwest Nigeria from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

“The vulnerability of the border to the infiltration of terror groups is compounded by the forest reserves in the region. The vast, rugged terrain, sparse population, and dense vegetation make surveillance difficult—making the forests ideal hiding places and operational bases for the terror groups.

“The illicit proliferation of weapons exerts a considerable impact on peace and security and increases the incidence of terrorists’ activities in the region.

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Poor governance, poverty, and climate change-fragility nexus. In many instances, the rising incidents of violent attacks are symptoms of weak, exclusionary, or exploitative governance systems in northwest Nigeria.

“Compounding factors include weak institutional capacity within the police; extreme inequality, poverty, unemployment; and citizens’ alienation from the government”, Professor Adebisi Mokikan, a political scientist at Kogi State University told this medium.

A couple of weeks ago, the Christian Association of Nigeria, blamed the almajiri system in the North for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country.

The chairman of CAN in Imo State, Rev. Dr. Eches Divine Eches, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja last month. According to him, banditry and kidnapping are increasing because the authorities have failed to pay more attention to the critical factors behind the widespread insecurity in the country.

Eches also expressed concern over Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s links with the bandits terrorising the Northwest and the alleged helplessness of the government to arrest and caution him for his many ‘unguarded utterances’ about their activities.

He said: “You can’t have Almajiri system for life and government in the last 40 years in our nation kept bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities.

‘’They are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday, they will leave the streets and go to the bush where they will begin to do the trade of kidnapping.

“Also, you can’t, in any sane nation, have the likes of Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.

“These bandits we find today were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses, begging for food.”

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