By Bala Ibrahim
To many, today comes as a reminder of June 12, 1993, the day Nigerians came out in their millions to elect a democratic president, after many years of military dictatorship.
The election was adjudged the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s political history. It was an election that shamed the tribalists and ridiculed religious and sectional sentimentalists, because the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) presidential candidate, late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, and his running mate, Amb. Babagana Kingibe, were widely believed to have won the election, despite their Muslim/Muslim ticket. That gave meaning to democracy.
However, to some, particularly the people of Katsina state, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, today is a reminder of the doomsday, because it came at a time the people are visited by deaths, destructions and daily devastations by bandits. To them, it only makes mockery of democracy.
“All the local governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas, who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes. The total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities.”
Above is a quote from the Democracy Day broadcast of President Muhammadu Buhari today, the context of which is the basis of this article, which is going to be a bit biased, especially when we juxtapose it with another paragraph from the same speech, viz, “I regret recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions. Security Agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice”.
If we go by the dictionary meaning of the fundamental function of democracy, which says it is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly, or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body that meets their yearnings and aspirations, then today’s celebrations would not only be seen as skewed, but asymmetrically awry for some, especially those living in some areas of Katsina state. Something similar to the humiliation of the President, seems to be playing out in Katsina state, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari.
If the actual meaning of humiliation is to make someone feel ashamed, or look embarrassingly incapable, then PMB is under an experimental humiliation at home.
For more than a week now, Katsina state, the President’s home state is in the news for banditry. Reports have it that, last week, bandits numbering over 200 on motorcycles stormed villages in Faskari Local Government Area of the State, killing and maiming people freely. Despite the directives of the President to clear the bandits, Katsina state has remained home to the bandits.
Also, from about the midnight of Tuesday, another set of bandits operated easily till the early hours of Wednesday morning without any resistance from the security agencies in Sabuwa Local Government of the same Katsina State.
According to Hon. Ibrahim Danjuma Machika, the member representing Sabuwa Local government at the Katsina state House of Assembly, personally took it upon himself to contact every security operative that matters in the area, giving them details of the bandit’s movement, from the evening when they arrived, till the early hours of the morning of the next day, but no one came to the rescue of the communities under attack. This is in the same Katsina state, the home state of the President.
Another video is also going viral now, showing the bandits on motorcycles, riding in convoy with heavy arms through Funtua town in broad day light. They were even hailed by the people, perhaps out of fear, as they ride pass. An eye witness, who recorded the video, said they came from the northern part of the town, through the Sheme-Yankara highway, passed through the Sokoto bypass road and entered the bush, without any resistance. This is Katsina state, the home state of the President.
Police in the state said 20 people were killed and 20 injured during an attack carried out by bandits on a remote community late on Tuesday. They said, 150 gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on residents, looting shops and stealing cattle in the village of Kadisau. This happened in Katsina state, the home state of the President.
Last week, hundreds of youths took to the streets in one of the affected local governments, chanting war songs and making derogatory remarks on the President. Billboards carrying the President’s pictures were pulled down, while the party leaders, including the governor, were disparaged in the open. This happened in Katsina state, the home state of the President.
If we take the president by the words of his speech today, particularly where he said, “In the area of security, we remain unshaken in our resolve to protect the country, and ending insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality across the nation is being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones”, we may be compelled to think that, there is a discrepancy between the directives of the president and the reality on the ground. At least in Katsina state, the home state of the president.
To press home this believe, yesterday Thursday, hundreds of motorists and commuters were kept stranded and frightened, at Yankara town in Faskari Local Government Area, of the same Katsina state, as angry youths blocked the road in protest, because of the incessant attacks on their communities by bandits. Commuters from all directions were cut off, as the youths continue to register their dissatisfaction with the leadership style of their kinsman.
PMB needs to do the needful, by quickly overhauling the leadership of the security in the country. Refusing to do so, would only make some take advantage, to humiliate him more at home.
Bala Ibrahim wrote this piece from Kano