Flying Katsina flag at half-mast

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By Abdulyassar Abdulhamid 

Is there a better way to mourn a state that has found itself between an anvil in Coronavirus pandemic and a hammer in banditry? There is no better time than now. 

Unfortunately Katsina State is not mourning its fallen veterans as is the norms in other climes; rather the state is grieving the death of its sons and daughters that are violently put to sword on a daily basis, for no fault of theirs.

Here is a state caught in an inescapable smoke of brutal banditry that the horror is unspeakable. In a single year hundreds of people have been hacked to death, thousands others displaced, herds of cattle rustled, and uncountable villages razed to the ground.

 It is an understatement to say Katsina State is a land forgotten and forsaken. “We are”, say the agents of death, “the final arbiters here. Ours is the only law. We kill, rob, kidnap and burn or sack villages at will”. This is the result when people are left to their own devices. Godless bandits take over. The people bleed to death. Sad!

There was once a Home of Hospitality, characterized by learning, rapturous atmosphere and joviality of the highest order turned to killing fields, overnight. 

Coronavirus ravages it from an angle. On another, dare-devil, AK-47-wielding bandits send the people, in droves, to their early graves.

These days, one needs no tribal marks or that dialect prioritized by Hausa singers of the days of yore to identify a native of Katsina State. Those sunken, blood-stained eyes and welts left by ever-flowing tears are the permanent features.

For Katsinawas, this is their ugliest trying moment – that awkward moment that makes one lose confidence in the authorities. Isn’t Katsina State today an abattoir of some sort?

Futile is the attempt to put the state’s dastardly pitying situation in words, however tons of signpost words one uses. 

By the way, to paint a grim picture of Katsina State, amidst the increased bandit attacks, is tantamount to visualizing a famine-ridden Sudan of 1993 and Rwanda Civil War of 1994 combined. One sees a people horribly weakened by a pseudo-famine resulting from the measures taken to curb the spread of Coronavirus pandemic in the state and at the same time besieged by marauding bandits.

As Governor Aminu Bello Masari, rightly put it, as reported by Daily Trust of May 7, 2020, “the unabated insecurity threatening the North West region and Katsina State, in particular, is fast making the people lose confidence in the administration.”

“I’m in a very confusing situation. I have a limitation of resources and authority. I believe that if the brigade and division are empowered with material and logistics, we will see the end of this,” he added.

“The situation in the North West is becoming wearisome. The unfortunate situation of the Coronavirus pandemic is what is covering the information on the number of killings through banditry. We live under daily threats,” he lamented.

No end within sight to the massacre yet. Why? I have never been a fan of dialogue with a pack of animals whose official language is that of death. One cannot dialogue with bogeymen driven by blood-lust. They should ideally have been cleaned up – destroyed. 

Imagine! On August 29 2019, Governor Aminu Masari met with the representatives of the bandits attacking eight local government areas of Jibia, Batsari, Danmusa, Safana, Kankara, Sabuwa, Faskari and Dandume to discuss critical issues on how to end banditry in the designated areas.

The meeting was dead on arrival. The bandits’ leaders were too conceited, better cunning, to appear in person. They were represented by Ardos, which was a clear case of connivance. It is normal. In Nigeria things are addressed only when they worsen. Of recent, there has been a series of organised and simultaneous attacks in villages in Danmusa, Dutsenma and Safana Local Government Areas by groups of armed bandits. Far-fetched is peace in some villages in these local government areas.

On April 29, 2020 alone 47 residents of several villages in Danmusa, Dutsinma and Safana Local Government Areas were butchered by blood-sucking bandits.

A week earlier, at Sabon Layin Galadima village in Faskari Local Government Area, gunmen killed three persons, injured two others, carted away a herd of animals and burned scores of houses.

The list goes on and on. Now the news from Katsina State is that of morbid bloodbath, corpses, coffins, undertakers, graveyards bereavement and mourning. A people cannot survive this way, can they?

Ultimately, some communities in Jibia Local Government Area have resorted to civil disobedience to draw the attention of the authorities concerned, as the people of ‘Yangayya Village blocked Katsina-Jibia Highway. Anarchy is warming up, isn’t it? Isn’t misgovernance doing it?

Decades of misgovernance has metaphorically continued to breed a human-animal hybrid – a species possessing all the features of a human but an animal in spirit, exclusive to countries decades of bad governance has brought to their knees.  

In some villages in many states bedeviled by growing insecurity, there is no sign to justify government presence. A few steal what is meant for all. Down with corruption! 

There, one sees people that have neither attended western nor Islamic education. They have no light, sources of water, schools or health care facilities. Summarily, they lack the basic needs people need for living.

In 2019, I wrote an article “Memo to the 19 Northern Governors” in which I argued that “Now the north is serving under the yoke of environmental degradation, widespread poverty, declining per capita incomes, fragile infrastructure, low education, local governance failures and rising youth unemployment.”

Yet many state governors have refused to come to terms with reality. They have refused to invest in their human capital. Resources meant for various human capital projects are squandered. Jobs have not been created. In many communities decrepit structures pass for schools.  

Aren’t we being haunted by the very monsters of our own making – the animals in a human form we have been breeding for ages? 

This is not an effort to downplay the efforts being made by the authorities concerned to contain the myriad of security challenges facing the country. Nigerian is gradually overstretching its army to checkmate the security challenges at different fronts.

The above notwithstanding, those in power should remember their primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property their citizens. By whatever means they should try to deliver on this.

As we keep praying for peace in Katsina State and Nigeria at large, efforts should be doubled, new tactics need to be developed, resources provided and those at the frontlines motivated and incentivized. 

For the public, security is everyone’s business. People should be vigilant and supportive of the ongoing army offensives to crush the bandits – enemies of this nation. This includes providing security agencies with useful intelligence reports on the whereabouts of the bandits or their errand boys.

May we heed! 

Abdulhamid wrote via Abdullahiyassar2013@gmail.com

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily

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