THE SPATE OF WHOLESALES abduction of innocent school children by bandits, in Nigeria’s northwest region, despite deployment of troops and other security measures claimed to have been put in place to ensure security and safety of citizens – including children, is sobering. It has become the migraine of the Governors and leaders of the region.
Wednesday morning, in Zamfara State, one of the northwest crises ridden States by bandits, armed bandits on motorbikes and pick-up trucks, invaded Government Day Secondary School, Kaya, Maradun Local Government Area, Zamfara State, and abducted 76 students – most of them girls, including teaching staff.
By global and national standards, violence against innocent school children is senseless, abhorrent and degrades their life aspiration. It significantly undermines social and economic development of communities and nations. Whatever form violence against children takes, it exposes them to lifelong consequences. No violence against children is ever justifiable. Violence against children is preventable.
Bello Matawalle, Governor of Zamfara State, was attending prayer session, organized by his administration, at Gusau, the State capital, for “God’s intervention” on insecurity in the state, as at the time of the attack. He called on the people, during the prayer session, to rise and fight back the bandits.
“I am calling on the people of the state, particularly those in the rural areas, to use all the available weapons at their disposal and protect themselves whenever the bandits attack their villages. As from today, you should come out en masse and face the bandits if they come to your villages.
“Do not sleep in the night and if you get any information that the bandits are coming to your communities to attack you, try to ambush them with all the weapons in your possession. We have to remove the fear from our minds and face these hoodlums so that they will understand that we can fight them”, Matawale said during the prayer.
CURBING THE RAGE OF BANDITRY in Zamfara State, and protecting lives and property of the people, is the responsibility of Governor Bello Matawalle, not that of the defenseless citizens. Provisions in Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution [as amended], put security and protection of lives and property as responsibility of government, not citizens. Any government that cannot protect its citizens, has no reason to exist.
Governor Matawalle, like his counterparts in Nigeria’s 36 states, annually, earns huge security votes. State Governors are chief executives, as well as, chief security officers of their respective states. What will the citizens use in fighting back the bandits, as the governor entreated them to do. Bandits in the region are armed with sophisticated weapons.
At the heat and height of insecurity in Zamfara State, Governor Matawalle Bello, rather than provide leadership and good governance, and also, engage in strategic measures of tackling insecurity, was busy with political realignment and alliance. He jumped ship from the political platform on which he was elected governor of Zamfara State – Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling party, All Progress Congress, APC.
The leadership of the ruling party, APC, promised Matawalle, that he and Zamfara people would fair better moving to he ruling party. The bait was set for the governor and he jumped ship. With Matawale in the ruling party, Zamfara has, increasingly, become unsafe. Bandits are brazenly prowling in the state unhindered, and abducting defenseless and innocent children.
GOVERNOR MATAWAlLE now changes gear. Left in the woods of ravaging insecurity in the State, he now calls on the national government of the ruling party, to declare “state of emergency” in the region. He stated that declaring state of emergency was the “only available avenue of ending the increasing security challenges”.
“No one feels safe anymore and the only way to return the country on the path of sanity is to act out of the box. The problem in Zamfara state is quite unique from those in other places and therefore require very careful and constructive solutions to control it,” Matawalle stated, while calling for state of emergency on insecurity in the region.
Analysts say Governor Matawalle’s administration is fantasizing on the solution to insecurity in the state, in a motion without movement. They feel he owes the people of Zamfara State adequate security and the protection of lives and property, which he should take the lead.