Kaduna Violence: Simply Unacceptable! -By Banji Ojewale

Filed under: National Issues |

Kaduna, Nigeria’s northern melting pot, is sinking. Not weighed low by the vast numbers of the various ethnic and religious groups it is magnetising. But by sickening strife, seasonal spleen and senseless suspicions. That was the deadly brew that was served the State last week, moving the authorities to place most of its entire population of 6.3 million (2006) under lock and key.

Yesterday, after an official death toll of close to 60 people and an unofficial figure reportedly doubling this, the streets of urban and rural Kaduna were bereft of civilian presence. The people deserted the scene to escape rival mad mobs mauling themselves or whoever came their way. These gangs fled when heavily armed policemen and soldiers also deserted their barracks to heed the call of national service, and quell the carnage arising from the mayhem. So Kaduna is deserted; in a manner of speaking, emptied into locked homes, religious centres, and shops.


Kaduna State Government Governor, Nasir Elrufai

Both government and private sector operators are shut in. Poor National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)! Its Kaduna outpost has suspended the commencement of the 2018 Batch ‘C’ orientation for corps members deployed to the State. The programme was scheduled to start today. Now it’s been put off indefinitely, all due to the 24-hour curfew to halt the bloody attacks escalating from killings in Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru Local Government Area of the State.

The government has claimed the arrests of scores, with the routine vow to deal with them according to the law. The security agents are doing more than keeping the streets safe: the Force is offering quite useful travel advice. Police spokesman Jimoh Moshood on Monday, while on a Lagos-based TV news programme said: “We advise who will be through Kaduna, because Kaduna is gateway to so many states to the north, to make use of alternative routes. They can by-pass Kaduna metro for now…”

All these however do not suffice to allay our fears that we have put these cyclical bursts of violence behind us, the assurances of our leaders notwithstanding. Despite their pronouncements, we have these acts of violence coming up every time.

Boko Haram, said to have been ‘technically defeated’, is still alive. They were at work again when the Kaduna crisis was
unleashing its own havoc. The terrorists hacked 12 farmers to death as they worked on their fields outside Kalle, 17 kilometres from Maiduguri, capital of the volatile North-Eastern State of Borno. AFP, the French news agency, reported that “they used machetes to kill their victims.” The militants had guns but did not use them, so as not to attract the attention of troops in a nearby community. The attack sacked 1300 from their homes.

Lately there has been the same distressing news from the Middle Belt States of Benue and Plateau. The police and military have thrown in all thats in the books. Yet the criminals have remained ahead of them. The joint military operations that have given birth to strange animal dances and smiles have not secured peace for these troubled regions and their people.

Meanwhile, the regular menu of armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killing, assassination and communal conflicts have not abated. They come with death, destruction and danger. They deny us our fortune, freedom and future.

I don’t believe these felons are really unassailable on account of their criminal wizardry. As a popular radio-TV jingle says, “dem (the criminals) no be spirit o.” Simply translated, it says that these miscreants (Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, armed robbers etc.) aren’t invincible! They are not superhuman; they are not indomitable. Their seeming prowess is as a result of the vulnerability of the state, its security agencies, institutions, and its educationally and economically disempowered people.

Criminals in Nigeria leverage on these shortcomings to prey on society. These constitute the capital we falsely see as the impregnable strength of those who hold our communities to ransom. We donate their power to them by default. We shall keep on finding ourselves in this quandary until we free ourselves from leaders whose first port of call when we elect them would be the construction of bunkers to harbour themselves, their kinsmen and their business and political cronies.

They won’t fire these underperforming associates in the security agencies and in the ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs) when there are grave life-threatening breaches such as we’ve been having across the land. They can’t show the way out to a top functionary of the administration who rubbishes a government scheme which the president has himself praised to high heavens.

Why would a nation whose selfish leaders work at cross-purposes, whose self-minding leaders don’t accept that the ‘security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’, not fall repeatedly into the hands of vandals?

Banji Ojewale writes from Ota, Ogun State.