Democratic Mistakes–The falls of Titans.

The rise of any kingdom is much more easier than the stabilization and fall.  The medical death of an animal might still have biologically living organs or tissues that can be harvested for transplant or research.  Painfully popular Presidencies have been lost to the headiness of the candidates and the less openness of the advisory team executing the campaigns.  I have seen two in recent times, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria and the Democrats in the United States.

In Nigeria, parties are along Power cabal lines than philosophical.  So the emergence of the Peoples Democratic Party was by the power brokers that needed a way to keep the Military from interference and solve the issue of the Chief Abiola, June 12 saga.  So the ease of access by Rtd Gen. Obasanjo in 1999 had the least of resistance.  The honey moon continued amidst the usual back stabbings and betrayals that is so eminent in Africa’s politics.   President Obasanjo’s handing over to Yaradua was not without it’s internal bickering, but Obasanjo had the cabal retired Military either silent or on his side.  Having ruled the nation for a long time their relevance is still yet to wane.

The death of Yaradua brought in Goodluck Jonathan, who seemed to always be a deputy that takes over from his Principal after some issue or the other.  Whether it was by default or manipulated, time and maybe his memoirs might tell us.  But that Zoology Professor, showed some un-readiness for the seat and rumours of his mistresses and wife being the Black Popes were not uncommon.    Jonathan’s greatest error was not being in direct touch with the people on the ground.   He was covered by the Aso realm that reality was taken far from his reach.  That might remind you of Abacha and the Mallams syndrome.  For example, a bomb explored in the North East with International Red Cross and USAID agencies reaching out to see how they can help, while the then President and Commander in Chief of Nigeria was watching a Command football performance, with serving Presidents from some African Countries and celebrities in another Southern state of Akwa Ibom.   The only time Goodluck saw it fit to visit the North East was during the ending days of the campaign, another grievous mistake.

Goodluck had issues with a number of his people, party persons and he just wont bulge? Obasanjo had to make public some letters sent to the President, causing quiet some unease for all, especially those close to the two. 

The selection of candidates to compete was not what any will call transparent as persons were not willing to face the wrath of the incumbent or be seen as not politically correct.  So having Goodluck and Buhari, was not so different than the Abiola vs Tofa elections though tougher.

Jonathan, left the hands that fed him and raised his electoral machinery of person wanting a bite of the National cake.  So the colossal funds raised, stolen and shared for campaigns only ended in peoples Farms, Toilet Soak a ways and water tanks, but not the electorates.   Campaign projects, done to showcase a sense presence in communities, were only heard in the news and not realities on ground.  Did Jonathan foresee his failing in the elections?  No, because that was actually his very first true elections, others were mere give aways. 

Could he have done it differently?  Yes, the ending game he employed in the North East would have been employed a year earlier, before the heating up of the campaigns.  He had a good followership in the Middle Belt, South South and South East.  He would have done much better in the other regions like the North Central, North West, North East and South West.  Though the elections was along party lines, but all knew that tribe, region and religion played their roles.  He would have been wise to get a deputy that was accepted by the North and not one that was rumoured to be from the south south and unable to recite the Quran.

Nigeria has still not learnt it’s lessons, as the incumbent might be facing the same forces that brought him in, bring in another person to power come 2019, unless Nigerians start seeing a people oriented change.   If you ask me, what Nigeria needs is not another mega – party, we need to start politics along Ideological divides, let us have issue driven political parties and not cabal -ization of power brokers.

Hilary Clinton, took the world by storm, when she came out for the Senate seat, she was everywhere and with everyone.  From Abuja, we received her emails engaging the electorates with their concerns and her intentions to address those concerns.  Her entre was glorious, but she made the mistake of not following up to develop her success for greater success.

Like Goodluck, Hillary had the good will of the incumbency to her favour, but what we did not see very glaring was the engagement of her Husband.  If you will recall, Obama was almost doing the same mistake, not engaging Bill Clinton during his campaigns, till the very end when the race was very tough, it was reported that Bill Clinton was on the Phone for a very long time call the many he could.  The report alone encouraged a lot of Bill Clinton sympathisers to vote Obama.  During Elections you need every resource.   We saw Bill Clinton sparingly and issues upon issues being raised were swept under the carpet.  Issue like the Pro – Lifers; LGBT; Evangelicals; Unemployment issues and Immigrants; Militant Islamism and American Policies.  These are issues that are so sensitive in America and should have been given a more careful treatment than was.

Why writing now?  Gambia has moved to the Opposition, Ghana is on the verge of another Elections, what should we expect?  It is my prayers that we will have a free and fair elections.  While wishing the best person for Ghana to win, It is my hope also that such a person will address the issues of Unemployment and Corruption that we hear cries of in Ghana.  This is an important economy that needs to be in the right for the benefit of the sub region and Africa as a whole.  God bless the people of Africa with leaders that are Africans at heart.  Happy elections Ghana.

Ondo Elections 2016 –Now that APC has been declared winner.

The elections was relatively peaceful, gratitude to the Almighty and all that contributed to make it so.

Now is time for synergy to get the state forward and not at a stand still or backwards. I hope the Jimohs, Okes et al will join hands off party lines and see Ondo forward.

For the New Governor Elect, it is time to return to Owo and say Thank you.  It should extend to the Akungba – Ikare Axis and the whole of Ondo North. 

Owo is a Junction town and the busiest link the North and Middle Belt (Benin). 

I am kindly requesting for

1. Increased Security, especially between Owo and the Akure, we have been robbed thrice on that stretch.   At a time people started using the Ekiti link with Oshun, long but safer at that time.  Luxurious Buses were the major targets at night.

2. The link roads to

a -Sabon Gida Ora and Benin axis;

b – Road from Ibillo junction to Kabba, a very commercial road, especially with the Cement Factory in Kogi, the Dangote’s should join in making the road better.

c. – The Owo Akungba – Okene Link roads (security and pot hole repairs.

d. – Akure – Ilesha road – road repairs and maintenance

e. Start thinking of dualising Owo-Akure-Ondo-Owo-Okitipupa/Igbokoda roads and start even if on small scale a Lagos – Okitipupa/Igbokoda Water transport (luxury/business class).

should see some visitations.  Yes they may be Federal roads, as a member of the Centre Party, Fashola should be able to make it priority or you work on them and get refund.

3. The Issue of Kidnappings must stop or see a drastic reduction, even if it means upsetting some cabals.

4. Build a big Trailer park in Owo for decongesting of roads especially as there will increase of traffic with road repairs.

5. Start campaigning for the Ajaokuta rail line to Pass through Ondo to Lagos.  Ondo needs a direct Lagos – Abuja Link to unlock the state from the relegation by the western states.

6. Start looking at Diaspora, Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan and Kaduna/Kano for inputs to the state.  Ondo has a large cache of Highly placed resources that can be of benefit to the state in Oil and Gas, Cocoa, Timber, Cassava, Medicine, Water, ICT and name it.  The Kupolatis and Aruwajoyes, Famutimi et al are Egbons that must be used to get the Bitumen, Oil and Gas resources on your top front burner now the PIB is being pursued.

7. Tourism has suffered so much set back due to lack of care.  Religious Tourism was not cared for in the days of Obadare, now Ogun State has captured the Mountain of Fire, Redeem, Living Faiths et al.  The Government should see how the Sun Shine state can shine again with the Idanre’s and Oke Marias et al.

8. As a corper, I made sure I used only products from Oluwa Glass factory in my apartment, they sufficed, PPP with the Chinese if need be but lets start producing Glasswares.

9. Ondo should visit Ghana and see how they have silently started producing European Quality Chocolates, export product.  They avoided Nigeria, because we could still the market.   Get the Boyede’s and Ile Oluji start producing affordable Coco Products for Nigeria and Export again.

10. The Farmers of your area do not have a regulated market to sell their products at premium price, get the lebanese and gambaris give good deals, by getting a commodity board to give these farmers a reason to increase the production and get premium pricing for their goods. And you can do what your eastern counterpart is doing exporting vegetable to abroad.  The Farmers need better pricing.

11. The North East is being reconstructed, Ondo Furniture, wood workers can be enabled through your Government to be a major source for wood products for school, hospitals, churches, homes and establishments furniture and wood needs.

It is my prayer that the progress of Ondo State will be a continum.

God bless the people of the Sun Shine State and he blesses the State to truly shine.

The Mistake of some Sages.

Empires, Emirates and Kingdoms at their heights, that did not prepare for their stay, only ready their fall.  History from time gets us to know that it is only “He that is down, that need fear no fall”.  The best and the worst of them all see their entre’ and exit as time and chance happen to all.  A day to be born and a day to die or should it be for a rebirth, as born againism is not just for Judo-Christian creed this days.

America, is passing through a must watch phase, the world  is entering a season of prophetic actualizations, care must be taken that we do not become the tools of doom fulfilments.  Like the Good is looking for willing hands and minds, so also the bad/evil is looking for evil tools, hands and minds to use.   To be a Judas Iscariot that betrayed Jesus or Peter that denied him three times is a choice selection, so also to be the marys and women that stood with Christ through out His ordeal and followed to see where He was laid, that was also choice.

Get me right here, whether Hillary or Trump, the world stage is set for a season we must all be prepared for.  Yes, All Saints’ days to some is Halloween to others; while some mystics in Africa have arranged grave visits, for what? May be to resurrect the spirits of long gone heroes, for wars/battles that is in need of a this day’s hero.  Correct me, if am wrong, America is a young nation compared to Egypt, the illumination needed to guide/lead America must be such that reflects the exigencies of today.  Adaptations are possible, but becoming a Pharoah, Attaturk or Atilla the Hun in todays America is close to unfruitful.

When I see african princes, returning to base for invocation of long gone spirits for modern conquests, I quiver and get the more sober.  They drop their learnings and kneel before spiritual mediums/mediators for all sorts, that might be the reason why African Institutions and Ruling Houses are filled with round pegs in squared holes. 

While South Africa battles with the current issues of their land, it is time for the sages there to do the needed, call up yesterdays success and build on the principles that got them that far.  Bring up the dynamo of the present and synerge energies for a better South Africa (easier said, I hear you).

South Sudan should realise the forces from outside will do anything to make them fail and regret the separation from Sudan.  The forces outside need internal crevices to plant their seeds of discord, disharmony and crisis for the benefit of only the perpetrators.  Solutions lies from within and it is only the inhabitants that could know or trace where the roof is leaking.  United Nations, African Union can only help to an extent. The solution lies with the South Sudanese, arising as one to say no to wars, let peace reign.  If of the opposing leaders wants wars, let them use their children and family.  They live outside the war zone and propel more violence, because they do not feel the pangs of it’s effect.

Zimbabwe, Kenya, Conga, Gamba, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Niger, Benin, Libya, Tunisia, Mali, Ethiopia, and where have you, should realise the strength in together (Unity), can never be achieved without people lowering the highs for moderated acceptable compromises.  The use of forceful colonial, religious, traditional, mystical technics to make zombies of people, enslaved by a cabal for the benefit of the few, will not last long anymore.  Change mantra is not just Nigerian.

Africans must like in Britain be able to stand and tell their leaders, we do not want this or that.  And when the issues are decided, any person should be able to challenge the actions or inactions of their leaders.

The Nigerian scenario is confusing.  A country of divers national ethnicities, brought together by the needs of the colonial lords of ages gone.  Pathetic is it when your Nigerian Child, tells you he is first American before a Nigerian.  Then another tells you his/her loyalty is first to Rome, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran or India before loyalty to Nigeria.  Nigerians sing their National Anthem and Pledge with heart and mind, but the actual soul is tied to somewhere else before Nigeria.  I still see the Independence and Christmas/End of Year Celebrations in Ghana, you see love for country, we need some of that in Nigeria.

This season, as the Sultanate, sultanizes, Lagos, Calabar and Abuja Cannibals (cannibalizes???) get ready.  May we begin to think of Nigeria first, the labours of our heroes past should be a guide to ‘Oneness and Greatness’ in the context of Today and not a bring back of practices that no one will be proud to truly unveil in the light of today.

My prayer for all and above all is that, May the Almighty, Supreme, Benevolent Lord and Master, shine on all of us the true Illumination that will bring Freedom, Peace and Plenty to our Lands in ways that will enhance harmonious Sustainable Development of our World, beginning from our homes, villages and cities.  Have a wonderful weekend.

Commercial Bike (Acaba/Okada) Registration–Bauchi State Nigeria in Mind.

On a trip so many years ago to Ghana by road, the Commercial Bikers in Cotonou and Lome amazed us.  They filed orderly along lanes meant just for them and all had visible numbers readable from far on the front and back of their aprons.   They were so organised, that you wonder, if they had high cases of casualties like we do.  Coming home to Nigeria, the emergence of Okada, Acaba or Commercial Bikes was as a result of the down turning of the economy; increase in the population sizes of our towns and cities with the corresponding vehicular traffic issues and Unemployment. 

With so many states banning out rightly the use of motorcycles, with no sustainable alternative(s), is enough for Bauchi State Government to be applauded for the decision to register motorcycle riders in the state.  Suffice to say that every Government have their reasons for decisions taken, but the fact remains that, these class of people are only there because of the service need they provide for.

In Nigeria, Acaba/Okada (motorbike) is associated, (not exhaustive though), with armed robbers, militants, terrorists, kidnappers, bag snatchers, assassins, ritualists, Orthopaedic Hospital and Mortuary service providers  marketers/promoters.

Why is it so? Amongst reasons are:-

1. Most riders are not trained, they learn on the trade.

2. Poverty, it is a very fast way of getting little change to keep body, soul and family together.

3. Joblessness, some riders are graduates with Diplomas, Degrees.  There was a case of a Masters Degree graduate in Abuja, before the El-Rufai ban on riders.

4. Lack of sufficient affordable transport, they act as bridges/gap fillers

5. Lack of accessible roads, they are able to reach un-motorable nukes, corners and crannies.

6. High Traffic Jams / Go slows, they have ability to manoeuvre in-between vehicles reducing the time wastages due to traffic challenges.

7. It is fun and airy, having the breeze blow on your face and skin.

The list can go on and on.   Unfortunately, it has become the most risky form of transportation.

In Bauchi, where people blatantly refused to wear crash helmets and seat belts, any measure to increase the safety of the commuters and citizenry is a noble deed.  Yes the riders are full of complaints, but it is necessary and of more benefit to them if properly executed.  Everyday you will meet a handful of riders, who do not even know the roads, they depend on you to show them, they keep telling you, if care to ask, that they are from neighbouring states.  So anybody from anywhere, (Militant, terrorist, robbers), can carry a motorbike and commercially work/carry out a negative activity, disappear and leave the true service providers to carry the brunt of the crime committed.  So registration is truly needful.

What will we need to do to make the registration, more meaningful and of benefit to the riders and their passengers?

a. Riders Test and Certification – Mental, Physical, Medical, Eye tests and Knowledge of the terrain (Locality)

b. Road Worthiness of Vehicle, not only license plate

c. Basic First Aid Training

d. Security Back ground check

e. Separation of the town into different areas with responsible coordinating heads, reporting to their town/city or state coordinators.

f. Usage of Reflective readable numbers on bikes (Petrol Tanks), showcasing Bike Commercial registration number.

g. Usage of Reflective Readable Riders Registration Number on Aprons (front and Back).  The riders are not necessarily the owners of the Bikes.  Their registration entitles them to have license as a commercial rider.

h. The Uniform / Apron should be non-transferable, as in the case of license/ID card.

i. Ownership change of Commercial vehicles, should be documented with the necessary authorities, before it is enforced, this will reduce the snatching of bikes.

j. Black listed riders, should have their Apron/Uniform seized for the duration of the black listing.

k. Remove multi taxation – form a one channel ticketing/taxation, Local Government & State Inland Revenue people should have a weekly/monthly scheme.

l. Create a weekly/monthly fora for training, retraining, networking and feedback.

m. Have a 3 digit toll free line for Passenger Complaint, emergency or eventuality report.

n. Institute/Support a compulsory basic Health Insurance through National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to cover the rider and his passenger.

o. Create a benefit/reward system where riders through their association/cooperative can finance bike purchase or other projects to increase their channels of revenue generation.

Knowing that Nigeria is not starved of ideas, it is the execution and maintenance that suffers, I rest my case, with a prayer, that the Government will get credible agencies/people to do the needful.  If well implemented, the riders will be presenting themselves for registration and payments of dues, as they know what they are getting from it and later work on making it sustainable and theirs.

May God bless the people of Nigeria.

 

 

 

The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

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Nigeria is currently engulfed in a major crisis of intergroup relations that is rooted in the politics of economic survival but which is often easily exploited by the elite. 

The latest theatre of such madness is in the Northwest state of Zamfara where towns and villages are attacked, almost on a daily basis, by armed bandits while the vigilante groups brought in by the helpless communities to help restore order are either being exterminated or are themselves engaging in extra judicial killings. 

With villages being deserted and a growing resort to self-help in the face of what looks like organized crime, there are serious threats to our national economy and security that many Nigerians are not paying adequate attention to.

The violence in Zamfara State is particularly difficult for “outsiders” to understand, especially when the people many of us had always assumed to be one and the same are now killing one another. 

That perhaps explains why most of the reportage of the orgy of bloodletting, essentially between the Hausa and Fulani peoples of Zamfara State, is by the foreign media. 

But the more I probe into the bloody crisis, the more it reveals the complexities of our country and how simplistic some of the assumptions that drive the political agitations in Abuja are.

In a series of attacks that started in 2011 before it exploded in the last one year, no fewer than 48 people were recently killed in one single attack after the marauders entered a village called Kizara before dawn, riding on motorbikes. 

“There was an attack by armed bandits on Kizara village where 48 residents were killed in apparent targeted killings by cattle rustlers that have been terrorising the state for some time now,” said Alhaji Ibrahim Birnin-Magajia, a Zamfara State government official who spoke to AFP. 

An eye witness confirmed that the murderers “later moved house to house, telling residents that they were looking for members of local vigilante (groups) whom they said had been disturbing them.”

To compound the problem is the total neglect by the Zamfara state government to build basic transport and communication infrastructure in the conflict areas; a situation that has made law enforcement and maintenance of security extremely difficult. 

As a result, the area has virtually become a haven for all manner of hoodlums with the attendant rise in crime rates, characterized by frequent armed robberies, mostly targeted at local wealthy Hausa traders and cattle rustling for which Fulani herders are primary targets.

I understand that the violence actually started late in 2011 in Lingyado village of Dansadau District but it was in 2012 that the situation went out of control when 52 persons, mostly Vigilantes mobilized to protect the community, were killed, assassination style, in Zurmi, sending fears to many of the residents who had to flee with their families and cattle. 

In 2014, specifically on 7th April, 112 victims of one of such attacks in Yar Galadima village, Maru Local Government, were buried. 

The state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who led a delegation to the burial rites promised that the culprits would be apprehended and brought to justice but those were empty words.

According to the residents who claimed more than 200 people were actually killed in that attack, the attackers came on motorcycles at midday, during a meeting of people from the village and other surrounding communities to plot strategies on how to curb the incessant attacks. 

“They came on motorcycles and opened fire on the people who were gathered at the venue of the meeting, killing many instantly,” a resident, Mohammad Yargaladima, told Channels Television.

I have in the last week spoken to top politicians and civil servants (retired and serving) in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi States and what they tell me about the violence sounds like tales out of horror movies. 

The bandits in Zamfara operate in such a brazen manner that they now send letters ahead to targeted communities to expect them, with instructions that their would-be-victims keep large sums of money at home. 

They would state the amount they were coming to collect from each household and woe betides those who are “stupid” enough to default when the bandits visit. 

These brutal assassins are reputed for killing husbands in the presence of his wife and sometimes they wipe out entire families.

In kizara village of Tsafe Local Government, the military troops stationed there was recently withdrawn because of lack of feeding allowance and two days after, the bandits attacked, killing more than 50 people. 

Such is the nature of criminality that it would seem the security agencies have been overwhelmed. 

For instance, while the military operation is now primarily focused on Dansadau-Mgani axis in Maru local government, the killings in Zurmi-Birnin Magaji-Shinkafi areas have also heightened in recent weeks.

What compounds the problem now is that it has extended to neighbouring states. 

On 10th August this year, while receiving the newly promoted AIG Zone 10 in Sokoto, Governor Aminu Tambuwal raised alarm over the influx of bandits from Zamfara into his state. 

He said the people inhabiting local governments in Sokoto that neighbour Zamfara now have their cattle rustle every day. But what is the way out?

The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-based Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training (CEDDERT) in collaboration with some development partners recently held a seminar on the farmer/pastoralist conflicts ravaging communities across Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara States. 

In his paper at the seminar, the Executive Director of CEDDERT, Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, popularly called ASM, attributed the recent killings to the ill-advised decision of the Zamfara government to clear the large forest and cattle grazing reserves in a section of the state after which the same plots of land were allocated to senior government officials and politicians.

However, my investigations reveal that this most egregious looting of public resources, by way of converting a Forest Reserve to farmlands and sharing the plots among cronies, started with the former Governor (now Senator) Ahmad Sani Yerima. 

The policy has resulted in the dislocation of thousands of Fulani hamlets between Dansadau area and Maradun – Zurmi axes. 

These were said to be communities that had been in existence for over 500 years. 

The dislocation of these Fulani herders and their livestock was believed to have sparked spontaneous mass movements of human beings and cattle into other neighbouring communities and states in the central and southern zones of the country with the attendant consequence in conflicts with farmers being ignited along their flight paths.

While I intend to dig more on this crisis that has serious national security implications, there is no doubt that the failure of the Zamfara state government to take necessary measures has encouraged various local communities to resort to self-help, thus exacerbating the problem. 

Parallel vigilante groups known as “Yan Banga” and “Yan Sa Kai” have emerged in several villages within the state with their members usurping the role of law enforcement agencies. 

In recent weeks, members of these two vigilante groups have assumed the sole responsibility of defining, identifying and arresting alleged criminals and executing them without recourse to law courts and other constituted authorities.

Incidentally, on 14th July this year President Muhammadu Buhari personally attended the launching of a military offensive code-named “Operation Harbin Kunama” in Dansadau forest to battle the cow rustlers. 

Instructively, he wore a military fatigue on that occasion perhaps to send a message but that does not seem to have moved the bandits one bit. 

As recently as the Sallah day last week, several communities witnessed fresh deadly outbreak of hostilities between the two warring groups–Hausa and Fulani–leading to the death of unspecified number of people in the Dan Gulbi and Magami areas of Dansadau-Maru local governments.

While we must prevent a situation in which the conflict escalates into a more sinister conflagration that may, like the Boko Haram menace, overwhelm the Northwest zone of the country, the crisis is also a reflection of the failure of both the traditional and political authorities in Zamfara. 

On the political front, almost everybody from Zamfara State that I have spoken with describe Mr. Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari as an absentee governor who hardly spends up to one week within a month in Zamfara. 

Incidentally, the governor had been away to Saudi Arabia for several days while the killings continued only to return at the weekend to join President Buhari’s team to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

I will enjoin the governor to stay more at home to deal with the challenge facing his people.

However, beyond the government, the traditional authority in Zamfara State should also brace up because there is so much that they can do. 

In a February 2013 piece titled “The Fulani-Farmers Conflicts in Nasarawa State: The Ecology Population and Politics”, Murtala Adogi Mohammed, after a brilliant analysis of what he described as a “Natural Resources Conflict” recommended the “Yauri Model” which may be worth examining by the authorities in Zamfara State.

According to Mohammed, upon his installation, the Emir of Yauri in Kebbi State, Dr. Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi, helped to establish many professional and tribal associations which were then encouraged to elect their chairpersons. 

“The different chairs elected one representative as member to the Emirate Council. 

“A conflict resolution mechanism was set up at three levels: Low level committee, comprising of village head, Fulani and farmer leaders. 

“They can resolve the issue at their level, mostly by mediation and payment of compensation; Middle level committee, comprising District Head, Sarkin Fulani and branch chair of the Farmers Association. 

“Very few issues pass this level without being resolved.

“Even if the issue is with the police or court, the committee can achieve an out-of-court settlement.”

If and when these mechanisms fail, according to Mohammed, the matter would then go to the “High level committee, comprising His Royal Highness the Emir of Yauri, the Galadima and other members of the Emirate Council. 

“The verdict here is final and the conflicting parties must adhere to it. Since the establishment of this mechanism, farmers, fisher folk and pastoralists have been living peacefully with one another. 

“The committees are multi-purpose and it resolves all forms of conflict, not just farmer-herder issues.”

Although it may appear to be a crisis localized within a few local government areas in Zamfara State, the killings and displacement of innocent villagers now abandoned to their fate not only have serious security implications, they are a scar on our collective conscience as a nation.

A Conscious Life

I was in Lagos yesterday for the public presentation of ‘A Conscious Life’ written by Mrs Funmi Oyetunji, a chartered accountant and investment banker, at an impressive ceremony chaired by the Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II. 

My review of the book is published on my web portal, olusegunadeniyi.com, where new materials have been uploaded. 

Meanwhile, there is also a notice on the web portal about the 2016 edition of the Pastor Poju Oyemade-inspired ‘Platform Nigeria’ coming up, as usual, on 1st October.

The Verdict by Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

The Zamfara State killing field – by Olusegun Adeniyi

clip_image001

Nigeria is currently engulfed in a major crisis of intergroup relations that is rooted in the politics of economic survival but which is often easily exploited by the elite. 

The latest theatre of such madness is in the Northwest state of Zamfara where towns and villages are attacked, almost on a daily basis, by armed bandits while the vigilante groups brought in by the helpless communities to help restore order are either being exterminated or are themselves engaging in extra judicial killings. 

With villages being deserted and a growing resort to self-help in the face of what looks like organized crime, there are serious threats to our national economy and security that many Nigerians are not paying adequate attention to.

The violence in Zamfara State is particularly difficult for “outsiders” to understand, especially when the people many of us had always assumed to be one and the same are now killing one another. 

That perhaps explains why most of the reportage of the orgy of bloodletting, essentially between the Hausa and Fulani peoples of Zamfara State, is by the foreign media. 

But the more I probe into the bloody crisis, the more it reveals the complexities of our country and how simplistic some of the assumptions that drive the political agitations in Abuja are.

In a series of attacks that started in 2011 before it exploded in the last one year, no fewer than 48 people were recently killed in one single attack after the marauders entered a village called Kizara before dawn, riding on motorbikes. 

“There was an attack by armed bandits on Kizara village where 48 residents were killed in apparent targeted killings by cattle rustlers that have been terrorising the state for some time now,” said Alhaji Ibrahim Birnin-Magajia, a Zamfara State government official who spoke to AFP. 

An eye witness confirmed that the murderers “later moved house to house, telling residents that they were looking for members of local vigilante (groups) whom they said had been disturbing them.”

To compound the problem is the total neglect by the Zamfara state government to build basic transport and communication infrastructure in the conflict areas; a situation that has made law enforcement and maintenance of security extremely difficult. 

As a result, the area has virtually become a haven for all manner of hoodlums with the attendant rise in crime rates, characterized by frequent armed robberies, mostly targeted at local wealthy Hausa traders and cattle rustling for which Fulani herders are primary targets.

I understand that the violence actually started late in 2011 in Lingyado village of Dansadau District but it was in 2012 that the situation went out of control when 52 persons, mostly Vigilantes mobilized to protect the community, were killed, assassination style, in Zurmi, sending fears to many of the residents who had to flee with their families and cattle. 

In 2014, specifically on 7th April, 112 victims of one of such attacks in Yar Galadima village, Maru Local Government, were buried. 

The state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who led a delegation to the burial rites promised that the culprits would be apprehended and brought to justice but those were empty words.

According to the residents who claimed more than 200 people were actually killed in that attack, the attackers came on motorcycles at midday, during a meeting of people from the village and other surrounding communities to plot strategies on how to curb the incessant attacks. 

“They came on motorcycles and opened fire on the people who were gathered at the venue of the meeting, killing many instantly,” a resident, Mohammad Yargaladima, told Channels Television.

I have in the last week spoken to top politicians and civil servants (retired and serving) in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi States and what they tell me about the violence sounds like tales out of horror movies. 

The bandits in Zamfara operate in such a brazen manner that they now send letters ahead to targeted communities to expect them, with instructions that their would-be-victims keep large sums of money at home. 

They would state the amount they were coming to collect from each household and woe betides those who are “stupid” enough to default when the bandits visit. 

These brutal assassins are reputed for killing husbands in the presence of his wife and sometimes they wipe out entire families.

In kizara village of Tsafe Local Government, the military troops stationed there was recently withdrawn because of lack of feeding allowance and two days after, the bandits attacked, killing more than 50 people. 

Such is the nature of criminality that it would seem the security agencies have been overwhelmed. 

For instance, while the military operation is now primarily focused on Dansadau-Mgani axis in Maru local government, the killings in Zurmi-Birnin Magaji-Shinkafi areas have also heightened in recent weeks.

What compounds the problem now is that it has extended to neighbouring states. 

On 10th August this year, while receiving the newly promoted AIG Zone 10 in Sokoto, Governor Aminu Tambuwal raised alarm over the influx of bandits from Zamfara into his state. 

He said the people inhabiting local governments in Sokoto that neighbour Zamfara now have their cattle rustle every day. But what is the way out?

The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-based Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training (CEDDERT) in collaboration with some development partners recently held a seminar on the farmer/pastoralist conflicts ravaging communities across Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara States. 

In his paper at the seminar, the Executive Director of CEDDERT, Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, popularly called ASM, attributed the recent killings to the ill-advised decision of the Zamfara government to clear the large forest and cattle grazing reserves in a section of the state after which the same plots of land were allocated to senior government officials and politicians.

However, my investigations reveal that this most egregious looting of public resources, by way of converting a Forest Reserve to farmlands and sharing the plots among cronies, started with the former Governor (now Senator) Ahmad Sani Yerima. 

The policy has resulted in the dislocation of thousands of Fulani hamlets between Dansadau area and Maradun – Zurmi axes. 

These were said to be communities that had been in existence for over 500 years. 

The dislocation of these Fulani herders and their livestock was believed to have sparked spontaneous mass movements of human beings and cattle into other neighbouring communities and states in the central and southern zones of the country with the attendant consequence in conflicts with farmers being ignited along their flight paths.

While I intend to dig more on this crisis that has serious national security implications, there is no doubt that the failure of the Zamfara state government to take necessary measures has encouraged various local communities to resort to self-help, thus exacerbating the problem. 

Parallel vigilante groups known as “Yan Banga” and “Yan Sa Kai” have emerged in several villages within the state with their members usurping the role of law enforcement agencies. 

In recent weeks, members of these two vigilante groups have assumed the sole responsibility of defining, identifying and arresting alleged criminals and executing them without recourse to law courts and other constituted authorities.

Incidentally, on 14th July this year President Muhammadu Buhari personally attended the launching of a military offensive code-named “Operation Harbin Kunama” in Dansadau forest to battle the cow rustlers. 

Instructively, he wore a military fatigue on that occasion perhaps to send a message but that does not seem to have moved the bandits one bit. 

As recently as the Sallah day last week, several communities witnessed fresh deadly outbreak of hostilities between the two warring groups–Hausa and Fulani–leading to the death of unspecified number of people in the Dan Gulbi and Magami areas of Dansadau-Maru local governments.

While we must prevent a situation in which the conflict escalates into a more sinister conflagration that may, like the Boko Haram menace, overwhelm the Northwest zone of the country, the crisis is also a reflection of the failure of both the traditional and political authorities in Zamfara. 

On the political front, almost everybody from Zamfara State that I have spoken with describe Mr. Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari as an absentee governor who hardly spends up to one week within a month in Zamfara. 

Incidentally, the governor had been away to Saudi Arabia for several days while the killings continued only to return at the weekend to join President Buhari’s team to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

I will enjoin the governor to stay more at home to deal with the challenge facing his people.

However, beyond the government, the traditional authority in Zamfara State should also brace up because there is so much that they can do. 

In a February 2013 piece titled “The Fulani-Farmers Conflicts in Nasarawa State: The Ecology Population and Politics”, Murtala Adogi Mohammed, after a brilliant analysis of what he described as a “Natural Resources Conflict” recommended the “Yauri Model” which may be worth examining by the authorities in Zamfara State.

According to Mohammed, upon his installation, the Emir of Yauri in Kebbi State, Dr. Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi, helped to establish many professional and tribal associations which were then encouraged to elect their chairpersons. 

“The different chairs elected one representative as member to the Emirate Council. 

“A conflict resolution mechanism was set up at three levels: Low level committee, comprising of village head, Fulani and farmer leaders. 

“They can resolve the issue at their level, mostly by mediation and payment of compensation; Middle level committee, comprising District Head, Sarkin Fulani and branch chair of the Farmers Association. 

“Very few issues pass this level without being resolved.

“Even if the issue is with the police or court, the committee can achieve an out-of-court settlement.”

If and when these mechanisms fail, according to Mohammed, the matter would then go to the “High level committee, comprising His Royal Highness the Emir of Yauri, the Galadima and other members of the Emirate Council. 

“The verdict here is final and the conflicting parties must adhere to it. Since the establishment of this mechanism, farmers, fisher folk and pastoralists have been living peacefully with one another. 

“The committees are multi-purpose and it resolves all forms of conflict, not just farmer-herder issues.”

Although it may appear to be a crisis localized within a few local government areas in Zamfara State, the killings and displacement of innocent villagers now abandoned to their fate not only have serious security implications, they are a scar on our collective conscience as a nation.

A Conscious Life

I was in Lagos yesterday for the public presentation of ‘A Conscious Life’ written by Mrs Funmi Oyetunji, a chartered accountant and investment banker, at an impressive ceremony chaired by the Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II. 

My review of the book is published on my web portal, olusegunadeniyi.com, where new materials have been uploaded. 

Meanwhile, there is also a notice on the web portal about the 2016 edition of the Pastor Poju Oyemade-inspired ‘Platform Nigeria’ coming up, as usual, on 1st October.

The Verdict by Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

Ondo Elections 2016.

If you served in Ondo State and did not enjoy your stay, raise your hand?  I bet you the number will be in the minority.  Space will not allow me to mention the joys of being amongst the wonderful, beautiful and peace loving people of Ondo State, irrespective of location, rural or urban.  The memories of Compatriots like Mohammed Sada from Katsina State, Bubemi Pesu, Tony Akhigbe, Femi, Toyin Ajayi, Chigozie Oguine, Kenneth, Ama Agbiji, Nkem, Ochi, Akin, Femi Akintunde Johnson (FAJ), Bidemi, Ramatu, Ms Florence Ahmed, John Daniel, Samson Wakili, Friday, the list goes on.  It will not over Shadow, the likes of High Chief Seinde Arogbofa and the staff of the then Army Comprehensive High School, the late Col Daramola’s family, the R.O. Maxwells (A Mother in Israel), my very own Funmi nee Maxwell (My Sister in Israel). The Wole Adamolekuns, still a mentor, Omoboya NYSC Mama with Mr Atilola’s (Adamu daku ma damu mi) to cover for all my Directors and staff of NYSC.  The Ondo State NYSC Drama Troupe (we need a reunion) and the Ondo State Christian Corpers Fellowship’s Musical Group amidst others are very fresh memories on the platter of my mind.  God will richly bless and remember all those who have laboured to make visitors at home, for no seemingly outward reward.

I am specially remembering my Mother, she taught me in primary one, became a Guardian during my youth corps and now the Wonderful Grand Mother of my Children, with My Father(Rest Well Daddy), he has been like a guiding light and his words echoing and re echoing especially in times of need.  The Ilemobade’s have my Eternal Gratitude for making Ondo a place I can justifiably also call home.  My Oye Lawrence, Sarki, Ayuba (army officers), Sankara, et al and the one that made me an NYSC Guitar boy, by allowing me use his guitar, the then State Police Public Relations Officer Mr Tonye Wakama, thank you again.  I am talking elections, forgive me, that is what happens when you say Ondo.

Elections in Ondo/Ekiti (then Ondo State), were never a child’s play, the relics of violence covered the state during our time, late Col Daramola, the then Chair of the Electoral Commission, told us not to worry.  Ondo people only react when pushed to the wall or when the truth is being denied them. 

As Elections draw close, you see the forming, amending and destroying of alliances, is for want of  fair play.   My prayer for this wonderful State that is the Spiritual Trigger of the Continent, is for the peaceful election of the right persons that will continue in the upgrade of Ondo to be a leading state in Nigeria and Africa. 

Forgive my selling fish (Selfish).  The Bitumen in Ondo can sufficiently make Nigeria a net exporter of the commodity to Africa and the World.  The Ondo Cocoa farms, if well harnessed can make Ivory Coast a secondary exporter of the Chocolate Juice. The Igbokoda Glass factory, can halt our Chinese imports of glasses and china wares.  The best way to decongest the Lagos – Ibadan/Ore roads is the Lagos – Okitikupa water ways.   I am told that the Sapele Water & Palm Wine from the Ode-Aye Okitikupa axis, ‘fit make mallam forget say na from Zamfara e come from’.  Na one corper tell me ooh.

Seriously, Ondo State is like the Turkey of Nigeria and deserves the very best in this electioneering season.  So what have I been saying?  It is time for Ondo people to forget, Party, region or creed and vote for capable hands that can change the status of this regional power.  X-ray the candidates and avoid the Hilary/Trump saga that reminds me of the Abiola/Tofa thing.  If non of the candidates is good enough, do the Lagos thing and get the Ondo Fashola and Ambode to come out and join.  Now that global challenges are not getting any less, it is time to bring out your jokers for the days ahead.

We will not be left out, our Knees are still bent in prayers and God will hear us.  Ondo must rise to champion the development that will transcend to Oshun, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Kwara, Kogi, Nigeria and the Continent at large.  That is a vision I saw in 1987/88 and the time for fulfilment has just begun.  Arise my dear People at home and abroad and Lead from this your humble peaceful abode.  May we have a peaceful, free and fair elections.  God bless Nigerians and then Nigeria.