Who will speak for the People?

Several years ago, the Creative Center for Leadership, were resource trainers for the United Nations University / International Leadership Academy’s extended Leadership program.  Before the end of their session, the Vice Rector of the University who was acting as the Director of the Academy in Jordan called for an appraisal of the trainers.  The students condemned in totally the style, depth and materials of the Center, when asked, mine was at variance.   I opined that we experience the British / Oxford Templeton College Team before crucifying the Americans, thanks to my Nigerian British style education and the Sheraton American Style trainings.   The class judged better when the two were compared.

Nigeria’s Masses cried during Late Yaradua’s time and Kerosine and Petrol were pegged to N50 and N65 per litre, the Nigeria Police stopped collecting toll fees on the road, the Military were struggling for United Nations Missions. Why was that, because somebody spoke for the down trodden and they were considered favourably.

We have reached a very disturbing cross road and yes there is need for the iron curtains to be pieced so Presidents and their Vice can be on the same page with the electorate/masses. 

How can you truly explain the reason why Fulanis who were known for grazing their cattle peacefully out of sight, now are everywhere as petty traders, tailors, motor bike riders et al, you ask them why, they tell you Cattle Robbers have stolen their cows and refused them peace in the bush.  What has the Government done to return them to their status quo?  Ask me.  Then who are the cattle owners that the National Assembly is always talking of Graze Land or Ranch bill for?  It is definitely not the poor fulani’s who now do not even have the cows to breed.    From the President, who we know has cows in his asset declaration to the likes of the Governors of Ekiti and Kwara, and their likes, are the graze land seekers (not the masses) this is maybe to further galvanise more lands to a few in every nuke and crannies of Nigeria?   When the poor fulanis were grazing we did not have sophisticated weapons and burning of villages, there was symbiotic coexistence with farmers allowing cattle rearers on lands needing manure.  So where did all this violence come from and why now?  Even the fulanis in the bush suffer kidnappings and destruction of lives and properties by these people causing havoc in our land.

The African / Nigerian Press is so muzzled that if you go counter the rulership you are made a black sheep.  And because they are first a business and want to have a green bank accounts and not red;  The Governors and leaders now have praise singers and not a true representation of the realities on ground.

Buhari’s getting a Christian Vice, was because he listened to suggestions.  His suspension of the NIA Chief and SGF was because he listened to the out cry of his people.  The Chibok Girls, Boko Haram and many others are all because he listened.  But how can he hear correctly, when he is surrounded by a very thick iron curtain of the AGIP machinery of power brokers that only have their interest in front and not the electorate?

Shehu Sani suffered his persecutions and is still, they have looked for all ways possible to ground him, including suspension from Kaduna chapter of the party to no avail.

El-Zakhy Zaky, is one person I have known from my days in ABU Zaria to be a forthright person, who government monies can’t buy.  The politicians go to him to canvass from votes, which his supporters give them.  How do I know, all politicians do and I have also benefitted from such vote support, without which no politician can have a comfortable win, unless rigged.  This man has followers in villages unexpected and he cares for the followers more than the elected governors.  If you remember, when the child marrying Governor of Zamfara brought in Sharia during the Obasanjo’s tenure, El-Zahky Zaky was about an only voice that said, it wont succeed. He was criticized for being anti-Islamic.  In his defence, he mentioned the insincerity of the promoters and their using it for political intent and not true religion.  Was he proved right?  You tell me.  The same Zamfara officials were known in Abuja as the highest users of hotels and restaurants.  They bring ladies in droves, shagalinku restaurant (and the like) will be fully booked at breakfast, lunch and dinner times, when the Zamfara harems come to eat.  Zaria’s religious peaceful stay cannot be without the synergy of such religious leaders and the Traditional Houses in the city and the environ.

Bishop Oyedepo – who mentioned the need to defend yourself against any provocation by any group, is not unfamiliar with the antiques of persons using religion, tribe or regions to foment trouble. His Ministry was started in Kaduna and he has a very large followership in Kaduna and the North.  Some of his places of worship suffered bombings like the one in Bauchi, North East.

Apostle Johnson Suleman – Who re echoed the defend yourselves song and was termed provocation.   He became a target when he warned El-Rufai of the Preaching License, he wanted to enforce in kaduna State.  His trouble increased when the DSS was barred from arresting him by the Governor of Ekiti and Eminent Christian Leaders Escorted him to Abuja.  Getting to discredit his ministry and calling came as an aftermath.

The Emir of Zaria, who mentioned a political variance in favour of a crowned title holder (the former Governor).  Demolition inside the city was to spite the Emir; Zaria and Kaduna Traditional Houses started seeing the unseen, including locking of a traditional ruler for weeks in prison custody.

While Kebbi is working with Lagos, the Central Bank and Bank of Industries amongst others to further Agricultural synergy, Zamfara is stigmatizing the people with curse instead of vaccinating and treating them against deadly diseases in the state.

I reside in a state where you hear men saying, marrying one wife is like being single.  A gardener was added N5000.00 to his salary, to my surprise he added a wife, I asked why and how will he maintain them, in a chorus, i was told God will feed all who He gave mouths to.    Cases abound of parents who do not know where their children sleep, eat or play and are not disturbed about that.  They end up as political thugs, so the learned politicians are not bothered because their children are learning abroad and will hope the children of these masses serve their children like the parent did the fathers.

Boko Haram has not finished, it was started by politicians, Cattle rustlings is yet to be stopped, villages being ravaged and so many innocent blood lettings still abound.  From the Zamfara axis to the Ile –Ife and the East every case shows an unbalance that Nigerian politicians are not ready for the truth.

In all cases people who speak or stood against some persons are placed on a pedestal of disgrace, after warning them in some cases.

The Sultan and Emir of Kano did us proud in Kaduna, because some body needs to tell them.  Kaduna is the Power Seat of the North, Kaduna is home for all we accept, but the Gbagis that have suffered displacements from Zaria, Kaduna, Minna and Abuja deserve a better treatment for the kits and kins than what they are experiencing in the name of someone is in charge.  

During the KADINVEST, i see the peaceful loving nature of this people, it wont happen in terrain like we are seeing in Kaduna.  Kaduna for the exigencies of Politics is under the purview of the Emir of Zaria, who is the Traditional head of the State Traditional houses.   The Government invited the Emir of Kano without the presence of any Traditional Ruler from Kaduna.  The Sultan was invited, he stands as a Islamic Religious Leader and their was no thought of inviting a Christian Leader to also be in attendance.  Am sure the likes of Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, who is the present Bishop of Sokoto would have been a good accompaniment of the Sultan (they have severally), Kukah is from Kaduna State El-Rufai was not ready for what the Bishop would have mentioned maybe.

So for many silenced mouths, in and out of prisons for saying what some politicians do not want to hear, the Emir of Kano and his likes should not stay quiet. 

Now is not the time to use the usual old antiques to silence people, our politicians should be more responsive and responsible to the electorate.  As electorates, we need to disturb the National Assembly to remove certain privileges leading to abuses and give the electorate the power to recall their elected officers, when they see them not responsible enough.  That will keep our leaders on their toes to the needful for the enhancement of their constituents.

Let the speakers keep speaking and the silent ones should join speaking.  I long to see the State Assemblies stop singing the Governors sing songs and start acting like Honourable.  I long to see the State Houses call their Governors to order in especially the case of Local Government Elections, so people can feel the Government more and have easy access to the officials.

Africa: How Nigeria is losing on Global relevance–courtesy ATQ

Africa: How Nigeria is losing on Global relevance

March 3, 2017Sunday OnenLeave a comment

Princeton N. Lyman, the former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa

How Nigeria is losing Global relevance

Princeton N. Lyman, the former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa, delivered a very poignant speech on the panel titled “The Nigerian State and U.S. Strategic Interests” at the Achebe Colloquium at Brown University.

Lyman suggests that rather than continually emphasize Nigeria’s strategic importance, it would behoove us to consider elements that might eventually lead to Nigeria’s irrelevance on the international stage.

Transcript Of Speech Taken Directly From a Video

Thank you very much Prof. Keller and thanks to the organizers of this conference. It is such a privilege to be here in a conference in honor of Prof. Achebe, an inspiration and teacher to all of us.

I have a long connection to Nigeria. Not only was I Ambassador there, I have travelled to and from Nigeria for a number of years and have a deep and abiding vital emotional attachment to the Nigerian people, their magnificence, their courage, artistic brilliance, their irony, sense of
humor in the face of challenges etc.

And I hope that we keep that in mind when I say some things that I think are counter to what we normally say about Nigeria. And I say that with all due respect to Eric Silla who is doing a magnificent work at State Department and to our good friend from the legislature, because I have a feeling that we both Nigerians and Americans may be doing Nigeria and Nigerians no favor by stressing Nigeria’s strategic importance.

I know all the arguments: it is a major oil producer, it is the most populous country in Africa, it has made major contributions to Africa in peacekeeping, and of course negatively if Nigeria were to fall apart the ripple effects would be tremendous, etc.. But I wonder if all this emphasis on Nigeria’s importance creates a tendency of inflate Nigeria’s opinion of its own invulnerability.

Among much of the elite today, I have the feeling that there is a belief that Nigeria is too big to fail, too important to be ignored, and that Nigerians can go on ignoring some of the most fundamental challenges they have many of which we have talked about: disgraceful lack of infrastructure, the growing problems of unemployment, the failure to deal with the underlying problems in the Niger-Delta, the failure to consolidate democracy and somehow feel will remain important to everybody because of all those reasons that are strategically important.
And I am not sure that that is helpful.

Let me sort of deconstruct those elements of Nigeria’s importance, and ask whether they are as relevant as they have been.

We often hear that one in five Africans is a Nigerian. What does it mean? Do we ever say one in five Asians is a Chinese? Chinese power comes not just for the fact that it has a lot of people but it has harnessed the entrepreneurial talent and economic capacity and all the other talents of China to make her a major economic force and political force.

What does it mean that one in five Africans is Nigeria? It does not mean anything to a Namibian or a South African. It is a kind of conceit. What makes it important is what is happening to the people of Nigerian. Are their talents being tapped? Are they becoming an economic force? Is all that potential being used?

And the answer is “Not really.”

And oil, yes, Nigeria is a major oil producer, but Brazil is now launching a 10-year program that is going to make it one of the major oil producers in the world. And every other country in Africa is now beginning to produce oil.

And Angola is rivalling Nigeria in oil production, and the United States has just discovered a huge gas reserve which is going to replace some of our dependence on imported energy.
So if you look ahead ten years, is Nigeria really going to be that relevant as a major oil producer, or just another of another of the many oil producers while the world moves on to alternative sources of energy and other sources of supply.

And what about its influence, its contributions to the continent? As our representative from the parliament talked about, there is a great history of those contributions. But that is history.
Is Nigeria really playing a major role today in the crisis in Niger on its border, or in Guinea, or in Darfur, or after many many promises making any contributions to Somalia?

The answer is no, Nigeria is today NOT making a major impact, on its region, or on the African Union or on the big problems of Africa that it was making before.

What about its economic influence?

Well, as we have talked about earlier, there is a de-industrialization going on in Nigeria a lack of infrastructure, a lack of power means that with imported goods under globalization, Nigerian factories are closing, more and more people are becoming unemployed. and Nigeria is becoming a kind of society that imports and exports and lives off the oil, which does not make it a significant economic entity.

Now, of course, on the negative side, the collapse of Nigeria would be enormous, but is that a point to make Nigeria strategically important?

Years ago, I worked for an Assistant Secretary of State who had the longest tenure in that job in the 1980s and I remember in one meeting a minister from a country not very friendly to the United States came in and was berating the Assistant Secretary on all the evils of the United States and all its dire plots and in things in Africa and was going on and on and finally the Assistant Secretary cut him off and said: “You know, the biggest danger for your relationship with the United States is not our opposition but that we will find you irrelevant.”

The point is that Nigeria can become much less relevant to the United States. We have already seen evidence of it. When President Obama went to Ghana and not to Nigeria, he was sending a message, that Ghana symbolized more of the significant trends, issues and importance that one wants to put on Africa than Nigeria.

And when I was asked by journalists why President Obama did not go to Nigeria, I said “what would he gain from going? Would Nigeria be a good model for democracy, would it be a model for good governance, would he obtain new commitments on Darfur or Somalia or strengthen the African Union or in Niger or elsewhere?”

No he would not, so he did not go.

And when Secretary Clinton did go, indeed but she also went to Angola and who would have thought years ago that Angola would be the most stable country in the Gulf of Guinea and establish a binational commission in Angola.

So the handwriting may already be on the wall, and that is a sad commentary.
Because what it means is that Nigeria’s most important strategic importance in the end could be that it has failed.

And that is a sad, sad conclusion. It does not have to happen, but I think that we ought to stop talking about what a great country it is, and how terribly important it is to us and talk about what it would take for Nigeria to be that important and great.

And that takes an enormous amount of commitment. And you don’t need saints,
you don’t need leaders like Nelson Mandela in every state, because you are not going to get them.

I served in South Korea in the middle of the 1960s and it was time when South Korea was poor and considered hopeless, but it was becoming to turn around, later to become to every person’s amazement then the eleventh largest economy in the world. And I remember the economist in my mission saying, you know it did not bother him that the leading elites in the government of South Korea were taking 15 – 20 percent off the top of every project, as long as every project was a good one, and that was the difference.

The leadership at the time was determined to solve the fundamental economic issues of South Korea economy and turn its economy around.

It has not happened in Nigeria today.

You don’t need saints. It needs leaders who say “You know we could be becoming irrelevant, and we got to do something about it.”

Source: weeklypostng.org

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. 

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.