nyone who does not feel sad for Nigeria and its doddering leadership after watching the viral video of heavily armed bandits insulting the country and emotionally attacking passengers on a Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) bus must be a subhuman. On February 15, the victims were kidnapped in Yakila, Niger State’s Rafi Local Government Area. I had goosebumps watching babies wail, mothers desperately imploring, men humiliated and resigned to fate, and, of course, their tormentors having the time of their lives celebrating their successful catch of human cargo that will soon translate into millions of Naira.
The governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, has authenticated the footage and the criminals’ demand for N500 million in ransom. The movie brutally depicts how far Nigeria has fallen under President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership. It exposes Nigerians’ helplessness in the face of the collective existential threat they confront. As the Afrobeat maestro, Fela Kuti would say, there is sorrow, tears, and blood under Buhari’s watch. But there is solace in the fact that Nigerians south of the Niger have determined to never again bow down to the hoodlums from the north.
I had previously vowed to avoid the Nigerian elite’s shenanigans; having come to the unavoidable conclusion that they are devout hypocrites who are committed to their adulterous ways. They do not care about the greater good. But it is difficult, if not impossible, to remain detached when a problem poses an existential threat — Nigerians are at a terrible crossroads, with many asking whether their lives have meaning, purpose, or worth in their own country.
Though bandits have become an existential menace, the Northern elite, like the ostrich, is burying its head in the sand, hoping that the country’s ills would be wished away by doing so. Sheik Ahmad Gumi, the leading ideologue of the Fulani supremacist agenda, appeared on Africa Independent Television, AIT, sometime in April, and made the audacious allegation that bandits learned kidnapping from the Niger Delta Avengers. That is a complete fabrication.
To encourage terrorists to lay down their arms and stop maiming and killing innocent people, he redoubled his vexatious demand that they be offered amnesty and richly compensated if they consent to be persuaded to do so. We, the lesser mortals, do not have the right to live happily or in any other way, according to them. They make it seems like It is an honor at their whims and caprices.
The arrogance is suffocating. Instead of dealing with the issue of insecurity, the Northern elite issue a condescending warning to the rest of the country not to trigger their fury. They are enraged that Nigerians have the courage to call them out, rather than ordering their brothers to halt the kidnappings and senseless bloodletting. They are furious that other Nigerians have the courage to oppose their bold expansionist ambition.
Why would a governor from the south demand that Fulani herders be evicted from his state’s forests? They are angry that non-state actors like Sunday Igboho would dare to confront the Fulani dynasty and defend their people in the face of the government’s humiliating desertion of its main obligation, namely the protection of citizens’ lives and property.
They are using every trick in the book to avoid taking responsibility. In all of their bluster, they do everything they can to absolve President Buhari, the man whose watch the country is falling apart, of any guilt. Surprisingly, people who once raised the practice of blaming the whole for the faults of a few to an art form are now complaining that Nigerians are blaming herders for the carnage. They are now claiming that crime is apolitical, which is correct. But do you recall the heinous lie that the January 15, 1966 coup was an Igbo coup?
Yes, the land is ruled by hypocrites. They act as if they are unaware of what occurred on that fateful day: a group of army commanders, the bulk of whom were Igbo, organized a coup on their own, without consulting ordinary Igbo people on the street. Nonetheless, they labeled it for the sole aim of heaping maximal vengeance on the Igbo. That myth has endured for over 55 years, and it is at the basis of all the abuses meted out to the Igbo in Nigeria. These same people, on the other hand, are outraged that Nigerians are calling out those who have turned the country into a massive slaughter field.
Why should not assailants who terrorize Nigerians be identified based on their ethnicity? Would this country’s Sheikh Gumis treat them differently if they were Igbo? Why should we be afraid to acknowledge that Fulani bandits are responsible for the carnage now that it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt? Gumi admitted that the bandits he encountered in the Zamfara woodlands are Fulani, as well as the ones Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State traveled to other West African countries to pay ransom after his people were slaughtered in Kaduna, were Fulani.
Any country that prefers to promote lawlessness over punishing it pays a high price. When criminals are treated with kid gloves, it emboldens them. So, on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, when Sheikh Gumi was busy requesting amnesty for those, the majority of whom are non-citizens, who have made Nigeria a living hell for civilians, the bandits struck again. This time, it occurred at the Government Science College in Kagara, Niger State’s Rafi local government. Bandits attacked at 2 AM, killing one student, Benjamin Doma, and abducting 27 others, including three teachers and 12 family members.
The Kagara kidnapping comes less than three months after gunmen abducted hundreds of pupils from Kankara Government Secondary School in Katsina State on the 11th day of December 2020. Though Governor Bello Masari indicated that the number of abductees (344 pupils kidnapped, according to official report) is low, this is the first time a pupil has been killed at the crime scene and teachers have been kidnapped. Of course, the Governor has ordered the closure of all boarding schools in the state’s Rafi, Mariga, Munya, and Shiroro local government regions until further notice.
How can parents be persuaded to enroll their children in schools when schools are constantly pillaged? Despite the fact that this is the world’s most illiterate region, the few children who do choose to attend school are abducted, slaughtered, and dehumanized by bandits. What a misfortune! The responses are consistent. It is just a rehash of previous experiences. Governor Bello Masari, posing as the tough guy he clearly is not, assured journalists that his administration would not pay the bandits’ ransom. However, he is willing to help and encourage bandits who have repented. Who is the one who is being deceived here?
Senators made their customary racket, urging Buhari to declare a state of emergency and execute their many proposals for dealing with the country’s rising insecurity. Even as he deployed a team of security chiefs to Minna, the capital of Niger State, to oversee the “rescue” mission, Buhari branded the kidnapping as audacious and cowardly.
According to Garba Shehu, Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, the President promised the security chieftains of his administration’s support and encouraged them to do all possible to put an end to the tragedy and “prevent such heinous attacks on schools in the future.” Was that not what he said after the kidnap incident in Kankara?
Major General Bashir Magashi, the Minister of Defence, stated that the abductees from Kagara will be rescued using the same approach used in Kankara. Simply put, they will bargain with the robbers and pay a large ransom to ensure the victims’ release. Kankara’s strategy was to do just that. Magashi stated that it is the responsibility of all Nigerians to maintain appropriate security, stressing that it is not solely the responsibility of the military.
“We must not be afraid. When the bandits arrive, they usually have approximately three rounds of ammunition, and when they fire, everyone flees. We used to stand ready to combat any type of aggression when we were younger,” he remarked. Is it not amazing that this is coming from the same government that will shoot down anyone who dares to challenge bandits’ impunity? This government is a paragon of hypocrisy.