By Abdulmumin Giwa
Recently planned operations against the Zamfara state bandits by the Nigerian government has raised debates on the social media platforms following the comment attributed to the the renown Sheikh Ahmad Mahmud Gumi.
The cleric is said to have said that the military assault on the bandits will not resolve the problem of banditry in the region.
This has led a lot of people to making different kinds of comments mostly opposing and in some cases even insulting the cleric on the social media, especially on Facebook.
Based on this, I decided to review the issue from the point of view of the Sheikh and make some few analysis.
Yes, is true we differ with the cleric in ideology and religious jurisprudence. I mentioned this from the beginning to free the mind of whosoever might think I am of him or doing something for him, in fact, I have criticised him severally on several other issues. As I asked his critics to be fair to him because he is entitled to his own views, I render this analysis based on how I see it from his point of view.
As I have stated earlier, the cleric is entitled to his views. More so, it is true that there has never been any war that ended without negotiations and resolutions because you can’t kill everybody and will never attempt to. We as Nigerians have all seen how the Niger Delta crises was settled with the creation of the Niger Delta Development Cooperation, NDDC. Before that, all the military operations in the region, including Zakibiam killings did not end it. So it is not wrong to put in place machinery for better and more effective conflict resolution, instead of butchering everybody.
Someone argued that the Niger Delta youths were not killing their people as the bandits are. I agreed with him, but made a point to him that the Niger Delta youths took up arms and were on the one side while the Nigerian military was on the other trying to stop them from whatever it is they were doing.
These bandits have also taken up arms on the one hand doing whatever it is they feel they are doing and the Nigerian military is on the other side with its arms trying to stop them. This is simply what has likened the two, bearing arms.
It is not the issue of negotiation the way a lot of people blindly see it that I am talking about here and in fact it is because of the crude way they see it, that is making it impossible to resolve the problem using force. If it is negotiations with the bandits in the crude way people are thinking, I don’t support it. But if the necessary mechanisms are to be put in place for the negotiations, I will support it.
These Zamfara youths practically see that, as a generation in Nigeria, they have no future, no education, no basic life facilities while they watch the children of their leaders, and the leaders themselves, being educated in Harvard and going for medical checkups abroad. What is the government doing for them to have a better life and future? Is it the schools without qualified teachers, no furniture, no education facilities, no even roofs in the classes or is it the hospitals without basic health facilities? Let’s ask ourselves.
These are children of the downtrodden, the children of the poor living in an age that is progressing with speed in technology and ICT being neglected and left without access to the opportunities of their age. What would one expect of them?
For those who defend the idea of using force to crush them, ask yourselves, how much is the Nigerian government spending in killing all those misguided youths of Zamfara? The airplanes, the missiles, the ammunition, the guns, the lives of the personnel, the allowances and even the loss generated from the downing of access to digital facilities and compare it to how much will be spent to create a better life and future for the youths of Zamfara. Provide them with access to good and quality education, job opportunities, access to life facilities and a bright future and see if it will cost as much as killing all of them.
Definitely the clampdown on them is more expensive and has virtually a result that will never last. Certainly, killing them will not solve the problem because the solution to the problem that might have pushed them to the bush has not been met.
Sheikh Gumi can be right to seek fairness and justice for the oppressed youths of the northern region instead of killing them. Because the leaders in the north have failed them. This is a region that is defined as the capital of Nigeria’s poverty even as it is the region that has produced not only most of the leaders Nigeria ever had, but also the richest man on the African continent. Yet the youths of the region are neglected and exploited by their leaders who only remember them when it is election time, give them dangerous weapons and all sorts of drugs and use them as thugs to harass their opponents. Thereafter they dump them and do nothing for them.
Media reports have emerged that virtually 70% of the youths in Zamfara are in the bush because they have no future and are neglected by their leaders. This is in a state that is endowed with mineral resources including gold.
Because you trust in the man in power in Nigeria does not mean you should not listen to Sheikh Gumi. It is true you cannot kill them all nor stop them by force, let’s not deceive ourselves. This has nothing to do with politics.
Hence, you should rather engage them and get them rehabilitated to become responsible human beings by shunning your greed as their leaders and providing them with the life needs. But time will tell. We wait to see when they get all killed.
The real issue is that we must tell ourselves the bitter truth that the system has failed. The institutions on which the Nigerian system is run are weak as the leaders appear to be even stronger than the institutions. That is even why the government is engaging in killing its citizens by itself. We have seen this happened in Zaria in 2015 where the army spent three days killing unarmed men, women, children and infants for the crime of belonging to a religious faith the president and his men disagree with. Two wrongs can never make a right.
Those in power have failed and have lost focus that is why the situation is worsening by the day. The right approach is never given to anything that concerns the people especially the poor. Is not for us to turn into praise singers of hopeless leaders. So I agree that the only way out is not by killing everybody but by rendering governance as it should be, with fairness and justice to all irrespective of tribe, race region or religion.