By Stephen Ubanna
Until the Islamic Fundamentalist Group invaded Marrabati and Hammayya villages ,near Zarbarmari in Jere local government Area of Borno state last Sunday, November 29, 2020, not many people knew that rice is grown in Commercial quantity in the area but the local farmers have never had the opportunity of selling their farm produce in the market because of the continuous threat of the terrorists in operating in the area.
The rice farmers may have taken their fate in their hand to defend themselves from the terrorists as the Tukur Buratai, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff , CAS, ‘s men were nowhere around in the Community to ward off the attackers which the Abubakar Shekau’s men did not find funny. They may have seen the farmers as trying to block their sources of income to replenish their arms and ammunition that they had to fight back .
This may have forced the suspected BokoHaram terrorists to waylaid the rice farmer on their way to their farm and pumped bullet on them in order to bring to an end rice production in the Jere local government axis rice farming Communities. They may succeeded after the last Sunday attack as many farmers were said to have abandoned their rice fields for fear of being killed by the insurgents.
Note that there had been conflicting reports of the number of rice farmers that were killed in the two rice Communities near Zarbamari by the insurgents. The initial report, as released by John Enenche, a Major General and the Army Public Relations officer said they had counted 43 bodies. Ahmed Satomi, a member of the Federal House of Representatives from Kwasheba Community, representing Jere Federal Constituency, said 60 farmers were killed but they have so far recovered 44 bodies and still searching for the others. Kashim Shettima, a, a former governor of the state and now a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria , representing Borno Central, put the number of rice farmers beheaded at 67.
But the BokoHaram Group which carried out the atack on the Marrabati and Hammayya rice farmers had put the number of people at 78. Edward Kallon, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, who has been following the activities of the terrorists in the country said no fewer than that 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others wounded. Kallon, said the office have also received reports that several women found in the rice field were kidnapped. The questions on the lips of most people was: who is telling the truth about the number of rice farmers killed in the Borno Communities ?
The killing of the local rice farmers in the two Borno rice Communities may have further exposed the high level of insecurity in the north east geopolitical region, particular,Borno state, forcing President Muhammadu Buhari, who rode to power on a three-pronged promise of tackling Corruption, revamping the already battered economy by the then ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and fighting insecurity to rise to the challenge.
An aggrieved Katsina state, born Nigerian President, who is not happy that the Insurgency in the north east of state of Borno, regarded as the home state of the Boko Haram terrorists had refused to die down despite all the efforts put in place to contain their activities over the last six years, may have risen up to the challenge to read the riot Act to Gabriel Olonisakin, an Army General and Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs, particular, Burantai, the CAS and Abubakar Sadique, An Air Vice Marshall and Chief of Air Staff to sit up.
The Nigerian President, who may have given a signal to the service Chiefs that he may no longer shield them from their gross inefficiency in prosecuting the antiterrorist war in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, has given them a matching order ’’to take the fight to the Insurgents Camp not on a one-off but on a continuous basis, until the terrorists are rooted out’’. He was to have given his words ‘’ to make more resources available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism’’.
He may have realised that the country could no longer fight the anti-terrorist war and win without the support of Presidents Muhammadou Isoufou, Idris Derby and Paul Biya, of the neighbouring West African Countries of Niger, Tchad and the Central African country of Cameroon respectively. This may have informed why he has intensified the Cooperation with the neighbouring countries on bilateral and multi-lateral levels to ensure that’’ there is no hiding place for the terrorists’’.
While Buhari, is under intense pressure from several quarters to address the problems of insecurity across the country, Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, who many believe speaks with two sides of the mouth, had said that the country ‘’will remain at the mercy of the terrorists without adequate weapons to prosecute the war against terrorism’’.
Mohammed noted that terrorism is a global issue and therefore, requires a global solution. He stopped short at saying that the country had been denied the necessary global support to combat terrorist activities in the north east, thus calling on the international Community to support the country which had been under the BokoHaram terrorist attacks over the last nine years with the supply of adequate weapons.
Babagana Zulum, a Professor and governor of Borno state who is bearing the heat of the insurgents as there had been attempts on his life along the notorious Maiduguri – Bama fishing Community road had proffered six suggestions to the Nigerian President on how to put an end to BokoHaram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province, ISWAP, insurgents, who had been terrorizing the north eastern region over the years.
The Borno state governor may have spoken his mind when Ibrahim Gambari, a Professor and Chief of Staff, CS, to the President and other members of the Presidential delegation, comprising of ministers and other top government officials called to Commiserate with him and people of the state last Sunday over the killing of scores of rice farmers who were waylaid on the road to their farm in Marrabati and Hammayya villages, near Zarbamari town.
The Professor had pleaded with the Nigerian President to consider it as a matter of urgency to engage ‘’the services of Mercenaries and immediate recruitment of more able-bodied young men into the military to boost its strength’’ . More so, he wants the Buhari led APC, government at the Federal level, to further engage the services of neighbouring countries of Niger, Tchad and Cameroon in order to clear the remnants of the insurgents in the Lake Chad region and the Mandara mountains.
He did stop there. Zulum, the Borno state governor, also wants the Federal government to ensure the provision of mine resistance armoured personnel carriers and other equipment for the Army, police, and other security agencies involved in the insurgency war.
In a voice laden with emotion, he urged the Gamari led Presidential delegation to tell the President to do everything within his powers to ensure ’’the repatriation of the internally displaced people, IDP, in Niger and Cameroon and also support the people of the war-torn state to improve their standard of living which had degenerated considerably.
Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President, may have gladdened the heart of the governor , who may be praying for his second term in office to end to have a breather, when he disclosed that Buhari has asked him’’ to reassure him of his Commitment to fighting insurgency in the region’’.
Already, the President may have started implementing some of the recommendations of the governor as passed on to him by the Presidential delegation to the state as he has intensified bilateral and multi-lateral talks for improved Cooperation with the Prsidents of Niger and Tchad , ostensibly to ensure that the insurgents have nowhere to hide when they eventually chased out of the Nigeria soil.
Nasir E-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, who is not happy with the insecurity challenges in the country, said the governors are frustrated, helpless and dissatisfied with the roles provided for them in the 199 Constitution, as amended. He had said that the only way the Buhari led APC government at the Federal level could surmount the various security challenges in the country such as insurgency in north east, banditry in the north west and kidnapping in different parts of the country is for the governors, who are called the Chief Security officers of the state’’ to have control over the cohesive instruments of the state’’.
He noted that this is the only country in the world where a governor would ask the Commissioner of Police to do something and he would want to first clear with the Inspector General of Police, IGP, before doing it. He noted that the END SARS protest last October had clearly showed the limit to the control of the governors over the police and the Brigade Commanders in their respective states. It is not surprising why El-Rufai, Zulum and other governors are frustrated in their respective state, a security expert had said.
The Kaduna state governor may have opened up on the police when he said that ‘’most state governments were responsible for the fueling of their operational vehicles, and Communication equipment, while the Federal government takes care of payment of their monthly salaries and allowances.
Perhaps, to curtail the criminalities in different parts of the country, El-Rufai, who could not hide his feelings had suggested the need for recruitment of more personnel into the Force who should be deployed to designated areas of duty instead of ’’carrying handbags of the wives of important people’’.
But Shehu Shema, a former governor of the north west state has called for proper synergy between the security agencies personnel in order to tackle the insecurity in the country. The former Kaduna state governor believes that the government’s efforts may have not have made any appreciative in tackling the insecurity in the country because the security agencies see themselves as rivals. He is optimistic that the moment the security agencies stop seeing themselves as rivals to encourage the citizenry , normalcy would return to the country. to contribute their own quota and the political Leaders to do the right things .
But there are people who believe that the way out of the security challenges of the country is for Buhari to listen to the people and restructure the country. RRotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and minister of Agriculture would not agree to this.
The minister of Transportation, described as one of Buhari’s closest political ally from the south-south geo-political region said ‘’restruction of the country is not as critical as the hunger in the land’’. He may have given aninsight to the mindset of the President towards the restructuring of the country that it may never be achieved under the Administration. This is bad news for Nigeria.