By Suleiman Umaru
Ahead of the February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly, elections, to usher in a new Nigerian government in May 29, 203, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has left no one in doubt that the Bandits Group are on his pay roll. Gumi had said that he was able to gain the bandits’ confidence because ‘’he treated them as human beings and respects them’’.
Between 2011 and now, the Bandits Group fighters had occupied themselves with killings in different parts of the north, which Sheikhh Gumi may not have seen as anything bad. The Group had thrown the north western states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina and Niger, home state of retired General Ibrahim Babangida, a former Nigerian military President, into a war zone. Occasionally, the Group, were said to have also taken up arms to attack Communities in the north central states of Nasarawa, Taraba and the north eastern states of Bauchi and Gombe .
The Muslim Cleric recent Statement speaks volume. He had urged Nigerians not ‘’to vote for the Presidential Candidate of any of the 18 Registered Political Parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the close watch of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who has the mind set of President Muhammadu Buhari to attack the bandits Group in their forest Camps.
. Of All the Presidential Candidates from the 18 Political Parties, jostling to take overfrom Buhari, after the 2023, general elections, only Aswaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Presidential Candidate for the 2023, general elections, Atiku Abubakar, a former Nigerian Vice President during Olusegu Obasanjo’s Administration and the Opposition People Democratic Party , PDP, Candidate and Peter Obi, a for governor of Anambra state and the Labour Party, LP, Flag bearer stand out.
Appealing to Nigerians ‘’to vote for a party Presidential Flag bearer who will not fight the Bandits Groups whom he had repeatedly called ‘’our people, he had said that this is the only way ‘’ to give them what they want for peace to reign’’.He may have seen Buhari as a non- listening President for refusing to bow to pressure from and his group not to fight the Bandits but to allow them to operate freely in the Nigerian forests.
He had said that declaration of the Bandits as a terrorist Organisation by the Court and supported by the Katsina state born Nigerian President ’’will not change anything or the dynamics on the ground’’. He noted that the military have been engaging the Bandits group over the last seven years but ‘’it has not stopped them from kidnappings and killings’’, stating that the declaration by the Court will not ‘’end their aggression against the society’’.
According to him, ‘’the Fulani banditry is a socio-economic problem. ‘’We have seen it. We have interacted with them and we have told the Federal government that the only way ‘’to end the crisis is through engagement, dialogue’’ and justice but Buhari is not ready to listen.
He has lamented that the ‘’increasing militarization of banditry in Nigeria’’, stressing that Buhari led AC, government can go ahead and procure more additional one Tucano Jets from the North American country of the United States, US, to bomb the bandits in their forest hideouts but it will not solve the problem.
He may have alluded to the 12 ucano Jets which had been acquired by the Buhari Administration to fight the bandits by air, noting that the bandits, which he had always described as ‘’Fulani warriors and who inhabit the forests for the people have been pushed to the wall and are ready to fight back’’.
From the looks of things, Sheikh Gumi, may not have forgiven Buhari for agreeing with the Court which had dubbed the Bandits as terrorists, instead of looking for ways ‘’to rehabilitate them’’. Given the stand of the Muslim cleric on the bandits, many believe that he has no right to be telling Nigerians not vote for a President who is not likely to bring terrorists to Justice.
Suffice to say that virtually all the 18 Presidential Candidates standing in for the 2023, general elections have made tackling the country security challenges one of their electioneering Campaign promises.
Oby Ezekwesili, a former minister of Education during Obasanjo’s Administration may not interested on who becomes the next Nigerian President. She would want those jostling to rule Nigeria to tell Nigerians the ‘’truth about the state of the nation, instead of promising immediate results’’.
The former minister of Education had said that ‘’regardless of who emerges as the country’s President next year, ‘‘immediate results may not be achieved in four years, because of the high level of decay in the system’’. She had said that ‘’any Presidential Candidate promising instant results, particular, in the area of tackling the security challenges of the country after the 2023, general elections may not be telling the truth. The former minister will want Nigerians to work together’’ to make this happen’’.
This is whwere Usman, Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and his men may have to beam their searchlight on Sheikh Gumi, a Muslim Clerics who is doing everything within his powers to arm-twist the Nigerian President not to stop fighting the Bandits Group but allow them to operate freely in the Nigerian forest.