By Suleiman Umaru
Bello Matawalle, governor of the north west state of Zamfara, which had been declared a no –fly zone by President Muhammadu Buhari, retired army General and Commander –In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, C-In-C, and Ahmad Abubakar, Gumi, an Islamic Cleric, appear to have drawn the ire of Bala Bantex, a former deputy governor of Kaduna state.
The duo, at different times , had repeatedly called on the Katsina state born Nigerian President and the governors of Kaduna, Katsina, the home state of the President , grant amnesty to Bandits in different parts of the country. It is instructive to note that the activities of the Bandits are more pronounced in the north western states of Zamfara, Katsina, Buhari state and Kaduna. Thousands of people were said to have been killed by the Bandits in these state over the last six years.
Only recently, some armed Bandits were said to have stormed the villages Kerawa, Zareyawa and Minda, in Kaduna state.There are indications that over 50 people were killed in the multiple attacks carried out by the Bandits who were armed to the teeth. The Bandits were said to have stormed the three Kaduna villages for providing information about their hideouts to the military., which gave them the ammunition to attack and kill several of them in the forest.
This is just of one of the attacks by the armed Bandits who are involved in Cattle rustling and kidnapping in Kaduna state. Many believe that the armed Crminal gangs are exploiting a lack of security across the south west to attack the villagers in order to force them to recognise their Authority and provide information on soldiers movement in the area. They may have failed in their mission as the people were not ready to work with them.
Matawalle, according to informed sources,had concluded arrangement last year to grant amnesty to these Bandits that had been terrorising the state over the years .He may have been slowed down because ,Nasiru El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state and Bllo Massari, a former Speaker of House of Representatives and now governor of Katsina state were not ready to play along with him to avoid playing into the hands of the Nigerian President.
Gumi, the Islamic Cleric , may have known that the military may not be able to secure the country before the rainy season as targeted by the Nigerian President that he had muted the idea of granting amnesty to the Bandits in the operating in the north western states and the country in general.
Bntex, a one-time Kaduna state deputy governor could not agree to the cleric suggestions. Appearing on Channels Television, Sunday Politics, show, he had described the Statements credited Sheikh Gumi, a non-state actor calling for Negotiation with the Bandits as to resolve to resolve the rising insecurity in the country’’ as a mark of failure on the part of the Authority both at the state and Federal levels.
Bantex , who is not happy with the Cleric for urging the states and the Federal government to enter into Negotiations with a the Bandits , as a prelude to granting them amnesty that would force them to drop their guns wondered, noted that it never worked in the north east geo-political region when it was tried in 2017 as it became the country’s nemesis.
Instead of the Nigerian military fighting one common enemy, BokoHaram Insurgents, a splinter group emerged from Old BokoHaram , that called its ISWAP, thus making the counter terrorism war in the region very difficult.
An aggrieved Bantex, who do not want hear anything about the Bandits noted that these people who have destroyed thousands of people source of income: farming, and the country’s economy in general, who had made life very unbearable for Nigerians and who are still doing so. ‘’It is not ideal’’, he had said.
The Kaduna state former deputy governor, who could not hide his feelings believes that ‘’there are people sitting out there who are benefiting from the rising crisis in the country and who would not let it go in a hurry as they are determined to sabotage the government’s efforts.
He would want the new service Chiefs to take the Presidential directive serious in order not to make the same mistake of the previous service Chief chiefs who had given the Commander In-Chief, the wrong impression that Insurgency in the north east had become a thing of the past in order to remain in his good book and still be retained in office whereas the Insurgents were getting stronger by the day by aprocuring more sophisticated weapons that could encourage them to attack military Barracks and cart away wapons.He was said to have supported the suggestions made by El-rufai, the incumbent governor of Kaduna state , for the creation of a state police to tackle the myriads of security challenges in the country.
The Nigerian President who is not ready to take any excuse for an answer from the new service Chiefs for non –performance this time around, had given Leo Irabor, now , an army General and Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, and the other Service Chiefs a few weeks to secure the country to the level that farmers who had fled their farms due to the activities of the Bandits and Insurgents could return to the fiels befor the rainy season this year.
The Presidential directives appear to have put Ibahim Attahiru, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, CAS, Isiaka Amoo, an Air Marshall, and Chief of Air Staff and Awwal Zubairu Gambo, a Vice Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, on a high jump.
The Nigerian President who has his reason for giving the service Chiefs only a few weeks to secure the country particular, the BokoHaram and ISWAP, besieged north eastern states of Adamawa,Borno, Yobe and the north west states of Zamfara, Katsina , Kaduna including the north Central states of Niger, home state of former military President Ibrahim Babangida, a retired army General and Nassarawa.
General Irabor and the other service Chiefs may have known that they cannot afford to fail as the rainy is fast approaching that they were said to have gone back to the drawing board to restrategise on how to deal decisively with the Bandits operating in the north west and the Insurgents in the three north eastern states .
Security experts fear that the Service Chiefs have every reason to move fast to avoid playing into the General’s hand who will not hesitate to sack them to achieve his goal of securing the country to avoid throwing the country into food scarcity.