All is far being well in a country where three mass kidnap of children can take place unchecked in three months.
The manner in which the activities of so-called bandits who have continued to terrorise Nigerians across the North West and parts of the North Central geo-political zones in the country take place, should worry anyone.
From Kankara in Katsina to Kagara, Niger and now; Jangebe, Zamfara, the common denominator is that a group of terrorists masquerading as army officers (based on testimonies from escapees) or bandits (as they are popularly called) are waking us all to the reality of a bandit industry brewing before our very eyes.
For those who have paid keen attention to the political scene for months; there have been arguments connecting banditry in Zamfara to the recent mining of gold in the state, and to turn a blind eye away from this as a root cause in the search for reasons would amount to foolery. Closely related to this is the fact that terms of peace deals as we saw between the Katsina Government and bandits are largely vague and it’s difficult to tell if the unsustainable approach of monetary payments or ransom isn’t part of the initiative.
If it does, it no doubt provides explanation on how the scourge keeps gaining root and momentum weekly. Otherwise, how can one explain the disregard for such agreements by the bandits or even amnesty offered them; as in the case of Zamfara?
To think that Friday’s abduction of 317 girls from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara, happened barely twenty-four hours after the Governor, Bello Matawalle, received a second batch of repentant bandits, is also a huge call for concern.
Governor Matawalle has been a strong proponent of dialogue and amnesty for the bandits as the best approach to solving the menace. The incidence of Friday in his home state thus provoke questions.
In their defence, he recently said “large numbers of those participating in various crimes of kidnapping animals, banditry were pushed into these by circumstances such as reprisals and lawlessness of self-acclaimed vigilante groups.” In response to his critics also, Matawalle says “the Zamfara template is all about building a foundation upon which we hope the entire country will adopt as a sustainable means.”
Similarly, an appeal had recently been made by the Zamfara State National Assembly Caucus to the federal government on the need to grant repentant bandits amnesty as part of measures to restore peace in the North West region. All of these to a large extent sends a clear message to these criminals that they have become an ache in the head of government; so much so that government wouldn’t mind bowing to demands that favours them (bandits).
At the heart of these near-predictable attacks also, is the failure of intelligence and discordant tunes among the governing elite with governors calling for dialogue and the presidency issuing statements of warning to the bandits.
For any citizen outside the corridors of power at this time, it remains difficult to provide explanation on what would make the abduction of school children so regular. So frequent are these occurrences in territories where elected government exists!
As we look forward to witnessing decisive action(s) by all concerned authorities to bring this menace to a halt, the question however remains:
Are school kids the human cost of Nigeria’s fast growing industry of banditry?
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Journalist, Political Analyst and Satirist with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.