Growing up as a chlid in the 1970, I loved to watch the adventures of Robinhood of Sherwood, serialised on NTA on weekly basis. Though springing from a noble background, the famous outlaw and his gang would snatch from the rich but will distribute same to the poor. Although it was a committed belief of justice on the gang’s part, but thoroughly illegal and unlawful, a crooked way of justice and and a way of even distribution of resource by and outlaw.
Armed struggle as a phenomenon in Nigeria assumed a new dimension in the wake of the turn of democratic rule in the last lap of the 20th Century. The new wave of freedom from Military rule in 1999 seemed to come up with a snag; the emergence of a new rise to new wave of social agitations and its consequent abuse of human rights and laws of the land.
Just like in the wake of the democratic rule in 1979 which birthed the rise of the Maitatsine uprising, the 1999 democratic turn birthed the rise of Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria. These are uprisings that have a theological root attached to their philosopy, albeit a queer interpretation of the Islamic by the two separate insurgents.
There are other agitations today though, which included the separatists’ uprisings in the name of The IPOB and the Odua Nation led by Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho, which lately assumed arms struggle and grew up to the breach of the Supremacy of the constitution and the Sovereignty of Nigeria. The Shia group who are equally agitating for an Islamic State steered by the Shia Philosopy has not openly employed arms either against the State or the people but equally a brand of dissidence.
However, the most worrisome of the claimed struggles is the latest wave of criminality is a form of banditry that spread across the North-Western States of Nigeria. It started as a form of cattle rustling among the Fulani ethnic group scattered across the land which metamorphosed into kidnappings for ransom, killings and arson. It has now matured into crass satanism by burning humans alive without purpose at all.
I have heard a lot of apologists for these bandits. They try at all times to justify the drift by the Fulani, known for their “Pulako” into outright criminality which they are trying hard to justify as a certain struggle for justice. A new wave of campaigns subtly being advanced is that the bandits in the North-West took up arms to defend the honour and integrity of the Fulani tribe because they have been neglected by the authorities where they lived. They are not being provided with education, health services etc, they said.
I am not going to delve into this vast area of controversy because the proponents of this argument are highly influential class in the society. The Forum of Governors of Northern Nigeria have the task of taking this argument to the cleaners with facts and figures of their previous budgets and programs for communities in their respective states. The Federal Government also has the onerous duty to discredit this dangerous argument because it has the potential of setting a precedence for more ethnic upheavals across the country.
What I do know is what happened in Zamfara State; that at the wake of his administration in 2019, Governor Bello Mohammed did invite all the stakeholders of the Fulani in Zamfara state and offered them a peace process where all their grievances were tabled. It must be noted that the entire grievances of the Fulani were not peculiar to them, but shared with every other communities, some of which have dire need than the Fulani. All these are tied to scarce resources vis-a-vis the progressing population explosion we are experiencing today.
Nonetheless, the Governor went ahead to specially address these grievances including, but not limited to the construction of multi-billion naira RUGA for them in each of the three Senatorial zones of the state. The Governor has also constructed 147 Primary Health Centers across the rural areas of the state as well as constructed more than 1000 classroom blocks in the rural areas. He also banned the ‘Yan-Sa-Kai Vigilates which they alleged were killing their brethren in the rural areas. However, the banditry phenomenon in the state did not stop.
Whatever the case may be, the bandits we have in the North-Western States of Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara are purely criminals by intent, purpose and action. They are not representing the Fulani, nor any logical cause at all. If indeed, they are fighting for their ethnic clans, we would have seen them chanelling their proceeds to the development of those clans. If they are indeed, fighting for justice, one will wonder what offence ordinary peasants have committed in this saga that the bandits will intercept their vehicle and set them ablaze!
History has shown that banditry anywhere in the World thrives only when the bandits have support of invisible hands and the tacit support of trusted influential persons in the society. Our people should be rest assured that the Government is poised to fish out sponsors of these criminals just as the security operatives are doing their best to bring their criminality to a standstill.
Suffice also to say that the bandits we have today cannotclaim any moral cause to take up arms against innocent citizens in the name of struggle for justice. That is why a Nigerian Court recently declared them as terrorists. They shall continue to be treated as duch until the desired end to their undesirable menace is brought to a glorious end.
Bappa writes from Gusau.