Nigeria lit up in excitement when Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared the winner of the 2015 Presidential elections. There was an aura of euphoria and a deep sigh of relief from citizens, mostly those from the Northern part of the country who had been under the torment and torture of Boko Haram terrorists in the Jonathan administration. The abduction of the Chibok girls was the apex of it. No fewer than 25 persons died in Northern Nigeria—Katsina, Taraba, Niger, Kano, Benue, and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory while celebrating Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in a dangerous acrobatic manner and riotous demonstration. This wild and unusual jubilation was not unconnected to the fact that Nigerians were confident that the “change” mantra had become a reality and it would begin with the rife insecurity, the beginning of the end of it, even though some paid with their lives.
Fast-forward to 2022. This insecurity has become worse, spiraling to a crescendo. Zamfara has become a theatre of war and violence perpetrated by armed gangs known as Bandits. Their primary duty is to kill, kidnap, loot, and destroy properties in local communities in Zamfara and other neighboring states in the North West region.
On Saturday, July 17, in a carnival-like shindig, well attended by government officials and other high-profile persons, Adamu Aliero, leader of the deadly bandits in Zamfara, was conferred the title of Sarkin Fulani—the Chief of the Fulani People by the Emir of Yandoton Daji, Aliyu Marafa. Dignitaries present at the event include traditional rulers, district heads, the Security Adviser to the state governor, Abubakar Dauran, the state Commissioner for security and home affairs, Mamman Tsafe, and Tsafe Local Government Chairman, Aminu Mudi, amongst others.
In the blight of the overbearing insecurity in the state, it is worrisome that these bloodthirsty men of the underworld have defeated the government at the federal and state level, and the best way to acquiesce to this defeat is to bestow a traditional title on a terrorist leader. The horrid display of shame is a reflection of the extent to which the insecurity in the state and Nigeria at large has transposed into an unimaginable realm. A plethora of puzzling questions keep pouring in, whether it is this same bandits leader who is on the police wanted book with a 5 million Naira bounty or a separate one who is invisible. It makes an absolute mockery of the police and other security forces who were visibly present at the ceremony providing security for attendees, even as over 100 bandits stormed the venue from forest to merry with a satisfying belch.
After much national uproar from Nigerians, the governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle, announced the suspension of Emir Aliyu Marafa, who bestowed the traditional title on Adamu Aliero. That was an attempt to save face because it’s impossible that the governor was not aware that a ceremony of such would happen in his state, with his commissioners in attendance.
A horrifying video emerged online where the Abuja-Kaduna train victims kidnapped on March 26, 2022, were flogged and tortured mercilessly after spending over 119 days in kidnapped custody. Their only crime was to board the Abuja-Kaduna train. There hasn’t been enough effort to secure their release from bandits, and they’re only left with their lives on their hands. Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, and even the FCT are some of the states that have witnessed some sad tales of bandits’ attacks and kidnappings in recent times. There are little or no efforts from the security agencies to fish out these men that are making life unbearable for the citizenry.
The 2023 presidential election is fast approaching. Beyond the fuss it is generating daily, Nigerians have the option to either turban another Adamu Aliero as President and commander in chief and suffer another four years of cascading insecurity or turban someone who will bring in a sui generis approach to ending this plague.
Bright Okuta is a writer and digital journalist.