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Now, Nowhere is Safe (2), by Hassan Gimba

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I believe Nigerians should no longer accept to be fooled by those who use their sentiments to get into office. We must not forget yesterday if we want to correct our today for our tomorrow to be great.

On 26 March 2018, when we warned on this page under the screaming headline, ‘Mr President, Nigeria is at War!’, some powerful figures had since told us they had given money to (or empowered the) enemies of Nigeria “to stop banditry”!

But it is on record that we said: “Nigeria is in a state of war but it looks as if we are taking things lightly…We have been at war for quite a long time but it became even more apparent with the return of the Dapchi girls.

There was a real ceasefire when the girls were returned, the type we see in areas that are in a state of war, like Syria, Columbia with the FARC rebels, and in parts of Congo and Uganda, where the Lord’s Resistance Army operates.

“But the president was quoted ordering his service chiefs not to allow the abductions of schoolgirls again.

A citizen, in the first place, would expect the president to tell his service chiefs not to allow the abduction of any citizen, not only schoolgirls (forget that many schoolgirls from various schools have since been abducted – some ‘married’ off by their abductors). All citizens are citizens and want to feel equal before the law or before the eyes of their president.

“Farmers and voiceless Nigerians are being abducted by those who have declared war on Nigeria, but we have allowed them to play the music while we dance to the tunes.

“And it is this sort of thinking by governments that makes the militants strong. The ordinary citizen sees them as strong and comes to see that their government cannot protect them.

It makes the citizen lose confidence in the country. Little wonder some abducted Nigerians have switched allegiance or hail the terrorists (as happened in Dapchi) as ‘saviours’ because the people of Dapchi and elsewhere saw the power that should lie with their government being exercised by enemies of the state.” Yet they did not heed, and now nowhere is safe.

Nigerians should note that on 7 December 2020, under the topic ‘Mr President, Let’s Call In The Chadians!’, we said: “Pride, lies, sentiments, emotions, burying our head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich will not take us anywhere. If we continue this way, we may end up with nowhere to hide. Boko Haram remains a menace, bandits and kidnappers now prowl our streets, and armed robbers rob at will. Already, travelling by road is at significant risk.

“We should come down from our high horse if we do not want our sovereignty taken away by brigands. We should contract Chad to come in and help while we form a wall to stop them (Boko Haram) from escaping into the country. Or else we call in the mercenaries.”

Those who should have supported this view didn’t, but now since they want cheap votes, they are cashing in on our fears and calling for foreign mercenaries to fight the monsters they strengthened, after giving them the financial muscle to become this powerful.

They kept paying money to the bandits – their confessions – even sending messages to them in Niger Republic and Mali. When they became strong, they teamed up with Boko Haram and started this spate of kidnappings, and now, nowhere is safe.

When the Kankara boys were kidnapped, I wrote, in December 2020, under ‘Kankara And The Postponed Dawn’: “I have always insisted that Boko Haram and the North-West pillagers are the same but wearing different togas…we need to take back our once beautiful, safe and hospitable country, for the sake of our children.”

What were those just “realising”, after giving them lots of money, that the bandits are Boko Haram doing? Let us pray our mumu don do and we will tell them that now we know them.

But move on, we must. Proffering solutions should be our concern. Previous writings, however, show that all along, we have been offering solutions for free. We may want to read my write-ups: Boko Haram’s Resurgence and Jonathan’s Magic Wand 1 and 2.

In January this year, writing with the title ‘Banditry and our Quest for Leadership’, we said: “One solution is for the government to organise a people’s militia that will flush out all those marauders. That strategy proved successful in both Iraq and Syria. Here in Nigeria, some communities have stood eyeball to eyeball with bandits and insurgents and, as a result, found themselves some peace. Biu, in Borno State and Azare, in Bauchi State, readily comes to mind.

“It can encourage each local government to muster at least 5,000 of its youth to be trained to confront the bandits. The Nigerian government should transform the war against the bandits into a people’s war for self-defence.

“We must take the battle to every inch of space occupied by bandits. Possibly, all settlements in the bush should be cleared and moved to the main roads.” We said this before populist politicians started talking about bombing bushes now that they will start seeking votes.

Still writing under ‘Kankara and The Postponed Dawn’, we presented a quote from Confucius as another viable solution: ‘Excessive wealth creates haughtiness (arrogance). Excessive poverty leads to envy. Envy leads to robbery. Haughtiness leads to lawlessness. This is the nature of the mass of the people. Therefore, the wise rulers institute humane government so that the rich be restrained and not become too greedy, and the poor will then have enough sustenance and not worry about their daily food. In this way, there is a balance between the poor and the rich. Therefore, it is easy to govern and maintain order.”

Again, writing under the title, ‘Mandela and the parable of the Fulani’, we said: “But there is also something wrong with the North. It lacks a leader, lacks focus, and lacks vision. Most of the Fulani terrorising Nigeria now could have long been engineers, medical doctors, professors, etc. The regime of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida started what it christened nomadic education. Under it, there were many things involved that could change the way the Fulani lived. But because most of our leaders are short-sighted and prioritise lining their pockets, they never took that programme seriously. Now, with all the money they have sliced for themselves, those who should have been professionals today will not allow them to enjoy it.” And, therefore, nowhere is safe.

“For God’s sake,” we went on, “what will it take to create ranches to settle the Fulani herders and provide every facility that would add value to their lives and livelihood? Why should someone move cattle from Mali to Osogbo or Obudu and, worse of all, leave cries of woes behind him? Apart from being fair to them as human beings, the cattle will have more quality when bred in one place than subjecting them to the stress of trekking hundreds of kilometres and feeding on just anything. And there is the assurance of minimising crime.

“Such persons cannot realise that being proactive is the only way to help the Fulani. Through proper management of cattle colonies, a cow can bring three to four times its value than when transported live to the South. A well-managed ranch can produce and process hide and skin, milk, butter, gum, fertilizer, animal feed, etc., and this will give them greater bargaining power and more money.

“Again, the North is just reactive. The typical northerner not only continues his life the way he has been living it but casts an eye on others as if he is their guardian angel. When they say Fulani must pack out, he comes out bristling with fury and gives southerners an ultimatum to leave his land as well.

When they form Amotekun, he becomes agitated, red-eyed and prances about akin to a cow in heat and forms a paper tiger Shege Ka Fasa. If some riff-raff from the South says ‘we will ban eating of cow meat’, the northern rabble-rouser, like someone on a short fuse, shrieks that ‘we will not take cows to the South’. And he uses all these gimmicks to line his pockets because, after a few days, you hear nothing from him again until the next move from the South. But the plight of the Fulani, North or Nigeria does not concern him.

“But beyond all these, the federal government needs to up its game. Many of our problems are because of poor government policies. A lot of Nigerians feel either neglected or short-changed by their government.

There is a belief in many quarters that they have been neglected, while a certain breed of citizens is being favoured. Such perceptions by people have to be changed. And it is only the government that can do that through deliberate policies meant to restore the people’s confidence in it.”

Writing in ‘Are We Now Blaming the Victim?’, on 14 December 2020, we said: “By the way, can’t the federal government enact a law to the effect that for any criminal arrested with an unregistered SIM card or for any crime perpetrated in which an unregistered SIM card was used for communication, the network provider should be sanctioned? Such ideas might be undemocratic. However, Joseph Goebbels once said: ‘It will always be one of the best jokes of democracy that it gives its deadly enemies the means to destroy it.’”

We also pointed to another way when on 12 February 2020, while on the topic, ‘Of ex-corps member Amuta, Coronavirus and Auno Carnage’, we wrote about the unexpected news of Abraham Amuta, a former youth corps member in the clutches of Boko Haram who renounced his Nigerian citizenship for that of the group that was holding him.

“Abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in April 2019, Amuta reportedly rejected an offer to be freed by the terrorists, telling negotiators who went to the Sambisa Forest to secure his release to go back home, saying he had renounced his Christian faith and is now a member of Boko Haram.

“However, we need to look deeper to understand the situation, and perhaps our nation would see the need to rise and have every citizen’s back. And knowing Nigerians, whatever made Citizen Amuta stay back will not be an issue for long because, soon, he will be forgotten and we shall all move on. We are a forgetful lot. Nothing occupies our thoughts for long.

“The way the innocent child sees its father as a superhero who will give it protection is the way the innocent citizen considers his country.

Those Chibok girls have realised the hard way that, in Nigeria, life goes on. Conversely, those under the captivity of the terrorists, being of impressionable ages, would have seen the ‘strength’ in the bandits and could have savoured the ‘adventure’. Any wonder why some refused to return? They no longer have respect for a government or society that cannot protect its own. And sadly so, the average citizen sees all this and loses hope.

“All those abducted by Boko Haram naturally expect their country to come to their rescue. This, of course, does not countenance the fact that our army has recorded exceptional feats by freeing many abducted victims. The issue is that every abducted citizen deserves to be freed by his country. The means matter little; their freedom is the ultimate.”

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Now, Nowhere is Safe – Readers’ Reactions

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Sponsored by: H&H

Awolowo in the 70s said that the children you failed to train will never let you have peace, True or False?

Emmanuel Joshua Oluwabankole

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We Nigerians are physically and spiritually defeated by our beliefs about our government’s ability to protect us, and sincerely speaking, the youths nowadays care less about the government’s matter, the country is getting worse and is about to collapse.

Just take a look at those strikes that keep students at home for months, corruption in all levels and the terrifying insecurity of the nation, now am sure even the rich have no safe place to stay. This nation has sinned a lot, we should either rise to greatness or the nation might be cleaved asunder. The truth is always bitter.

Abubakar Abul Amina

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That’s the bitter truth sir! Long may you reign with good health and gestures worth emulating.

Shehu Mohammed

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The children you failed to train will never let you have peace. The truth of the matter is that everybody who is privileged in Nigeria will not care about other people’s problems. May God continue to bless our youths.

Maiwada Tukura Makurna Prince

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The children that you left untrained will never let you have peace.

Bilal Ismail

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The truth is bitter. Correct sir.

Abubakar Sadiq

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All hope is not lost, don’t despair. The government has been trying to be on top of the matter, what you need to do is appreciate and motivate them.

Bulama Bukar Buttu

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You’ve said it all Sir. We choose to remain silent instead of condemning the systematic attacks and assaults upon individuals and places in Yobe and Borno. Now that the incessant insurgency has spilled over to almost the entire country, we are paying the price for our failures. May God increase you in knowledge and wisdom, and strengthen you to speak the truth that matters the most.

Mubarak Shu’aib

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It occurred due to the “I don’t care attitude” shown by the politicians.

Isma’il Isyaku Gachi

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You did well sir, it is now our turn to call back home anybody who misuse his position and those behind all these mayhem

Comrade Abubakar Lawan Kiru

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The high level of “I don’t care attitude” and hypocrisy led the north to where it is today. It would not have gotten to this level, if they had not played 10 10 with the whole situation from day one.

Ovie Okukulabe

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My mentor, I would like to add more pieces to the security challenges that we are currently facing, especially in northern Nigeria, but you have said it all.

Jajere Abdul

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Nigeria is bleeding, sir. In Nigeria today nowhere is safe. Insecurity has overtaken the country, fuelled by bad governance and corruption.

Dauda Shehu

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Pathetic.

Ali Tijjani Hassan

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Succinctly captured. God save Nigeria!

Offiong Ita

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Your submissions are valid sir, and like you mentioned in one of the paragraphs how our intelligence collapsed, scores of marauders will ride into communities, abduct their target and run into the bushes unchallenged.

Ibrahim Baba Saleh

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They don’t run into the bushes, Malam Ibrahim, they walk.

Author’s comment.

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We are where we are simply because we were less concerned over what mattererd to some of us.

Abdullahi Barde

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As usual, this is an excellent piece, Dr Hassan, an articulation of all you have said on the subject in the last five years. It is my hope that the people responsible for safeguarding lives and properties in this country will read the article and use the lessons to do their jobs efficiently. If we fail, the calamity would come to us and there would be nobody to speak for us, may Allah prevent such things from happening. I wish you more wisdom to continue your selfless service to humanity.

Professor Mohammed Khalid Othman

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We have heard enough condemnations, now we want to see actions upon actions.

Elbash S Umar

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Practical condemnation is what we needed. More Ink to your pen sir.

Jibril Alhaji Yunusa Suse

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Thank you Mr. Gimba for this important piece. We are being consumed by our own creation, Allah yabamu mafita.

Kabiru Sadiq

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The corrosive insecurity caused by poverty is getting worse. We need a private security.

Abdussamad Yahya Sufi

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My Gombe is safe.

Umar Kawuwa

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One bad thing about Nigerian leadership for years is nonchalant attitude. They’ll intentionally ignore a thorn until it grows out of control. Terrorism, banditry, corruption and other social vices can be halted at the infant stage, but the corruption in us cannot allow authorities in charge to act swiftly until it goes beyond control. The sorry state of our collective irresponsibility plunge us into where we are today. But it is never too late to fix. If we can all be responsible, we can overcome our predicaments.

Ahmad M. Salihu

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This stanza was in Nigeria first used by Senator Kashim Shettima in recent time when he was governor of Borno state and as chairman of Northern Governors forum when he was explaining the carefree attitude of some of his colleague on the menace of Boko Haram at their meeting. Hassan Gimba did a nice job too. He is a wonderful columnist.

Abubakar Ali Abdallah

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This version of “Now Nowhere is Safe” does not only analyze the problem of insecurity across many fronts in Nigeria, but also encompasses well fashioned and workable solutions to combat them. A lot of workable solutions to the problem at hand were being outlined. Only if they have ears/eyes to hear/read. But they decided to pay deaf ear and discarded them, perhaps because they were safe. Now, nobody and nowhere is safe. Thank you, Dr., for this masterpiece.

Dr Ukasha Ismail

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Correct

Victoria Kitchener

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Let me wear my reading glasses.

Taha Mamman Shamaki

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Now, nowhere is safe (2) (11/04/2022)

This is nice. Keep up telling the truth. May you leave long, sir.

Comrade Usman Abubakar DSchedule

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The heat is on. Revolution is loading up for all evil politicians in Nigeria…

Keep looting and making people grow poorer than their thoughts.

Mmaduabuchi Nwoda

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I love this in-depth journalism.

Chris Akani

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Thank you for revealing the facts.

Umar Farouq

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Perfectly said! Dear sir, indeed you are absolutely right about what you have spoken.

Comrade Idris Salisu Ahmed

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Including where you are writing from? Stop exaggerating our situation.

Abubakar Sarki Umar

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Abubakar Sarki Umar, sad that you people still don’t see things for what they really are. The situation is worse than anyone can ever put in writing.

One day, una go get SENSE. Even in Ukraine where war ranges, people stole write. Must you or your loved one be a victim before you believe the security situation in the country at the moment is terrible? Really sad how you guys reason.

Hillary Idornigie

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Abubakar Sarki Umar, even where you are commenting from is not safe just that it hasn’t reached you.

Sanda Yakubu Nehemiah

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Exactly Nigeria is bleeding!!!

Ibrahim Musa

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Now, nowhere is safe (3) (25/04/2022)

Nigeria is in the battle field while the elite are gearing to be re-elected or elected instead of them to stop the campaign and focus on the situation but they are all busy on their selfish interest while fellow Nigerians are suffering from different calamities.

Ibrahim Rayyahi Alfulaty

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We should just stop blame game and save humanity. We have been calling for unity to liberate Nigeria and the black race, northern and southern Nigeria must all wake up and face the truth; we must unite.

Ibrahim Unity Adam

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I’m highly impressed with Hassan Gimba’s expository write-up; it’s an in-depth analysis of the ugly situations in Nigeria today. Who will salvage Nigeria?

Elder Victor Onyemairo Chukwudi

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More ink to your golden pen, our veteran columnist, Dr. Hassan Gimba.

Inuwa Ayuba

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May Almighty Allah protect you.

Sani Wakili

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The concluding paragraph carries huge message and says it all. Thanks Dr for taking such a bold step.

Dr Ukasha Ismail

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As usual, the question as to how this could be addressed came to mind as I was reading the article but as I continued reading my question was answered in the last paragraph. You have spoken for the people once more. Ride on Dr.

Amina Abdullahi

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Voilá! After reading ‘Now, nowhere is safe’ I have found 2 safe places: “Its leaders must urgently embrace justice and fairness and the laws of the land must equally apply to king and serf. Then the leaders must truly see leadership as service to the fatherland and not a means for them and their families to aim at owning the land.”

2. “As a matter of urgency, the government must brace up to fight this war and do all it must to cut off the terrorists’ recruitment base and stop allowing them to prove how strong they are.” Thanks Sir.

Ibrahim Bomoi

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Awesome piece, sir! I have stopped receiving your updates on Whatsapp. Hope you’re doing well.

Salma Muhammad

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Now, No Where is Safe (3) by Hassan Gimba

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This is the concluding part of this write up, having done parts one and two a few weeks earlier.

“When that is not the case, the victim’s faith in his country gets punctured. With the country’s might demystified in his eyes, he can fantasize about the power and invincibility of his captors. Is that Amuta’s case? In a country weighed down by increasing insecurity, where life has become short, nasty and brutish, such victims may feel they are ‘safer’ in the hands of the terrorists. We need to do a lot of things in Nigeria to help citizens regain their trust in the country.”

The earlier we realise and accept that we are at war with an enemy that draws its strength from Nigerians who believe the system has turned them into second-class citizens, and get their strategies and tactics from the veterans among the rank and file of ISIS, the safer for us.

As a matter of urgency, the government must brace up to fight this war and do all it must to cut off the terrorists’ recruitment base and stop allowing them to prove how strong they are.

Henceforth, citizens everywhere should be made to feel they have governments at all levels that are responsible and sincere and ready to serve them, and not the other way round. We should no longer hinge justice on accidents of birth, geography, and/or religious beliefs, just as they should not be barriers to the prospects of upward social and economic mobility.

We have re-echoed some of this in the write-up with the title, “Pray, who wants Zulum dead?” written on this page on 10 August 10, 2020. 

We had said: “A citizen sees his country in the image of a father. Children lose hope in a father who shirks his responsibilities. They see him as the anonymous lover who, heartbroken, wrote: “I am afraid to love you again. But whenever I see you, I just want to hold you in my arms forever. You had promised to protect me forever and never to hurt me for once, but you have broken that promise, just the way you have shattered my heart, too.’

“The yet-to-be-found Chibok girls and all their loved ones can say these words about their fatherland. All Nigerian children and their loved ones kidnapped or killed by Boko Haram in the North-East or its other arm, the bandits in the North West and North Central, can borrow these words too. Even those released after their people have paid their ransom can adopt these words. Nigerians who believe more could have been done will be at home with these words. Do you think those appalled at how Boko Haram terrorists who were “rehabilitated” and released into society disappear will not see these words as apt?”

Government must also be law-abiding for citizens to follow suit. In another article, “El-Zakzaky, Police/Shia Clashes: A word of Caution,” written on April 30, we captured that when we said: “The government, which should show Nigerians, through its actions, that court orders are obeyed, has rather committed the same offence it was accusing the Shias of – not obeying constituted authority and an arm of the same government…hard to swallow but the best in the circumstances is for government to accept the verdict of the Judiciary, an arm of government in a democracy…However, from whatever angle you look at it, the government’s disrespect of a court order does not portray it in good light. Such acts breed malcontent and also imply a festering breach of law and order by citizens, leading to anarchy.”

Without a doubt, justice is a critical component of having a safe and peaceful society. Crimes must not only be investigated, but punished. In “Of goose, justice and equality” written on this page on November 30, 2020, we wrote, “Our rulers know we are a people with selective amnesia. So they play with us, hiding the iniquities of their class against the nation whenever appropriate. Just recently, our judicial system regaled us with cases of Siemens and Haliburton and Dasukigate with some culprits coming to courtrooms in wheelchairs. Where are they and what is the status of the cases?

In the treatise, “Pray, who wants Zulum dead?” We pointed out that a state governor, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, had in May this year accused Major General Jamil Sarhem, GOC 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, of involvement in illegal oil bunkering in his state and the army said they would investigate. We then said, “but we are yet to hear the report of the army’s investigation”. Who has heard, please?

“We no longer talk of our Chibok girls or Sadiq Ogwuche, the man who masterminded the bombing of Nyanya in the FCT on April 14, 2014, in which at least 88 Nigerians perished and over 200 others were injured. Even recently, there were explosive revelations at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) but, well, this case too might have gone with the wind. Failing to pursue cases of the infringement of the law only breeds more lawbreakers. At the end of it all, the government may lose control, and the nation will end up the loser. We are gradually seeing what Latin American countries went through in the 80s and 90s that made the world regard them as Banana Republics.

“While not pursuing justice is a recipe for disaster, inequality before the law breeds malcontents and the feeling of not being treated with fairness. A nation is to its citizens what a father is to his children. Just like we expect a father to hide his preferences and treat his children equally, a nation should treat its citizens with equality and fairness, irrespective of any natural or assumed differences. Death is death, and I see no reason why powers that be can stand still for a dead minister’s daughter and not for scores of citizens slain by terrorists.

“We can only get it right as a nation when we treat everyone with equality. Our judicial system and law custodians must also treat people with equality concerning their crimes. An instance that need not leave the consciousness of good citizens has to do with a comparison between Shiites in Zaria and #EndSARS protesters. The army ended the lives of the Shiites in numbers for blocking a road. In contrast, the #EndSARS protesters who blocked streets in Abuja for days got treated with awe. Was it an oversight, travesty of justice or just selective application of the law, assuming there is a law that says blocking roads attracts summary execution? Some said it was because they touched the chest of a General. But a General, even though newly retired, was killed and cannibalised elsewhere with no retribution. So, where is equality before the law? Take note; I am not saying there should be retribution in the latter case. No breach of the law or extrajudicial killing is excusable.”

But we never tire of echoing what we believe will set our country on the path of righteousness. For writing under the topic, “Nigeria: How do I begin?” on June 22, 2020, we still asked: “Will the yet-to-be-investigated allegation of Nyesom Wike against a general engaged in ‘oil bunkering’ be a good beginning or the case of the murdered and cannibalised General Idris Alkali take the honour? Perhaps the forgotten case of the vehicles found in the Dura Du Lake of death or maybe the report of the post-2011 election violence or, better still, that of the PDP woman leader burnt alive in Kogi or perhaps Bola Ige’s, Funsho Williams’? Many others are competing for attention. For instance, who killed Deputy Commissioner of Police Usman Umar one year ago? What happened to the Chibok inquiry or Rotimi Amaechi’s allegation that Femi Fani Kayode collected N2 billion as aviation minister and bolted away with it?

“I do not think I should also begin with any of the plethora of cases we abandoned and swept under the carpet. It suffices to say such an attitude, either out of selective amnesia, sentiments based on any affiliation or personal interest based on any mundaneness, breeds nothing but the feeling of injustice and unfairness. That gives rise to discontent and malcontents which make people become prosecutors, judges and executioners in matters that otherwise they would willingly submit to the authorities. And our security and judicial systems get mired in confusion.

“Once a nation-state finds itself in such a situation, only a few options are left for it to continue. Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio’s ethos for a nation’s survival should become a national creed. Its leaders must urgently embrace justice and fairness and the laws of the land must equally apply to king and serf. Then the leaders must truly see leadership as service to the fatherland and not a means for them and their families to aim at owning the land. In his book, Bayan Wujub Al-Hijra, the revered scholar, revolutionary and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, said: ‘A kingdom can endure with unbelief, but it cannot endure with injustice.’”

The easiest way to serve the people is to empower them to easily access basic needs. The little money in their pockets should be valuable enough to guarantee that. Once the people can afford basic needs because of leaders’ efforts, the crime rate and discontent will take flight. What way is better to empower than to provide work for the majority?

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Security Implications of ASUU Strikes, by Hassan Gimba

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was founded in 1978. Its predecessor, the Nigerian Association of University Teachers (NAUT), was formed in 1965 covering academic staff at the University of Ibadan, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Ife and University of Lagos.

According to its founders, ASUU is a trade union whose objectives include regulation of relations between academic staff and employers, encouraging the participation of its members in the affairs of the university system and the nation, and protecting and advancing the socio-economic and cultural interests of the nation.

It is supposed to be a union of intellectuals seeking not only the socio-political and economic welfare interest of its members within the framework of promoting the cause of university education in Nigeria but the entire good of Nigerians and Nigeria.

The union came into prominence when it staged its first-ever strike and was proscribed by the military government of President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on 7th August 1988, and all its property seized. This was because of the national strike it organised that year to get fair wages and university autonomy. Though the union was allowed to resume activities in 1990, it was again banned on 23rd August 1992, after another strike. An agreement was, however, reached on 3rd September 1992, that met several of the union’s demands, including the right of workers to collective bargaining.

ASUU organized further strikes in 1994 and 1996 to protest against the dismissal of university teachers by the Sani Abacha military regime (Wikipedia, 2016).

If its first industrial action was in 1988, its longest was in 2020 when it downed tools for nine months. The lecturers, based on their union’s aims and objectives – to secure adequate funding, improved salary package, autonomy and academic freedom to curb brain drain and ensure the survival of the university system – hinged their action on the lack of funding of universities and functionality of the Integrated Payment Portal System, arguing that IPPIS negates autonomy for universities.

On December 17, 2013, ASUU declared a strike that lasted six months over the non-implementation of a 2009 agreement between it and the federal government, which was eventually called off after the latter agreed to some of its demands.

Yet a year after, the union still embarked on a one-week warning strike over the failure of the government to implement the 2009 Agreement and a 2013 MoU. According to the union, “Many aspects of the 2013 MoU and the 2009 agreement with the federal government have either been unimplemented or despairingly handled.” The agreements are payments of staff entitlements since December 2015, funding of universities for revitalisation, pension, TSA and university autonomy and renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.

But what are the October 2009 agreements reached between the federal government and ASUU after two years of negotiation between the lecturers and a government team appointed by the then education minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili? The government team was led by the then pro-chancellor, University of Ibadan, Gamaliel Onosode while ASUU’s team was led by its then-president, Abdullahi Sule-Kano. The agreements reached included conditions of service for university lecturers, funding of universities, university autonomy and academic freedom, and other issues that required legislation to implement.

ASUU has frequently complained that “agreeing with the federal government has often been a frustrating journey for our union. Protests and strikes often mark it and require a conscious and focused engagement. The 2001 agreement, which gave birth to the 2009 agreement, was not an exemption. The exception here is the personality leading the government negotiation team.”

And so, after strikes in 2017 and 2018, and a period of calm from 2019, ASUU on Monday, November 17th, 2021, announced its plan to embark on another strike in three weeks if the federal government continued to renege on its agreement with it. The union had accused the federal government of failing to implement the agreement after it called off its nine-month strike in December 2020.

Even though, according to an article in Dataphyte magazine, ASUU has spent one in every four days on strike in the past six years, it went for another one again on February 14, 2022, and since then, our students are still at home.

Naturally, students have been at the receiving end, and the worse hit is our educational system, of course. However, apart from the disastrous implications on our education system, ASUU strikes negatively impact our economy and may cause a lot of minor and serious crimes to be perpetrated by the fainthearted and those desperate for survival. I will take Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and its economic importance as a case in point.

ABU Zaria has about 100,000 students. Assuming each student on the average spends N1,000 daily, that is N1 billion injected into the economy of Zaria and its environs. Markets will bubble, the transportation system will be fully engaged, social services will be on full throttle, production will increase, and employment opportunities will grow.

Without this capital injection into the economy of the environment, a lot of businesses and jobs, indirect and direct, that depended on primary services patronised by the students will collapse and many people will be at their wits’ end to make ends meet. Someone can easily tempt the fainthearted into crime and other vices to survive.

Where there is nothing to do to get by, and with a lack of education and vocational skills, it will not be far-fetched to see some youths joining the crime enterprise just to get paid. Even many educated ones with no means of livelihood can easily fall into that temptation.

This is not even considering the students; able-bodied youth, strong with vibrant brains and impressionable character; any long idleness can easily turn their minds into the proverbial devil’s workshop.

There are also serious implications of the government’s policy of “no work, no pay” on the community. Perhaps statisticians, criminologists and psychologists may look at the numbers – in terms of the rise and fall – of crime during ASUU strikes and when schools are in full swing. This is because even during holidays you find students in school are in full swing. This is because even during holidays you find students in school unlike when there is a strike.

Most likely,the government’s minders do not look at strikes, especially ASUU strikes, from this perspective. But the government needs to look at the security implications of whatever it does.

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