The love of bandits

WHAT happened is that the governors of the Niger Delta region at that time wanted to win their elections. So they recruited the youth and gave them guns and bullets and used them against their opponents to win elections by force.

“After the elections were over, they asked the boys to return the guns; the boys refused to return the guns. Because of that, the allowance that was being given to the youths by the governors during that time was stopped.

“The youth resorted to kidnapping oil workers and were collecting dollars as ransom. Now a boy of 18 to 20 years was getting about 500 dollars in a week, why will he go to school and spend 20 years to study  and then come back and get employed by government to be paid N100,000 a month, that is if he is lucky to get employment.

“So kidnapping becomes very rampant in the South-South and the South-East. They kidnapped people and were collecting money.

“How did Boko Haram start? We know that their leader, Mohammed Yusuf started his militant and the police couldn’t control them and the army was invited. He was arrested by soldiers and handed over to the police.

“The appropriate thing to do, according to the law, was for the police to carry out investigations and charge him to court for prosecution, but they killed him, his in-law was killed, they went and demolished their houses.

“Because of that, his supporters resorted to what they are doing today.

“You see in the case of the Niger Delta militants, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua sent an aeroplane to bring them, he sat down with them and discussed with them, they were cajoled, and they were given money and granted amnesty.

“They were trained in some skills and were given employment, but the ones in the North were being killed and their houses were being demolished.” —General Muhammadu Buhari while opposing declaration of emergency in three Northern states in 2013.

“When we are talking about peace initiative, there are a lot of things that we take into consideration, you give out something to get something. And this peace initiative has not started with the bandits in the North-Western part of this country with the bandits.

“If you remember some years back we were having issues in the Niger Delta and those issues kinetic actions could not solve the problem until amnesty and peace initiative came up and what we had in Niger Delta had gone.” —IGP  Mohammed Adamu justifying dialogue with northern bandits on 18th September, 2019.

“It takes a lot to kill a country; you can never tell how long it took God to form all these things. Of course, He has the supreme power, He formed them in no time at all, but look at the earth, look at the trees, the rivers, the mountains, the structures, etc.

“It is not so easy to tear them apart, but because it is not so easy to tear them to pieces, you also get a false sense that maybe something is still holding us together.

“We are already in piece and pieces; we are already cut into different communities to a large extent. The point is, because of the gravity of the situation, no country should allow itself to get down, quite down well as we have gotten” —Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, on 13th September, 2019.

We may still pretend that something is still holding this country together but the naked truth is that we have nothing in common beyond the money we share monthly in Abuja.

We are an unfortunate polity that has been unable to build a national consensus on the type of country we want because of our unresolved nationality question. And, as such, what is wrong to sections of the country is right to some section because the Nigerian game is not arithmetic or mathematics, it is always CALCULUS!

So it was that in 2013 that as the government of then President Goodluck Jonathan declared emergency in three Northern states to check the activities of Boko Haram and traumatised Nigerians were commending the action, General Buhari was fuming in his extensive quote above that Boko Haram was being treated differently from Niger Delta militants .

In my column for another newspaper three weeks ago entitled “Republic of Bandits,” I did pen the following:

“Nobody asked El-Rufai to produce the killers he was doling cash to and Masari meeting with bandits has now confirmed the new profile of criminals in Nigeria.

“When we had a country, there were criminals who terrorised society but the law usually caught up with them and they turned jelly before the temple of Justice. That was the end of Ejibadero, Lawrence Anini, Shina Rambo et all. But in the dispensation of “we against them,” bandits are now being pampered in a way that suggests that “if Niger Delta boys got Amnesty, our bandits deserve same treatment.”

The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has now confirmed my take by verbalising the suspicion that what the bandits of the north are now enjoying is partly flowing from “this is our own time.”

I thought the IGP would tell us the cause northern bandits are pursuing is similar to the neglect of Niger Delta while the country feeds on its resources which necessitated the agitation in the Niger Delta.

Even at that I remember calling Chief E.K Clark during the Yar’Adua administration that things like Niger Delta Ministry or Amnesty for militants would not address the problems of Niger Delta on a lasting basis. It would be interesting to see how many projects the Niger Delta Ministry had done to improve the lot of the people in the region or how many youths the allowances to ex-agitators have transformed their lives outside the big dons.

But that we now use that intervention for the justification of the love for bandits in the North whose cause has not been defined tells us why Nigeria as it is cannot make it. And it is so pathetic that we are not even aware that the world is watching us.

Three auto companies are in the process of setting up plants in Ghana to service the Nigerian market. Anyone asking why they are not coming to Nigeria? Where is Dr Kalu Idika Kalu when you desperately need him?

Welcome sir. Please answer the question for me.

“We have already disintegrated by the time you are afraid to move around a city. You are afraid because there is lawlessness out there. You are also afraid because if something happens to you, you are on your own. It is not zero, but it’s not very far from zero.

“What I’m emphasising is that the enforcement of the law; if you are robbed, injured, if you are dispossessed and you know that there is somebody there whose duty is to bring remedy in some form, you will take the risk.”

And because nobody is there to bring remedy in these terrible days of Nigeria, no sane investor will take any risk with Nigeria.

We may still salvage it if we go back to the foundation. But time is running out fast.

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