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.

ALSO READ: As VC, I set target for myself and how to achieve them — Onimawo

Re: 1999 Constitution is Boko Haram

You hit the bull’s eye in the above piece and thank you for opening our eyes to the tragedy of a constitution that was made to bring the best down to the level of the rest instead of taking the test to the standard of the best.

The dysfunctional tragedy of Nigeria will eventually take it to the graveyard if we don’t realise that we must fight for a truly “We the people “Constitution. A brand new Constitution based on the agreement of the nationalities in Nigeria will not resolve all our problems, but we cannot resolve any of our issues if we don’t discard the present military constitution.

Many of us had ignorantly thought that the 1999 Constitution set some standards for leadership in Nigeria but you have shown us the interpretation clause where they hid the tragedy that you need no academic qualification to be the President of Nigeria.

Pity the nation indeed! Is it even a nation? —Femi Agunbiade


Good day sir. I just want to say that I have a different take on the qualification issues you raised in this article.

I believe the constitution’s flexibility is a good thing for a country like ours. I don’t think leadership is like a job that requires specific knowledge. It involves a lot of things and is best assessed on a case by case basis.

Raising the bar for qualifications can lead to far more problems than it could potentially solve. We will see elitism and also we will further lose sight of the whole point in education. Already we are getting highly educated but not helping country enough with it. I believe that we focus too much on certificates and too little on actual knowledge acquisition. I am still a youth; so school life with all the annoying malpractices is still fresh in my memory.

I think it should be about us Nigerians being smart enough to put the right people in the right places and also create legislations forcing them to do the right things. There are a lot of ways to do this and we know it; but we are not honest with ourselves.

Also, Everyone knows the situation with education in this country.  We should first work on getting our people properly educated

—Seyi Shoboyejo


ME: Seyi, you read me and wrote back because you have some education. Take care.

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