Banditry and Zamfara elite’s deafening silence

Whatever may have fuelled banditry in Zamfara state, whether it is poverty, illegal mining or government’s inability to manage farmers/herders crises, the state has become a Golgotha due to the frequent attacks by rapacious bandits. The state is always in the news for bad reasons. The abduction of and imposition of taxes on innocent people by bandits is no longer news. These brave and audacious bandits have resorted to mass kidnapping. This is evident is the recent abduction of over 100 villagers in well-coordinated attacks. 

The bandits attack, kill and steal anything they can lay their hands on, from the poor and helpless peasant farmers in porous communities of the state. Going back memory lane, when the late General Sani Abacha’s military government created Zamfara state in 1996, it envisioned a peaceful and prosperous state. Regrettably, 27 years after its creation, the state is not at par with its contemporaries in terms of economic development. 

Zamfara state is now battling with murderous bandits who have assumed a state’s role. In the North-west, Zamfara state has the highest level of poverty and illiteracy. After the return to democracy in 1999, Senator Ahmed Sani (Yariman Bakura) who governed the state for eight years focused on human development. The wisdom behind Yarima’s human development policies was to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth of the young and promising state.

Like ex-governor Ahmed Sani, other governors who held sway, contributed their quota for the growth and development of the state. Zamfara state is blessed with people of timber and caliber who have carved a niche for themselves in various aspects of human development. In the military, the state has produced General Aliyu Gusau (rtd). Gusau was one of the finest and intelligent military officers the country has ever produced. 

The state is also home to Colonel Bala Mande (rtd), Senator Saidu Dansadau, Senator Sahabi Anka, Kabiru Marafa, Abdul’aziz Yari, Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi to mention but a few. With these strong pillars or personalities, one expected a united and conscious efforts by them towards bringing lasting peace to the troubled state. Alas, this is not the case. These elders who can use their influence or connection to fight the menace of bandits in Zamfara state are so timid and obsessed with how to get power either by hook or crook.

In 2019, there was an intense power play between the camp of former governor of the state, Abdul’aziz Yari, and Senator Kabiru Marafa. The fierce battle between the duo led the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state to lose all the elective seats through court litigations. Governor Bello Matawalle of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who became governor through an order of court had at the tail end of his tenure a frosty relationship with his deputy, Mahdi Aliyu Gusau, over his defection to the APC.

Their feud lingered to the general elections in which Matawalle lost. These political intrigues and desperation to grab power were done on the altar of banditry ravaging the state. Even after Matawalle had lost the gubernatorial election and President Bola Tinubu had appointed him as a state minister of defence, Zamfara state has known no peace. 

One had expected the ex-governor to accept defeat, bury his political differences and work with his successor to address the challenges of insecurity in the state. With the Appeal Court ruling quashing the victory of Governor Dauda Lawal Dare and ordering a re-run election in three local government areas, another chapter of dirty political struggle has been opened.

It worries every right thinking mind the deafening silence and lackluster attitude being displayed by the elite while the state faces existential threat from blood tasty bandits. Zamfara is dangerously drifting into the abyss. It is high time the political class stopped politicising insecurity and embraced various options available to nip the persistent attacks by bandits in the state in the bud. The political class should close ranks and work collectively for the peace and progress of Zamfara state.  

Ibrahim Mustapha,

Pambegua, Kaduna state