By Idris Mohammed
Let me start by saying that, the preciousness of the human soul is sacrificed on the altar of Precious Stones`. Blood is used to lubricate the process. Lives are wasted all in pursuit of the proverbial golden fleece. For the past one month, Zamfara state has captured the attention of Nigerians and the International community.
The continuous carnage by daredevil bandits has led to the death of hundreds of helpless and defenseless people of the state. It is obvious that, the governor of Zamfara state and even the federal government have woefully failed to protect the arm-less and hapless people of the state.
More worrisome is how the governor is threatening to resign amidst public outcry for the imposition of state of emergency.
To add salty to injury, the man who has virtually abdicated his responsibility has been handsomely rewarded with a parting gift of a Senate Seat by the gullible people of Zamfara who have become slaves to the ambition of one man and his co-conspirators. Democracy here means personal interest rather than the interest of the people.
Historically, Zamfara with its motto- ‘Farmers’ Pride’ used to be one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria, even with the introduction of Sharia law in 1999.The post elections violence of 2007 and 2011 that rocked almost the whole northern states, did not affect the state. Unfortunately, the state has now become a no go area and a haven for bandits who are always killing and kidnapping hundreds of people for ransom.
Illegal mining has been ongoing for a very long time and several experts have warned government against such practice, however, nothing has been done until lately. In 2010, lead poison killed several children in their homes through contaminated food and dust in the air as a result of the illicit mining which led to the death of over 300 people including children and women in the state.
Though the killing started in 2014 as cattle rustling activity, the matter became worst in early 2016 when the bandits started killing the miners. Foreigners also operate in the state, some of course have licenses while others don’t and this has endangered the lives of so many villagers where the mining activities take place.
It is the lack of concern shown by governor Yari that led to the precarious situation which raised a lot of suspicion that the governor is probably a benefactor of the crisis.
Recently, a prominent Islamic cleric in kano state accused the prominent politicians of extracting these resources and exporting them to foreign countries where they sell them and make huge amount of money.
If that is the case, the conspiracy is that residents of those areas will not be living in peace because if there is peace, they will pay attention to the gold being extracted in the communities and they may begin to ask questions. No wonder, the crisis is always persisting so that they keep extracting the gold without any suspicion while hundreds of people get killed on a daily basis. This scenario is reminiscent of the Liberian debacle under Charles Taylor.
At the moment, Nigeria cannot afford another crisis like that of Boko Haram because of the interest of a few people, now the bandits have expanded their kidnappings and killings to neighbouring states of Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Kaduna respectively.
No amount of pressure will solve this problem when people like Abdulaziz Yari that is supposed to be at the fore-front of fighting and protecting his people has ended up governing the state from Abuja and of course Mr. President is also paying little attention to the killings in the state. Even the media that supposed to for all and belong to none is giving little coverage and not to talk some civil society organizations that are already divided along ethno-religious sentiment in responding to the issues.
For a state that massively voted the ruling party despite obvious challenges, it is only natural that the government should reciprocate by doing everything possible to protect the lives and property of the Zamfara people. Government should review its strategies periodically and provide proactive measures when handling security matters of this nature and sensitivity.
Idris Mohammed is a Program Officer with YIAGA AFRICA from Abuja. He tweets @idpyar