Re- The Zamfara Model is the Dismal Tunnel to Self-Destruction

Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state

By Ibrahim Magaji Dosara

As a seasoned journalist, I am always being astonished by the way some critics start to talk on issues they have no prior knowledge about and without carrying any research on them.

More annoying, is the way some supposedly knowledgeable people who are expected to embark on research and findings from reliable and credible sources of information or data of the issue they want to talk about, ignore such values and ethics and instead, go about casting aspersions on the concerned leaders, without offering any viable solutions.

I am responding to an article written by Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, a senior fellow with the Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja, being a Deepening Democracy Column, published by Daily Trust on the 5th of March 2021.

My attention was drawn to the write up for three good reasons:

  1. I have just been sworn in as the Zamfara state commissioner for information, whose responsibility is to manage information to ensure that the general public is not misled by this kind of arm-chair and irrational publication by an academic like the professor, despite his status among the academics and beyond.
  2. To put the argument in a correct perspective, so that the general public will understand the reality of things on ground and the politics involved in the fight against banditry in Zamfara state.
  3. To draw the attention of Professor Jibrin Ibrahim to understand and take cognisance of the dynamics in present day communications and the changing scenario in political opposition of ‘do or die’ in the Nigerian democracy.

Like I mentioned above, I am now the Zamfara state Commissioner for Information and a bonafide indigene of the state who know and feel the pains my people are going through as a result of armed banditry bedivelling the state for the past 11 years.

Indeed, I appreciate the Professor writing on the issue to at least show his concern on the spate of insurgency in Nigeria as a whole, with particular attention to Zamfara state.

I am however disappointed with the approach of Jibrin Ibrahim, who despite his being a professor and a fellow at a democratic institution, highly expected to deepen research and investigation into whatever he is writing, ended up in relying on social media publications to write such article that has to do with humanity.

As a professor, and an educator who is certified as a senior fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja, expected to know and enlighten the general public about the genesis of the crisis, its historical perspective and whose burden it is to ensure the security of lives and property of the Nigerian people, took such lengthy time in misleading Nigerians about the case of Zamfara state.

I wonder why the professor who is a research fellow, failed to spare a week or two, to come down to Zamfara state, to speak to the interested parties, weigh various strands of arguments, speak to other stakeholders, ranging from the security agencies to the repentant bandits and where possible, the recalcitrant bandits in the state and its neighbourhood, to verify his claims and facts, to be able to educate the people in the right perspective and independently depend his claims. Instead of relying on social media platforms to castigate the Governor’s peace initiative.

Everyone who knows what is happening in the world of social media today, should also know how politics has turned it.

The Professor for example, quoted a report on the abduction of 60 persons including women and children at Ruwan Tofa in Maru local government area of the state. In that report, it was alleged that 40 people were killed which is a blatant lie, but yet, the Professor went ahead to use that report in his article, without clarification.

What an ethical question.

Professor Jibrin Ibrahim might have read another social media report published by one of the social media handlers of an opposition party in the state in which a case of an attack on the Federal University Gusau, was reported to have occurred on Thursday, 4th March, 2021.

This report caused serious panic with far reacing psychological trauma among the students and people of the University community and its environs, including motorists and the entire state, only to turn out to be false, as clarified by the University in a press release on Friday March 5th, 2021, signed by the institution’s Information Officer, Umar Usman.

Even the BBC report the Prof quoted in the article, relied on a call made through to BBC by someone who claimed to be calling from the village to report the incident.

The BBC has no reporter on ground in Zamfara state presently, who reports such happenings, so, the report stands the risk of being fake, hence the danger of it not being a hundred percent reliable for the Professor to use in writing such column in a widely read newspaper like the Daily Trust.

The BBC encountered cases where opposition politicians in Abuja disguised and pretended to be calling from a remote village in Zamfara state, claiming that villages were attacked by bandits.

In one of such instances someone called the BBC to say he was calling from a village in Zamfara state and his village was under attack by bandits, adding that as he was speakinh he was seriously wounded by the attacking bandits.

However, further investigation by the BBC revealed that, that person was in Lagos Operating achaba at the time he was calling making such claims.

These are just but few classical examples of the pyramid but fake and misleading information coming out of Zamfara state, just to cause further mischief and confusion in the public domain.

All these ought to have been researched properly by Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, which I believe would have changed his focus and perspective in writing this article.

You should therefore understand that a professor is not an ordinary person in the society and is expected to bridge the existing gap between the educated and less educated people in the society, to unite the people and bring peace and stability, which in turn, bring about tranquillity and development.

A person of his calibre should be seen working towards building and strengthening the democracy, rather than helping in its collapse.

On the issue of ” a successful model for handling terrorism and banditry in the State” which Professor said they had a long interview with the Gov on 1st March this year and was published in Trust. Jibrin said and I qoate: “He proclaimed: “Alhamdulillahi, since we started the peace accord, there have been tremendous successes achieved in rescuing people that were under captivity. Some foreign nationals were in captivity for over eight months but when I became governor, I rescued most of them without paying anything.
“On the issue of peace, I thank Allah for giving me the wisdom to initiate the peace accord with these people and we have recorded a lot of successes.” These are statements by the Gov. in the interview with Daily Trust on 1st March, 2021.

Now, is Professor debunking the claim or arguing that such achievements have not been recorded by the Gov?

If yes, then let me remind him of the terrible state of anarchy Zamfara state was, before the coming of the current administration when no day passes without recording huge number of deaths resulting from massive bandits attacks on innocent civilian communities. Thousands of people were massacred, property worth billions of Naira were destroyed and thousands of cattle were rustled. Hundreds of people were displaced and hundreds others kidnapped. Education and business activities of the state disrupted by the activities of the bandits.

I expected Prof to have taken a tour of the state to conduct genuine research to assess the extent of damages done to the state before writing this article, in order to let the world or general public understand the true picture of the matter, rather than relying on hearsay and armed chair journalism and or fake reports to talk about an issue that has to do with human life to end up misleading the public through unfairly analysis using the advantage of your position as a Professor to the detriment of the poor farming communities of Zamfara state.

I also expected that the Professor should have made a comparative study and analysis of the damages that the bandits had caused to the people of Zamfara before the coming of the present administration, with the damages incurred during the just 2 year period of the present administration.

Did Prof cares to question how the bandits come into the country or how they are getting their weapons?

Whose responsibility is it to check the influx of illegal immigrants and illegal weapons in the country?

Did Prof question why the intelligence gathering and even its structures got dilapidated so much that the activities of the insurgents and their movement from place to place at will is taking place.

Did Prof question how it has taken the nation’s defense system this long to deal with the terrorists unleashing these mayhem to innocent Nigerians?

Did Prof question how these terrorists get their funding and weapons into the Nigerian soil?

It was recently argued by the National Security Adviser to the president that helicopters were used in supplying weapons to bandits in Zamfara, hence declared the state ” None fly Zone”. Did Prof care to question who owns these helicopters and whose responsibility it is to monitor the nation’s airspace and movement of aircrafts?

Just over the weekend, another Professor, a seasoned legal luminary and someone holding very high position in the central government was calling on the same central government to allow everybody to own a gun for self defense and protection. Did Prof question why Prof Sagay made such a call?

Is Prof aware of the fact that, Prof Sagay had to make such a call because no state is safe in Nigeria today, as he claimed in an interview he granted an online medium, the Observerstime, that people no longer want to travel in the southwest as bandits ambush motorists, kidnap or kill them.

Just within the week, Gov Zulum had to break up his official trip to Abuja to retutn to his home state to visit Dikwa following an attack on the town by insurgents of Boko Haram.

In the same vein, No week passes without killing of at least 5 to 10 people in Kaduna state, which Prof Jibrin Ibrahim was praising its Governor.

In Zamfara state where Gov Matawalle is implementing peace process, kidnapping is the most serious security challenge in the state, and dialogue is being used to secure the release of the victims, rather than mercilessly attacking and killing the people.
Now, tell me, which is the lesser calamity?

Mr Professor, the theory you postulate, doesn’t work in the Nigerian context, since no body is ready to take responsibility in the fight against insurgency.

Therefore, Gov Bello Muhammed Mutawallen Maradun considers his current approach to be the best option to secure the lives and property of his people as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It says the protection of lives and property of the people is the number one function of government anywhere.

So, you either proffer solution to the current search for peace and security in our state, or let us fend for ourselves until such a time when the entire nation is ready to face this challenge.

Ibrahim Magaji Dosara is the
Hon Commissioner for information.
Zamfara state

Send me an email when this newspaper has been updated


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