State impotence and crisis of legitimacy

AS if to demonstrate the limit of state power especially when a government is facing crisis of legitimacy, the abductors of 344 students of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, Katsina State chose the period of president Buhari’s visit to his Katsina state to perpetrate their crime. It is however a big relief that all the 344 students abducted on 11 December have now been released. And success has many fathers, it has been celebration ever since. The military through John Enenche, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, and Ahmed Jibrin, former Director, Military Intelligence took credit for the recue claiming they applied both ‘kinetic and non-kinetic approaches were used to ensure all the boys were rescued unhurt”.

Governors of Zamfara and Katsina states have also been celebrating. Masari told Radio Deutsche Welle, DW that MACABAN negotiated with the bandits to get the schoolboys released while Governor Matawalle of Zanfara told DAILY NIGERIAN, that he used repentant bandits and leadership of Miyetti Allah to identify those behind the abduction, and “When we established contact with them, I persuaded them to release them unharmed. And so they did. This is not the first time we facilitated the release of our people without payment of ransom. What we do is to extend olive branch to them because they also want to live in peace.”

The high point of the celebration of the two governors and the military spokesmen was a joint photograph of a bandit holding an AK47 assault rifle, hemmed in between a senior military officer and Katsina Governor Masari . For those who may still be wondering if this was not one more evidence of absence of legitimacy, the attack , coming four days after, on emir of Kaura Namoda, Alhaji Sanusi Muhammad Asha traveling back to Zamfara State from Abuja during which eight of his convoy members including the emir’s driver, two palace guards, three police escorts and one traditional title holder were killed must have driven the truth home while the celebrating governors, the military and the federal government continue to live in denial.

And when does a government lose its legitimacy? Aristotle in his ‘Politics’ believed it “depends on distributive justice-the proper allocation of rewards according to merit”. Distributive injustice, according to him only brings government instability. Zanfara whose forest haboured the Katsina rescued 344 students was one of the old Hausa city-states like Kano, Katsina, Gobir, Kabi and Zazzau. It has been under the reign of minority with the indigenous majority Hausas treated as slaves since Uthman Dan fodio Jihad of 1804-1808 which changed the political landscape of the north. What began as localised disputes in Zanfara between migrating herders and maginalised farmers who have to pay tax to plough their land was to degenerate into a major extreme violence, including abductions and mass killings,

Unfortunately the natural instinct of those with power without legitimacy is to resort to force which only prolongs nightmare of people instead of resolving crisis of nation building. The first response to Killings in Zanfara in 2018 was the stationing of a full battalion of Special Forces in the State. It was followed by the launching of “Operation Maximum Safety” with 510 police personnel and 40 patrol vehicles”.

There was also the “Joint Intervention Team of about 1000 police personnel comprised of seven mobile police force units headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, counter terrorism unit (CTU), federal special anti-robbery squad (FSARS), anti-bomb (EOD) squad, and conventional policemen.

The air force was not left out. Its Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed the air force was also launching its own Operation ‘Diran Mikiya’, with a coordinated air strikes and a force package of “three surveillance patrol helicopters and crew members to coordinate the operation to completely rout-out all armed bandits from Zamfara and other contiguous states”.

The Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru insisted killings by bandits were not abating despite the military operations against the criminals. It was perhaps for this reason that the then Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, met with the expanded executive council of the northern traditional rulers at the Arewa House in Kaduna State where he directed the traditional rulers to start “community policing in your various domains so that more information about criminal elements can be obtained in real time.”

But the hegemonic power in the north has always opposed community policing for fear of empowering the serfs. If there was going to be any community policing, it must be that financed and controlled by the federal government.

This is therefore the simple answer to Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu’s last week lamentations: “how can one explain the movement of the bandits in their hundreds on motor cycles without being detected? What happens to intelligence gathering that this heinous plan was not uncovered before it was hatched? How comes the bandits took their time, gather the school boys, heaped them on bikes and whisked them away without being rounded up by the security agencies”?

Miyetti Allah, an interested party and the warring political leaders have the answers. Governor Masari of Katsina and his Zanfara counterpart who attributed the recue to the help of Miyetti Allah who negotiated with the bandits and secured their release as well as the other warring politicians have the answer. Accused by APC of sponsoring the abduction, Zanfara state governor said “I find it insulting that the APC is accusing me of sponsoring bandits in my own state. We all are living witnesses to the fact that during APC’s tenure, Zamfara State was adjudged as a colony of banditry in the whole world”, adding. “We are not claiming that insecurity has totally been eliminated in Zamfara but it is on record that terror attacks have reduced drastically in the state in less than two years than APC’s unfortunate eight years when people were running away from the state.”

Of course “there are lapses in Nigeria’s security architecture that need to be urgently and seriously addressed”, as observed by Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) Secretary-General last week. But he is not the first Nigerian to make that observation. Most Nigerian stakes holders have called attention to these lapses in the last five years of Buhari APC administration. But those in power in the north and currently benefiting from such lapses are only interested in presiding over an empire of slaves.

Zanfara state with a population of three million, has 23 hospitals with 23 doctors, 300 public primary schools manned by a single teacher each while many others in remote rural communities, are not that lucky as they have no teachers” according to Hon Murtala Adamu Jangebe, the state Universal Basic Education Board (ZSUBEB)’s Executive Chairman. Yet this is a state where lives of subsistence farmers who paid to till their own land is threatened and a state whose resources in form of gold deposit until recent government belated banning of illegal mining has only led to harvest of death of over 5000 people in Maru Local Government in 2016 in Zamfara bloody gold miners’ war of ex-generals and politicians.

Unfortunately, winning election with 15m popular votes or deployment of awesome power of the state as we have now seen cannot resolve crisis of legitimacy. The only antidote is justice-the principle that people receive that which they deserve.

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