Katsina Government’s Amazing Talent Of Getting Hustled Out Of Their Money
The death of the criminal mastermind of the kankara boy’s abduction has highlighted many things, one of which is the fatal failure of the opinion that we need to handle the problem of insecurity with the carrot approach. From the onset, the very definition of the problem and how it was understood by the authorities was flawed.
Bandits were likened to Niger delta militants, hence, the approach of the late revered president of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua was adopted. The success of the Yar’adua amnesty program was clear, Niger Deltans who bore the brunt of oil exploration were given an opportunity to share in the spoils of that exploration, in return, the state and its western oil conglomerates allies got to business unobstructed. However, the end result of the amnesty extended to bandits has not proven to be as rosy.
Like some nerdy school boys, Katsina state government has developed a habit of getting hustled out of its money by “repentant” bandits only for them to make a 360 degree back to their indiscretions.
No sane person wants war for the hell of it. The people most affected by this tragic occurrence would want this to be over as soon as possible. So I can understand the sentiment behind the amnesty extended to the bandits. How could anybody, a leader or otherwise witness the brutality of this venture and not hope for a swift end to it. We were all emotional, we were all terrified. The stories were unbelievably terrifying. Some so horrifying, they could not have been penned for the scariest horror movies in Hollywood. Some will argue that at that moment, it seemed like a pretty good idea. And for some time it looked like a good idea for the short peace it brought. There is also a question of competence.
Katsina for example has been relatively peaceful for as long as anyone could remember, tucked at the edge of Nigeria’s border with Niger, we rarely make headlines for anything, it is as dull as it sounds. So it is quite possible for some to forgive the committee that handled this whole thing. They are not carved out for this kind of a thing. The chairman of the committee is a former lecturer and a small time local politician that could not muster enough votes to win a councillorship seat for himself. I personally have some sympathy for the degree of incompetence members of the committee possess and the magnitude of the task they had, they never stood a chance.
We as a people have forgiven many things and found ways to exist despite the many hurdles put forth by our present circumstances. However, what many cannot shake off is the number of times that uneducated, unsophisticated and unintelligent bandits consistently beat these experienced leaders of ours. Some of our leaders are not just educated, they have multiple decade’s worth of experience in civil service. Backed by ministries, advisers, special advisers, senior special advisers, the entire state civil service, the armed forces, and the goodwill of the people, these geniuses still get outsmarted and beaten multiple times for over half a decade by these Bushmen that lack any kind of finesse.
The failure of our leadership to handle this problem props up some questions. We would have to either believe the invincibility of these forces of evil over a weak and fragile state or inevitably agree that the state is indeed not weak, it is strong and able but at the moment, finding an everlasting solution to this problem is not a priority. There is a third and less likely option. Maybe, just maybe, the state is capable and the bandits are indeed not invincible but there is something wrong with the personnel manning the steering of our affairs.
It is possible that our leadership are some kind hearted people that mean no harm to us. They are probably some amazing people, the nicest even. However, goodwill and good intentions alone cannot change a circumstance. If you bring an electrician for a task meant for a plumber, you may never get the job done no matter how good the intentions of the electricians are. He will inevitably do a terrible job. As wild as this idea sounds (because we have some brilliant people at the top), it might just be a case of us employing great electricians to do a job meant for a plumber.
If you refuse the above theory, how else could you explain how every step taken by Katsina state government has turned out to create some appalling repercussions? We paid amnesty, and some time later they came back even stronger. We negotiated the release of school boys “without paying for ransom” and now the idea is out everywhere, multiple student abductions have happened and probably more to come. Wonderful isn’t it? These lot have a talent for turning a bad situation into a nightmare. Amazing stuff! We have definitely won the lottery with these bunch. I cannot believe our luck.
To make so many callous decisions that continue to prove devastatingly wrong and keep at it is just insane.
The Katsina state leadership must bow to the idea that it has done a terrible job so far and plea to competent people to help bail us all out of this situation. There is no shame in admitting ignorance. What is shameful is to feign expertise and continue to make preposterous decisions that bring further deterioration. We are a sinking ship at this moment. We need to bring people that understand the problem, help us find the leaks and weld them. Time has proven that the present team assemble cannot do the job. The leadership can either continue in this aimless path, or submit to failure and in their found humility help salvage us. The pain has been endured enough, it is time to heal.
Mallam Naini Musa
Mallam Naini Musa is a writer and social critic.