The North, a region whose people largely take every calamity as the will of Allah and bury their dead in silence, seems to have been shaken out of that disposition as they voice their anger over how some recent tragic incidences in Sokoto, Niger and Katsina were handled by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In Sokoto, dozens of travellers, including women and children were gruesomely murdered and burnt in a vehicle by bandits in Sabon Birni Local Government Area.
While the dead were been buried, the bandits struck in Sokoto again, where they killed worshippers in a mosque, abducted the Imam and some other people.
Sokoto State buried over 60 victims of the senseless massacres by bandits in just a few days, enough a tragedy to warrant a presidential condolence visit, not a delegation that they saw from the president.
In Niger State, over 10 worshippers were killed by bandits in a mosque while they were observing the early morning or dawn (subh) prayer.
In Katsina State, a serving commissioner was murdered and locked in one of the toilets in his home.
These killings are just four out of many incidences that happened in parts of the North within just a few days.
However, what all the tragedies elicited was condemnation by the president and a delegation to Sokoto and Katsina, while the President headed to Lagos for a book launch.
The high powered delegation led by the National Security Adviser, retired Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno, also had the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), Maj. Gen. Samuel Adebayo, Director General of State Security Service, Yusuf Bichi and that of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar.
In April 2014, a bomb went off at Nyanya motor park. It claimed the lives of over 70 people, destroyed vehicles and other properties worth hundreds of millions of naira, and then president Goodluck Jonathan was described by the opposition APC as insensitive when he instead went to Kano for a political gathering.
The party accused the former president of dancing on the graves of the dead.
Observers have opined that President Muhammadu Buhari always found it convenient to condemn and pay lip service to almost every tragedy in the North. They note that his visit to the area or the victims would have been more appropriate.
People took to the streets
Pushed by the seeming insensitivity to their plights, youths in their droves pour onto the streets of some northern cities, including Abuja, to protest the rising insecurity and killings in the North.
The protests took place in the FCT, Kano, Bauchi, Zamfara and Sokoto states.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions to express their anger while calling on President Buhari and northern governors to show more concern and do everything to tackle the widespread insecurity.
One of the organisers who led the protest in Kano, Zainab Naseer Ahmad, said insecurity is a major threat to the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians especially in the North where bandits operate on a daily basis, killing people at will.
She said: “We have come to share our concerns and send a message to our leaders; we are tired of the worsening state of insecurity in the country.
“Every now and then, lives are lost; people are being unjustly killed like animals. We demand the return of peace in our societies.
“We are saying enough is enough; no more bloodshed! Out-of-school children are witnessing a massive rise, orphans everywhere. We can’t travel in peace, the economy is crumbling. People are burnt while travelling.”
She was, however, invited by the Department of State Security (DSS) after the protest and immediately called off all further protests and advised others to stay off the streets for security reasons.
According to her, she was told about a plan by some people to hijack the protest for political reasons.
Anger in the land
The Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was quoted telling the presidential delegation that Sokoto was at the receiving end of the “Operation Hadarin Daji, carried out in Zamfara against bandits.
He said the bandits dislodged from Zamfara sneaked into Sokoto State during the operation because the military failed to block all possible exits which the bandits used to enter Sokoto State from Zamfara, leading to the escalation of bandits’ attacks on the people in the state.
Buhari treating our lives as worthless – Bafarawa
A former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, in an interview with BBC Hausa Service on Saturday accused President Muhammadu Buhari of treating the lives of people that elected him as worthless.
He said the president has failed to address the growing insecurity and killings in Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states.
He said: “The way the lives of our people are being treated as worthless is the most disturbing thing.
“See the lives lost just in the last four to five days. People were burnt in a vehicle after they were shot, but President Muhammadu Buhari went to Lagos for a book launch; a book that is neither the Qur’an nor the Bible. It is just a biography.
“He did not come to Sokoto to commiserate with us on the lives we lost but sent some people to represent him.
“When he was campaigning, he didn’t send anybody to represent him, he came by himself. That was because he wanted to be elected.
“What prevents him from coming to console the people? But he can go to Lagos for a book launch.
“We can only say inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’in (from Allah we come and to Him we shall return). Sabon Birni, Shinkafi and Goronyo are in a very dire situation.
“We only depend on God for protection. It is only on God that we depend for his protection, not anybody.
“We are sad and disappointed with the way Buhari’s administration is treating our region.
“I am a former governor for eight years and I know the responsibilities placed on me when I was governor.
“Whenever a governor or a president is to be sworn in, he swears with the Qur’an or the Bible that he will protect the lives and properties of the people.
“Nobody says the people will be responsible for the protection of their lives and properties.
“The leader who swore that he can do it, by going to the people in their villages and houses and asking them to vote for him must fulfil that promise.
“The saying that security is everybody’s business is true, but the onus rests with the leader, like President Muhammadu Buhari who swore with the Qur’an to protect their lives.
“The poor are even ready to lay their lives to protect the life and dignity of their fellows. But he was not protected to do it.
“Take for example the bandits shooting and killing people, they have guns and our people have no guns and they don’t even know where to get it.”
Also speaking on Daily Politics, a programme on Trust TV on Friday, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Army, Abdulrazak Namdas, described the killings and burning of people in a vehicle in Sokoto as pathetic and worrisome.
He said: “As a member of the National Assembly and particularly the chairman, House Committee on Army, I can tell you that we are all worried. Worried in the sense that, it is not even about the North alone; the entire country is concerned.
“Of course, what happened in the last two days in the North and the number of people affected calls for concern. Even if we lost just one person, it is something to worry about talk less of having 20 people, 40 people being killed on daily basis.”
Speaking on the same programme, a security expert, Dr Kabiru Adamu, said attacks and killings by bandits have significantly risen since 2020 despite the claims by the Nigerian military that successes are being recorded.
He added that the casualties have also steadily increased due to the frequency of the attacks by the bandits and other criminal elements.
He said: The army was saddled with the responsibilities of tackling terrorism. Now, in 2020, 10,000 people were killed as a result of criminal activities.
“Now, the best way to measure the performance of the army in 2021 is to see that, that figure is brought down to let’s say 2000.”
The rising insecurity is fast putting the North on edge as attacks by bandits, Boko Haram and other insurgents widen their terror campaigns.
People in the North who were seen as resilient and resigning to fate, have begun to show their anger against the authorities over what they see as placing less value on their lives while paying more attention to a lesser evil elsewhere.
It seems the North has now woken up to and is challenging the authorities to do more and show its anger.