North is Now a Killing Field – Dogara

North is Now a Killing Field – Dogara

…Elite Have Failed to Provide Leadership and Organize a Society that Works for All …Violence is Taking Roots Because Our Leadership Model Has Been Exposed as a Lie, an Empty Ideology …We Substituted Pursuit of Justice for All for Pursuit of Absolute Order Former Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara has decried the spate

…Elite Have Failed to Provide Leadership and Organize a Society that Works for All

…Violence is Taking Roots Because Our Leadership Model Has Been Exposed as a Lie, an Empty Ideology

…We Substituted Pursuit of Justice for All for Pursuit of Absolute Order

Former Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara has decried the spate of insecurity and unbridled violence in Northern Nigeria, saying it has become a killing field.

Speaking at the Northern Security Meeting convened by the Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP) in Kaduna, Dogara says, “The North is now the epicenter and theatre of violence. From Boko Haram/ISWAP led by Albarnawi, Boko Haram led by Shekau and Ansaru insurgency, to farmers/herders conflict, banditry, kidnappings, ethno-religious conflicts, cattle rustling, etc we are confronted with a crisis that is unparalleled in our history.

“The death spiral appears unstoppable. Increasingly, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish us from our enemies. There was no shortage of early warning signs and as a matter of fact our philosophers such as the late Sa’adu Zungur of blessed memory had warned that this dystopian era was fast approaching but we ignored all. We are now paying for our collective negligence.

“The North is now in the grip of what Soren Kierkegaard called “sickness unto death”—the numbing of the soul by despair that leads to moral and physical debasement. It has become a society that is driven at its very core by the death instinct. The instinct to annihilate and destroy rather than nurture and create.

“Our economic debries have become too conspicuous to be ignored. As it is, we are now trapped in a prison of mirrors, where revealed lies are answered with new lies. With all these, it’s like our slow motion walk to self apocalypse is assured. We have seen this movie before in Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria to name but just a few but not in Northern Nigeria.

According to the former Speaker, “Of the 19 northern states and the FCT, only Kwara state and the FCT are relatively peaceful or have the lowest rate of insecurity but all the other 18 states are inflamed by one form of violence or the other. Now the question that we all must answer is how did we get here and what must we do to defeat the radical evil of violence before it swallows us up?

“I must say that one mistake we are all guilty of is to fold our arms and wait on governments at all levels to solve this problem for us. Government has its own fair share of the blame but what are we doing ourselves? On the flip side, I get angry anytime I hear our brothers and sisters say that they are worried about what is happening in the North but they are not prepared to take a stand and be the difference.

“They have become like Malcolm in Macbeth who said, “Let us seek out some desolate shade and there weep our sad bosoms empty”. For those of us who only worry, thanks but no thanks, because worry is the most useless human endeavour. Worry produces nothing but pains.

“We are running out of time. It is crystal clear that the North cannot withstand the kind of contradictions that exist now. The North is on fire ignited by us either by our actions or by what we permit or allow. Those who truly love the North must now come out and accept responsibility and begin the salvage mission bearing in mind Professor Andrew Haruna’s warning , “ that the North was handed over to us in one piece, we must therefore not pass it to our children in pieces”.

Tracing the cause of the prevailing violence and insecurity from the pervading illiteracy, unemployment, poverty, breakdown of family values to the weakening of the Police and the porous nature of the borders, Dogara says “we are here because there is an abysmal lack of intelligence gathering by our security agencies, traditional institutions and Government at all levels; we are here because of lack of prosecution of persons responsible for violent crimes including kidnapping, attacks on communities, etc which incentivizes the commission of violent crimes;

“we are here because majority of Nigerians are agreed that we are having the worst security challenges since the civil war yet no viable security policies or plans have been put in place to address the mounting insecurity in the country; we are here because there is an epic battle involving a disempowered populace infantilized by a world they cannot control who have vowed to crush the forces embodied in demonized groups such as the discredited established elite and other individuals which are blamed for their misery.

“My own considered opinion is that those are symptoms of the real problem. The real problem is that we have failed to provide leadership and organize a society that works for all. A peaceful and orderly Northern Nigeria then was more engaged in the pursuit of justice rather than the pursuit for order. The problem started when we substituted the pursuit of justice for all for the pursuit of absolute order- basically whipping people into line no matter the grievance or level of discontent. In doing so, we failed to heed the timeless warning that a society that is more devoted to order than to justice will never be an orderly or peaceful society. It was St. Augustine who said, “in the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery”.

“In tackling these problems, we must realise that guns do not kill and killing the violent does not necessarily bring peace except the peace of the grave. We kill with our minds and peace settles first in the mind before it is expressed. So the battle to build a peaceful North must be a battle for the minds of our people. Violence is taking roots because our leadership model has been exposed as a lie, an empty ideology used to satiate greed instead of addressing social inequality and injustice,” the former House of Representatives Speaker says .

Also speaking at the event, the Sultan of Sokoto Saad Abubakar warned that the north may witness a bigger catastrophe than the Boko Haram insurgency.

He pointed out the level of orphans in the region was alarming, saying it could snowball into something that “would turn out to be worse than the Boko Haram”.

The Sultan also kicked against the establishment of a new security outfit in the region code-named “Operation Shege-Ka-Fasa”, cautioning elites not to allow youths take over their roles.

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNGs) unveiled the outfit last Wednesday, declaring it would tackle crimes in the region.

The outfit was launched one month after the South West Governors floated Amotekun, a regional security outfit.

Abubakar said northern elite are the problems of the region, as they have failed to provide good leadership.

He advised the northern elders to caution the youth, saying if the elders fail to take the lead, the youth would do whatever they like and feel is right.

“I saw it on the television, and the media gave them attention. Now, the elders allowed these youths to go forward. So, the elites are our problems, the elders are our problems.

“If the elders don’t take the lead, the youth will do whatever they like and think they are right. You have to caution these youths by giving them good leadership, “he said.

He added: “Now, they have launched their own security outfit I don’t know what they call it, Shege Ka Fasa’, meaning what?

“So, I want to call on northern elders to caution them. Don’t allow these youths to take over leadership from you.

“You have to reach out to everybody no matter how low the person is.

“So, I think we need to take the bull by the horns and not allow the youths take over responsibility. I think we need to do that and much more.

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) which unveiled “Shege Ka Fasa” says it will push for its ratification by the northern Governors as part of measures to address security challenges within the region.

Addressing a press conference shortly before unveiling the outfit, CNG emphasised that for the past 12 years, the North has struggled with disabling challenges that include dwindling economy, rising poverty and more worrying, a crippling security situation that has taken a huge toll on lives, property and the overall cohesion of the region.

Spokesperson of the group, Mr Abdul-Azeez Suleiman who addressed the press before the unveiling said that the security challenges manifested in 2008 in the form of a deadly insurgency from the Northeast and within a short time, spread to other parts of the region and virtually turned the entire region into a battlefield.

The Coalition noted that while the insurgency raged, other disturbances were created in the region in the form of cattle rustling that pitched northern communities against each other.

“A new dimension was introduced to the farmers/herders conflict which gradually deteriorated into an uncontrollable proportion and deepened the artificial rift between communities in the region.

“This trend suddenly metamorphosed into a deadly armed banditry and kidnapping for ransom, which is recycled for arms and drugs. This is in addition to another frustrating trend of the theft and forced trafficking of northern children to other parts of the country for reasons that are largely dubious.

“The culmination of these security challenges has for the past decade turned the entire region into a house of horror with violent killings reported on a daily basis, communities displaced with formal and informal IDP camps spreading across the region.

“The situation today, on most northern highways, innocent travellers are waylaid, robbed and abducted, towns and villages attacked and sacked by bandits who have created an atmosphere of palpable fear across the region.

“As the situation grows more desperate by the day with the North as the most porous and vulnerable, with northerners as the most distressed and estranged.

CNG stressed that it is absolutely impossible to expect that communities would continue to fold their arms while criminals invade their abodes, kill, abduct and displace them.

“By this, today we unveil the symbols for the Shege Ka Fasa outfit which would be formally inaugurated in the coming few weeks when all necessary legal processes might have been completed or formally adopted and ratified by the northern states Governors,” it stated.

CNG observed that, there is an apparent correlation between the current security situation and the unchecked proliferation of hard drugs and other dangerous substances and that the current security challenges in the region are therefore driven by the proliferation of firearms and hard drugs which are deliberately introduced into the region by outside interests.

It also observed that the drug and firearms trade is fuelled by illegal funds channelled by international financial criminals such as Yahoo boys desperate to launder money into the country and that already, this trend has completely undermined the economic and social fabrics of the North, and is responsible for the rampant social problems like banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, and other forms of security challenges witnessed today.

“That the current desperate situation in the North can be largely contained and eventually controlled by intensifying the task of anticipating and checkmating the manoeuvres of all criminal elements and blocking the supply channels for such dangerous merchandise as firearms and drugs.

“That this task can only be successfully achieved with the active involvement of the members of all northern communities that are at the receiving end of the apparent security lapses.

“That in the prevailing circumstances, the only option, is to resort to voluntary self-defense mechanisms in line with initiatives taken by other regions that are even least affected in comparison to what obtains in the North”.

CNG, therefore, resolved that “Against the backdrop of these concerns and observations, the Coalition of Northern Groups does not wish to remain silent or passive and allow things that affect the North and potentially cause greater instability in the country to continue unchecked.

“Aware also of the need for concerted efforts to assist the Federal Government to restore peace and security and to disband all militias and armed groups in northern Nigeria to ensure that no group has the capacity to challenge the State in its prerogative to maintain law and order, and protect citizens’ lives and properties, the CNG has:

“Initiated practical measures for the setting up of a northern regional security outfit to compliment the efforts of the police, the military, the security services to detect, expose and defeat all criminal machinations and carry out specific and general tasks that would realign the attitude and thinking of the public with the ideals and objectives of the founding fathers of the region.

“The outfit, codenamed “SHEGE KA FASA” is designed to be the vanguard of the entire North encompassing every ethnic group and religion and to be deeply patriotic in its operation.

“In addition to performing general complimentary tasks for enhancing security in the region, the outfit shall also coordinate operations against the influx of hard drugs into the North, take steps to neutralize all centers of gravity for the supply, manufacturer and distribution of such drugs and other dangerous substances”.

The group further revealed that the outfit will coordinate vigilance to check and expose illegal arms trade, supply channels and possession. Guard against the theft and illegal traffic in kids and other vulnerable sections of the northern population and expose operations of fraudsters like the Yahoo boys whose ill gotten wealth forms part of the source of funding for the drug and arms trade.

The group calls the attention of all Governors of northern states to the urgent necessity to join their counterparts in the South-West and South-East by adopting and ratifying this initiative for northern regional security and providing the necessary legal framework for its operation in order to secure the lives of the people that are in constant threat.

It also resolved to formalize this request by writing to the Governors through the Northern Governors Forum and to the leaderships of traditional, religious and cultural institutions in the region.

It restated that if the state governments and other leaders of the region fail to take action to protect the region the way their southern counterparts are doing, adding that CNG is willing to follow through with all the processes of obtaining the required legal backing for the outfit from the relevant federal authorities.

Photo: members of Operation Shege Ka Fasa

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