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GUMI IS WRONG. WAR CAN END BANDITRY by Mahmud Jega

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(OPINION BY MAHMUD JEGA)

The widely disseminated statement by Kaduna-based Muslim cleric Dr. Ahmed Gumi titled “War has never been a solution anywhere anytime” is too sweeping to be true. He was referring to the Nigerian Army’s recently stepped-up campaign against bandits in Zamfara and other north-western states, which he says will not end banditry. He said only negotiation and a peaceful settlement with the bandit leaders will do.

For starters, it is not true that war has never resolved any issues. It may not be ideal but throughout human history, nothing resolves contentious issues quite as conclusively as victory on the battlefield. The early Muslim community in Medina managed to survive and to ultimately triumph over their Meccan enemies because of a string of military victories at Badr, Uhud, Khandaq and conquest of Mecca in 629AD. More recently, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grand Armee was only stopped from total conquest of Europe by military defeats in Russia in 1812 and at Waterloo in 1815.

Ten years ago I attended a meeting in Abuja where colleagues who were urging the Jonathan Administration to negotiate with Boko Haram claimed that every war in world history ended up at the negotiating table. I raised my hand and said that was not true. World War Two, the costliest war in human history, ended in 1945 when the Axis Powers accepted the Allied Powers’ demand for “unconditional surrender.” The famous picture of American 5-star General Douglas MacArthur facing Japanese commanders aboard the USS Missouri in August 1945 was not negotiation; it was to accept their surrender.

Nigerian civil war did not end through negotiation. Commander of 3 Marine Commando Col. Obasanjo had accepted Biafra’s “field surrender” in January 1970. He then took Biafran Chief of General Staff Phillip Effiong to Lagos to see General Gowon, where he read a speech and declared, “Republic of Biafra ceases to exist.”

Not only us. American civil war ended in 1865 not with peace talks but when Confederate General-in-Chief Robert E. Lee surrendered to Commanding General of the Union Army Ulysses Grant at Appomattox. Same way, Chinese civil war of the 1930s-40s ended when Mao Zedong and the Communists rode into Beijing in 1949 and declared the Peoples Republic, while Marshal Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang fled to Taiwan.

A little further back, Sokoto Jihad wars of 1804-08 were resolved on the battlefield. Danfodio did not sign any treaty with Sarkin Gobir because Jihad forces sacked Alkalawa and the kingdom fell. So did all other kingdoms in Hausaland. The vicious Kano civil war of 1893-4, Yakin Basasa, ended when the Yusufawa completely routed Sarki Tukur’s forces, pursued him to Katsina and killed him. In 1903 when British forces captured Sokoto, Lord Lugard read a proclamation to the blind Waziri that “the Fulani in old times under Danfodio conquered this country. It has now passed to the British throne by conquest.” [Never mind the historical inaccuracy]. Don’t be fooled by their modern-day posturing; the Brits didn’t negotiate with us.

When rebels take up arms against the reigning authority, they should better ensure that they have sufficient force to defeat it, or else they will bear the terrible consequences. As Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, Colombia’s FARC rebels, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, Sierra Leone’s RUF, Mozambique’s Renamo, Russia’s Chechen rebels, Spain’s ETA, France’s Corsican separatists, Italy’s Red Brigades, Germany’s Baeder-Meinhof and Japanese Red Army all found out. Right now, Syria’s ten-year civil war is winding down, without any peace treaty because President Bashar al-Assad, with Russian, Iranian and Hitzbullah help, has defeated the rebels that took up arms against him.

It is a different matter if rebels manage to chase out the government, such as when rebels killed Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Ethiopian rebels that chased out Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991, Somali clan lords that drove away President Siad Barre in 1991 or more recently, the Taliban that drove the US Army out of Afghanistan. A military coup, such as the recent one in Guinea, falls into the same bracket. When Egypt’s General Abdulfatah al-Sisi sacked Muslim Brotherhood’s elected president Mohammed Morsi, jailed him and crushed the brotherhood, there was no need for negotiations.

Sheikh Gumi’s insistence that government must negotiate with the northwestern bandits is unreasonable and impractical. To begin with, the bandits have no political agenda. All they have are a litany of excuses, that they have been marginalised in Nigeria, so they resorted to crime. They are very much like the Janjaweed that terrorised western Sudan 15 years ago, ronin of 19th century Japan, or India’s notorious “Bandit Queen” Phoolan Devi.

If it is a matter of redirecting national resources to them in order to ameliorate their community’s marginalization, I have news for the Sheikh. In 1992 when the IBB regime made many concessions and signed a comprehensive agreement with ASUU in order to end its crippling strike, newly-arrived Education Minister and top constitutional lawyer Prof Ben Nwabueze promptly repudiated the agreement in January 1993. He said it was a “valid but not binding” pact for government to negotiate away its sovereign right to allocate resources based on an agreement with a section of its citizens. So, any deal with bandits to channel resources to them is valid but not binding, according to Nwabueze.

In any case, unlike Boko Haram, the bandits have no centralized leadership that government can negotiate with. The recently unveiled book “I am a bandit” by Danfodio University, Sokoto historian Dr. Murtala Ahmed Rufa’i identified 26 bandit groups in Zamfara’s Maradun Local Government alone. Truly, unlike Boko Haram, bandits are not trying to take over the government and run Nigeria. Their aim is to establish several hundred lawless fiefdoms all across the region where they can kill, rape and pillage at will. That is worse than Boko Haram, if you ask me.

Please don’t mistake me for a war monger. Since 1991, I have aligned myself with a statement that the late Talban Bauchi Dr. Ibrahim Tahir made before a judicial commission of inquiry on the Tafawa Balewa crises. He said whatever your grievances are, it is insurrectionary to attack a police station even with stones, and government is entitled to respond with all the force it can muster.

Americans make a distinction between a “good” war and a “bad” war. They say World War Two and invasion of Afghanistan are good wars while Vietnam and Iraq are bad wars. In other words, if a war is forced upon you and you have no choice but to defend yourself, that is a good war. Attacking other people in the name of imperial conquest, “anti-communism” or false claim that they have WMDs is a bad war. Both Boko Haram and bandits attacked the Nigerian state and its people. Fighting them off with all the force the Nigerian military and security forces can muster is therefore a good war.

This is not a war of choice. It was forced on us. If Nigerian Army, after many stumbles, has now assembled enough force to destroy the bandits, by all means we should support them. We should only remind the Army to minimise collateral damage, respect human rights of even the bandits, and make the operation snappy because the closure of markets, petrol stations and GSM service is very costly for the civilian population. We pray for the soldiers’ quick victory and their safety.

VIEW FROM THE GALLERY in 21st Century Chronicle. Monday, September 13, 2021.
08054102925, 08023673734
mmjega@21stcenturychronicle.com

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ZAMFARA AG. GOV. NASIHA VISITS CBN GUSAU BRANCH, ASK COMMERCIAL BANKS TO IMPROVE ON SERVICE DELIVERY.

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Zamfara State Acting Governor Sen. Hassan Muhammad Nasiha has paid an unscheduled visit to the Gusau branch of Central Bank on Monday.

The visit was part of the commitment of the Matawalle administration to ensure that the suffering of the people of the state in trying to access cash from banks has been reduced to the barest minimum.

According to the Spokesperson of the Deputy Governor Babangida Umar Zurmi, the Senator expressed dismay with the manner at which people are spending multiple hours at the ATM points trying to access cash for their daily activities.

He therefore urged the CBN to develop ways of getting people out of the present predicament.

In a response, the branch controller of CBN Mal. Buhari Abbas thanked the Deputy Governor for the visit and assured that the needful would be done and cash would be made available in the shortest possible time.

In a related development, the Deputy Governor paid similar unscheduled visits to FCMB,ECO Bank, Zenith and Gt Bank in order to hear from the citizens directly.

He commended the arrangements made by FCMB and ECO banks in trying their best to make money available for customers to withdraw, especially at the ATM Points.

As for Zenith and Gt Bank, Sen. Nasiha expressed dismay over the poor arrangements made for the customers in the two banks and urged them to ensure that Improvement has been made

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ZMSG DIRECT WATER BOARD TO SUSTAIN WATER TRANSMISSION TWICE A DAY

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Zamfara state Acting Governor Sen. Hassan Muhammad Nasiha has paid unscheduled visit to the state Ministry of Water Resources as part of the commitment of the state government in ensuring potable water supply within Gusau the capital city and its environs.

According to the Spokesperson of the Deputy Governor Babangida Umar Zurmi, the visit of the Acting Governor was triggered by the constant public outcry over shortage of water supply in the capital city.

Sen. Nasiha who commended the effort of the staff of the Ministry for demonstrating serious commitment to duty explained that the high cost of diesel has been part of the reason that is causing inconsistencies in the frequent supply of water.

But he explained that the state government has taken the appropriate steps of increasing the funding of the Ministry because of the reality on the ground.

He urged the ministry to intensify public enlightenment so that people can be kept informed about the challenged faced by the ministry.
While urging the commissioner of Water Resources to forward situation report directly to his office for action, he directed the ministry to ensure transmission of water to Gusau town and environs twice a day.

The Commissioner for water resources in a response thanked the Deputy Governor for the visit and assured him of their readiness to comply with the government directive at all time.

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ZMSG LEGAL TUSSLE WITH THE FG OVER NAIRA REDESIGN POLICY: (OUR STAND)

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(OUR EDITORIAL STAND)

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The decision taken by the Governor of Zamfara to drag the Federal government to court over frustrating conditions caused by the recent policy on naira redesign is absolutely the highest expectation of typical citizens of Zamfara state.

Every serious leader who means well for his people will surely challenge policies that are meant to add into the existing socio-economic frustrations faced by his people.

The suit filed by Governor Matawalle and two others, namely Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna and Yahaya Bello of Kogi is both apt and timely considering the level of hardship people of Zamfara are encountering since the commencement of the implementation of the new policy.

The fact of the matter with the new CBN policy is that, it was introduced with many lapses, and it was a clear demonstration that CBN was abruptly unprepared and by extension it has not taken into recognition the measures to be applied in managing the repercussions that may follow the policy.

The criticisms that trailed the new policy is enough for the CBN and indeed the Federal Government to have a rethink, but it seems Emiefele and his key drivers are doomed in understanding the reality of things in the country.

THE FACT AND PECULIARITIES ABOUT ZAMFARA AT THE WAKE OF THE NEW CBN POLICY

Currently, statistics has shown that, there are about eight local governments in Zamfara that are without a single branch of a commercial bank: they are Tsafe, Maradun, Birnin Magaji, Zurmi, Shinkafi, Maru, Bukkuyum, Bakura and Gummi.

These eight local governments have an estimate of population of about 3.2 million people going by the 2020 census figure which puts Zamfara population at 5.6 Million people.

Except Gusau the capital city of Zamfara where all the banks except TAJ and Providus Banks have the single branches and partly Talatar Mafara where there are four branches, the remaining four local governments have one single bank each.

Majority of the typical Zamfara populations are rural agriculturalists with large number of them purely into farming and livestock and with this abrupt CBN policy on cash redesign their suffering will rise to the hardest level.

This is couple with the social crises emanating from the activities of the armed bandits that had already crippled the rural economy of the populace and rendered many average wealthy people in the rural community into permanent poverty.

Currently, the hardship caused by the new CBN policy on naira redesign has reached the peak level that small businesses such as Okada riding, Keke Napep operation, tailoring, and local food vendors have shut down their businesses due to non-availability of cash in the hand of the people.

The commercial banks are adding into the frustrations of the people; hence people hopelessly spent hours on queue without getting  their hard-earned cash deposited in the various banks.

The level at which bankers in collaboration with some agents are diverting cash for percentage is also another source of worry; hence customers waited hopelessly without getting cash to settle their immediate family problems.

 

This development has triggered the anger of the people as they looked inward for the State Governor and other serious stakeholders to continue to raise their voice against the decisions of the CBN and that would be a big step in the right direction.

In our opinion, the Governor of Zamfara in collaboration with the two other Governors should stand their ground to challenge the CBN policy on naira redesign until when the solutions are provided for the suffering of the people of Zamfara.

Matawalle have the backing and support of well-meaning Zamfara people because we believed government need to do what is right for its citizens.

Democratic government is for the people, and it shall be driven by the people, and anything short of this will amount of tyranny.

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