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North: A region in distress

In the build up to the 2015 general elections, Nigerians were upbeat that the insurgency which permeated and pervaded the North Eastern part of the country would soon become history if the then opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), won the election.


It was with this enthusiasm they voted massively for the party and its presidential candidate – President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General.


But almost six years after, the security challenges have taken a turn for the worse.


Added to the insurgency is banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and abduction for ransom. The bandits have upped their games with the abduction of secondary school pupils. They have moved from the North East to the North West and the North Central.


Farmers can no longer go to their farms for the fear of being abducted or killed and this is taking a toll on the economy, social and political life of the region.


At the last count, six states in the Northern part of the country have had to shut down boarding schools, public schools, private schools on account of incessant attacks by bandits and terrorists on schools and abduction of pupils at all levels.

Sunday Telegraph investigations in Zamfara, Sokoto, Niger, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Katsina reveal a region where the residents are living in fear and at the mercy of bandits.


Attacks on northern schools put education in jeopardy –Mailafia


Former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, lamented that the current massive pernicious business of kidnapping of students in the North will worsen the region’s retrogression and put its education in terrible jeopardy.


About 1,500 students of various schools in Borno, Kaduna, Zamfara, Yobe, Katsina and Niger states, especially girls, have been abducted at various times between 2014 and 2021 by gunmen in exchange for ransom.


But Mailafia, in an interview with Sunday Telegraph, stated that already, the North is educationally disadvantaged and the current targeting of its schools by terrorists, erroneously described as bandits, advances the philosophy of Boko Haram that Western education is forbidden.

“Already, the region is educationally backward. For instance, in a recent West African Certificate Examination, (WAEC) only 25 students in Zamfara State made five credits, including Mathematics and English Language, whereas thousands of students made such result in Anambra State alone.


“The massive pernicious business of kidnapping students in the North sends a horrible message that if nothing seriously is done, education in the region will be imperiled for several decades,” he said.


Mailafia, who is a development expert, debunked the claim that Western education is forbidden, stating that any one conversant with Islamic intellectual history is aware that “the torch of universal Islamic civilization was borne by Islamic intellectual and Arabs like Ibn Sinnah; Ibn Tayia; Al-Faradi and Jaber ibn Hayyan, an expert in Alchemiya the Arabic word for Chemistry”.


Govt playing into Boko Haram narratives – Legislative aide


Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo–Agege, Daniel Bwala, said that the closure of schools in the Northern part of the country due to the incessant bandits attacks on schools and abduction of pupils has exposed the weakness of government and their inability to provide security for schools.


Bwala, a lawyer, who said this as a guest on a national television channel monitored in La


gos, also said that the government has fallen into the narrative of the insurgent Boko Haram members, whose object is to stop western education and dethrone the government. He said: “The closure of schools exposes the weakness of governments in their inability to provide security for schools.


“When the Chibok girls were abducted, there was conversation which centred on safety for schools. The UN also played a part through the Safe Schools Initiative, ensuring that the climate and the environment where pupils and students undergo their studies are safe – The situation of Chibok girls would not repeat itself. “One would have thought that with the way COVID -19 presented itself, politicians would have learnt their lessons. It is the same with the schools.


They have fallen into the narrative of Boko Haram – Western Education is a sin. The chief goal they have is to diminish Western education first and then dethrone the government.


Although they have not been able to dethrone the government, in the North East, they have succeeded and have moved to the North West and the North Central. They have succeeded to ensure that people do not have thirst, the desire, and the security for going to school.”


He continued: “Unfortunately in the entire Northern states, apart from Kaduna and Borno states, which have taken the bold steps that education is given the priority in the policy of government, the rest have not learnt their lesson. They do not even care about it. When you see the pictures of primary and secondary schools in the North, you will weep.


These are the schools they attended. Nobody seems to give attention to that. If I have my child and I live in the rural areas, I will not allow him to go to school because I will rather have him at home and teach him by myself than to let them go and die. Honestly, this has exposed the underbelly-poor leadership that we have in Nigeria.”


Our economy suffers serious setback – Jangebe


A renowned Islamic Scholar in Zamfara State, Dr. Tukur Sani Jangebe, stated that the economy of the northern region has suffered a serious setback with the spate of insecurity unleashed on the region by the bandits. Jangebe, who is also the Zamfara State Commissioner of Religious Affairs, said that the incessant attacks have prevented farmers from going to the farms as well as merchants from going about their businesses.


“A number of farmers have for long the lost ability to work on their farms and this poses a great threat to the nation’s food security, while merchants had become handicapped to the extent that they could not run any business again. So, this is the effect of the lingering security challenges which have bedeviled the region,” he said in an interview with Sunday Telegraph.


Also, Jangebe said that many parents are no longer encouraged to send their wards to school as a result of the current kidnapping of pupils and teachers in secondary schools. In view of this, he called on parents not to give in to the fears being instilled in them by the bandits who want to over run the country.


“We should not be scared and give room to bad eggs to take over our country because the atrocities they are committing against the innocent citizens were the reflection of the true level of illiteracy in them which always has taken over their thoughts as they could not even discern good from bad.”


He continued: As a religious leader, I call on fellow religious leaders across the Northern part of the country to prevail on the government at every level to rise up and pull the country back from the precipice.


We must not allow the country to disintegrate. “Also, the government should give the security agencies all they need to be able to overcome the bandits. This could be done through enhanced welfare package while the citizenry should cooperate with the security agencies by giving them information on the movements of the bad elements in the community.


“Terror war is no longer fought with the physical presence. Government should also deploy technology that will tell the location of the bandits and to nip their nefarious activities in the bud before they strike.


“If the situation should be allowed to continue, then illiteracy, unemployment will persist as well as crime. There will be abject poverty across the Northern part of the country and the rich too will not be at ease. Everyone should rise up to confront this monster which is sweeping across the land.”


We won’t allow bandits to disrupt learning –Tambuwal

Apparently disturbed by the insecurity and activities of bandits in the North Western part of the country, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has called on the indigenes and residents of the sate not allow bandits achieve their aim, which is to stop the smooth acquisition of education in the state.


Tambuwal made the call on the heels of the temporary closure of all schools outside the state capital even as he said that stakeholders must come up with strategies which would ensure that learning is not disrupted.


He said: “The objective of the criminal groups is clearly demonstrated in their aim to stop Western education in the country. We will not allow them to succeed.


”We must come up with ideas on how our children will continue to go to schools and benefit from learning and prepare them for their future. We will do all to checkmate their activities in Sokoto State and Nigeria as a whole.” He continued: “”Learning is not going to be disrupted.


We are calling on all indigenes of the state to continue to collaborate with the security agencies by providing useful information on the activities of the bandits and their informants.” He said the decision by the state government to close all boarding schools in the state except those within the state capital was a proactive measure to forestall any possible attack or kidnapping of students by the bandits considering what recently happened in Niger and Zamfara states.


Also weighing in on the matter, Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi-Gobir (APC-Sokoto), lamented that banditry and other criminal activities were on increase in Sabon Birni, Isa, Wurno, Rabah, Goronyo, Gada, Gwadabawa and Illela Local Government Areas of the state He said the number of security officials in the affected areas were grossly inadequate to tackle the security challenges.


He urged the Federal Government to consider deploying more security personnel to the areas where the bandits are on the prowl. Abdullahi-Gobir, who is also the Chairman,


Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, expressed concern on the protection of lives and property of all citizens. N


o more night life in Minna –Residents


The benefits of a significant evening economy according to Wikipedia can include recreation for people, which is often welcomed after finishing work for the day; increased employment due to local spending; reduced social exclusion and increased vitality in towns. In this report on how insecurity has impacted on Niger State’s night economy


In 2007, the City of London published a document titled Managing the Night Time Economy and suggested five reasons why cities should promote their night-time economies.


It said: “The night-time economy is a source of employment and additional revenue for local governments. It allows local governments to diversify their leisure and commercial activities. It promotes greater citizen security; it boosts local tourism; and it creates a greater sense of belonging.


However, in Niger State, there is no night life as businesses close as early as 7pm except for few eateries and approved joints where some persons go to have dinner, sit out and have fun before going home.


This clearly showed that the state only relies on the monthly Federal Allocations and the meager amounts it gets from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to survive while other states like Lagos, Rivers, Delta apart from Federation Allocation and other sources also generate revenue and boost their economies from night life. As a Shari’a state, alcohol is prohibited but not so much that revelers are denied access to approved and licenced designated areas like the Mammy Market in the Army Barracks, Police Officers mess, NUJ Press Centre and few privately owned joints.


Club houses and brothels are prohibited too even though it has been practiced since the dawn of civilisation. It is however practiced in some surreptitious ways, difficult for the law to apprehend those involved, in Minna. In the light of this, commercial sex hawking in the Minna metropolis is done by syndicates.


The Niger State Government, during the tenure of Late Engr. Abdulkadir Abdullahi Kure, had in his first term, established the State Liquor Licensing Board to rid the state of sales, consumption of alcohol and prostitution in some areas within the state. The establishment of the board was in line with the implementation of Sharia Legal Code operating in some core Northern states, including Niger State.


Due to the introduction of the Sharia Legal Code, late Governor Kure outlawed sales and consumption of liquor as well as prostitution. This informed the establishment of the Niger State Liquor Licensing Board (NSLLB) through the enabling legislation by the State House of assembly to enforce and prosecute offenders.


The newly appointed chairman of the Board, Alhaji Ayuba Usman Katako, vowed that the Board will continue to work assiduously in line with its mandate of ban on alcohol sale, consumption and prostitution. He said that the prevailing security challenges in the state have a nexus with increase in the rate of immorality and other social vices.


When asked about the effect such restraints have on the economy of the state, he said the state has a regulated night life but due to the security challenges and the Sharia law banning the sales and consumption of alcohol and prostitution, it looks as if nothing is happening in terms of revenue.


He said: “There are eateries and joints where people sit and have fun but not alcohol or prostitution. We will not tolerate any vice that negates the law”. He disclosed that the board has embarked on aggressive reorganization towards ensuring total enforcement of the law banning the sales and consumption of alcohol within the prohibited areas in the state.


“We will engage the services of critical stake    holders such as religious and community leaders as well as relevant security agencies in actualising the total onslaught against illegal operators of liquor joints within the banned areas”, he said. However, so many people, including workers, who need to take time to ease off after hectic day at work, football lovers, who mostly go out to joints to watch their teams at viewing centres, petty traders and even syndicates, who manage girls (Prostitutes) now program themselves and visit only certified places.


The joints which start operations mostly from 4pm daily are supplied their drinks by major dealers of beer and soft drinks.


Barbecue (fish and meat), pepper soup, Isi Ewu (goat head), fast foods like noodles and fries are mainly the ‘eatables’ that people buy. Residents of Minna and visitors alike, after spending few hours out, must retire home or to their hotels by 10pm because all joints are closed at that time as agreed with the State Liquor Board.


As from that time, only few cars are seen and those who are not mobile may not have motorcycles or tricycles popularly called Keke to take them home. A resident, who gave his name as James Wakaso, said that although he is aware of the law, people should be allowed to live their lives freely adding that, “we were not consulted when they brought Sharia. As a Christian, I should not be guided or gagged by Islamic law in my own state. Such laws should be for Muslims.


“I am a Kambari man and we live free lives. We eat and drink whatever we feel is good for us. Some of these people who created and are enforcing Shari’a are defaulters too”.


Another resident, Ellen Musa, said: “I use to sell items before the law and we use to pay tax because some people come to us that they are government revenue officers. Since government closed down most joints, no sales, no night life, and I am sure the government is also affected too because they cannot generate money in the night”.


Doing business difficult in Nasarawa – Residents


For residents of Lafia, Nasarawa State, the fear of kidnappers is the beginning of wisdom. Most of them now stay indoors as soon as it is 7:00pm for fear of being abducted. This has in turn affected social activities which no longer exist. A visit to Bukan Sidi, U.A.C Road, Abuja Camp and Mami Spot at Nasarawa Polytechnic Lafia readily confirms this.


The hitherto busy social spots are now opposite of what they used to be. The situation is not different at the ever busy Lafia Modern Market as well as some relaxation spots such as Cashew Trees by Stadium Junction, Lafia and U.A.C road, to mention a few.


No thanks to the harsh economic weather occasioned by the worsening insecurity. “Unlike before when we used to take to some economic activities that would fetch us some income after closing from school, we can no longer do that. Everyone is afraid of being abducted. As such, people stay indoors,” said headmaster of a private school, Cephas Allu.


Allu, who said this in an interview with Sunday Telegraph, said: “The rate of abduction of school children in public schools is now alarming and it is of great concern to all of us. We pray for a divine intervention in order to bring an end to this spate of abduction.”


This is the line towed by another resident, Danlami Bako, who said: The living condition is getting difficult due to the hash economy situation occasioned by the worsening insecurity. You cannot move about freely anymore for fear of being kidnapped, even when you want to go and visit relations.” For the Managing Director, G-Plan Business Concept, Mr. Samuel Chukwudi, things are not the way they used to be.


He said: “Doing business these days is very tough as things are not the way they used to be. Virtually everything is upside down. People are complaining. In fact, we hardly sell the volumes of things we used to do.


Before now, I made an average of N10, 000 in a day but now I hardly make N5, 000. Most times, even when we do, customers hardly come to pick their jobs due to lack of money. “Before now, we used to run our generator from morning to evening but now, we are offering skeletal services as a result of lack of jobs.”


In order to prevent attack and abduction of school children in Nasarawa State, the state government had taken what it described as proactive measures to safeguard some boarding public secondary schools in parts of the state. Governor Abdullahi Sule said this during an emergency expanded security meeting held at the Government House recently.


He said:“Government has found it necessary to secure schools in the state in view of report of recent abduction of school children in Borno, Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna and other parts of the country. “One of the reasons I called for this meeting is because of security concern around the country and around our state.


We have seen where school children were originally kidnapped, beginning in Borno State, then it came to Katsina, then it moved to Zamfara and Niger and I strongly believe that even though we see this returning to Zamfara, we shouldn’t take it for granted.


We should be more proactive and ensure that we protect ourselves here in Nasarawa State, especially being one of the five governors that visited Niger State and from what we saw and heard, I think in Nasarawa State, we have to take proactive measures so that such a situation does not come to us.” M


asari to students: Report at school nearest home


Ass means of not obstructing learning of students, especially those in boarding schools, Governor Aminu Matsari of Kaduna State has directed that affected students should report at the secondary schools close to them, pending when a permanent solution would be found to the issue of bandits attacks on schools and abduction of students. It would be recalled that bandits attacked and abducted 37 students from the State Government Science Secondary School Kankara, late last year.

Also, three weeks ago, the outlaws struck at Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, and Government Girls College, Jangebe, Zamfara State. In the wake of the attack, governments across the North hurriedly shut down boarding schools.


This notwithstanding, residents of Katsina State have continued with their normal lives unhindered. Pupils of primary schools across the state still go to schools, like wise students of both private and government schools are attending schools.

Also, social activities within the major towns and most of the villages in the state were going on unhindered, as business activities, night clubs, restaurants and shop owners operate their businesses hitch – free especially in the major towns and cities. Major cities like Katsina, Daura,


Funtua, Malumfashi and a host of other big towns operate their business up to after midnight. Mallam Muhammad Abba a suya spot operator, in an interview with Sunday Telegraph said he closed from his business joint every day after midnight and sometimes even up to 01.00am.


Similarly, a shop owner in the centre of Katsina, Bishir Lawal Danrabe said he closed from his shop every day after mid night. The same thing applies to night clubs and restaurants.


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