Following recent attacks, killings and kidnapping in Kaduna State, the state Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Joseph Hayab, in this interview with BABA NEGEDU said that there are now two governments running the state, the government of Governor Nasir El-Rufai and that of bandits. He also advised the state government to concentrate more energy in tackling the insecurity than attacking its perceived enemies
What do you think about the recent spate of attacks and kidnappings across the state?
Kidnapping has been going on in Kaduna State almost on daily basis, and for a long time, some of them are known, others people don’t get to hear about them, probably that of Bethel became known because it is a school and the number of the high number of students that were taken and that of Ungwan Gimbiya came days after Bethel and you know the proximity of Ungwan Gimbiya and Bethel is not too far.
That is why people know about them. But there are many people in the hands of bandits in Kaduna State. From Makarfi to Birnin-Gwari, from Kafanchan to Lere and even here in Chikun up to Kagarko, they are many people in the hands of kidnappers.
Bandits have taken over our state. In fact, we have two governments now in Kaduna State – the government of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Kaduna State Governor and the government of the bandits.
The government of bandits does not talk; they only talk by stealing and abducting people, the government of Governor El-Rufai can only talk but cannot stop the bandits. So people seem to be more afraid of the government of bandits than the government of El-Rufai.
This is a big challenge. I wish we can find a way out of this very quickly, because it is really bad; it is not good for the peace of Kaduna State; it is not good for the economic growth of Kaduna State.
Look at how it has shattered and disrupted education in Kaduna State and all you hear from leaders is rhetoric. We know that efforts are being made, but we can see that those efforts are not good enough. You cannot fight bandits in a divisive manner, neither can you fight bandits with arrogance.
You can fight bandits with unity, with high tech equipment and good deployment of intelligence. But sadly because of the division that is going on in our state, which to me is being promoted by those in power. The bandits are having a field day. Look at the situation where the bandits that kidnapped the students of the Bethel Baptist High School asking the school for food, for goodness sake.
These are people that ordinarily are supposed to be on the run, hiding, but because they are having a field day, they are even giving us orders to buy food for them and there is nothing we can do than to obey them.
Thirteen schools in total were recently closed in the state. What is your take on this?
You see, it is a security measure, but the only problem with that was that it was illadvised. The governor did not consult well with others before taking the decision.
The problem with this state is that there is always poor consultation before taking any decision on any issue, those in authority are so arrogant that they think they have the answer to everything and they keep taking wrong decisions.
These schools can be closed, but they should be an option, if there is a place here and there that they can relocate the students to. A place that is secure that you can move your students to, because you cannot operate here.
But this outright closure of schools, without any option make the whole exercise look like a dictatorial fiat, not really considering the students.
The JAMB is claiming that the reason for mass failure this year is because of COVID- 19 and insecurity. I hope next year JAMB will not tell us the situation is even worse than this year, because of the way we are handling this. We cannot disrupt the education of our children; we will not see it now, but it will be there to see the effect of what we are doing in the next few years when they cannot catch up with others. This is the problem we have.
Yes we understand that it is a security issue, but certain things need to be put in place. He did not do that, they just came out to announce the closure of schools, very sad. Then you give room for people to speculate so many things because there is no proper process, no proper information and that it is just a decision to show power not to solve the problem.
There is a difference between making a decision to remedy a situation and making a decision to show power. What I see is that they take decisions to show power, not to address issues and people in the state have been put to fear that they don’t want to speak.
Even the journalists are afraid for their lives to say some of the things they see.
But we will continue to speak, because if we love Governor El-Rufai and his government we must continue to speak. What we are doing is showing them love by telling them the truth, so that they will know the difference between us and those who hate them and continue to lie to them even when things are bad.
What can you say has been the burden of this insecurity on your constituency, the church; what have you lost because of this situation?
Our pains and suffering in the hands of kidnappers in Kaduna State is no longer news.
About two years ago we told people how much we have paid as ransom to kidnappers, the number of people they have kidnapped, at that time we said about 500 people were taken away and we had paid about N300 million. Between then and now the number has tripled.
We have over 2,000 people kidnapped. In fact, if we keep taking statistics of money paid to kidnappers between 2019, 2020 and today we have overshot the N1billion mark.
Now if we have such money why not use it to improve our lives, our schools, our health facilities, our education. So we are losing so much. The fact is that because of the insecurity now many schools that have been shut, the teachers are out of jobs; many will not be paid a salary. Because many pay salaries where the schools are functioning and students pay school fees.
But the schools have been closed abruptly; the government does not have a palliative for that; it is only issuing orders.
What kind of leadership are we having? We are appealing that what we need is the application of wisdom above education, because in Kaduna we are seeing how education is not useful, because the education we are doing in Kaduna is not done with wisdom, rather with pride.
But the government claims to be doing its best, just that the situation has persisted…?
Yes, they said they are doing their best, I’m repeating their words; they said they are doing their best, but their best is not good enough. At least for the fact that at times they come on radio, to them it is the best, but I can tell you that propaganda and rhetoric will not address this insecurity.
We don’t address insecurity by just talking, but to them that is the best. If you talk to them, they will tell you that it is their best, but for us as victims, for us who are suffering the pains, we know that best is not good enough. When they took the oath of office it was not to make noise, it was to protect lives and property of citizens, but sadly they are making noise.
Have you noticed that in Kaduna State, our governor dissipates energy in attacking those that complain rather than attacking the criminals? Criminals attack us, we feel pain and complain; the governor will turn and attack us and call us names again.
Today if you dare to tell the governor that things are wrong, he will say you are being sponsored by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), or foreign groups are giving you money. And I ask how could you be telling lies against your citizens?
Even if you are talking about PDP it is El-Rufai because that was where I knew him. So if PDP is evil then you are the number one evil, because I knew you in the PDP. It is just like blackmail, just blackmailing people.
Accuse them that they are PDP, so that they could not talk. But for me, if you tell me about how things can be corrected in Kaduna, I’m with that man that says the truth.
If I also feel that you are doing something wrong that will not help Kaduna, if you call me names that one is left for you. What I want to be sure of is telling you the truth, help you, help the government and help Kaduna State.
What do you think is the best way out of this problem?
They have been doing trial and error, they have done it several times, not once or twice, multiple times it is not working. What they need is to stop the trial and error and do reality.
To simplify the reality, the first thing the government needs to do towards addressing the insecurity is to unite the people, bandits can easily kill and destroy the people when they know you are divided.
Bandits could be exposed, overcome when the people are united, Kaduna is divided and the seed of that division comes from the governor and those working with him. Let them unite the state, carry all the citizens along.
In any society, even those you see as your enemies, you need their views to help solve problems. That is why in civilised societies, if they are setting up a committee, they will put a controversial person that will bring up different views from others.
The reason is that when coming up with a final report, it will not just be one sided, critical views will also be included. But today people are being forced to sing praises of those that are failing, because you don’t want them to abuse you. I will not support failure. I will not clap for failure. Unite Kaduna and these bandits will have to ground.