Sani: We have locusts in the land, but we are not quick to deal with it
Northern elder and former National Publicity Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr. Anthony Sani, in this interview with SAXONE AKHAINE, spoke on the increasing wave of banditry in some parts of the North and the agony it has brought to the people in the affected communities.
What has led to the phenomenal rise in the attacks and killings in the North?
I believe the increase in cattle rustling has been due to several factors, namely, unemployment, non-profitability of armed robbery due to the introduction of e-payment and mobile banking, and influx of foreigners with arms after the fall of Ghadafi in Libya. Finally, the general collapse of national ideals and moral values, which have helped corruption in the polity, have also increased the incidence of banditry and clashes between herdsmen and farming communities, just as they have led to national malaise, as symbolized by terrorism, kidnapping, ritual killings, militant activism in Niger Delta and also baby factory across southern parts of the country.
Why do you think government is not giving much attention this development?
When you suggest that government has not given it the desired attention, I wonder whether you give fair and realistic assessment to the government’s effort in that regard. You may note that the government has given order to the security agencies to deal with violent herdsmen, to the extent of arresting all herdsmen found in possession of arms. The president has constituted a panel to look into how best the to curb incidences of cattle rustling and the clashes. Would you say the government is not serious?
Cattle rustling and clashes between herdsmen and farming communities are also reported in Northwest states of Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Kebbi and Sokoto. I recall my good friend, Senator Dan Sadau peeved by the incessant attacks in his village once called for declaration of state of emergency in Zamfara State. It seems to me some people want war declared against the herdsmen in the manner war has been declared against Boko Haram. But a total war would not be very strategic at this time, precisely because the government is already at war with Boko Haram.
Too many wars at the same time may not be the best strategic approach at this time. Most of all, in the case of clashes between the herdsmen and farming communities, it would be very hard because not all Fulanis are herdsmen. There are some Fulanis who are herdsmen and there are some Fulanis who are sedentary farmers. The challenges seem to be that the nation knows there are swarms of locust in the land, but we do not seem to know the pests.
And if we give cattle rustling a Fulani ethnic coloration, we would unwittingly provide criminals platforms on which to hide and perpetrate crimes and risk ethnic conflagration, knowing it is not possible to prosecute ethnicity or religious war.
What is the ACF doing to partner with government on this?
ACF is as concerned as any concerned groups about the incessant cattle rustling and clashes across the North, which pose security challenges to farming activities. It is against such backdrop that the forum has planned to organise a security summit for the purpose of finding lasting solution to the menace. Northern Elders Forum have organised one recently and the National Assembly is also planning to organise its own security summit. I believe such concerns and efforts will drive the seriousness of the national malaise into popular consciousness for effect.
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