‘Insecurity in the North has political undertone’
What do you feel could be done to tackle the insecurity in the country?
Insecurity is a global problem and individual countries have to design solutions that best address their specific cases. I believe the government is doing much already to at least reduce the problem. You will recall what was done to tackle the peculiar security issue that we had in the South South. In the Kaduna case , I saw a people who recognise that government did something very helpful by providing soldiers and the people were asking for more soldiers. I believe the government will listen further to the people and do what is needful to enhance security there.
As a leader in the ruling PDP, how do you react to criticism that the PDP government is not handling insecurity correctly?
When things like these killings of human beings happen, we shouldn’t talk politics and seek to score cheap points. Is it only PDP states that are faced with security challenges? To say that because we had this problem in Kaduna State, PDP government is not doing anything is not only to miss the point but to do so callously. We are talking about human lives.
We should view the problem honestly and offer useful solutions. People talk the way they do because 2015 is close. I will ask all Nigerians to regard security as a collective responsibility. Even the attacked communities, I told them that all the people of southern Kaduna and the traditional rulers should be actively involved in peace efforts, and not to fold their hands as if government must do everything. We have no room for laxity.
We must be security conscious. Sometimes we have this problem because we don’t give information to relevant quarters. Everybody is involved whatever party you belong to.
You mentioned traditional rulers, but they appear helpless, looking to government to do virtually everything.Whatdoyoumakeofthis?
I observe that we have only state chapters of traditional rulers. Let there be senatorial and smaller chapters too so that close networks of traditional rulers can exist to create such measure of collaboration that can detect and prevent these attacks. Traditional rulers of the different ethnic groups and communities need to frequently meet at the different levels, particularly traditional rulers along common boundaries, to share ideas, create mutual confidence, and unite
Former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Joseph Gumbari, says in this interview that the political class, traditional institution, as well as the elite must be actively involved in efforts to tackle insecurity around the country. Excerpts:
against common enemies who penetrate them to cause problems, because many of these attackers don’t live near the communities they attack. Besides, paramount rulers who are usually close to government have district heads who in turn have village heads under them. The levels are many and they should utilise the opportunity the hierarchy offers to address our security problems.
There should be no communication gap between the chiefs and village heads who are down there with the people. They need to know about people who come into their midst. Some deserve welcome, some are to be watched closely. When I go to my place for weekend, when people come to greet me, I tell them that we have the Fulani and we have all sorts of people in every nook and cranny of this country and that as far as we are all Nigerians, everybody has the freedom to go anywhere and stay anywhere.
The elite too must be involved. I’ve said it: security problem is every body’s business. Let’s form forums where we shall be meeting from time to time and be discussing. We shouldn’t just look to the government to prevent crisis or to stop it when it happens. Do something. We should all care even if it is not happening to us now. If we continue to be carefree, it will continue to expand and some day, it will reach us.
Governors complain that they have no real power over the federal police, do you support the call for state police?
We shouldn’t shy away from the truth. Some governors who oppose state police engage vigilante groups or some other forms of security arrangement. What is the great difference between these outfits and state police? For me, every state can have state police to complement the federal police because to effectively police the grassroots, you need policemen who know and understand the grassroots. Besides, we talk about unemployment, which contributes to the problem. A state police would absolve more youth.
Cattle herders and farmers are constantly clashing. How can the situation be checked?
It all comes down to what I said about stakeholders, including traditional rulers, forming close relationships. Even Fulani herdsmen have traditional institution. We should learn to understand one another. The farmers and the herdsmen are fundamental to any economy, so we all need one another. We should live as brothers and be our brothers’ keepers, not enemies. If we can find time to sit down and interact between the farmers and the Fulani herdsmen, with time we will get to understand one another and the problem will be solved.
It is said in some quarters that some of these crises are aided by politicians to advance political interests. Do you think so, especially with 2015 near at hand?
I could say yes, and I could say no. Yes, 2015, because some believe if they can’t be in power, other people should not be in power. They therefore cause problems. As a way out of this, we must generate employment. Much of the deliberately generated crises would abate if the youth that are used are gainfully employed.
So much has been said for so long about unemployment, yet little is achieved. You have just mentioned it. What is your idea of employment generation?
Unemployment is a global problem. It is the severity of it that varies. In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan is pursuing a transformation agenda and industrialisation is a major plank of the agenda. Once any country becomes industrialised, unemployment becomes less of a problem. Apart from industrialisation to reduce unemployment, there is the power supply component which is itself key to industrialisation. And it is just a matter of time. We complain a lot and give ourselves little time to achieve enduring progress. Our democracy started only in 1999, for instance, and we are already comparing ourselves with the likes of America.
We need change in our attitudes: impatience and so on. We should, for instance, change our attitude of blaming others for not doing certain things and forgetting to do our own part. Everybody must strive to do the right thing. As a journalist, do what your calling requires of you. As politicians we should rise in clean conscience to the needs of our people.
You have just visited the scene of the attacks in villages of Kaura LGA of Kaduna State. How did you feel about what happened?
In the first place, it was shocking news to us what happened in those places. We had never heard of a situation in which people were attacked in the middle of the night. I visited the site and I saw things for myself. I saw things I had never seen in my life, explosives used on human beings when they were fast asleep. Some people in that community were able to paint the correct picture of what I’m trying to say. About 50 people accompanied me there. Many of them shed tears.
We have problem in this country; the problem of insecurity is a very major problem now. We met the district head and one of the elite of one of the communities. Their major concern was the insecurity. They asked us to plead with the government to tighten security. They were requesting more soldiers to cover the villages. With enough security cover, people may be able to go back to their houses, especially those whose houses were not affected by the attackers, because some houses were burnt completely, in some cases with farm produce.