‘In­se­cu­rity in the North has po­lit­i­cal un­der­tone’

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS -

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.

Chief Joseph Gum­bari

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