By Yusuf Idris Gusau
In life, there is nothing like peace because it breeds harmony and development for communal and national growth with both the government and the governed rubbing each other back.
Even the religions that we ascribe teach us how to live in peace and harmony for the benefit of all.
However, since human beings are, by their creation made of various human nature, there are those who see peace as a threat to their existence and so will be bent in seeing that the most wanted peaceful coexistence is something they will dread and will sink in all their wealth and strength to truncate any peaceful coexistence because that is what gives meaning to their own lives and livelihood.
The state of Zamfara had once upon a time been the most peaceful state in all the states of the federation with almost everything moving steadily.
The state which is predominantly Muslim allows all other faith especially Christianity to practice their religion without any hindrance, schools that are established by Muslims are fully attended by Christians and vice versa while churches are built along major roads for Christians to go and worship at all their stipulated times without any need for security cover until when Boko Haram emerged that government decided to provide such security in case of an unforeseen crisis, but even at that, all the religions are practiced peacefully throughout the state.
Unfortunately, armed bandits and their sponsors especially at the later stages of the nation’s return to civilian rule in 1999, felt the state was not going the way it wanted it as such, towards the end of 2010 they started to unleash terror on the state.
Though it started as the traditional farmer/ Harder skirmishes, not even the intelligent security operatives knew that it was the birth of the bigger and hard to control security crisis that was to later spread mainly across all the Northwestern states and Niger state while pockets were also extended to other states.
When governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle became the governor of Zamfara state on May 29, 2019, and has come with the zeal to address the major failures of the past administration in the state, especially the issues of Security, education, healthcare delivery and the establishment of a new Zamfara among others, little did he bargain or knew that the task before him on security was far more than he thought.
The governor who was luckily a one time Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Security, however, was not deterred by the situation and so devised new approaches to the security situation which was my first calling on stakeholders including traditional rulers to hear from them on how to go about it and next by setting up a committee that will also advise on the way forward.
It was after all these had been done that the government began to identify the bandits’ leaders and camps who were already into the deadly trade of armed banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and other heinous crimes perpetrated on innocent citizens of Zamfara State by making life very hard with people living in fears having been sacked completely from their villages which had also been razed down by the rampaging bandits.
In order to see that peace returned and allow people to go back and rebuild their villages and homes, as well as return to their farms to retain the state’s slogan of “farming is our pride,” the governor called for a truce, inviting the bandits’ leaders and their strong lieutenants for discussions at the JB Yakubu State Secretariat Conference Hall where an understanding was reached with a large percentage of both local vigilantes (Yansakai) and Fulani accepting the peace accord and unconditionally surrendering their arms with the promise to assist the state government by calling on the unrepentant ones among them to also lay off their arms and return to being good citizens in the society.
Despite the mounting pressure from many quarters on the governor to abandon his peace and reconciliation initiative with the bandits because some of them had refused to key into the initiative, Matawalle who was in desperate need of sustained peace in his state refused to bulge for the fear that doing so could lead to the spilling of more blood, especially that of armless, helpless innocent victims. But at the same time, the governor kept cautioning the unrepentant men of the underworld of the readiness of his administration to carry out kinetic action against the bandits.
Both the threats and the non-kinetic approach by governor Matawalle have yielded appreciable results until the emergence of a new wave of threats which suddenly appeared in full force and defied all forms of measures to stop the trend of criminality in the state.
Following the failure of the notorious bandits, their leaders and camps to surrender to security forces or state authorities in the name of complete repentance, the governor who had severally told the criminals that no one had a monopoly of firepower and having been fed up by the lies some of the bandits used to show the government that they had left their bad ways which also meant having exhausted all the peace channels with the unrepentant ones vehemently refusing to key in, the governor with the endorsement and support from President Muhammadu Buhari who permitted the release and deployment of more military to the state and having secured the shutting off of all GSM network by the service providers in the state, the governor mobilised to the bushes where unprecedented criminals were eliminated within a short period of time.
The continued firepower extensively and simultaneously carried out ground and air since on 3rd September, highly disorganised and significantly decimated the bandits who now came begging to be allowed to repent but met brick walls for this, as the time for the repentance had passed.
The governor also banned the use of some motorcycles commonly used by the bandits in the state which is largely being used by the bandits to attack innocent citizens and order the arrest of any moving motorcycles a development which now crippled the bandits’ movement and the military are recording success on the ongoing onslaught and a large number of the bandits were treated with the language they understand while others are on the run for their lives.
Similarly, the governor is also closely monitoring the progress and success recorded by the military against the criminals by visiting the joint troops at their base in order to boost their morale and make sure the fight against banditry is won completely in the state
Other neighbouring state governments need to also join and replicate the efforts of Governor Matawalle so that jointly the bandits will have no hiding place.