KATSINA DEY BURN OGAPATAPATA DEY “ENJOY” IN LONDON
“A leader is best/ When people barely know he exists…/Worst when they despise him…. Lao-tsy, Chinese philosopher 6th century.
VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, P 124.
Long before one Ogapatapata announced he was going to London for a private visit, Katsina State had become the kidnapping capital of Nigeria. Its next door neighbours – Zamfara and Kaduna – pushed Borno State off the top of the murder chat; and it is now a two-way race to capture the gold medal for mayhem between the two North West states. Gradually, Nigeria, already the world’s leader in poverty, children out of school, maternal deaths, children dying before they reach the age of five, polio, measles and several other miseries afflicting mankind is moving up to claim the dubious gold medal for homicides in a country not at war. And, just as if to prove that the rough-necks have little respect for Nigeria’s Commander-In-Chief, C-I-C, of the Armed Forces, they have taken the battle for control to Katsina. There is a touch of morbid irony in all these. And, former President Jonathan must be mildly amused by what is going on. There were no roughians in Daura in 2015.
In 2013-2015 when it was only Boko Haram, BH, threatening three or four states in the Northeast, the entire country was deafened by the noise of CHANGE. Each time BH struck anywhere, one noisy fellow, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, one Alhaji Lai Mohammed, fired off a press release to all media houses asking Jonathan to resign if he was incapable of ensuring the security of Nigerians. APC members thought he was clever. I knew they were all very stupid. Even if Jonathan had accepted the advice, his resignation would not have brought Buhari to power immediately. Instead, the former Vice President would have taken over and he would have appointed another VP. A hundred PDP Presidents could have resigned between 2011 and 2015 and APC would still have had to wait until 2015.
“He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his word good.”
Confucius, Chinese Philosopher, 551-479BC. VBQ p 162
The impression they gave “Fellow Nigerians”, including the people of Zamfara and Katsina was that candidate Buhari being a retired General (in how many wars did he take part before becoming General, we might ask?) would step in and wipe BH off the map. CHANGE!! We (including me) were gullible enough to believe all the propaganda of Lai Mohammed and the APC. History would record that as Buhari was finishing his first term in office and about to start his second term, BH is still around. And, whereas BH was the only terrorist group the nation knew under GEJ, several more had been added since 2015.
First, Fulani Herdsmen, a group which had appointed the President as their Life Patron, now kills as many Nigerians all over the country as BH does in the North East. Whereas Buhari had no hesitation going after BH, he started by offering excuses for the herdsmen, blamed state governments for attempting to save their farmers and communities from herdsmen attacks. He all but provided them with immunity from punishment. During all these atrocities, Lai Mohammed, who had transformed to Minister of Information did not once ask Buhari to resign. That should tell you something about the man’s lack of principles.
“Against stupidity [of Nigerian governments] the gods themselves struggle in vain.” Frederick Von Schiller, 1759-1805, German Philosopher.
Second, with one terrorist group virtually granted immunity, others in the North started organising. Cattle Rustlers (that is the elegant name given to vicious and armed livestock thieves) increased in number and ferocity. They also spread to more states from their original base in Zamfara State. Just as they did with the herdsmen, Buhari and his security officers, as well as Ministers ignored the problem – ill-advisedly expecting it to go away by itself.
Obviously, none of them has ever heard that “appetite grows with eating”. The more the rustlers succeeded the more of them there were and the more each armed robber wanted. They have seen new mansions springing up in Katsina and Daura now owned by “never-do-wells” since Buhari became President. They recognise “Wealth without work” when they see it; and they want their own share of the national cake – with no more investment than what is needed to procure an AK-47.
It is difficult to determine when they transformed from just rustling to limitless banditry – with kidnapping as a subsidiary business. But, by the time our self-admitted “Baba Go Slow” went about campaigning for the second term, the terrors he had either ignored or been too slow to understand had gone out of hand. Governor Masari of Katsina had joined Yari of Zamfara before the February elections in raising alarm that their states were increasingly under the control of bandits. At least, this is one problem which Buhari, ever ready to shift the blame for his government’s failures cannot attribute to Jonathan and the PDP. Lai Mohammed remained mute.
“It ain’t the things you don’t know that cause the problem; it’s things you think you know that ain’t so.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882.
The President went on campaigning for second term without taking any discernible measures to check the spread of banditry and kidnapping. Like all short-sighted leaders, he assumed and behaved as if the problems would wait until he had secured the coveted second term. Very selfish! Buhari operated in almost total ignorance of the growing menace of banditry, kidnapping, extortion of farmers and communities in the Northwest because he had assembled perhaps the most incompetent security officers ever in Nigerian history – Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser, Director General of DSS, all the Service Chiefs and the former Inspector General of Police. Whatever they reported to him about the NW was either mostly inadvertent falsehood or based on poor intelligence or even sabotage. I travelled to Sokoto through Kebbi and came down through Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna three times last year and twice to Kano State. As early as April last year, there were signs that large areas of some of those states, especially Zamfara, were not totally under government control. Bandits commandeered food stuffs, particularly rice, with impunity all over.
If Buhari was informed, his neglect of the rising insecurity was absolutely inexcusable. If he was kept in the dark, perhaps he should examine possibilities of punishing the officers – including those who are no longer in office. They have individually and collectively endangered all our lives. What we have experienced is nothing compared to what will follow. The bandits are now well-entrenched.
“Commuters shun buses, besiege Abuja train stations.” PUNCH, May 4, 2019.
When suicide bombers exploded bombs in Abuja and Jonathan went dancing in Kano, he probably sealed his own fate in 2015. Citizens, all over the world, take dim view of a President who goes on foreign trips, unless medically challenged, during a national crisis involving loss of several lives. Callousness is the least charge against the leader who does that. Buhari’s recent departure, deliberately shrouded in mystery by him and his dishonest handlers, has coincided with the period when the deadliest attacks by the new terrorist groups took place. Buhari has not cut short his trip despite that. If he is sick once again, he cannot blame anybody for being regarded as heartless. If he is not sick, then words fail me to describe his absence.
While it might be difficult to call what Buhari did by a name, the bandits have “spoken” loud and clear in Daura and Kaduna-Abuja way. These hardened criminals must have absolute contempt for the C-I-C to have gone within striking distance of Buhari’s compound at Daura to snatch a traditional leader. The message is quite clear – “Even you are not safe in Daura Mr President”.
However, the significance of all the other atrocities pale into insignificance compared with the seizure of the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway by the hoodlums. Kaduna was the regional capital of the Northern Region before states were created. It is still the second most important city in the North and the Governor, who cannot be believed, claims that he had secured $500 million foreign investment in four years. Now, Kaduna has been added to the “murder” states of the North West; in fact it is now the leader by far. With the Kaduna-Abuja road now unsafe, those wanting to leave Kaduna are trapped. Going to Kano or Katsina is out of the question. Niger State has also joined the “murder” states. So, that is also out. It will be interesting to see how many of those who pledged to invest $500 million in Kaduna will exercise their option and receive bullets in the heads for their generosity. Does Buhari give a damn? I don’t know. Do you?
“When your neighbour’s fence is on fire; it becomes your business.”
To be quite candid, it is the invasion of Daura and the President’s silence that really bothers me. It is very symbolic. Historical rumours have it that “Nero fiddled while Rome burnt”. Is Buhari “in the other room” enjoying while Katsina and Daura are going up in flames? If so, the bandits have every reason to despise him. Meanwhile, Lai Mohammed is not asking for the President’s resignation. In one interview as APC spokesman, he claimed that he was carpeting Jonathan because it was the patriotic duty of every Nigerian to speak out at a time like this. Well, things are worse now. That reminds me of that rock thrown at self-proclaimed patriots by Dr Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” Can it be true in this case?
WHY ME? INCREDIBLE TO BE 75.
“Miracles happen to those who believe in them.” Anonymous.
I came across that statement while collecting materials for the VANGUARD BOOK OF QUTATIONS, VBQ, in a Public Library in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1970 – just twenty six years old and wrote it down. By the time I started final compilation of the book, I had lost my two remaining elder brothers in the Sobowale family; none of them made it to 60 years. For my family, the only miracle we prayed for was for a male child to reach 60 in two centuries. I lost all hopes in the miracle and deleted the quotation from the book.
My eldest brother who died in 1990 was the most painful. I was in Sokoto planting, buying and milling rice at Haske Rice Mill, Kalambina Road and I was also preparing “special rice” for my brother’s 60th birthday – together with pure groundnut oil to cook all meals. Late Chief Sanu Sobowale, Commissioner for Justice under Governor Jakande passed away a few weeks before reaching 60. I was the last of our generation. If I didn’t make it, the curse would pass to the next generation. I was an unlikely candidate to reach 10 – not to talk of 60 and I was 46 then. I was convinced that I would never reach 60. To begin with I was born prematurely at seven months and spent weeks in a makeshift incubator at Massey Children’s Hospital, Itafaji, Lagos Island with the doctors certain I would not make it and the nurses praying I would.
On May 8, 2019, I turned 75. The Almighty is exceedingly generous. Miracles happen even to those, like me, who don’t believe in them.
The question bothering me now is: Why me?
P.S. No money for a big bash; just a small get together planned for a few friends after the Ramadan out of respect for our Muslim brothers and sisters. Happy Ramadan to all of them.