By Ibrahim Mustapha
The war against Boko Haram is nearing an end. The news emerging daily that many members of the deadly group are surrendering is cheering. However, mixed reactions have continued to trail their repentance. Since the group appeared to wage war against Nigeria, Boko Haram is reported to have killed over 100,000 Nigerians in addition to displacing millions of others. However, our committed and gallant soldiers deserve a pat on their back for ensuring they sustained the onslaught against the insurgents.
At least, the northeastern states, especially Borno, which is ravaged by the group’s activities, are heaving a sigh of relief after many years of horrible experiences. For the group members believed to have a strong link with ISIS to backtrack, repented and embraced amnesty, this is an indication of victory over them. Also, in a country overwhelmed by many security problems, the news of their repentance is a welcome development.
Ironically, while many Boko Haram members are surrendering and the government is rolling out programs to rehabilitate them, bandits in the northwestern states inflict more harm on the helpless, poor communities. In Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states, bandits have become kings. They impose taxes and only allow local farmers to harvest their crops if certain levies are paid.
In the last three months, there have been increasing cases of students’ abduction for ransom. The continued abduction of students has forced governments to close schools with dire consequences to the education development of the region. Sadly, these daredevil bandits have continued to rake billions of naira from the victims’ low-income families. Disturbed by the continued killings of his people, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State recently directed his people to arm and protect themselves against the rapacious bandits. However, Governor Masari’s self-defence statement indicates the government’s failure or inability to protect the lives and property of Nigerians as guaranteed by the constitution.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the recent shameful invasion of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) by bandits. Whether it was a security breach as alleged by the military or not, the audacity of those bandits proved the poor security network in our military formations. The unfortunate attack should serve as a wake-up call to the government that, like Boko Haram, the bandits are not only attacking soft targets but also highly secured places.
Ibrahim Mustapha writes from Pambegua, Kaduna State. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.