By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir
It is no longer news that on December 7, 2021, 42 innocent travellers were gruesomely burnt in a bus as they moved through Gidan Bawa village of Sabon Birni local government of Sokoto state. Thirty-five died instantly, and seven survived with very severe burns. May Allah shower their souls with his mercy.
The attack is one of the most horrendous and inhumane acts of the bandits that have since visited Northwestern Nigeria with an orgy of violence. I believe this barbaric act accounts more for Sheikh Gumi excusing himself from speaking on behalf of the bandits than the reason he gave – citing their proclamation by law as terrorists. This heartless, baseless and demonic act of burning a fellow human being alive has laid bare the true nature of what Nigeria has been fighting for so many years.
Fighter jets bombarded many enclaves of the bandits, east of Dumburoum forest in Zurmi, Zamfara, and also in Sokoto and Kaduna states, as well as ISWAP locations in far away Borno state, a day before this inhuman slaughter at Gidan Bawa. It is evidently a reprisal attack and an inadvertent confirmation of the nexus between ISWAP, Boko haram and Bandits – the same hydra-headed terrorism monster.
It is no longer news that northerners are moaning beneath the anguish of the mayhem that these ‘organisations’ have visited upon their people – annihilating human lives like they were crickets. More lives are lost to terror, and there doesn’t seem to be a decline. A 100 lives are lost in a week sometimes. Northerners are increasingly livid over the fact that PMB is a northerner. As President, he ought to secure his northern constituency – letting their governors, legislators, service chiefs and other top government functionaries off the hook for the bizarre and profoundly depressing situation of the North.
It is no longer news that the FG has made massive investments in security, purchasing no less than 60 fighter jets (fighter helicopters, FJ-17s, Super-Tucano, M346 Italian jets) along with battle tanks, MWRAPS, TAVORS, Armored navy vessels, and sophisticated surveillance systems. Bases have been positioned throughout the length and breadth of the war theatre. More boots are on the ground than ever, most definitely more than the civil war. All air assets have been deployed in the North to fight terrorism. So what in God’s name could be the problem?
It is no longer news that the weaponisation of poverty, in the long term, especially in Northern Nigeria, is mainly responsible for the hell pit we’ve found ourselves in. We watched our leaders dig us in and did us in while we egged them on for as long as it favoured us. We genuflected before them, made them take bows, applauded them – and allowed them to go scot-free. The masses and the village dwellers suffered this weaponisation with years of untold hardship, weeping blood. In contrast, we, the elite and the city dwellers, enjoyed all the blood money and whatever elitist pleasures therein. Now the shoe shiner is wielding an AK-47, so is the Maiguard. The herdsman is a warlord, so is the Vectra driver an informant. One of the Northern universities’ security chiefs is a kidnap kingpin, and a Hajiya in the village is the supplier of thousands of rounds of ammunition to bandits. The questions bang your scalp like the heavy August rainfall; who is not a bandit, or a terrorist, or an informant, or a kingpin or some helper of a sort to these terrorists? The North is hardly an image of its once prestigious self, now hunched with woes and barely a shadow of its erstwhile esteem. The hypocrisy screams to the high heavens, muttering sulky and morose invectives at PMB alone as the bane of our problems. Indeed.
It is no longer news that a foreign journalist, in an article titled, “The bandit warlords of Nigeria”, navigated the nooks, crannies and alleyways of bandits in the North, unharmed by these demons; inadvertently betraying the conspiracy of banditry in the North. He waxed politics with the bandits, claiming OBJ and Jona are far better than PMB, who the bandits say stifles Islam! Lord have mercy on our souls. He also erroneously put Fulani bandits as conquest driven Islamic extremists. This faulty description only further lumps Boko haram and Bandits together.
The news headline that should be etched into our consciousness is the reality of Nigeria long being marked as a state for Balkanisation. A proxy war is being fought out with our homeland as the battlefield. Eastern merchants versus western warlords are slugging it out, punch for pound. Islamic North, its idealistic and archaic ways are a thorn in their meal. As they carve their diamonds clean, our population suffers the brunt of their steel.
What is left for us is the Sunna of the Prophet (SAW), backed by his hadith, describing the bigger Jihad as striving for one’s cleansing and towing the path of righteousness – backed by Q22:78. The strange situation in the North is the duty of every northerner to un-knot, un-tie, and crack. Prophet SAW was the last one, so we have to be messiahs unto ourselves.
We must encourage ourselves to eradicate this phenomenon that has become the new Yahoo or money bet of the North. We must expose ourselves and fight ourselves by ourselves. No war ends with a gunshot. It can only start it. So we must sit together, back-benchers, frontliners, warts and all, voodoo if you like – and do the needful. As our faith is in our hearts, so is our fate in our own hands.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi. He wrote from Bauchi via email@example.com.