By Dr Musab Isah Mafara
The security situation in Zamfara State demands immediate and resolute action from the state and the federal government of Nigeria. Security, undoubtedly, should be the topmost priority of any government, as it lays the foundation for meaningful development and progress. Regrettably, recent events and the ongoing spate of attacks across the state indicate that more substantial efforts are required to ensure the safety and well-being of the people.
The recent official recognition and recruitment of ‘Yan-Banga by the state government is a step in the right direction. This move acknowledges the need for additional security personnel to combat the rising wave of criminal activities. Furthermore, the swift response and the rescue of some of the kidnapped students of FUG two days ago is a testament to how the reaction time of the security apparatus in the state has improved. However, one may argue that a similar response has not been seen where the helpless victims were not students. And since we are yet to know the actual number of students kidnapped, it is not far-fetched to assume that some students may still be in captivity in addition to hundreds of Nigerians in the kidnappers’ dens in Zamfara state and beyond.
While we acknowledge that the government may be undertaking efforts behind the scenes, the prevailing situation demands a more visible and concerted response. The spate of attacks that continue to plague the state is a clear indication that there are still gaps in the security apparatus. It is imperative that the government takes swift and decisive action to bridge these gaps.
In his book, Wujubul Hijrah, Shehu Usmanu Danfodiyo discussed the need for a leader to prioritize security even if it means spending all the state resources to ensure the safety of his people. Shehu wrote:
وسيرة ائمة العدل في الفيء والخمس ان يبدا بالسد المخاوف والثغور واستعداد الات الحرب واعطاء المقاتلة فان فضل شيء فللقضاة والعمال وبنيان المساجد والقناطر ثم يفرق على الفقراء فان فضل شيء فالامام مخير بين تفرقته على الاغنياء وخبسه لنوائب الاسلام
(Words in square brackets [ ] are mine to further explain the points made)
“The history of just leaders as regards to [the wealth generated by the state through] fai’ and khumsi [two of the many means of generating income to the treasury of the state] is that the leader should start with fortifying the state [walling the cities, building garrisons, etc], procurement of armament, and paying the salaries/allowances of soldiers. If something remains [in the treasury after that] then the leader should pay the judges and civil servants, and build mosques and bridges [and by extension roads]. And then he distributes the wealth to the poor [this could mean direct cash transfer but also providing social amenities such as schools and hospitals]. If there is still money [in the treasury after all these expenses] then the leader is given the choice of distributing it to the rich or keeping it for a rainy day.”
The quoted text clearly shows the need to give absolute priority to security above all else in the running of a state. Financial investment in the security sector should be a priority, as it is an indispensable component of effective security measures. There is also a need for our security strategy to move from being reactive to attacks to being proactive and preventing attacks. So many villages have been attacked, so many students have been kidnapped that the next attack is a question of when not if. The security measures must also be sustained for the foreseeable future. What tends to happen is that every time a school is attacked, the security agencies become active in some flash points for some days only to let their guards down after a while, until we are taken by ‘surprise’ again by the bandits.
The time for decisive action is now. The people of Zamfara State deserve to live in an environment where their safety and security are guaranteed. The government must intensify efforts, allocate adequate resources, and collaborate with relevant stakeholders, especially the two ministers of defence, to fortify security across the state. Only by doing so can Zamfara State flourish, with meaningful development and progress becoming attainable goals.