Recently, Zamfara was again in the news, when unidentified gunmen overwhelmed the security structure of the state, leading to the deaths of over 3000 persons and displacement of several others. As government and other stakeholders join in the search for peace, it is no wonder that the Nigeria’s Interfaith Forum for Peace (IDFP) has identified injustice and improper reward system as culpable in promoting the crises, UMAR MOHAMMED (Gusau) writes for LEADERSHIP Friday.
The Interfaith Forum for Peace (IDFP) is an organisation set up two years ago by the Vienna-based King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, popularly known as KAICIID Dialogue Centre and has an equal membership strength of 50 Muslims and Christians respectively
As an organisation committed to peace and dialogue, the IDFP recently embarked on advocacy and fact-finding mission to the state to discuss with critical stakeholders on reasons behind the incessant crises in the state.
The IDFP advocacy and fact-finding team to Zamfara State, led by Dankaden Bauchi, Alhaji Aminu Yakubu, went round various parts of the state to get firsthand information from critical stakeholders on reasons behind incessant crises plaguing the state. UMAR Mohammed reports on the event that lasted for four days and came up with various reasons including injustice and improper reward systems.
In the words of the former State Commissioner of Police, Mr Kenneth Ebrimson, “for the crises to be resolved, any effort deployed without engaging real actors of the conflict will prove fruitless at the end of the day. He said the crisis in the state was caused by criminals who are out to disturb the peace of the state”
He said, “apart from peace being a collective responsibility, major stakeholders must come together and assist in bringing peace,” adding, “For peace to be achieved, everybody involved in the conflict must come to the negotiating table. Security is a collective responsibility. We must rise above the normal talk of only restricting our search for peace to summit and workshops.”
The former police boss recalled, “There was the 2016 peace committee that worked to ensure a return to peace in Zamfara. We experienced a time of peace for over eight months, what happened? We need to revisit the report and find out what has really happened.”
The Emir of Anka (Sarkin Zamfara) and chairman of the Zamfara State Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Highness, Attahiru Ahmad Anka, identified injustice and improper reward systems as responsible for the spate of crisis in the state. He noted that government must show sincerity, including creating job opportunities for youths in order to improve conditions of living.
According to him, when there is justice and fair play, then society can progress for development. He told the IDFP team that he was delighted to see them in Anka and advised them to meet with relevant stakeholders in search of lasting peace. In his words, “We need unity and firmness of purpose to achieve peace. I call on our political leaders to ensure enforcement of laws without let or hindrance. In our own little way, we have been involved in searching for peace and mobilising our subjects for the attainment of peace”, he said.
The Emir of Chafe, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Muhammad Bawa Chafe, called on security agencies to increase vigilance in tackling criminal activities. For crisis to be tackled in the state, the monarch urged government to provide employments and create empowerment schemes to the people in order to discourage banditry and kidnappings, among others.
According to the Chafe monarch, “What I see as the main cause of these killings and other crimes is greed. People are so enmeshed in the quest for wealth that they easily forget that they are not going to live forever. I appeal to the state and federal governments to work towards provision of jobs for the people. Religious leaders should also be involved in appealing to their followers to embrace peace.”
At the town hall meeting that took place at the Maryam Hall in Gusau, the state capital, participants said what was needed to tackle insecurity in the state was basically sincerity truth and justice. A leader of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Arch Ibrahim Agege, said what was needed for peace in not only Zamfara but Nigeria was for government at all levels to create a level-playing field for her citizens, including herders.
Secretary of the state MACBAN, Suleiman Ibrahim, lamented that herders are victims of exploitation by traditional rulers in connivance with security and farmers.
“When our cows stray into farms, we are made to pay heavily and the money is shared amongst village heads, security personnel and the farmers whose crops have been destroyed,” he alleged.
A representative of the Hope Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, Mallam Abubakar Garba, said both government and traditional rulers should work together to find lasting peace, adding, “For peace to be restored in the state, the government and our monarchs must work together in sincerity in order to stave off further killings. Our religious leaders must preach peace and teach their followers the need to embrace dialogue in resolving conflict”.
A representative of a group, Taimakon Foundation, Mallam Husseini Abubakar, said the crisis would only end when people resolve to end it. In his words: “We all know those killing our people in Zamfara State. They live with us and carry weapons. We see them in our markets. It’s not true that those killing our people are from foreign countries,” he declared.
Another speaker, Alhaji Bello Duka, lamented the insecurity ripping across the state and called on both leaders in all sectors to end the killings and bloodshed. He said, “We can only resolve this crisis when we embrace sincerity and forgiveness for past killings. Vengeance can only elongate the crisis”.
Participants also charged political leaders to display transparency and rise up to the challenge of providing opportunities for citizens to realise their full potentials. They blamed politicians for some of the crises and noted that it was not enough for people to engage in violence on account of political differences.
The advocacy team also visited an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camp after the Emir of Anka (Sarkin Zamfara), Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad Anka, told the IDFP members that there were still some displaced persons in his emirate. Thereafter members were led to the yet-to-be completed New Emir Palace where no fewer than 120, comprising men, women and children were living. According to an official of the emirate, “In this IDP camp alone, we have no fewer than 120 displaced persons. There are about 80 in a secondary school that is not too far from here, with another 50 presently living at the New Jummah Mosque. In the heat of the violence that affected the emirate, His Royal Highness directed that the new palace, which is yet to be completed, should be opened for the internally displaced persons. Most of them, if not all, are not from Anka, but from surrounding towns located in Anka Local Government Area,” said the representative.
Addressing the displaced persons, the Head of the IDFP team and Dankaden Bauchi, Alhaji Aminu Yakubu, commiserated with the IDPs and said they were in the camp to sympathise with them over their present condition.
“We have heard of what has happened and we are here to talk to relevant groups in the state in a bid to find solutions to the problems plaguing Zamfara State. We wish to assure you that you are not alone in this, as many, like our Forum, are seriously concerned over your fate. We were unaware of the existence of any IDP camp in Zamfara. But now that we have seen one, we shall be sending our representatives with some provisions and items to cushion the challenges of living here,” he promised.
There is no doubt that the advocacy was a success as stakeholders came up with reasons behind the violence in the state and proffered solutions to the violence that has claimed no fewer than 3,000 lives. While leader of the team expressed joy at the enthusiasm shown by the monarchs, security agencies, clerics, among others, in overcoming the challenge of insecurity, Yakubu noted that all hands must be on deck to work towards peaceful resolution of the killings.
The leadership of the Organisation is headed by General Yakubu Gowon as chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, and president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle as patrons
For peace to be achieved, everybody involved in the conflict must come to the negotiating table. Security is a collective responsibility. We must rise above the normal talk of only restricting our search for peace to summit and workshops
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