Recently, Kebbi State was in the news for the wrong reason. Once the most peaceful state in the North and the rice hub of the nation, the state is witnessing an unpleasant if not disturbing encroachment by bandits and cattle rustlers.
We recall how Nigeria got entangled in this perennial insecurity that is tearing everyone apart. When rustling reared its ugly head, it seemed less of a security risk. But when banditry, kidnapping, abductions and terrorism joined the mix, it became a real menace.
Soon, Borno,Yobe and Zamfara states were engulfed in criminality of the type that is threatening the corporate existence of the country. Gradually, the bad groups have extended their devilry into Sokoto, Niger and Katsina states and is beginning to knock on the door of Kebbi State.
The main cause of concern is that Kebbi State shares international boundaries with Niger and Togo, while in Nigeria it shares borders with Niger, Zamfara and Sokoto with a large expanse of ungoverned forests. Dansigo to Ngaski local government areas are all in the fringes from where these bandits operate without hindrance.
It is important, in our opinion, that the military should fortify these zones especially in the southern senatorial zone from where these criminals launch their attacks.
The worry, we dare to reiterate, is that this development poses a serious threat to food security as Kebbi is the hub of the nation’s rice revolution. Not just that, the solid mineral effort that is part of the economic diversification drive is also under threat as these criminals turn it to a source of revenue as they mine them and use same to acquire the arms and ammunition they deploy in their dastardly activities.
It is from this standpoint that this newspaper is appealing to the Federal Government to energise the security agencies to step up their activities so as to be able to to stave off the looming food crisis.
However, we commend the latest directive by President Muhammadu Buhari in which he gave the security agencies the matching orders to be ruthless with bad elements making life difficult for everyone. If that is what the security agencies have been waiting for, now that they have got it, Nigerians expect to see changes in the operational capabilities of the security apparatus in terms of giving the terrorists the hard times they deserve. The essence of good governance is to protect lives and properties. We note that the people of Ribaoh local government area displayed recently their anger when they blocked the way of the state governor insisting that his effort was not good enough after the several killings and invasions.
But it needs to be emphasised that governors are mere figure heads in security matters. Considering the top to bottom command and control arrangement of the nation’s security architecture where every security issue must be cleared with Abuja necessarily before action can be taken.
One thing, in our considered opinion, that ought to be taken seriously by the security agencies as well as the state governments is that they must begin to act expeditiously on intelligence from agencies of government as well as the communities.
We have it on good authority that the main reason why it seems as if criminals are having the upper hand is that action on intelligence especially from the State Services is delayed needlessly.
In some cases, the intelligence so generated is betrayed by those who are supposed to act on them. The Governor of Niger State said so much recently.
We implore the security services not to be deterred by the inanities of enemies within the system and ensure that the criminals tormenting the society are defeated. This way parts of the country like Kebbi that are regarded as the food basket are secured.
In the meantime, we commend the governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, for his doggedness and resilience in the fight against banditry and kidnapping in the area.
His interface with security agencies and determination to overcome the security challenge has helped in securing the state and checking the spread of criminality in Kebbi.