In the last 12 years, Nigeria has been buffeted on all sides by insecurity ranging from the activities of terrorists, Boko Haram and ISWAP, kidnappers, bandits, unknown gunmen to separatist movements. In the middle of all these challenges, the statistics of unemployed youths and graduates in the country have been rising in geometric proportions.
Speculations are rife that the issue of insecurity ravaging the country has powerful and seemingly invincible social sponsors like poverty and unemployment which often result in social vices like armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of criminality.
The North has had the lion’s share of security challenges over the period under review. It was against this backdrop that the Governors of Katsina, Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states recently locked down some communities prone to banditry and violent attacks. What’s more, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has shut down telecommunication masts in Zamfara.
Governors Aminu Bello Masari, Nasir El-Rufai, Abubakar Sani Bello and Bello Mohammed Matawalle had in separate directives called for restrictions of movement and some economic activities in frontline areas in their states. These areas, no doubt, have been battling insecurity for a long time now. But the unanswered questions on the lips of many Nigerians are: what are the implications of these decisions by the governors? Are they the best measures? What are the alternatives, if any?
The recent shutdown of cattle markets, activities of commercial motorcycles and weekly markets is in a way commendable, but at the same time it is likely to affect the livelihood of the people. Already, the locals whose livelihood depend on daily income from such little economic activities are beginning to feel the bite of these decisions. And before one knows it, crimes are likely to be exacerbated. This newspaper observed that life as the people know it, has come to a standstill in the affected areas as a result of the joint decisions by the governors.
In Katsina, the state government instituted a 12-point Order which banned the transportation of cattle to any state in the country as well as trucks/lorries carrying firewood from the bush and the sale of all animals at the markets of Jibia, Batsari, Safana, Danmusa, Kankara, Malumfashi, Charanchi, Mai’adua, Kafue, Faskari, Sabuwa, Bauer, Dustin and Kaita local government areas.
Katsina is a major supplier of livestock in the country and there are fears that the decision may affect the value chain. Again, the ban also affects the sale of second-hand motorcycles at Charanchi market. Outlawed also is carrying three persons on motorcycles as well as carrying more than three passengers on a tricycle.
The Jibia-Gurbi Baure road has also been closed to all motorists. Kankara-Sheme road is closed to all commercial vehicles.
The order has also limited the sale of fuel of not more than N5, 000 to motorists at only two designated filling stations in the local government areas, as well as the prohibition of the sale of petrol in Jerry cans at filling stations among others.
In Niger, it is reported that the state government has directed that any vehicle carrying cattle into the state must show a way-bill and evidence of origin where the cattle were purchased and their destination. The state also banned the operations of trucks carrying firewood and timber and restricted the movement of motorcycles from 6pm to 6am in Minna and environs.
It is obvious, in our view, that innocent citizens are likely the ones to bear the pain. And that’s the reason why the state governments should ensure that some measures are put in place to cushion the effects of the lockdown on the people. We acknowledge that what the governments did was in the best interest of the people, but in our opinion, it has to be practically demonstrated and with a human face. The people will, therefore, need to cooperate with the government in implementing these new measures.
We also think that the state governments should seek the support of the federal government to flush out criminals hibernating in the forests. The state governments on their part have argued that the security measures would no doubt affect economic activities of the people, but it is a small price to pay. They believe that if this decision is taken seriously and implemented, it will definitely box the bandits into a corner.
We are calling on security operatives to constantly be on standby because the bandits can also use this moment of lockdown to unleash more terror on the people. Otherwise, the decision would be counterproductive. And may even compound the already bad situation when hunger expands beyond its present level. The bandits have stopped many people from going to their farms and the government is now depriving them of going to the markets, while the terrorists are everywhere.