Security of lives and property of citizens is a cardinal responsibility and first priority of every responsible Government. It’s, however, obvious that the lingering famers-herders clash has continued to be pervasive, especially in Northern Nigeria. This ugly situation, unfortunately, has been ravaging the region, bedeviling its progress and threatening the fabric of its social structure.
It could be remembered that last week Monday, June 29, 2020 and Tuesday, June 30,2020, were fateful days to the residents of Zadawa Village, Misau Local Government Area of Bauchi State, as there was a communal clash between herders and famers of the village. The bloody clash which culminated in the death of 9 innocent lives and 6 people wounded severely, is said to be the most dastardly, in Bauchi State in recent time.
It was learnt that the bloodshed was over ownership of land earmarked in the surrounding settlement where herders are located and had been grazing for several years even though the land belonged to government. Investigation indicates that the land was to be converted to farming land without due process by some local government officials who are believed to connive with the farmers; a development that did not go down well with the herders.
The disasterous incident left the people of the village mourning and floundering as to how on Earth could the Local Government officials and Traditional rulers be so negligent to fail to contain the situation ealy. They, therefore, expressed their dismay, calling on the Government to bring to justice, those behind their tribulation.
Shortly thereafter, following the preliminary investigation which incriminated officials of Misau Local Government, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Muhammad, exhibited pragmatic approach and security sensitivity to promptly suspend the Caretaker Chairman of Misau LGA, Yaro Gwaram, the deputy, Baidu Kafin-Misau, and his secretary, Usman Abdu, Wednesday July 1st, 2020 for their failure to stop the violence.
Two days later, despite the Governor’s high esteem for Traditional rulers, on Friday, July 3rd, 2020, following the receipt of additional petitions at his disposal from some communities, he did not hesitate to suspend (indefinitely) His Royal Highness, the Emir of Misau, Alh. Ahmad Suleiman; the District Head of Chiroma (the Chiroma Misau), the Village Head of Zadawa or his representative. The Governor who also inaugurated a 13-man investigation panel tasked with the responsibility of identifying the remote and immediate causes of the clash, clarified that the suspension of the rulers was to enable the investigation committee work objectively without interference, and submit its report within the 3 weeks timeframe. The Governor assured of his readiness to deal with anyone found culpable in the clash regardless of his social status.
These proactive measures by the indefatigable Governor towards curtailing the ugly situation at the onset, have since been receiving encomiums and commendation from across the country and from across the Political Spectrum. Even the opponents of Governor Bala Muhammad can not go blind to the Vista of the fact that the Governors’ uncommon and quick response with a view to averting reoccurrence of such terrible and avoidable situation; is worthy of appraisal. Even if one decides to be silent about this commendable move by the Governor, his conscience must push him to confess that Senator Bala has used his wealth of experience to act proactively to searve a deterrence. Fortunately enough, everyone is now taking stock of his responsibility in the area.
From experience, its realized that handling security challenge with a lackadaisical approach, whereby higly placed people are allowed to do and undo without calling them to order, has always contributed greatly towards fueling and escalating the situation. The ugly security situation currently befalling other Northern States such as Zamfara, Kaduna, Yobe among others, started like play like this, with tiny miscreants, but has now deteriorated , becoming disheartening, claiming dozens of lives. This reason is not unconnected with why Governor Bala had to rise up and face the reliality of the situation with full power.
On the other hand, it’s common knowledge that conscientious Governor Bala Muhammad has an extraordinary respect for Traditional rulers, so much so that, in any decision-making process in the State, he carries them along. Despite this rare characteristic the Governor is endowed with, he did not hesitate to suspend a First Class Emir and two other traditional rulers. This indicates clearly that the Governor values life first and that he is very aware of the cardinal responsibility he is saddled with. It also proved beyond reasonable doubt that under his watch, security breach would not be tolerated.
Had it been other States of the Northeast and Northwest, where farmers-harders clash and other security challenges have been terrorizing, were blessed with the likes of sagacious Governor Bala, the narrative would have been different. This is because the Governor has within one week paved the way for peace to restore, which if had been handled lackadaisically, it could have taken forever to contain the situation. The people of Zadawa Village who were in constant fear last week are now stabled, going about their businesses.
In this regard, even the worst enermy of Governor Bala Muhammad can boldly say that, the Governor’s unique approach towards addressing this challenge has made a difference. His bravery to overlook social status and act in conformity with the provision of law, is an exemplary leadership quality the Governor’s counterpart across Nigeria ought to emulate.
It’s imperative for the Local Government officials and Traditional rulers of Zadawa Village, Misau and other places to learn from experience that Injustice and peace never exist under the same shadow.
To sum up with message to the herders and farmers of Zadawa Village and anywhere in Nigeria, they all need to understand that their existence in the same place is a blessing by the Almighty, because the dung from the animals of the herders is a manure to the farmers. This means their occupations are interdependent and interwoven. It’s, therefore, pertinent to harness the opportunity by embracing peace. Mark Gough says “human security depends on a system where each rational individual calculates that it is more profitable not to rebel.”
Sulaiman Maijama’a writes from Faculty of Communication, BUK
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