opinionBy Abba Mahmood
As I always do on weekends anytime I have the chance, I was enjoying my delicious, nutritious zogale in the afternoon when I got the shocking news of the attack on the convoy of the Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero on Saturday afternoon, January 19, 2013, a few hours before the first anniversary of the horrendous attack on Kano city last year.
I kept making frantic phone calls to people I know to get more details. So many thoughts also kept running riot in my head as I try to piece together the information and to analyze them. Why Kano? Why Emir Ado Bayero? Who are these attackers? What do they want to achieve? There is need for more than prayers.
No less a person than President Goodluck Jonathan recently mentioned that most of Nigerian terrorists who have been making life difficult for all of us have been contained, substantially. I believe him because no one has greater information on the Nigerian situation than the president.
Now it is clear that either that information is inaccurate or the Nigerian brand of terrorism has become hydra-headed that as one head is cut several heads come out to continue these dastardly acts. There is need for more than prayers.
In Africa, losing any old one is like burning an entire library because of the immense native wisdom and wealth of experience that would be lost to generations. Can anyone imagine what would have taken place if those attacking Emir Ado Bayero had succeeded, God forbid? There would have been riots, bloodshed, chaos and anarchy. Only God knows what that would have led to.
But it is very clear that there are some people who are bent on destroying Nigeria and, God willing, they will not succeed. And God will surely expose them, whoever they are, because they are spilling the blood of innocent people and destroying the peace and prosperity of the entire nation. There is need for more than prayers.
San Kano Ado Bayero is a peaceful person who always preaches peace and admonishes peaceful coexistence. Emir Bayero is one of the most beloved traditional rulers in this country today. He is, today, the longest-serving first-class traditional ruler in Nigeria.
This year he will be celebrating his 50 years on the throne of Kano; he has therefore witnessed Nigeria's good, bad and ugly, having been Emir almost since independence. His public service experiences as a police officer, a civil servant, a diplomat and excellent administrator has seen him being loved, revered and respected by all.
Emir Bayero is one of the most just rulers Nigeria has ever produced. It is not for him to take people's houses, farmlands or any property. He does not discriminate against anyone. He treats everyone with fairness, equity and justice. Every radical politician has come and left him. In fact, Kano is the cradle of radical politics but even the radicals love him. Every conservative politician has come and left him. He has remained a father to all who is only after the peace and prosperity of his people and nation.
To prove the loyalty of the people to him, his guards even died in their bid to protect him from bullets. Can you name how many rulers can have people dying to protect them? The Kano emir's bodyguards are even more loyal than the US Secret Service agents because, at least, the Americans have guns to fire but these ones here just attempted to shield the Emir with just their body. This shows how dedicated they are to the traditional institution in general and to the Emir in particular.
The primary responsibility of any good government is the protection of life and prosperity of the people within its jurisdiction. It is very clear that government does not have the monopoly of these coercive instruments anymore. And it is very obvious that the strategy being used to fight terrorism so far is not very effective. Setting roadblocks and creating barricades across major cities have only succeeded in bringing hardship to the innocent. If it is effective, how come all these gunmen keep succeeding in their evil acts? So what is the point of these checkpoints and roadblocks if they can't stop them from these attacks?
That brings us to the Azare model which happened late last year. Azare is in Bauchi State. The community has been attacked several times by gunmen. It got to a point that some title holders of Katagum Emirate were killed in their homes. The people got fed up. They prepared to confront these gunmen anytime they attempted to attack anyone in that community.
Soon, these gunmen were so bold that they attacked Azare in broad daylight. The people resisted. Even when the police were reluctant to confront the gunmen, Azare people went ahead and overpowered them and handed them over to the authorities. There were casualties, of course, but no one could dare Azare again.
Constitutionally, security is a federal responsibility. But in reality it is everyone's responsibility. Every state governor is the chief security officer of his state and every local government chairman is the chief security officer of his local government area. There are security committees at all these levels.
Yet securing our various communities has eluded us. Is it because people have no confidence in government agencies that they do not volunteer information? Or is it because these agencies are under-equipped, under-trained and underpaid? Or is it a combination of these factors? There is need to look into these and to make everyone know that security is the responsibility of everyone.
It is not only terrorism that is Nigeria's security challenge. The State Security Service recently mentioned that kidnapping in the country is a major security threat. Many of my friends from the southeast could not travel home for Christmas due to this problem.
Even the mother of the minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Professor Kanene Okonjo, was recently kidnapped in her country home and the kidnappers demanded ransom. There are many others like that and it seems no one has been arrested for this. How can investors or skilled foreign workers come to our communities, with this threat?
Armed robbery is also on the rise. In many major cities, cars are snatched at gunpoint especially towards the end of the year. Others are attacked in their homes. Illegal oil bunkering is similarly on the increase. These are in addition to armed robberies on major highways across the country as well as armed banditry in the rural areas where farmers who take produce or animals to markets to sell are attacked and deprived of their hard-earned money.
Really, there is need for a new strategy to confront these security challenges before it degenerates into a class war, because it is very clear that taking local government funds to buy pick-up vehicles for the security agencies has not enhanced national security at all. And remember, we need more than prayers. God save Nigeria.