Ningi in Fears and Tears

The way and manner security is deteriorating in Ningi Local Government should be a thing of concern to all of us because Ningi is gradually descending into Bauchi State’s insecurity hotspot. Virtually, on a daily basis, you hear stories of suspected kidnappers’ attacks on towns and villages, abducting individuals mostly for ransom and in some cases killing some in the process.

I travelled home recently to celebrate Eid-el-Kabeer, as it has been my culture every year, but what I saw was very scary. This year’s Sallah in Burra and most parts of Ningi Local Government was not only colourless but full of fear and uncertainty. Our traditional rulers who make every Sallah festivity colourful deserted their domains because of the fear of abduction by the rampaging kidnappers. Wealthy individuals have gone into hiding because they are part of the prime target for abduction. From Kafin Lemo to Tabla, Yadagungume to Balma and most strategic communities, the kidnappers operate mercilessly, abducting, killing, collecting ransom and issuing threats and warnings. The rampaging kidnappers focused on the abduction of traditional rulers, wealthy individuals and businessmen. Village heads of Balma, Bukutumbe, and the family of the village head of Magamin Kano in neighbouring Sumaila Local Government of Kano State, among many other individuals, were all kidnapped, and some are still in captivity. Most businessmen and wealthy individuals in Balma, Musussuka, Tabla, Bashe, Agwarmaji, Balma, Dingis, Jangu, Jimi, Yadagungume, Yuwa, Tipchi, Sabuwar Kaura, Gamji, Ruwan Dinya, Gwandabi, Agwarmaji, Bukutumbe, Dogon Ruwa and many other villages have gone into hiding and their businesses and enterprises are shut down for the fear of the kidnappers.

Just yesterday, we received another shocking report of the abduction of five individuals in Jimi and the killing of an Igbo businessman in Balele. This is the story of every day in Ningi. Another dimension that the criminals took, is issuing threats to rich individuals by asking them to pay some certain amount of money or be kidnapped. Many have succumbed to these threats. Although authorities, especially the Bauchi State Government, Ningi Local Government Council and security agents are doing remarkably well in tackling the security problem, there is a need to look at the root causes of the situation. What are the factors that made Ningi Local Government this vulnerable and a safe haven for criminal elements, especially kidnappers?

You don’t need any soothsayers or pundits to tell you that the sorry situation we find ourselves in Ningi Local Government is the product of greed, unpatriotic activities and recklessness of some members of the society and corrupt government officials. We have several times raised alarm on the activities of some non-state actors aided by some government officials and certain elements in the traditional institutions who took illegal possession of all Government’s forest and grazing reserves, sold them to unknown individuals and engaged in unprecedented logging. Almost every forest reserve in Ningi Local Government is sold to these unknown individuals, mostly from Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina States who later migrated to the hitherto protected forest reserves and established their villages, hamlets and whatnot. We all know what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Kaduna States. I wonder what could make us more vulnerable to security threats and environmental disasters than this. But we were called all sorts of unprintable names for exposing this greatest scandal and threat in the history of Ningi Local Government. Politicians, some traditional rulers and government officials who were united in the scandal twisted every narrative about the situation using politics, religion, sectionalism and closeness to the Government. Today, because of the greed and selfishness of these individuals Ningi and its neighbours have become an insecurity hotspot and everybody is living in fear while many families are in tears because their loved ones are either killed or kidnapped. What leaves everybody in wonders is how the perpetrators of the actions that invited insecurity in our Local Government were not made to face the wrath of the law. They are not only walking freely with their heads higher but continue with their devilish acts and engaged retinue of social media sycophants praise-singing them every day. One can’t even understand when one hears that rival groups who engaged in the illegal selling of the forest reserves in Ningi instituted many court cases against each other, claiming ownership of one portion of the forests or the other. Where do they get this gut? And nobody is doing anything. It really sucks.

The truth is that while Governor Bala Abdulkadir Muhammad is a cosmopolitan politician whose vision and mission on environmental protection, security and climate change are faultless, most politicians in Ningi and other Local Government Areas didn’t share his vision and mission and will never allow him to understand what is really happening in these Areas. Most local politicians’ political ambition and struggles centred on the lust to sell forest reserves or logging. It’s difficult to finger who is innocent. Because of our ‘I don’t care and lackadaisical attitude’, some unpatriotic elements among us have not only plunged our Local Government into security problems but endangered our environment and destroyed our economy. Our society has become a lawless one. Illegal selling of government forest reserves and properties has become the norm. Now in Ningi logging is no longer done in hiding. By the roadsides timbers and charcoals are being produced and transported in daylight. All sorts of criminal elements are trooping to Ningi unhindered. Politicians irrespective of party affiliation are united in shortchanging the society.

Therefore, to efficiently tackle the insecurity bedevilling Ningi Local Government, the authorities should not only face the criminals but also look at the causes of the problems and eliminate them. The Government must take decisive action on the issue of the illegal sale of some forest reserves in Ningi Local Government by acting on the recommendations of various committees it had established to investigate the matter. All illegal dealings should be cancelled, culprits punished and those involved shouldn’t be allowed to take up any government position again. Furthermore, Governor Bala Abdulkadir Muhammad should come up with a State policy on our forest reserves with a view to making them for proper and safe use. There is also the need of conducting a headcount of all new villages and hamlets that emerged and dominated the Ningi Local Government Area recently. Their occupants should be known. Our security agencies should be proactive, engage in more intelligent gathering and work with their colleagues in Kano State in order to restore normalcy in our Local Government. People of Ningi Local Government should complement the Government and the security agencies by reporting all criminal and suspicious activities in their communities. Politicians, government officials, traditional rulers, community leaders and religious leaders should fear God and not engage in any activity that endangers society.

Abdul Ahmad Burra wites from Bauchi State

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