By Yushau A. Shuaib
“And fear the fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong.” – Quran 8 verse 25
The above is a verse from the Holy Quran, which my late father, Imam Abdulhameed Shuaib Agaka usually cited when trouble brewed and the community kept silent, without seeking to address it.
The Qur’anic verse cautions society against failure to act when atrocities are being committed because the repercussions of silence and inaction could be severe (painful), not only for the perpetrators but the society at large.
Since the return to a democratic system of government over two decades ago, Nigeria has witnessed unbecoming violent attitudes that were seemingly tolerated by the society, before they later snowballed into the nightmarish monsters that we have today.
For various reasons, including cultural, religious, social and political dispositions, the society had been displaying a nonchalant attitude to most of the ills that have come to afflict it presently. One wonders if the past inactions of the government, community leaders, traditional institutions and youth activists were not the enabling factors for the perpetration of the rot that we are witnessing today in society.
We can easily remember the introduction of ‘political sharia’ rather than true Islamic Law in Zamfara State in 2000, which imposed discriminatory punishments for offences including the amputation of the hands and limbs of the poor for lesser offences of theft, while the rich, who could be politicians and public office holders, rob the people of their collective patrimony through the pen, yet barely get a slap on the wrist when they are caught. The rich easily get granted bail, which is usually one step to their gradual discharge from the crimes committed. Today, Zamfara is the headquarters of banditry in the country.
We can recall the activities of the lawless kids of Maiduguri over a decade ago, which had then influenced my article, “Killing in the Name of the Devils” in 2006, when they killed and destroyed the assets of non-indigenes and others in the city over flimsy excuses which triggered reprisal attacks somewhere else. Today, Borno State, with Maiduguri as capital, is regarded as the epicentre of terrorism in Nigeria.
Kaduna, which was earlier one of the most peaceful and secure states in Nigeria, has also tasted the fruit of lawlessness, when after the massacre of Shi’ite in December 2015, including pregnant women and kids by Nigerian soldiers, young miscreants sought recourse in looting the assets and corpses of the dead, yet the government and community kept mum as if the carnage was no big deal. Kaduna today hosts the dens of kidnapping kingpins and is location to recurrent ethnic flares of violence.
In Eastern Nigeria, we noticed how ferocious secessionist activities were condoned and celebrated in the past, but the region has woken up to the reality of control of non-state actors and vicious armed groups who have taken to imposing sit-at-homes on the people on Mondays. This has been going on alongside some of the most ruthless campaigns of extermination of the people and security personnel on a regular basis.
In the North-Central, while farmers and cattle herders had initially co-existed peacefully, however with the antagonism of political crusades, it was not long before states like Plateau and Benue become the hotbeds of communal clashes.
I can go on and on about how governments, community leaders and even different societies have failed to act decisively when the unbecoming attitudes of our kids, especially the youths, were gradually becoming a source of concern.
At this point in our collective experience, I am seized by a sense of foreboding in contemplating the disturbing activities of lawless kids and youth following the election of Abba Yusuf as governor of Kano State under the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Immediately after the election, as if in some coordinated form of assault on the social order, the properties of politicians, and celebrities like the popular musician, Dauda Kahutu Rarara, among others, were not only looted, they were also vandalised by youths in broad daylight, without being checkmated in the least by security agencies. That early period also witnessed a frenetic spate of daylight robberies, including phone-snatching.
Still, at the inauguration of Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf as the state governor on 29 May, 2023, many youthful miscreants, suspected to be supporters of NNPP, heckled the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, and his younger brother, Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero.
As security operatives went about rescuing the descendants of the most revered and longest-ruling Emir of Kano, the late Ado Bayero, these lawless urchins and guttersnipes kept shouting derogatory remarks at the humble traditional rulers, at the top of their voices.
A few days after the inauguration, Governor Abba gave a marching order to security agencies in the state to immediately take over all public properties believed to have been unduly sold by the previous administration of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
Shortly thereafter, and particularly by midnight, the new state government rolled out bulldozers for the demolition of what it described as illegal structures, towards “restoring” the Kano master plan. Some of the structures pulled down included multibillion naira hotels, business premises, residential accommodations and even monuments.
In other common incidents, youths from far and nearby invaded some of the sites, vandalised and looted the premises, while others removed valuable building materials. In fact, in some of the videos that were trending at the time, a number of the miscreants could be seen struggling and fighting the police and other security personnel who were trying to stop them from their insidious plunder.
What is more worrisome is that these lawless kids are now awake most nights, either stationed close to or following bulldozers to planned demolition sites. The majority of these wretched-looking kids are drug addicts, poor, unemployed and untrained. It is also shocking that school children too and other youths have joined them in the looting spree that they popular tag ‘Ganima’. Meanwhile, Ganima or Ghanima is an Arabic word for “spoils of war”, which may include land, wealth, cattle, women and children.
The governor’s spokesman, Comrade Sanusi Bature, has said that the ongoing demolition across Kano was not an act of vendetta against any individual or group in any way. Bature emphasised that these demolitions were first set “of many to come in fulfilment of the governor’s campaign promises”.
This article is not about the merits or demerits of the governor’s action but rather the hasty manner in which some of the actions gravely impacting the state are being undertaken, which are neither sanctioned by the state executive council nor the legislators. It is about the fear of what would become of Kano if more destructions are unleashed under the guise of restoring a masterplan when those at the receiving end of the destructions are folks who actually have lawful official approvals for the structures now being pulled down.
While the administration of Abdullahi Ganduje ensured the safety and security of the state from banditry and terrorism, Governor Abba Yusuf should rather try to concentrate his energies on employment generation, wealth circulation and urban development to enable survival and prosperity in the state. It is very doubtful if potential investors would be willing to put their money in the current state of confusion that defines Kano as one of Nigeria’s most peaceful and populous states.
It is necessary to point out that most activities of banditry and terrorism are engineered by aggrieved victims of injustice, inequality and the burning desire for vengeance. As many might be aware, the targeted abductions of the family members of politicians, public officers and the rich in neighbouring states are usually perpetrated by faceless aggrieved sponsors.
I wish to, therefore, advise Governor Abba and the new Kwankwasiyya administration in Kano to re-examine their actions and not allow the activities of lawless youth to degenerate into what we are currently witnessing in most Northern states of Borno, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara, to mention but a few that are bedevilled by activities of violent criminals.
While it is easy to demolish rather than build, Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano should put in place programmes for social and economic inclusion, youth empowerment, improved local governance, reconciliation and conflict mitigation, towards a more peaceful and prosperous state, which is much loved by all.