I will begin by stating that the most affected area when it comes to banditry is Zamfara state. Katsina remains her closest substitute. As much as I pity the people who have been sacked from their homes and rendered homeless and jobless, I think the case of Zamfara is nothing compared to the political banditry that gave birth to the issues that are almost sweeping our existence as a nation.
World over, especially in developed nations, leaders get poorer when they get into position of authority. For us here in Nigeria, the closest we have got to is the statement made by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo that, “President Muhammadu Buhari is probably poorer now than in 2015”. We have no means of verifying this claim but we shall wait for time, the revealer of truths, to wash clarity into the issue with the soap of the future. It is no secret that most leaders in this part of the world are often richer when they get into politics to serve the nation into their pockets. This explains why most Nigerians are always disinterested when issues of good governance are discussed because they have never felt the impact of it so discussing it somewhat seems hypocritical to many.
The return of democracy 20 years ago excited many who had high hopes in its ability to deliver good governance to Nigerians. In Africa, when it comes to resources, every nation is no doubt blessed with some measure of resources as it has been purposed by God. One resource the continent lack is the leadership resource. When leaders are selfless and humanly poised to unlocking the tap of opportunities for the masses to benefit from, only then can we be said to be on course for greatness as a nation. Sad to say though, with the leadership style of Nigerian leaders since 1999, I doubt if we are anywhere close to being great in Nigeria.
While banditry took a strange dimension in Zamfara State of recent, political banditry has been happening in the country for years, right from independence till date. The twist to the whole issue is the fact that the act had been perpetrated by men in uniforms and those off uniforms which can be likened to a movie with same theme, characters, background and setting but different costumes. From 1999, when some of our uniformed men took off their clothes and decided to turn to the people to seek for power and consent on how they are governed, the stake was high as many of the people waited in anticipation for a better Nigeria.
In many ways, our leaders have been smart enough to embezzle and create more ills that we now have in many parts of Nigeria if not all. From 1999 till date, we have had nine different elections yet our people are still not too enlightened enough to change the political status quo that sees good governance as a threat to their wealth generation through politicking. Nigerians have had to salivate as all the delicious campaign promises they were served during election only for them to languish in hunger when these leaders eventually win.
Life in Nigeria is tough and rugged but the hard cold truth is that our leaders feel nothing close to what common Nigerians are feeling. In a society when there is not empathy, sympathy becomes cheap. Our leaders have turned Nigerians to those who deserved their sympathy just to score more political points; no wonder most of our aspiring leaders would become ad hoc peacemakers during election and doing it professionally with all diligence and humility.
We must rise up as a people to change the cards if we must get rid of political bandits before the next generation. Today, we are looking for solutions from strange sources, consulting traditional and religious leaders too, just in an attempt to halt banditry in Zamfara because of its havoc on the people and the economy of the region. We must think out of the box as a people. For good governance to exist, we must strive to collectively identify political bandits and peacefully phase them out of political business if we must impact any good on our society.
In Zamfara, while the people are crying, counting their loses, the bandits are feeding on their wealth and rejoicing in their ‘good’ business. Today, there are reductions in the value of humanity all for purposes aimed for personal aggrandizement. Political bandits exist in all political parties as far as Nigerian political structure is concerned. They leverage on our division as a people to drag us to poverty and economic doom.
Because of the activities of these bandits, over $16 billion meant for the development of the power sector has yielded nothing. The result is total blackout in a country with such huge potentials for a double digit growth if power were to be constant. While Egypt added 10, 000MW in 18 months to its national grid, we are yet to get a stable 2500MW that won’t collapse in one year since 1960. What kind of a country will know that the key to its industrialisation and economic diversification lie in the power sector yet chooses to toy with such a sector? And even when the government conceives good ideas in that regard, implementation becomes a major challenge seconded by sabotage from the private sector who profit when Nigeria is in the dark.
Nigerians have gotten used to the effects of political banditry and learnt to endure hardship instead of resisting any attempt to impoverish our future. Whenever we collect money to vote the wrong people into power, it buttresses the fact that we believe it’s our fate to be poor and hopeless. Until we make adjustments to the current system of banditry in politics that has created more Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) than any in any part of the world, we can never hope for a better future as a people.
For those who think the Greek saying by Aristotle Onassis that: “ we must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds’’ is meant for Nigerians, should remember that those who fail to act when things are going wrong should know that posterity will judge them weak and feeble. Say no to political banditry as we go forward.