Recently, respected and responsible elders from Borno and Yobe States came together to address the Press in Abuja on the security challenges in the North-east. They called on the Federal Government not to extend the one-year old State of Emergency in their two states. They raised pertinent questions relating to command and control of security forces under Emergency rule in their two states. It was indeed a most patriotic move by a group of elders who by all standards deserve the accolades of elders.
And in order to avoid the often tainted response by Federal Authorities about lack of knowledge of security, the spokesperson of the group was Air Marshal Al-Amin Daggash, a retired Chief of Air Staff and a top Military Personnel. And to counter the charge of politics of opposition, Mallam Adamu Chiroma a Chieftain of the PDP whose wife was a one-time National Woman Leader of the Party equally lent his voice. You cannot therefore hide under the banner of politics or lack of knowledge of security to rubbish what they said.
As for the questions they raised, well, these are pertinent and germane to the arguments we have always advanced since the unjust imposition of a State of Emergency in Adamawa State. In very tangible terms, not just fables and innuendos, what are the gains of Emergency rule in the affected States? How come more people were killed during Emergency Rule than a similar period before the Emergency rule? Why is the process looking very unending? The framers of the Nigerian Constituency were not hoping that for any reason the conditions necessary for the imposition of Emergency Rule will persist beyond a certain minimum period which is six months. However, if for any reason it passes the six months, then an extension of six months should suffice.
But when a state or a group of states is made to operate under Emergency rule for more than a year, then the purpose is no longer just to restore law and order but to subjugate the people and use the Emergency rule for some political gain. We in the States under Emergency Rule feel highly subjugated and unjustly punished. And this is even particularly more so for those of us in Adamawa State. Where are our elders? Are they satisfied that their State has been under Emergency Rule for one year? Are they satisfied that the economic life of their people has been unjustly hampered? Are they satisfied that their people are daily being traumatized as a result of the Emergency rule?
We want to hear the voices of Adamawa Elders just as we heard of those of Borno and Yobe. They should come out and tell us where they stand. Are they in support of the extension of Emergency rule in Adamawa State? What of the kind of questions and contradictions raised by Borno and Yobe elders? For example, we want answers with regards to the Kirchinga, Shuwa and Michika attacks. How come the insurgents operated for almost six hours unchallenged? How come they moved with a heavy convoy of vehicles at night when we have a night time curfew enforce? How come they past through the main road from Shuwa to Michika when there are at least two or three Military check-points on that road?
We have heard the Defense Headquarters say such questions demoralize the troops. We totally disagree. We believe that there are several avenues to raise troop morale and re-assure security outfits other than turning blind eyes to glaring lapses and contradictions. A visit to the operational base of the troops by the Commander-in-Chief will serve as a big moral boaster. Effective care of the widows and dependants of fallen officers and men is another. Imagine the feelings of the officers and men of the police and the Department of State Service when several of their colleques were killed in cold blood in Nasarawa and the Federal Government announced that it had pardoned the killers. They were not investigated, fished out, prosecuted and convicted before the pardon. They were simply pardoned. Meanwhile the paltry N1 Million given to the families were seized by greedy uncles, leaving the wives and children with nothing. These are the kind of things that truly dampen moral.
Where are the Adamawa Elders when Labaran Maku lied openly in Bauchi that the Federal Government had reconstructed the Hong-Mubi Road? Which Hong-Mubi Road is he talking about? Why will our elders and political leaders become blind deaf and dumb to realities in their communities? At the last count and to the best of my knowledge the Hong-Mubi Road rehabilitation process had sign boards at Hong and in Mubi. The sign boards said the rehabilitation work was a World Bank project. Even at that, the only thing done on the road is the initial overlay of asphalt between kala’a and Marraba. The second and third layers of bitumen have not been layed. Already the little that is done is given way. There are potholes everywhere on the brand new “Labaran Maku Way” from Kala’a to Marraba.
Meanwhile between Hong and Kala’a are rehabilitated by the Chairman Hong Local Government Council, while Marraba to Mubi remains a death trap. So who is fooling us? Again we asked the question, where are the Adamawa Elders? Compare the work on Kala’a to Marraba road with the Yola-Numan Road which is a Federal Road constructed by the State Government. The quality and standard of work are indeed poles apart. Where were the Adamawa Elders when President Jonathan visited Yola and the town was shut down? Where are our political leaders when the livelihood of our people was assaulted by the visit?
Where are our elders when the President told the Lamido in his palace in the presence of all that only the State Government can make pronouncements on curfew hours? Who pronounces curfew hours in Adamawa? It is the Brigade Commander. How can the Commander-in-Chief who has full command and control of the Armed Forces say one thing and officers on ground do a different thing? Where are the elders to question this anomaly? Recently in Madagali Local Government, an imposter was given access to the seat of the Chairman based on a High Court Judgment which was on appeal. But when the Appeal Court upturned the Judgment of the lower Court, the rightful Chairman is denied access to the Secretariat. Where are the elders to cry for justice?
For coming out to speak in the interest of their people, the Borno Yobe elders have proved they are patriots capable of rising above political pettiness. They have proved to be above the kettle of pourage others collect as hand outs. We say Bravo to them. As for Adamawa elders, well, we are waiting.
Ahmad Sajoh wrote from Dougerei Jimeta-Yola