THERE is a need for politicians holding high positions of public trust to think through their policies and programmes before making them public. Otherwise, the good intentions behind such policies could turn around and breed nightmares which will be difficult, if not impossible, to handle.
Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari
We view with absolute horror, the offer by Governor Abdulaziz Yari of security-embattled Zamfara State of one million naira for every piece of AK-47 assault rifle “returned” to the state government. Agency reports carried by most traditional and social media platforms last week Friday quoted the retiring Governor as declaring: “In 2015, with just 250 soldiers, the crime rate was low but with 1,600 soldiers of different categories, we cannot contain crime in the state”.
Indeed, Zamfara has faced atrocious security challenges in recent years. Heavily-armed bandits and cattle rustlers, many of them foreign nationals, have made life hell for residents of the state: invading communities, killing, displacing people and carting away their cattle and valuables. The waves of attacks have defied every effort launched by the Federal Government, including several police and military actions.
Following the deployment of the Air Force, the displaced bandits merely split into smaller units and started kidnapping travellers on the highways for ransom. Some victims are killed even after ransom is paid for them. The situation became so bad in June this year that Yari announced he was “resigning” as the Chief Security Officer of Zamfara.
The offer of one million naira for every AK-47 turned in is a time-bomb. It could reduce Zamfara to an open bazaar for AK-47 assault rifles. The reason is that these guns are relatively cheap and almost readily available for those who know where to look.
According to Niall McCarty in an article in the March 2017 edition of Forbes, some 200 types of AK-47 are now produced in more than 30 countries. There are over 200 million AK-47 rifles in the world, making it one for every 35 persons. They cost anything from $148 (N54,020) in Pakistan to $1,292 (N471,580) in Nigeria.
The implication of Gov. Yari’s offer is obvious: buy and present one rifle and double your purchase price! Even some of the military and police officers sent to tackle the bandits could turn into gunrunners. We doubt that the Zamfara State House of Assembly authorised this swap policy. It is even in doubt that the proposal was discussed at the State Executive Council or its obvious flaws would have been pointed out.
We call on Gov. Yari to drop this offer and divert the money to the payment of workers’ salaries, building infrastructure and strengthening civilian-police-military cooperation to eliminate banditry and crime.
There is no other easy way out.