About a week ago, the governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, publicly presented the second-quarter and third-quarter security report of the state at an event held at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House in Kaduna. The event had the General Officer Commanding the 1 Division of the Nigerian Army and his counterpart at the 3rd Division. It also had the Air Officer Commanding of Training Command of the Nigerian Air Force as well as other senior military, police, and Para-military officers in attendance. Addressing the audience, El-Rufai sounded an alarm when he said “concerns about political thuggery as we approach the elections must be addressed in a proactive manner. We need to profile political actors, map their thugs and bring them to justice immediately.”
I have always argued, and strongly believe, that whatever position anyone holds on any issue is directly dependent on the quality and volume of information available to one at a particular period. Therefore, El-Rufai should, as a governor whose state has been at the center of violent activities of terrorists and other criminal elements, and also, as one whose position exposes to security reports on activities of some set of persons and, or, political actors, be deeply informed about certain developments within his state and around the country. So, it is not impossible that he speaks from an informed position. His warning ought to be taken seriously and acted upon too. This is because there is a shift in the trend of violent activities across the geopolitical zones such that paces that were initially thought to be most dreaded may have changed.
For instance, a publication of the Twitter handle of StatiSense, a Nigerian data tech company, shows a shift in the trend of insecurity between the northern and southern divides of the country. Titled ‘Insecurity: Deaths in 10 Months (Jan-Oct 2022)’, the publication made a comparative analysis of the regions as they were in 2015 and they stand in 2022. It found that the northeast recorded 7,736 deaths in January-October of 2015 and 1,889 within the same period in 2022. North Central recorded 996 deaths in 2015 and 1,911 in 2022 while northwest which recorded 221 in 2015 had 2,317 in 2022. Similarly, the southeast which according to StatiSense analysis recorded only 40 deaths in 2015 had 505 between January and October of 2022 just as southwest which recorded 141 in 2015 had 275 in 2022, and south-south which had 200 in 2015 dropped to 350 in 2022.
The increase in deaths occasioned by insecurity in the northwest within the period is not unconnected with the rise in terrorist activities in states in the region which had seen el-Rufai cry out on several occasions for more proactive measures against the tide including the creation of Theatre Command in the zone as well as increased booths on the ground. He had also advocated carpet bombing of the forest regions in Kaduna state to clear out terrorists hiding within. The federal government had, after foot-dragging, allowed for military action against terrorists in the 1 Division and 3 Division Area of Responsibility, a development which, though not enough, has, however, seen to a reduction in the figures. This is attested to in the reports presented by El-Rufai.
Speaking at the presentation, the governor said: “The figures show a pattern of reductions in the gravity of security incidents in the second and third quarters of 2022, compared to the first quarter. This is a consequence of the intensification of offensive security operations against the bandits in recent months.” In a fact, 285 persons were violently killed in attacks by terrorists, communal clashes, and other forms of violence in Kaduna state between April and June 2022. Of this figure, 174 deaths were recorded in Kaduna central of which 166 occurred in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi, Chikun, and Kajuru council areas. Here, Kajuru comes up as the hotbed with 58 deaths while Chikun, Giwa, Birnin Gwari and Igabi recorded 37, 32, 28 and 11 violent deaths respectively. Within the same period, Southern Kaduna recorded 95 deaths while the northern senatorial district recorded 16 violent killings.
The trend dropped in the third quarter of the year as Kaduna Central senatorial district recorded 161 deaths as against 285 in the second quarter. The figures for Southern Kaduna senatorial district also dropped to 20 deaths from 95 in the second quarter while Northern Kaduna senatorial district sadly witnessed an increase from 16 in the second quarter to 21 in the third quarter. Also, compared to data generated from the previous year, there has been a remarkable drop in the numbers. Whatever the Kaduna state government had done to achieve this reduction is obviously working very well too. However, it is not yet liberation day. And, that seems to be the reason El-Rufai is calling for more effort to checkmate the problem especially as the 2023 general election approaches.
Though the third quarter data show a decrease in the trend of insecurity in Kaduna state, there is, however, the understanding that insecurity is not about to become a thing of the past because of the dynamism of criminal trends. This is why it is imperative that previous calls, by el-Rufai, and others concerned, for more booths on the ground and for the creation of a theatre command in the northwest come in as a very sensible call. Such a command will improve synergy in air and ground military operations in alliance with the Police. To rid criminal elements in the North West and restore peace “requires a comprehensive and consistent sweep, across the Northwest and Niger states for sustained success.” This, El-Rufai believes “is the most effective way to protect our people, uphold law and order and enhance the ability of our people to the peaceful pursuit of their livelihoods”. I guess this is the minimum that is required of any leadership that is desirous of answering the biggest needs of the people.
As 2023 approaches, there is therefore the need for the federal government to review the security architecture of the country and work more closely with state governments to address new trends in insecurity. This will work to restore the confidence of the people in the social system and also guarantee the people of their safety as they march out to perform their civic duties in February 2023. Somehow, insecurity may impact negatively the 2023 general elections if greater synergy is not built, with more booths on the ground, improved armament, and use of technology, towards addressing new trends in insecurity across the country.