Yusuf Dingyadi, is a multipurpose Senior Special Assistant to the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambwal and a former acting secretary of the PDP in Kebbi State and former publicity Secretary in Sokoto State. He spoke on various issues in this interview.
There seems to be minimal cases of banditry, kidnapping and other major vices in your state, Sokoto; what is Sokoto doing differently when the state shares boundaries with the likes of Katsina and Zamfara States?
You know we have entered an accord with the bandits due to incessant crises going on: insurgency in the North-East, banditry and kidnapping in Zamfara and Katsina, whose local governments are bordering Sokoto State. We also have issue of banditry with neighbouring Niger Republic where they come to attack and kidnap the villagers. That led the governor into a meeting with security chiefs and discuss the issues with them and from there, they came up with the idea to sit and discuss with critical stakeholders as a means of finding a lasting solution.
The state government then delegated the Commissioner for Security and Career affairs, Col. Muhammed Mui’isa (rtd) who was saddled with the sole responsibility of meeting with these bandits and having a lasting solution. The deputy governor, Munir Mubammed was also involved to head the committee which has some religion and traditional leaders as well as youths and community leaders.
Gorinyo, Isan Sabon Birni, Rabbah, Tweta, Gudu, Kebbe were the local government areas majorly affected by the activities of these bandits. They have surrendered and laid down their arms which we have handed over to the Commissioner of Police in the State.
The governor in his wisdom ordered immediate relief to them in which ‘Brutali’, a place they can sit, will be built for them and in place where there is need for primary and secondary schools, that will be constructed. The state government also has it in mind to subsidize their animal feed by 50 percent. They will also be rehabilitated and continue to give them education like we give others in order to prevent molestation or anything that can send them back to old business.
But, Kaduna, the political melt-pot of Northern Nigeria is soaked in this criminal activities, can’ we try the Sokoto approach?
The issue of insecurity in Nigeria is not only in the North-West. It is too alarming now. If you see what is happening in Borno State, Boko Haram will attack travelers on the road, kill them, burn them do things you never see in humanity.
Also, this kidnapping along Birni Gwari and dreaded roads of Kaduna-Abuja, Kaduna-Zaria is very unfortunate. I am calling on the Federal Government to synergize with the government or Kaduna and other leaders in order to have a lasting solution. There is nowhere in the world that you achieve peace with war. You have to reconcile with these people by understanding their problem and find a way of resolving it. Having a solution today and tomorrow the problem will reappear, pointing at a fire brigade approach that does not give good result. Don’t forget that Kaduna shares borders with Zamfara and Niger states which house these bandits. Those who have been sent away from Zamfara are now grooving in Niger and some parts of Kaduna State. We have been losing lives and property to these bandits and there is no reason why Nigerians should not sleep with their two eyes closed.
Issue of security is not for government alone. We have a lot of good retired army generals and top police officers who can be of help. In Sokoto, we have recorded 80 percent success and we have relative peace. There are no reports of banditry activities as was the case earlier. There is no issue of kidnapping as it was before. People are plying road from Sokoto to Zamfara without thinking that they will be molested or kidnapped.
So, I call on the Federal Government as custodian of security because governors are generals without troop. The Federal Government needs to organise a security summit specially in the front burner of Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Niger and Kogi states because almost half of the North are under the effect of banditry and kidnapping. If today you overcome the issue of kidnapping, you have political thuggery who are being groomed almost every day by some politicians who failed at the polls.
Look at what is happening in Zamfara, a former governor threatening the incumbent governor on seat, threatening an institution that he bequeathed. It is very bad that someone who served for eight years will come out on audio and threaten that nobody can have peace if they did not do what he wants.
Look at what is happening in Sokoto; a former governor for eight years, a senator, gathered people in his house and told them that he would not allow peace to reign in the state because he lost. Who did that to him when he was the governor for eight years? These people should understand that there is no alternative to peace even when they feel protected because of security attached to them because there is no people without people.
Nobody has the monopoly to use people and create crisis when there is no need for one.
Your view about negotiating with criminals may be misconstrued by others who may not agree with you. Many Nigerians including a sitting governor have ruled out the possibility of negotiating with bandits?
It is not right to say that. So, they should be allowed to be killing, maiming, kidnapping people? Tell me where any country has succeeded in addressing issues such as this through war. Even the U S fighting all these ISIS and insurgency in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen etc knows where to apply dialogue. You need to know who are the real criminals and their sponsors so you can tame them.
You can only do that through dialogue. Negotiating with them does not mean you leaving them free to do what they like, but it will afford you opportunity to understand their problem and come up with the best strategy to solve that problem.
The issue of spending money does not count when you are losing lives. Look at how many people have been killed in Borno State; how many people have been killed in Kaduna. Nobody can be plying Kaduna-Abuja road with peace in his mind. Senior military officers, top policemen and other security personnel have abandoned the road for train.
Those who are opposing negotiation are yet to lose their close family members to these banditry and kidnapping gangs. I want to tell you that, using salt to treat injury is much better than allowing the wound to keep rotting. Why do governments call their youths to order when they are on rampage? Why do government negotiate with labour when they go on strike? Using force cannot solve any problem for a long time.
You seem so passionate with this issue of insecurity, but some people will say you are talking like this because you belong to opposition party at the center?
I don’t understand. What my party did in Sokoto and Zamfara, was it not right? Look at how our people are living peacefully. They can go to market in Shinkafi without any issue. Look at what is happening in Kaura Namoda and many more where people are sleeping with their eyes closed. My governor, who was a speaker of the House of assembly for four years knows what security means.
He has been attending funerals in Gorinyo and Rabbah, so he knows what security means. He could not continue to watch his people being killed. If PDP governed states are winning peace, what is stopping other parties from doing same? Issue of security is not about politics. There should be no reason for us to play politics with security because it will affect all of us.
Criminals now see kidnapping as lucrative business in Nigeria because government shy away from its responsibility. Before now, it was only in the South-South you heard about kidnapping and not even in the South-East or in the South-West. Now, you cannot travel with peace of mind by 8 pm from Kaduna to Kano. I have traveled from Kaduna to Kano and then Katsina around 2 am when I was a reporter with BBC. Any man that is not sitting or listening to his people is not a good leader.
There are calls on Mr President to review his security chiefs with the latest coming from Mr Femi Falana based on years of service and age,
What is your take on that?
I’m not a security expert, I see that PDP has already stated that there is no any alternative. If you remove these service chiefs today, who are you going to bring? The issue is whether these people are being provided with what they need to address these issues. Look at the type of firearms these bandits are using. They are much higher than those of our troops. Our equipment are obsolete. See how bandits shot at Police helicopter in Kaduna.
Going back to Sokoto where you spoke about sour relationship between your principal and the former governor, do you foresee them reconciling later in life?
My governor is an humble and peaceful person. I have never see a peaceful man who allow opposition to freely to do what they are doing in Sokoto like him. He allowed opposition doing what they want because he does not want to use the power of that office as we are all one people, which is why you see Wamako doing what he’s doing.
Wamako was a governor for eight years and nobody did what he’s doing to the governor to him. I know that Bafarawa allowed Wamako to spend his eight years without any disturbance. But Wamako is using security system to intimidate our people in Sokoto State. EFCC has been used openly against our people in Sokoto State because Wamako is a vice chairman of a committee. There were about three strong embezzlement petitions against Wamako. But up till this moment, EFCC has not invited Wamako. But, Wamako is teleguiding EFCC in Sokoto: arresting and intimidating people in Sokoto especially, civil servants. What we don’t know is whether EFCC is a tool in Wamako’s hand in Sokoto.
The day our people will be tired of this, they will match to EFCC to say enough is enough. We sheltered EFCC. We gave them accommodation. Do you want to tell me that there are no people worthy of arrest in Sokoto but only people in government?
Wamako organized a rally, from his house to the airport where he made derogatory comments against the Justice of the Supreme Court.
A serving Minister will come to Sokoto and say “Allah Ya isa”, against who? Why should a leader use gutter language to attack others? Wamako should know that, just like Bafara, he cannot be a governor in Sokoto again. You chaired a committee on defense and you cannot help to solve security issue in your state. Instead, you are sponsoring thugs in your own state but you will go to other states, finding solution to their problem.
For five consecutive times, we have defeated them in election. From inconclusive to conclusive. We won in all the local governments. They went to tribunal, we won, they went to appeal, we won, they went to Supreme Court and Supreme Court affirmed the election of Tambuwal. They came and started abusing Mr President, inciting people against the presidency because they alleged that we connived with INEC and Justices.
APC is finished in Sokoto. By 2023, I don’t think there will be anything called APC in Sokoto. People of Sokoto are tired of APC lies and propaganda. PDP is in good hand in Sokoto, People like Atahiru Bafarawa and deputy governor, all
past good leaders are solidly in support of PDP. PDP has nothing to fear come 2023 by the grace God. By 2023, Sokoto will be one party system. People of Sokoto State prayed to God to separate them from agents of destruction and God answered them. Today, Sokoto is peaceful and that is helping the state government in delivering in the area of health, education, agriculture, economy and security.