OVERWHELMED GOVERNOR By Hakeem Baba Ahmed
Leading people in Kaduna State is extremely challenging. It does not become easier if leaders are not firm and fair or allow themselves to become overwhelmed.Gov el-Rufai and his government has done well is responding to the crises in the last few days, although some difficult questions need to be answered over preventive aspects of crises management.
The reported threat by the Governor through a popular medium that he will demolish Gonin Gora if youths from the area continue to be a problem is not one of the best steps taken by the governor since the crises started. First, he did not need to make this public. If he has the power, and circumstances demand an action of this magnitude, he can and should take steps when it is appropriate. As it is, his threat merely falls into the design of mischief makers who will read ethnoreligious meanings into it. The war of words will escalate and prolong tensions. More opportunistic interests further away from the area will weigh in. Members of the community in the large area like Gonin Gora will be alienated from peacebuilding, even if the threat is intended to goad them to action. The entire community will acquire a siege mentality that is not helpful to it or the vital services which the neighboring highway serves for the country.
While Gonin Gora is a serious threat, there are other areas such as the approach to Kaduna from Katabu/Mararrabar Jos and a number of areas at eastern bye-pass that represent potential threats to all, especially travelers. A reference to areas that could attract penalties ought to have been made in more general terms.
The problem of young people seemingly out of control of their communities in Kaduna is a major threat to peace. This is a widespread problem government and the communities need to address decisively. In the short-term, communities can be supported to establish Neighborhood Peace and Security Committees which must involve respected elders, community leaders, clergy and young people. They should have powers to organize and build, along with security agencies, credible security strategies, and arrangements that can provide security in neighborhoods. These Committees should be established without delay, and managing the curfew and its aftermath should be among their immediate tasks.
The government must break the circle of locking up people, relaxing the curfew and then locking people up again because a tiny minority want to cause trouble. When you just lock up trouble and you do not engage it, it remains the same or even grows worse when you open it.
In the longer-term, priorities across the nation must be accorded to finding employment and good education for the young. People who have nothing and nothing to protect or look forward to are precisely what these crises need.
While we will pray that our leaders will be guided by the burden of their mandates, we must not tire in telling them that security is better prevented that managed. Leaders should avoid actions and utterances that do not contribute to the search for lasting solutions.
I join others in praying for peace in our dear country.