By Ademola Adedoyin
The case of Kwara State in the Nigerian union is a peculiar one that public commentators hardly pay much attention to. Yet the peculiarities of her history and geography place the state among the few that require deep creative thinking to proffer solutions to its challenges in order to continue to maintain the delicate balance that has sustained it and earned for it the moniker: state of harmony.
Carved out of the then Northern Region in May 1967, following the creation of 12 states out of the then four-region structure by the federal Military Government of General Yakubu Gowon, Kwara is a predominantly Yoruba state (75 per cent of the population are Yoruba), that, by some historical factors, has remained part of Nigeria’s North since the colonial period.
At its creation in 1967, the state was made up of the former Ilorin/Kabba provinces of the then Northern region. But then subsequent tinkering with the Nigeria’s state structure by the succeeding military governments had ensured that the state shrunk in size following the excision of Idah/Dakina part of the state in 1976 to form what is today known as Benue state and Oyi, Yagba, Okene, Okehi and Kogi in 1991 to form what is now called Kogi State.
But in spite of her present size, Kwara remains a multi-ethnic diverse state comprising majorly Yoruba, with Nupe, Bariba and Fulani as minorities.
What has stood Kwara out is the peaceful relations that continue to exist among its multicultural and diverse population of about 2.5million people. Indeed, it is a state of harmony both in name and in reality.
This intervention, therefore, is about how the government of Mr Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq will work at ensuring that proactive measures are put in place to ensure continuous peaceful co-existence through workable homegrown security initiatives.
To describe the security situation in the country today as worrisome is an understatement. It is a statement of fact that no state desirous of peace can afford to leave its security challenges solely at the doorposts of the federal government as represented by the Nigerian Police. Today, states are proactively putting measures in place to complement the efforts of the federal police in order to stem the tide of the rising criminalities manifesting in form of kidnappings, banditry, murderous herdsmen killings, ritual killings etc.
Kwara cannot afford to be an exception; it cannot afford to remain aloof as others work tirelessly on strategies to ward off these criminals who are determined to continue to wreak havoc on the populace.
The Kwara state peculiar geographical location makes this call truly urgent and very compelling. The state is bounded by the Republic of Benin to the West. Foreign criminal elements and murderous herders from neighbouring countries including Benin are moving into the country in large number that it should worry any state government that shares borders with any of these neighbours.
In the north, Kwara shares borders with Niger state which today is a hotbed of banditry, cattle rustling and sundry criminal activities. Can we afford to stand arms akimbo and allow these luciferous elements to stroll in?
To the East of the border is Kogi state. And the news from that state is not a cheering one as well. The Kaba-Lokoja axis has remained a kidnappers’ den and these criminal elements continue to ply their evil trade with reckless abandon. We need to ensure that they don’t make an inroad to Kwara state.
The state shares its southern borders with Ekiti, Osun and Oyo. Now, these southwest states, along with the three other states in the geo-political zone- Ondo, Ogun and Lagos are putting finishing touches to Amotekun, a security outfit that promises to give the criminal elements a run for their blood money. These criminals are no longer comfortable in the Southwest states. Ordinarily, if we had a truly federal structure, Kwara, as a predominantly Yoruba state, should be able to tap into this security arrangement, if not to totally sign on it. But, then, we are in a country where seemingly simple things come in complex and complicated ways.
The serious security challenge that Kwara faces today is the possible influx of murderous herders, kidnappers and other criminal elements who may no longer find the Southwest states conducive for their evil trade to the state of harmony. Reports indicate that these criminal elements may have started making their inroads into the state and trying to forcibly settle in different communities. Governor Abdulrasaq must swiftly rise to the occasion to nip this incipient security challenge in the bud before it builds up to a monstrous proportion.
It was reassuring seeing Governor Abdulrasaq joining his colleague governors from north-central to meet with Mr Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of police weeks back to work out security arrangement for the zone.
That the Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) also recently announced the establishment of a security outfit to be known as Shege-ka-Fasa to tackle the security challenges facing the north also counts for something, even if only for its symbolic value.
Beyond all this, however, Governor Abdulrasaq needs to urgently put the plan in place for a security initiative that will take care of the peculiar security challenges of the state.
As at now, 23 states have established and operating local security outfits to complement the efforts of the police. They include Sokoto (Yin Banga), Kaduna (Kaduna state Vigilance service), Bornu (Civilian Joint Task Force, JTF, otherwise known as BOYES, Bornu Youth Volunteers), Lagos (Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps, LNSC), Rivers (Neighborhood Watch Group), Enugu (1,700 Strong Forest Guards), Taraba (Taraba Marshalls), Anambra (Anambra Vigilante Services, AVS),
Others Include: Ondo (Vigilante Group of Nigeria, VGN), Adamawa (Vigilante Group and Nigeria Hunters Association), Zamfara (Yan Kansai during ex-Governor Yari’s tenure, currently being reworked), Osun (Olode), Benue (Livestock Guards set up in 2017), Yobe (Local hunters), Katsina, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi, Ondo, Nasarrawa, Plateau, Niger, Bauchi and Abia are also on the list of states that currently operate security outfits to complement the efforts of the police.
Governor Abdulrasaq needs to join the league of governors with their homegrown security initiative as a matter of urgent and compelling security measure. He needs to rise to the occasion to protect the state and its people from the bloody criminals on the prowl. Delay is truly dangerous. We must not wait for the security of the state to be breached before we start searching for desperate solutions. We need to scare the criminals away from the state. We must let them know through proactive security measures that Kwara is a no go area. Kwara needs its own security outfit. Today. Not tomorrow.
– Ademola Adedoyinis a Corporate Communications practitioner in Lagos.