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Sokoto Killings: Who's Responsible? By Salihu Abdullahi

July 15, 2018

Indications emerged over the weekend that the Federal Government may have a hand in the recent human carnage in Sokoto state, as well as subtle media attacks on the governor of the state, Aminu Tambuwal. The hitherto peaceful caliphate woke up to unprovoked and totally mindless killings by unknown persons who invaded the state from a boarder town.


Indications emerged over the  weekend that the Federal Government may have a hand in the recent human carnage in Sokoto state, as well as subtle media attacks on the governor of the state, Aminu Tambuwal.  The hitherto peaceful  caliphate woke up to unprovoked and totally mindless killings by unknown persons who invaded the state from a boarder town.

The killings were brazen and laden with cruelty, as over over 35 innocent lives  were lost, several houses and other property destroyed and over 10,000 people displaced; who are currently taking shelter in three different  Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps.

In addition to suppressed security reports , those that finger the federal government, its agents or likely fanatical followers of some key unnamed political actors at the center, base their positions on three major planks: Governor Aminu Tambuwal's recent public comments, condemning the lingering insecurity situation in the nation, in spite of the huge amount of money being spent on security by the Buhari administration.

The governor had in his recent media statements, attributed the widespread killings and the seeming inability of the security agencies to secure lives and property of citizens to "failure of leadership" and ineptitude.

He had also repeatedly called for the rejigging of the national security architecture, in order to make it more effective and efficient.

Secondly, the killings are viewed in certain quarters in the state, as attack on Tambuwal's novel Agric policy, under the "Cattle Breeding, Milk and Beef Production Project", which is designed to make the state a model of modern agric hub, essentially in the areas of animal husbandry that is driven by technology as against the current problematic mode of cattle herding in Nigeria. The successful management of the herdsmen and farmers relations, like governor Ganduje's invitation to herders all over the country  months ago, to come and take over the massive arable land in his state,  is said to be offensive to a federal government that is determined to set up cattle colonies. The horrendous killings were curiously carried out in the same Rabah area of the state where this project is sited. Now that fear has gripped staffers and foreign partners, the project may suffer a major setback. 

Insight into the Sokoto state agriculture blueprint, which findings indicate is about 95 per cent implemented, has a detailed roadmap  of a technological template fashioned to dramatically improve the fortunes of the state in the agroallied sector positively. It is a model designed to provide a realistic a framework to be replicated in other states, with a view to bring a new order of prosperous and peaceful nation, devoid of herders/farmers conflicts. An integral part of the blueprint is a cluster of farms in the area that would benefit from the facilities in the project site. 

Following the senseless killing, this project that is to train the people "in the new and modern methods of Cattle Breeding for sustainable upgrading of our Local Cattle Breeds in the state and beyond for maximum productivity in terms of good quality Milk and Beef production" is now in danger of abandonment, as many of the expatriate and other personnel working on the project, have become so frightened by the recent carnage that they are now expressing unwillingness to remain in the area.

A source said the detractors of Governor Tambuwal want to "teach him a lessons" by turning the hand of the clock backwards in Sokoto. He explained that the presidency is aware that the governor, on assumptions of office in 2015, "inherited a state brimming with uncontrollable miscreants, who commited all manners of misdemeanors  in broad daylight. But they  were seemingly protected by past governments that used them as thugs and provided monthly budgets for the sole purpose of bailing them whenever they were arrested. "That level of patronage encouraged their lawlessness. But Governor Tambuwal was bold enough to put a stop to such nonsense and get the youths gainfully employed. Those who are against the current governor's restoration of order and civility in the state, especially among the youths, are now complicit in the suspected antics of the Federal government.  "Just a case of giving a dog a bad name in order to kill it." the source said. 

The view that the ill fate that befell Sokoto was just a "mindless ploy by some interests, to bully Governor Tambuwal",  and blackmail him into abandoning his  2019 presidential ambition" Is also rife within and outside security and political circles. This is in addition to the confirmed fact that some politicians, within and outside the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), are not comfortable with the idea of Tambuwal, who was also former Speaker, House of Representatives, standing for the coming presidential election. Peer envy over his profile and how he is being received across different divides is at work is some places. His perceived presidential ambition  is considered a threat to not only the current president, who is seeking a second term in office, but other prominent presidential aspirants across major political parties.

A chieftain of the ruling party from a South south state, who spoke to this newspaper on condition of anonymity, proffered reasons why some interests feel threatened by the governor's ambition: "You see, Tambuwal has many good things going for him, as far as his ambition is concerned. First of all, He has age on his side and he has got an enviable track record and impressive leadership experience. Again, he is one Nigerian that has a deep understanding and knowledge of this country, with an added experience of having served as a principal officer of the House of Representativesl. He also has executive experience as a governor. Don't also forget that as a seasoned lawyer, who was at a time a member of body of benchers, he has acquired experience in the judiciary. With the usual crisis of confidence between the executive and the legislature in Nigeria since the return of democracy in 1999, who would ignore a man with such experience and potentials to bring stability? So those who are threatened by Tambuwal's credentials  have every reason to be uncomfortable".

Salihu Abdullahi, is a public affairs analyst, he writes from Kaduna.