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Worsening State Of Insecurity And Insurgency Under The Buhari Regime, By Aj. Dagga Tolar

September 25, 2022

If there is any score card that the failure of the Buhari regime is more glaring, it is the inability of the Buhari regime to contain or even mitigate the growing violence that is nearly in all part of the country; the so called claim of the regime to have “technically defeated” Boko Haram is an outright mirage. The situation in the Northeast remains as worst as ever. The Northwest is also now not any different, the president himself at the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, is reported by the national dailies as lamenting: “Everyday, we are worried about what is happening in the north-west… but what is happening now in the north-west is what has honestly baffled me. The same people, the same culture, killing each other, stealing each other’s property. We are going to do our best and the military and law enforcement agencies have been given a clear order that they shouldn’t spare any bandit or terrorist. We are going to hand over a secure country better than we inherited it. Nigeria shall win the battle over evil” (Security situation in N-West baffles me- Buhari-Vanguard, Friday, January 28, 2022, p.8).


For someone who has nearly spent seven years of his eight years two terms, with about a year to go, one cannot help but wonder where this false optimism that this “battle over the evil” of terrorism and banditry will be won is emanating from. When all indices on the ground indicate otherwise. Buhari is here displaying all of the ignorance and the inability of the regime he presides over to come to an understanding of the major factors that is responsible for the worsening state of insecurity in the country. 


Of course without that understanding, the regime can only end up throwing arrows at a storm, waiting it out to expend itself and calm out. This in reality is what the Buhari regime has offered us all through its tenure in power, empty promises of an end to insurgency. When it is clear that it lacks the knowledge to approach the issue from its very root. Interestingly every policy framework from the regime which aims at entrenching neo-liberalism further and deeper like all other previous regime before it, both military and civilian, does nothing else than worse the living condition of the working masses, and serves to pour more fuel to the already raging fire of insecurity and insurgency in the country.


*A share for the spoils of Gold*


In Zamfara another theatre of war that has been actively on since 2011, but now made permanent by the discovery of a large quantity of gold deposit in the state, which has seen different gangs and war lords, some fronting for members of the ruling elites, and all flooding into Zamfara  for a share of the spoils of gold. 


The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite points out: “… that gold mining attracts a lot of undesirables. Wherever these people smell gold, if I may use the word smell, whenever they have an inkling that there is gold, it somehow attracts these undesirable elements. It always follows that we have illegality developing around there.(


This “undesirable elements” include state actors, who directly fund and bring these characters under their protection, since they serve as fronts for them. “In June 2021, officials at the Kokota International Airport in Ghana intercepted 978 bars of gold allegedly belonging to the former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari, valued at about 8.2 billion naira (£14.5m)”. ( 


Gold is damn too beautiful and attractive for members of the ruling class not to be fully involved, “between 2012 and 2018, about ninety-seven tonnes of gold worth over $3 billion was illegally smuggled out of Nigeria”. ( This is one huge gold mine that has the potential to provide funds for meeting the developmental need of infrastructure of the country, and as well as meeting the social needs of the people, but no, the ruling class is more interested in appropriating wealth for itself by whatever means possible and cannot be bothered about the wellbeing of the working masses. 


The military are also not left out; they offer protection services, collection of tolls for mining approval and at times lay claim for a share of the gold nuggets. An example is the recent clash of soldiers and miners in Magama, Katsina state, leaving two soldiers and seven miners dead in its wake. According to an exclusive report from an online news platform The Daily Nigerian, the miners had paid the sum of N2.5 million Naira to be allowed to illegally mined from 5 pits, but they turned out in the end to have hit a jackpot and the soldiers came insisting that the loot be shared firing in the air, the miners who had their own armed group responded fire for fire, succeeding to make away in a vehicle, nuggets “valued in conservative estimate at ₦70 million” (


The military authorities have come out to deny that this never occurred, but the publication have insisted, listing and providing names of the miners that died as a result of the clash to be the following: Abdulganiyu Isyaku, Fahad Shamaki, Muntari Kwalo-Kwalo, and Ismaila Danbirni, and with single names given for the last three; Isyaku, Sabiu, and Kasimu. 


It follows therefore that a “war of Gold” is active and alive in the country, taking various forms, with armed gangs protecting their sphere of influence over their mining activities so as to be free from any disturbance. Rivalry and clashes between the various groups is then inevitable, either for a share of the spoil or for dominance over the other groups. To archive this there is desperation for gold to provide the needed funds with which to procure weapons and be better armed to launch their superiority over other rival gangs. 


But the conflict extends beyond the mines, the need to provide a ring around the illegal mining activities, to shield it, making it an exclusive affair of the armed groups as oppose to an all comers affairs, as in itself created the necessity to keep the conflict in the communities unending. “The wave of rural banditry is said to be a result of a fiefdom of deadly gangs struggling for a piece of the pie. Criminal networks fuel community violence to provide the necessary cover to continue to exploit these mineral deposits. They do so in collaboration with traditional rulers, politicians and for foreign opportunists.” (


Simply put the discovery of Gold in huge commercial quantity has introduced a new twist into the conflagration in the North and an added reason for the contention for control of state power to be more fierce and intense in these localities, and more particularly in Zamfara, which is reported to have the biggest of the gold reserve in the country, along aside other 31 identified minerals that has not yet fully been explored. (


*Unemployment as a fundamental factor of the insurgency*


Interestingly it is the governor of Bornu state; the home origin of Boko Haram, Prof Babagana Zulum who provides us with a scientific insight to one of the fundamental causes of the insurgency in the north, when he states that … “The reason why we are facing insurgency, banditry and killing in Nigeria was as a result of lack of education and high unemployment rate among our youth.” (Insurgency, Banditry As A Result Of Lack Of Education nd High Unemployment: Zulum (


This is the very same issue that the ruling elites in the North and in Nigeria have done very little about to take on, even with all of the wealth of the country. Nigeria is capable with her resources if democratically managed by the working masses themselves to provide public funded quality education in all spheres that would empower the population into venturing into as many human endeavours as possible. But no it continues to superimpose Neo-liberal capitalism on the country, carrying out cuts on social spending and investment on the needs of the working masses, so as to conserve fund for looting to meet the luxurious lifestyle that it has adopted.


The North currently has the highest figure of out of school children, highest numbers of children beggars on the street, highest number of unemployed youth, highest numbers of dislocated Nigerians, highest numbers of youth domicile outside of the north. 


With the north becoming unsafe to sustain any consistent economic activity, hundreds of thousands of working class youth in the north have had to troop out to seek for greener pasture in the states in the south. And with the chaotic undeveloped transport system, hundreds of thousands of these youths are engaged in riding motor cycle also known as Okada to survive to ferry commuters by meandering and snaking through the daily predicted traffics rows of containers, and truck loads of containers, tankers lining through all of the roads networks and routes of all of the big cities in the country, with Lagos the first choice destination of a majority of these youths.


You wonder why it is not clear to all discerning minds that capitalism is conscious and aware that there is no profit or super profit to be made in the very dungeon of misery and penury for a majority of the working masses resident in the North. The necessity of a housing programme of homes to end the dislocation and homelessness of millions in a country they refer to as their own, build schools and carry out mass literacy programmes is not on the agenda of the ruling class. Since there are no super profit to be made from people who are the very ‘Wretched of the Earth’, Capitalism won’t bother to raise a finger. While not willing to drive a programme that would ensure and deliver economic prosperity to the working masses in the north, the ruling elites have not been so shy when it comes to religion. 


*Religion a manipulative tool of the Ruling Class*


They have been willing to part with funds, both public and otherwise, build mosque and fund religious programmes, given the huge gains of political patronage they make from it. Religion readily serves as a manipulative tool in the hands of the ruling class, which they exploit the working masses, employing it as a form of delusional falsehood that they are one and the same with the working masses of the North from the point of a shared religion. Added to this is the fact that it also helps to divert attention of the working masses away from their own failure at governance while directing attention elsewhere. 


This in some sense is what has transformed Northern Nigeria to a major hotbed and home for Islamic fundamentalism, which in itself is a byproduct of the ruling elites’ failure to invest adequately in providing the necessary literacy in science, arts and commercial subjects, and technical proficiency in skilled crafts. What this has meant is that the only literacy available for a majority of schooling going children in the North remains the same Koranic schools, with teaching methodology not reformed or refined, still the same archaic and crude approach of recitation and cramming, with a whip in hand to psychological bring to bear the necessary fear to ensure that the pupils do what they are told. This rightly fits in appropriately to aid the breeding of adults who are easily amiable to accept any pronouncement so issued by the acknowledged authority without any questioning.


More significant however is that the Northern ruling elites whose class status is distinct and different from the working masses of their region; falls back to always brandish the name and common origin of the north to wield political power, this in the end is not aimed at confronting the various social questions of existence that confronts the working masses of the North, nor is political power for them an instrument with which to better the lot of the working masses.


With the existing clear class differentials between the ruling elites and the working masses, the former is left with no other choice than to fall back on religion, exploit it in full to their advantage as a means of projecting to the very same working masses that they pauperize has been same with them. 


Bourgeois democracy in demanding a support base for itself among the electorates, leaves the rulings elites and adherents of its brand of democracy no other choice than to play pretense and falsehood of oneness to garner the necessary support and votes. This is more so since its economic philosophy of neo-liberalism is driven more by the need to create the needed business climate for Big business to appropriate the wealth of society for itself at the very expense of the working masses. 



Religion therefore serves this purpose and it is exploited to the full. The long years of military dictatorship in the country had meant that on return to civil rule in 1999, the new crop of civilian wing of the ruling elites needed propping up and a support base, and they artificially sort to achieve this through religion. Barely after five months of exit of the military rulers on 27 October, 1999, the same Zamfara under Ahmed Sani Yerima introduced Sharia law, and like a wild fire, states after states in the north, a total of twelve states joined the bandwagon seeking to outsmart one another in their grand game of foolery and craze to be “people compliant”. When in reality they were out to laud their image and make political capital from it, no more no less. Imam Nuruddeen Lemu of the Dawah Institute of Nigeria based in Minna, Niger State makes the exact same point that “Sharia” was employed by the politicians to earn the support of “the majority of voters … and the local [Islamic] scholars” as well. (


Islamic clerics and scholars like Mohammed Yusuf with Sharia in practice became all of a sudden the very pole of attraction. They now had a legitimate state endorsement to extend the frontiers of their belief system and in turn the governors by so doing won themselves into the heart of the clerics and their faithful followers; the working masses. For Boni Sherif, the then governor of Bornu, Mohammed Yusuf was the man that fit the bill, and so he was courted, supported in ways that extended his authority. Boni Sherif became the beloved of all of the faithful followers of Mohammed Yusuf, who could claim that the governor of the state shared not just the same faith with them but shared the same Islamic cleric leader and preacher with them. 


For the Northern ruling elites who had introduced Sharia, they were only after the political value that the name and association with Islamic clerics and Islam provided for them to access votes, but for the clerics there was much more to it, their authority and power was not of this world; and the world on its own cannot come to good without adherence to the Quran as interpreted by them and a jihad was the only means to achieve this. Thus the name Jamāʿat Ahl al-Sunnah li-l-Daʿawah wa al-Jihād (People Committed to the Prophet’s Teaching for Propagation and Jihad), better known and referred to as Boko Haram, meaning “Western education is forbidden”. 


This interpretation of hatred for western education is however restrictive and one sided, it ignores the fact that in it is an allusion to a dislike of the northern crop of the ruling class, whose acquisition and monopolization of western education is the basis and ticket with which they have attained power in Nigeria, which in turn is used to build for themselves a luxuries life with the working masses condemned to penury. Rev. Mattew Kukah also agrees with this analogy, when he states that the ‘evil effects of bad governance, corruption, total lack of security and welfare have all become part of our daily lives. Clearly, in the eyes of the sect members, the persistence of corruption, collapse of public morality, injustice and so on could only be attributed to those who govern. In their reasoning, those who govern us do so because they have acquired their tools by gaining Western education’ (


“Ahmed Salkida, a reporter for the Daily Trust, one of the few Nigerian papers that focus on the north, wrote extensively about the group in the years before 2009. He says that despite his professed loathing of politics, Yusuf made alliances and found common ground with Sherif. Both men had much to gain from cooperation. Yusuf wanted the guarantees of a stronger sharia, a commitment to a strict line on God’s divine law; Sherif wanted to be re-elected. Sherif denies any such arrangement or involvement with the sect. 


“In public, the two men had an antagonistic relationship. Yusuf had called Sherif an “infidel” and demanded his death. Sherif, however, knew that it would have been unwise to fight Yusuf. Instead, he courted him, providing a lucrative position in the state religious affairs ministry to one of Boko Haram’s most zealous members, a man named Buji Foi.” (


Yet this open romance by the Northern ruling elites with Boko Haram for its own selfish gains did not in any way erased the disdain for the ruling elites and everything they represented as responsible for the misery and worsening condition of living of the working masses. This is why a majority of working class youth in the north trooped to Mohammed Yusuf, without the advantage a working class analyses and explanation of the failure of the ruling class at governance, and a weak labour movement already done away with Marxism, Islamic fundamentalism rose up to fill the need for an ideology to explain this failure and corruption on the part of the ruling elites as nothing more than the “kaffir” rulers, who had deviated from the true path of Islam and were not Sharia compliant. 


We understand this better, when we fully grasped the fact that the immediate clash between the group and the police, which lasted four day in 2009, resulting into the extrajudicial killing of Mohammed Yusuf (who the military had apprehended and handed over to the police) and 1000 other members, was as a result of his providing leadership for the agitation of the Motorbike riders (achabas), who had been transformed to tool of extortion by the police over the new rule for procurement of two helmets. (


The undeveloped nature of the economy and the poor state of infrastructural development and the massive unemployment it created had meant that riding achabas became the only basis of earning an income, of course this was easily aided by the bad state of the road, leaving a majority with no choice than to   patronize the achabas as a means of transport.


We must therefore not fail to state that nothing else but the failure of the ruling class, from 1960 till date is at the very root of the emergence of Boko Haram. The refusal to develop the means of production employing the wealth and resources of the country as oppose to outright looting without any thought for the wellbeing of the working masses, and then going ahead to put in place measures that serves to take the little they have away from them, or deny them their legitimate means of hustling to survive. 


So with 35, 00 people dead as at 2020 according to the United Nations Develop Programme (UNDP) and “an estimated 314,000 people died “from indirect causes” in the entire North-east region. (


The United Nations Children’s Fund on her part reports that “more than 1, 000 children” has been kidnapped “since 2013 to spread fear and show power. Similarly … over two million people have been displaced” in the North East as a result of Boko Haram’s terror activities.” (


Boko Haram has even become bolder with “reported attacks in “Cameroon's Far North region, Niger's Diffa region and Chad's Lac region, all of which border north-eastern Nigeria”. (


The same Bornu 200 year ago under El-Kanmi took on Usman Dan Fodio the leader of the Jihad of 1804, and his son Mohammed Bello arguing for Bornu’s right of liberal interpretation of Islam as oppose to a singular narrative of the jihadist, in the twenty first century is in now reversed in the fore front of war and jihad imposing a singular narrative interpretation of Islam, with killings, death, kidnapping, arson and burning, dislocation and displacement left in all of its trails.


The secularity of the state which in its letters declares religion as a private affair, finds no will for its enforcement in the hands of the ruling class, even when this helps to promote mutual coexistence, the right of worship for all versions of faiths, inclusive also of the rights to worship by those who so draw that same conclusion, allowing all to practice and as against any attempt to impose a particular faith on all. The ruling elites even more than the religious heads, have a need of religion and all of its paraphernalia more, so as to weave a fog over the eyes and mind of the working masses, not necessarily out of piety or love for the very tenets of the various faiths, but the profitable role of a sedation that it offers the working masses. What Marx refers to as “opium of the people” with which to take the mind and attention of the working masses away from the ruling class as primarily responsible for their woes. Spiriting the working masses to acknowledge their helplessness and surrender their fate in full into the hands of the “men of God” to earn God’s grace. Scriptural texts weaved from mythologies and from ancient texts with society existing in a barbarian and pre-industrial age assume the force of divinity to forever determine how humans should think or act. As if all of the centuries after then and all of the development both in science, in the economy as in the development of the means of production and sociology that has taken place over centuries did not happen.


These texts imagined into existence by a dead past and generations long gone, and their ways done away with, are transmuted into forever living texts and employed to render the working masses from acting on their own reasoning and developing any critical ability to question the condition of living they are subjected to. More painfully is the fact that it is also employed to deny access to the very fruits that human civilisation has brought to being in the course of humanity’s march from the ancients to modernity.


Faith is blinding and unquestionable, and with the ruling elites consciously underfunding education leaving it in a state of paralysis. The Imams, and the pastors have a field day. For without a functional educational system to provide the basis for a scientific world outlook, the religious spinners and marabouts dominate and impose their imaginary and superstitious dispositions on the consciousness of the working masses with the false illusion that the price of attaining after life or heaven is unrepentant faith, and the willingness to do as so asked. Fela in one of his classic songs titled Shuffering & Shimiling” puts this in another form with the lines “suffer suffer for world/amen/enjoy for heaven/amen” but he goes further to tell us that “Archbishop na milki/Pope na enjoyment/Imam na paladun”. At no time do the religious leaders postpone their own heaven to afterlife, they enjoy the best of what is possible on earth, living a life not different or even more luxurious than some members of the ruling elites, of course at the very expense of the working masses.


This explains why, Marxists would eternally continue to insist that the state must have nothing to do with religion, the huge fund so spent on it should be employed to provide for the working masses. The working class operates on the principle of the unity of its class unmindful of where they are born, live or what religion they practice or do not choose to practice. We are all united by our common condition of existence, as those who produce the wealth of society, but are subsequently denied the fruit of that same labour and toil at sweatshop. 


The ruling class, alongside the owners of industries are united in their single purpose and vision to exploit and extract as much as possible while giving nothing or little in turn to the working masses. At no time does capital discriminate in its quest to penetrate and exploit the working masses. We must therefore take up the task to bring the working masses to consciously come to understand that it is the labour power of the working masses; their toil and sweat, which is the basis of production, it is labour that creates capital and wealth for the whole of society, even this is enshrined as a motto of the Nigeria Labour Congress; “Labour Creates Wealth”. The creation of capital and wealth is therefore not on the basis of any form of religious beliefs or faith, rather it is a question of expertise and technical knowhow of the working class. 


But painfully, capitalism denies the working masses, fair share of their labour and the wealth they generate, this is appropriated as surplus value that enables the ruling class and the bosses of Big Business to enjoy an exclusive luxurious life style while condemning the working masses to penury. This is the very reason why the question of “rescue mission” to free the working masses from poverty, illiteracy, homelessness etc, cannot be a task of the ruling class, since the present arrangement makes it possible for them to live like lords. It is the working class who themselves are at the receiving end that must get organized, provide not just the leadership but the programme and manifesto with which to unite the whole of the working masses, build a political organization organization with which to take on the ruling class win political power, and commence the organization of society for the interest and wellbeing of the working class. This task is only achievable in the long run, if the working class creeds socialism on its banner. 


*Climate Change and Desertification*


The question of climate change and the huge impact of desertification, which is at the heart of the war between herders and farmers, can also not be ignored, the migration of herders southward away from the encroaching deserts for a greener terrain, with herders bearing arms, cannot be tackled without a programme that seeks to transform the practice of agriculture in the country. A massive public investment of funds in agriculture linked with an industrialization programme to create millions of jobs to end the scourge of unemployment. Only a programme of socialism by a Working people’s government that puts the interest of the working masses first and foremost as oppose to making profit for members of the billionaire club can begin to take on this task.    


Dr Chris Kwaja, of Modibbo Adama University of Technology, points out that with country declared “in 2017 as the 56th most vulnerable country to climate change dynamics in the world and the 14th least ready country in terms of adaptation to its impact. Climate change, in his analysis, has been a conflict multiplier in a country of 19.5 million cattle, 750, 000 donkeys, 28, 000 camels, 72. 5 million goats, 41. 3 million sheep, most of them owed by herders who are competing for arable land with traditional farmers at a time desertification has encroached 135, 000 square miles of the land in Northern Nigeria.” (


This is the very basis of the conflict in the north, of course alongside the neglect that it has suffered from the ruling elites.  And painfully it must be pointed out that the ruling elites from this part of the country have been more dominant in terms of control of political power both under direct military rule and civilian administrations of the country.


*Is the military consciously or ill-equipped to battle the insurgency?*


But no, the Buhari regime would rather not touch any of the issues, its halfhearted military approach to the issues, like already pointed out above suffers sabotage from the system it operates and survive on.  The military lacks the necessary weapons to take on the insurgents; and when the rank and file complains, they are accused of mutiny, court martial and sentenced to death by colleagues of Generals that in reality are the ones profiting from the war situation. War itself is an avenue for profit making, with importation of arms yielding more super profit than setting up industries, the war on terror easily provides the means for Generals, members of the ruling elites, contractors, and arms merchants to make an industry of war on terror from which to richly fill their pockets. 


The insurgency has made of itself a self-sustaining economy providing reasons for the insurgency not to come to an end. And this does not only apply to the insurgents and bandits but as well as but as well as high ranking government officials and Generals who have made the war into an industry both from the point of view of increase in budgetary allocations and spending in the name of prosecuting the war, with no one about to question them as to how the funds were spent or what it was spent on. 



In reality this war budget to buy weapons is largely another means of looting and lining the pockets of not just the Generals but as well as boosting the Big Business of arms deals and gun running, which is why it is not accidentally that it is taking a civilian Ahmed Jaha, a member of the House of Representatives to take on the military criticizing the approach and tactics in prosecuting the war. According to him the military need “to embark on an offensive strategy by taking the war to their doorsteps so that we can destabilise them. They will not have the luxury of time, the comfort of position to come and attack communities. Whether we like it or not, you cannot sit in your comfort zone waiting for the insurgents to come and attack before you can repel them,”(


This is completely laughable that in country like Nigeria, with all of her resources and all of the command chain of Generals that the military possess,  it is taking a civilian to suggest military tactics for a war that has been on since, 2009. As pointed out the whole of Sambisa forest is like a no go area. A Country of its own complete sovereignty dominated and control by Boko Haram, or since the killing of Shekau by ISWAP, and many other forest enclaves in the northeast and northwest.


The Generals are not then bothered that the failure to successful prosecute the war, serves as a basis to recruit more new faces into the arms of the insurgents. There are various manners of deals underground and in the open for procurement of arms that the numbers of arms both light and heavy currently in circulation and in possession of non-state actors can be compared with no other time in the history of the country and can measure numbers with the civil war of 1967-1970, if not even more.


According to General Abdulsalami, a former head of state, “The proliferation of all calibre of weapons in Nigeria is worrying. It is estimated that there are over six million of such weapons in circulation in the country. This certainly exacerbated the insecurity that led to over 80,000 deaths and close to three million internally displaced persons.” (


 The establishment of a National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) by the Buhari regime has done nothing whatsoever to effect any change in the numbers of small light arms in circulation in the north and in the country, beyond opening a new shop for cronies of the regime to access their own share of a piece of the national pie.


Adolphus Aghughu, the Auditor General of the country, states in an audit of arms in the country’s police armouries that the “total number of lost firearms as reported as of December 2018 stood at 178,459 pieces,” adding that “out of this number, 88,078 were AK-47 rifles.”(


We can hazard a guess here that unlike in the South of the country where we have had recorded incidences of police officers engaging in rentals of their guns to criminal elements, in the north police officers can here directly connived with insurgents and their guns are missing. What is the official position of the police authorities has to how these numbers of arms became missing from its armoury, nothing but the silence in the word: “mum”. 


The police are tightlipped, we do not have any report or arrest of any police officer over their missing guns. The information is only necessary to inform the authority that the police have no arms to do their work and take on the bandits and terrorists who in reality are more armed. And so get more arms, and the cycle again begins, contract awarded, fund looted, obsolete arms bought, and again before long they are back in the grips of the bandits.


Can the blame in anyway be placed on the rank and file of the police and the military as the case maybe, who behold officers in their command structure living like they are in paradise, the rank and file and indeed junior officers have no choice than to agree to any deal or arrangement or simply make themselves unavailable… that is keep the coast clear for the boys to move in cart and their arms away. And if there is cash to be made from it, why not collect it, if approached, when the same boys who have more reasons to be more desperate and not scared of death would still simple attack them and kill them in the process. 


This is not to say that the insurgents and bandits do seek independent means to procure weapons, but the armouries both of the police and the army serves as first port of call for them. “The bandits had informants everywhere and could pay as much as N50, 000 to an informant” (

Their information network is active and functional to know whenever there are new stock of arms anywhere so that they can strike. 


*The booming industry of kidnapping and banditry*


This proliferation of arms and possessions of it by non-state actors has created a side industry of banditry and kidnapping as a legitimate means of income generation for a lot of youths, unmindful that this implies putting more of their own kind in pains. The Kidnap industry is growing from city to city to the extent now that a whole community is left with no other choice than to at times collectively put funds together to pay the demanded ransom to have members of their communities released. 


From a half-year report on kidnapping in Nigeria published by SBM Intelligence, Niger, Katsina, and Kaduna States are identified as having recorded the most cases of kidnap, out of a total of 2,371 kidnapped persons “and the sum of N10 billion demanded has ransom in the first half of 2021.” This is the huge fund that makes kidnapping and banditry extremely attractive to all those engaged in it and the very reason why the state of insecurity would continue to be with us for a long time to come as long as all of the issues in relation to socio and economic deprivation of the working masses is not addressed. 


Confidence MacHarry, Security Analyst at SBM Intelligence points out that ransom money collected is “used to fuel the illegal arms economy, as it could be used for other things. It would be unwise to rule out further arm shipments but through illegal border routes that lead into the country from known sources such as Libya.” ( . As a consequence, Nigeria is drifting “from a largely governed country with a few ungoverned spaces to a place where there are a few governed spaces while in the rest of the country governance has retreated” says Nnamdi Obasi of the International Crisis Group. (Failed state? Why Nigeria’s fragile democracy is facing an uncertain future | Global development | The Guardian)


The boom in the Kidnapping industry has meant the country’s highways most especially in the North is now completely unsafe. With reference to the attacks on the Abuja- Kaduna road, the attacks are no longer at night but in broad day light and Kabir Adamu again refers to the “ungoverned spaces”. For him as long as these places exist “where these bandits are able to hide and come out and carry out atrocities, they will continue to carry out such activities. In this instance they came out of the forest – ungoverned spaces. They blocked the road, abducted those they will abduct, kill the ones that they killed and took their victims into the same routes that they came from. They are going to hold these victims there; they are going to negotiate ransom and eventually when they collect that money, they are going to release them.” (Abuja-Kaduna Road Attack: Expect More From Bandits, Security Experts Tell FG – The Whistler Nigeria)


Money, the need to access funds with which to live and survive drives the banditry, and yet Buhari from whom we have quoted, says he doesn’t understand why “The same people, the same culture, killing each other, stealing each other’s property.” But this ignorance is not only that of Buhari, but of all the entire crop of the ruling class. They are incapable of bringing themselves to understand why the working masses have a constant need to find means to survive and keep themselves alive, when the society and country they claim to be theirs fails them in all ramification. Of course from the point of view of the capitalist system, the ruling elites owe the working masses nothing. 


The state is constantly and continuously being stripped of all social responsibilities. So the working masses are left to their own fate. But it is important however to point out that the working class and indeed even for the ruling class they do not disagree as to the primary importance of economics, over and above all factors as the lead determinant of the actions of men and women. The only difference between the two classes, is that for the ruling elites, economics is nothing more than the primitive accumulation of wealth that should and must be a monopoly of its class.  


Frederic Engels, Karl Marx co-thinkers has this say, not just on behalf of the working class, but for the whole of humanity…

“that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.”( It is the quest for food, for a source of livelihood, for the basic necessity of life and survival that is at the very root of the crisis in the North, denied all legal opportunity working class youth will be left with other choice than to seek other desperate paths even this place their lives and others like themselves at risk.


*The herders versus Farmers clash and the origin of banditry in Zamfara*


We return back to Zamfara to have a full glimpse of the origin of the hostilities in that part of the country, between the Hausas farmers and the Fulani herders’ which dates back to 2011 as already pointed out earlier is directly linked to the question of land. The governor of Zamfara, Mohammed Bello Matawalle had on assumption of office in 2019 put in place a Zamfara Committee for Finding Solution to Armed Banditry. The committee had in its submitted report, traced the origin to the village of Dansadau with a sequence of events, first following accusation of encroachment by herders against farmers and vice versa over grazing routes and farmland respectively. The establishment of the “Yan Sakai”, a vigilante group largely dominated by the Hausas, the emergence of Alhaji Ishe providing leadership for all of the aggrieved Fulanis Herders, the clash between Yau Sakai and the Alhaji Ishe led group. The killing of Alhaji Ishe with his remains burnt to ashes. (


The killing of Alhaji Ishe on the 11 April 2013 blew off the roof of the conflict into a new dimension as the revenge response of the Fulanis was an all-out indiscriminate war against as many Hausa villages, with the Fulanis in Zamfara inviting and getting the support of other Fulanis from the neighbouring state of Sokoto and Kebbi. And the statistics is a damning one on Zamfara with “6,319 persons arbitrarily and willfully killed; 3,672 kidnapped; N2, 805,049,748 billion paid as ransom; 6,483 widows and 25,050 orphans left behind by slain victims; 215,241 cows, 141,404 sheep, 20,600 of other animals (such as camels and donkeys) rustled; and 3,587 houses, 1,487 motor vehicles and motor cycles burnt” (


Ibrahim Magaji Dosara, the commissioner of information in Zamfara state, provides added insights of the conflict stating in a press conference that 100, 000 persons have been displaced. And that “there are almost one hundred (100) different bandits camps with no fewer than 300 bandits in each of these camps having sophisticated weapons with them”, with well-coordinated routes networks, numbering as many 24 across the 14 local governments areas, with 232 leaders and large followership of 400,825 bandits across the state. (


All of these have impacted negatively on Zamfara says the Commissioner, “in addition to the proliferation of both light and heavy weapons, with a high influx of bandits from neighbouring countries, with no solution in sight. The crisis defied all forms of solution” ( This confession is not different from that of Buhari, the ruling elites do not have a solution to the crisis in Zamfara and the North. 


The situation in Zamfara is replicated in some other states in the North, not at the same height as at now in Zamfara but of no lesser consequence, according to Dr Chris Kwaja, the conflict “between farmers and herders in Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau states has claimed over 6, 500 lives between 2011 and 2015, a higher figure than the 4000 lives claimed by the Boko Haram insurgency during the same period. He put the figure of displacement in these states in the period at 62, 000.”(


The statistics for Kaduna covering January to December 2021 credits bandits to have “killed no fewer than 1,192 people and abducted 3,348”. El-Rufai, the governor of the state says that the figure for 2021 surpasses that of 2020 with 255 more killed, and that “that at least nine persons were kidnapped daily by bandits across the state in 2021” (


All of these combines to qualify Nigeria into the competition for the trophy of the world terrorist nation conducted by the world terrorist index, with Nigeria coming off with a bronze medal, after Iraq and Afghanistan. And for attaining this loftier height at the Olympics of terrorism, the ruling elites seek to crown all of the efforts of the bandits and insurgents with state offer of amnesty. 

This is an indirect admittance of the failure of the ruling class, a betrayal of the expectation of the working masses from it. Sheik Gumi, a foremost Muslim cleric and well known has “openly supported and negotiated with bandits who have kidnapped many school children, encouraging dialogue with ‘good bandits’ and defending their cause in the media” (


*The Carrot of Cash and Amnesty for Bandits*


This cry of throw carrots of cash and amnesty to bribe the bandits out of banditry is growing loud and louder, that instead of waiting it out for people to be kidnapped, repeat the cash for guns exchange as was done in the Niger delta. We have a version of this already been implemented in Zamfara with its programme of “two cows for every AK-47” handed over. (


We have however not witness a rush of the bandits trooping in to surrender their arms and embrace peace, when with the same guns they could carry out an attack on a village and own more cows than you can ever imagined. The bandits are well stocked up and opened to part with some of their arms, without in anyway disrupting their banditry enterprise. For the bandits, it is a sort of contractual agreement for a temporary respite  to give the charade some oxygen to stand on straws, gifting the ruling elites the opportunity to make some noise and claim some publicity for their effort at peace, without in anyway denying the bandits the opportunity to return back to their enterprise, as already explained above in relation to Zamfara, the abundance of gold in commercial quantity would in the end defeat any attempt at an amnesty programme.


And this is exactly what informs the reported N20 million Naira gift of cash by the presidency in exchange for “a 12.7 calibre anti aircraft in exchange for the President Buhari’s safety as he prepares to fly to his hometown” in Katsina. ( The military has however come forward to deny this report from the Wall Street Journal. 


A Deputy Commissioner of police in Zamfara who was appointed as Peace Ambassador and Chairman of the Amnesty Committee, he reports that he had visited “Dokami forest where he saw arms and ammunitions with over 1, 000 bandits. Buahri Daji (one of the leaders of the bandits) surrendered 13 AK47 rifles and a rocket launcher as a sign of his confidence in the amnesty programme.

 “He stated that his concern was not to wage war against the bandits but to enter into dialogue and reconciliation because even if government should deploy one million soldiers, they would not be able to defeat the bandits as they were so many with sufficient and sophisticated weapons to counter any attack on them” (


It follows therefore that the ruling elites are in a no-choice situation, they can hardly in an outright war defeat the insurgents and bandits, who in a wave of attack can easily unite their forces against the Nigerian state. But without any such aim currently to directly bid for political power, the question of amnesty would in the end be constantly on the table. And Shekau laughs at the very idea when he says “the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon.” (


But how do you begin to grant pardon to a ruling class that is still bent on its sinful way with the working masses, condemning them more into the abyss of a deeper penury regime after regime. 


It is in this context that the point however must be made in relation to any amnesty programme in the same mold as was implemented in the Niger Delta that the northeast and now the northwest and indeed the whole of the north is not in any sense same as the Niger Delta. Such a cash for guns programme of amnesty, with the official statistics of poverty in the north, would mean that even the majority of working class youths running into millions, even those engaged in legitimate activities would jump ship and queue up to be settled, this would no doubt also attract youths from neighouring countries of Niger and Chad, and before long growing procurement of arms with which to demonstrate their qualification for the amnesty. It is obvious that this would break down and turnout counterproductive and achieve the opposite of its purpose. But interestingly the point must be made that the ruling elites are not out to better the lot of the working masses, only on rear occasions when it provides an opening for them to further enrich themselves would they then in the interim endorse a programme of amnesty and cash hand out. The example of the of the Niger Delta that is readily referred to, was in reality a bribe to end the bombing and obstruction of oil drilling which directly impacted on the money that was available to be appropriated and looted by the ruling class. It is in this context that the Amnesty programme in the Niger Delta easily saw the light of day. The same does not directly applies to the North, and the ruling class makes no exception to its quest and greed for nonstop acquisition of the wealth of society for itself.


*What is to be done?*


What is to be done to end the insurgency, what should be the attitude of Marxists to the insurgency, what is the way out, and we can only both point to the earlier efforts of the working masses in Bornu with the emergence of the Civilian Joint Task Force (cJTF), as an embryo of the possibility of the working masses organizing their own armed militia to defend themselves against attack from insurgents and bandits alike. The right of the working masses to armed themselves, will not be freely endorsed by the state, if they inevitably emerge as the case of the cJTF in Maiduguri has demonstrated, the ruling elites will immediately seek to bring it under their control through the use of funds. Marxists however says that workers Militia, would not have to rely on the state for support, and such a workers Militia can only emerge as part and parcel of the efforts of the working class to take on the ruling elites, and as such must have to organise itself independently of the members of the ruling class, relying on its own strength, resources and organization. 


Does the above now mean that the entire structure of the military and the police command, include the rank and file should be completely ignored has been under the domination and dictation of the ruling elites, and that it can play no role whatsoever in relation to ending the insurgency. This is far from it, Marxists must necessarily take it upon themselves to issue appeal to the rank and file of the military and the police to support the effort of the working masses in all of their struggle to improve their wellbeing, since in reality they are not members of the Ruling class, even when the arms they bear is directly employed to defend the interest of the ruling class.


The necessity to draw attention to the class affiliation of the rank and file of the military and police as one and same with the working masses and that ultimately their material wellbeing is tied to the fortunes of the working masses. They cannot look at their commanding officers who aspire to the same lifestyle with the ruling class, who daily aim to curry their favour and seeking constantly to execute all of the biddings of the ruling class as a means to demonstrate their loyalty and earn themselves a share of the national cake.   


The fact that the rank and file of the military and the police suffer all of the pains that afflict the working masses is more than enough to demonstrate the side of the class divide they belong to, and as a such everything must be done to bring them to consciously act in defending the class interest of the working masses, and shun all acts and directive that comes in conflict to the wellbeing and interest of the working masses.


This is why it is imperative to defend the democratic right of all categories of workers to organise, the right of the rank and file of the military and the police to have a union and be granted the same right like all workers to demand an improvement of their working conditions and living condition without then been accused of treason by their commanding officers, whose earning and largess place them in a different world where all of their material needs are abundantly met, and do not have to suffer like the rank and file, do not bear arms in war situation or face any danger or threat to their lives during the course of their duty. 


But by and large, it is the growing strength and consciousness of the Working class in the arena of struggle against the Ruling class, organising itself, and the entire working masses as a unit under its leadership in the direction of taking political power that would ultimately be the deciding factor in winning the rank and file of the military and police to come out openly to act in the interest of the working masses, even to the extent of refusing orders to shoot or employ the arms against the working masses, but be willing to turn over the arms completely on the side of the working masses in full support of the effort to dislodge the ruling class and overthrown capitalism.


And yet the working masses have not folded their hands, the recent #Northisbleeding mass protest of youths in the streets of the capitals of the north organized by a Coalition of Concerned Northern Nigerian Groups against the “escalation of attacks and killings across Northern Nigerian communities, cities, towns and highways, adding that the situation has put the region at the mercy of bandits” (Solidarity Vol 1, No 3.)


This is an indication of the willingness of the working masses taking up the task of their safety in their own hands. And this task cannot be reduced to merely piling up pressure on the ruling elites to do the needful. If anything the ruling elites employing the instrument of the state would attempt to clamp down on such protest and movements. And this is exactly what has played out. The MSA condemns the continued transformation of DSS to an apparatus out to contain the right of the working masses and youth to exercise their freedom and right to organise and protest the condition of continuous attacks by bandits and insurgents and government seemingly helplessness.


In the same breath we condemn in totality the attempt to cow the leaders  of the coalition, if anything working class activists and socialists must commend them, and point out the need to broaden their class education to fully come to understand that it will require the entire muscle and strength of the working class in the fore front of the struggle to take on not just the Buhari regime, but the entire crop of the ruling elites, both its civilian and military wing, dislodge them from power, and bring to be, a Workers and Poor Farmers’ Government. 


This is the only type of regime that can truly take on the insurgents, either through appeal to lay down their arms and support the effort of the working class and poor farmers to develop the means of production and with it confront all of the array and myriad of problems that the ruling elites primarily see as a means of accumulating more wealth into their private pockets. This is the only importance that the ruling class attach to power, to acquire it and employ it to appropriate the wealth of society for itself alone, and for this same reason it lacks a base or any genuine support of the working masses. 


As we draw more closer to the 2023 General elections, the ruling elites will reach out to the bandits, contract task out to these bandits that will have them in their services in its bid to retain power or come into the corridors of power. This was the very original intention of Boni Sherif, the then Governor of Borno in patronizing the services of Mohammed Yusuf and his Boko Haram group to help chunk up his popularity among the electorates, not out of any genuine desire to run an administration and programme that would put the interest of the working masses first and foremost in terms of providing for their basic needs in relation to education, healthcare needs, housing, food, transport etc.


(Aj. Dagga Tolar is the General Secretary of the Movement for a Socialist Alternative)