By: Ahmed Rufai Isah
The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In the first week of November 2015, I took a business trip alongside my brother to a town called Mutunji in Dan Sadau Emirate, Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Mutunji is a town with no small population and is not far from Dan Sadau. There, I saw a microcosm of the larger Nigerian society playing to my disgust all over again. Education, security, healthcare all in total collapse as poverty, crime and neglect reigned supreme.
What made me sadder was the sight of children neglected by a country that refers to them as leaders of tomorrow. As Dietrich has opined, a society is tested by how well it treats its children but I go further to add that the true test is how a society treats the children of the poor and those without power.
This test is one that Nigeria has failed. And in Dan Sadau and Mutuji the evidence is clear.
At every stage of human history, the quest for knowledge has always been constant. That quest is what has ensured man achieve civilisation and continue to strive for the growth of his society. The future of every society depends entirely on how much effort the current generation puts in to ensure the younger people get access to quality education.
In Nigeria, however, the reverse is the case. Access to quality education is the exclusive preserve of the rich and those in power. In Mutunji, education is in total collapse and the only primary school there is in tatters. There is no single secondary school between Dan Sadau and Mutunji.
There are thirteen primary schools in Dan Sadau Emirates without teachers. For many years, there are no available teachers to teach kids ready to learn and those ready find no one ready to pay for their work. No single child has finished primary school in Mutunji since 2005.
Few months before our visit, we were told the community came together and made a decision to employ two teachers whom they are to pay N8,000 monthly to educate the children. To contribute to their wage, they decided to levy every parent N100 per child.
This community initiative is what has brought education back to Mutunji. If this is not an indictment on our leaders especially the members of the National Assembly representing these areas, nothing else is.
SECURITY IS LIFE
The trip from Gasau to Dan Sadau was long and torturous. Along the way, from Magami while approaching Yar-Tashar Yari, the driver turned to us and said we should expect the unexpected. The security of our lives from then on was up to us and God. Until we got to Mutunji, my heart kept beating faster than quick sound of breeze coming through the window.
It is an anomaly for citizens to resort to depending on each other for securing their lives and property. It is a big recipe for chaos because the power of humans isn’t one and same. Security of citizens’ life and property is the fundamental responsibility of the government. If government cannot secure the lives and property of its citizens, then there is no need for such government to exist.
Our visit to Dan Sadau Emirates revealed a total collapse of law and order especially in Mutunji. Forced marriages, kidnapping of little girls, murder, banditry, and arson are rife in Mutunji. Constituted authority turn blind eyes to the happenings and the stories hardly make it to mainstream media. Armed militia operate in the open, impose taxes and run open courts in villages like Dutsen Kura, Tasa, and Chapi.
In villages like Mai Awaki and Guru there is constant case of kidnapping of little girls, who are forcefully turned into wives. In Umguwar Galadima, about 200 hundred people were allegedly murdered for holding a meeting to find solution to the many problems bedevilling their community. No single word from the authorities or any sign of an investigation. In Kaduru, 40 people were said to have suffered the same fate.
Villages like Mai Goge, Kalgo and Jesa could hitherto boast of thousands of cows but because of the activities of cattle rustlers like Madaka, Gajeran, Kauye they no longer own a single cow. These men and their ilk attack the villages constantly, stealing their cows and selling them off in other states through the assistance of middlemen and couriers like Maikano Jesa.
The many crimes in this part of the country continue to go unpunished. Even when such criminals are arrested, they walk away free after a day or two at the police stations which are mostly understaffed, ill-equipped and corrupt.
ACQUIRING POWER TO FAIL
Power acquired if not for the advancement of citizens is largely useless. The reasons people seek to assume political positions is centred around making better lives of people in their societies and to ensure such societies don’t result in chaos.
This however looks different from what is obtainable in Nigeria. Increasingly, we have people who assume positions and result to self-aggrandizement, forgetting the people who voted them. A policeman in uniform forgets the reason he/she was trained a police and resorts to extorting the citizens.
A politician forgets why he/she was voted for, the lawyer, the judge, etc. everyone in Nigeria seems to have forgotten the reasons they have power is to put the nation on a better path to development, leaving citizens to function as their own government.
Someone needs to remind Lawali Aliyu, the chairman of Maru Local Government Area; Abdullahi Maikano, the member, House of Assembly Maru South; Abdulmalik Bungudu, House of Representative member for Maru/Bungudu; Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabiru Marafa; All Progressive Congress chairmanship flag-bearer, Salisu DanGulbi, that the power they sought votes for and won is best utilised for the good of their people.
As leaders, the responsibility doesn’t stop at acquiring power; it actually starts after that. They must stand up and assist their people who are in their need of governance.
Finally, I advise the government at the federal, state and local government level to look into cases like the ones happening in Mutunji, where human lives have become worthless.
Citizens vote so they can be protected and provided social amenities. As it is, neither of that is happening in Mutunji. Some few citizens have taken the law into their hands and are using it to punish the less powerful ones because there are no custodians of the law to checkmate them.
Any further delay could be dangerous for that region of Nigeria.