The incessant killings in Zamfara State has led to a disagreement among politicians on whether or not a state of emergency should be declared in the North-west state.
A state of emergency could mean the federal government taking over governance in the state and massively deploying soldiers to maintain peace there. The federal government could also choose to appoint an administrator to govern the state during the period of the emergency rule.
The debate over a state of emergency follows the repeated killings in Zamfara in recent weeks by armed bandits. While dozens have been killed in recent weeks, hundreds have been killed in the state in 2018. Many others have been kidnapped for ransom and several houses destroyed. The killings have continued despite the deployment of soldiers and other security operatives to the state.
The killings led the governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari, saying he has relinquished his position as chief security officer of the state as he has no control over security agencies. Mr Yari’s critics, however, say he has not done enough to stop the killings.
Leading the call that a state of emergency be declared in Zamfara is a governorship candidate in the state, Saidu Dansadau.
Mr Dansadau, a former senator, said President Buhari should embark on the move to rescue the state from bloodletting.
On Tuesday, he berated Mr Buhari over the incessant killing of people in the state and his failure to act to stem the bloodletting.
Mr Dansadau made the disclosure in Gusau, capital of the state, while briefing reporters on the activities of his party, National Rescue Movement (NRM), which he also leads as chairman.
He said due to the increasing insecurity in Zamfara, his party has decided to suspend all activities including campaigns.
According to him, the crisis in Zamfara today is “beyond the knowledge of every individual, and unless something positively is done, no one knows where finally the state will find itself in.”
The candidate said as a result of the insecurity bedeviling the state, even visitors are scared of coming.
“The redeployment of the troops as far as I am concerned has not yielded any positive result, because instead of reducing (insecurity), it only increases day by day,” he added.
He said the two letters he wrote to Mr Buhari suggesting solutions to the carnage have not been reposnded to.
“I also attempted to see the National Security Adviser as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, also all in vain. This is why I said that the president has ‘less concern’ with the people of Zamfara.
“Mr President should be aware that the state is now being administered by the insurgents. The governor of the state has since made it clear he has ceased to be the chief security officer of the state.”
The candidate said orphans and widows have increased due to the rising killings in the state.
However, in opposition to a state of emergency in the state is the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose.
Mr Fayose accused the federal government of plotting to impose an emergency rule in Zamfara.
He alleged the Buhari-led government was planning to hide under the rampant killings in Zamfara State by armed bandits to impose the rule on the state.
Mr Fayose, on Tuesday warned that “the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government cannot hide under its own failure to secure the lives of Nigerians to achieve its selfish partisan agenda.”
Mr Fayose is a member of the opposition party, PDP, while Zamfara is governed by Nigeria’s ruling party, APC.
In reaction to the killings in the state, President Buhari has repeatedly vowed to the end the violence and apprehend the perpetrators.
Mr Buhari on Monday expressed sorrow over the loss of lives following a recent attack on communities in Zamfara by bandits and cattle rustlers.
He assured that the federal government will do everything to end the horrendous attacks.
In a telephone call he made to Garba Tambari, the Emir of Maradun in Zamfara State, President Buhari said he was extremely saddened by the loss of lives and destruction of property.
He urged the emir to console his people, and citizens in the entire state over “these heart-wrenching tragedies.”
But Mr Fayose is unimpressed with the president’s move to douse tension.
Mr Fayose, who is the South-west coordinator of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, alleged that the plot to impose emergency rule was a response to the insistence of the electoral commission, INEC, not to allow the APC field candidates for the 2019 general election in Zamfara State.
INEC made the decision following what is said was the ruling party’s failure to hold primaries within the stipulated time frame.
In a statement personally signed by him on Tuesday, Mr Fayose alleged that the federal government’s plot was aimed at paving way for a fresh electoral process in the state so that APC can field candidates.
“With the emergency rule, there will only be Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state in February next year while governorship and State House of Assembly elections will be postponed till May,” he said.
He advised the federal government to admit its failure and apologise to the people of Zamfara State, who were left at the mercy of armed bandits, noting that “using the killings to achieve political goal is not only wicked but inhuman.”
Mr Fayose said the federal government must be reminded that; “under the PDP government of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, emergency rule was declared in three states in the North-east without dismantling democratic institutions”.
The former governor also urged Governor Yari to stand up for his people and democracy so as to save the country from going under.
“I’m aware that the governor is abroad and I advise that he should return home. This is the time for
him to be a man and stand in defence of his people rather than standing with their oppressors.”
Mr Fayose, who has remained an unrelenting critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, was arrested over graft allegations by the EFCC after the end of his tenure earlier this year. He has since been released on bail.