Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State naturally cuts the picture of a quiet and pliant politician, at least, before his current metamorphosis to one that tend to talk too much and, most times expressing what many Nigerians now consider warped and thoughtless utterances.
The governor of Buhari’s home state and a one time Speaker of the House of Representatives, no doubt have his hands full with the murderous activities of bandits, which has constantly choked and left residents of the state gasping for breath.
And it’s also understandable that Masari, may most times feel a sense of responsibility, no matter how misplaced, to defend his kinsman, who is the President and one of the most vilified, on account of his failures in governance and inability to provide quality leadership in the face of excruciating poverty, devastating insecurity and gradual descent into anarchy.
Masari, who has, on many occasions expressed helplessness with the banditry and general insecurity in his state, has however continued to express views believed by many Nigerians to be inconsistent with the realities on ground, without showing signs of slowing down.
It will be recalled that the former lawmaker had not too long ago defended President Buhari’s administration, insisting that the President has not failed Nigerians as many had variously said.
According to him, during an interview with TVC, the President had instead tolerated so much rubbish from Nigerians, insisting that Buhari’s rating has not gone down contrary to popular opinion.
He said: “The rating of the President has not changed. Anybody saying that the rating of the Buhari administration has gone down should wait till when we would have an election.”
On the many protests that has taken place lately against Buhari’s administration, Masari said they are normal in a democracy, a fact he got right. Though it is still a wonder why the same government, which Masari is part of remotely, is still averse to protests, if they were normal!
He said: “Protests are necessary in a democracy. Even in the best democracy in the world, people protest. The fact that we have democracy does not mean that people should not complain or protest.
“I don’t think Buhari has failed us, I think he has tolerated us. We once had a civilian president who couldn’t take the rubbish that Buhari is taking from some people”
What constitutes the rubbish the President has tolerated is still what is a mystery. Could the rubbish be the right to protest that the people have been trying to exercise without success, the deadly insecurity Nigerians are being saddled with without much done to abate it by the government of the day?
Could the rubbish also include the ravaging poverty in the land that has made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world or the high cost of living and roof busting cost of foodstuffs in the face of dwindling income for the average Nigerian household?
Governor Masari may just have to be more explicit in letting us know just what constitute the rubbish the President has been taking and also tell us what else could have happened if he was not to tolerate our rubbish!
Not done with the praise singing Masari has continuously engaged in, he took his obviously disjointed recent reasoning to another level when he accused residents of Katsina State of not defending themselves against the well armed and murderous criminal bandits.
According to Masari, it was rediculous that people in the state are not defending themselves against the activities of bandits, adding that residents of the state should defend themselves against the criminal bandits because they are not spirits.
According to him, residents of the state cannot simply rely on security agencies alone to solve the problem of insecurity in their locations, commanding them to organize themselves to repel the bandits whenever they attack.
“Security is our responsibility. Why are we surrendering our responsibility to some people? I can’t see how more committed a police or military officer can be than any of you.
“Why should I sit in my village and be only making telephone calls without doing anything?
“Every bandit, every criminal has an address, has a location, and they’re human beings like us. The only difference is that they’ve taken arms against us; does it mean we’ve nothing to take against them?
“Do we mean we should vacate all our villages, all our farms, all our houses, and surrender them to bandits, and wait for police officer Emeka all the way from Enugu to come to Katsina and rescue me? This is ridiculous. Why?
“I think part of what this Katsina initiative needs to do is to go round all these local governments, let us talk to the people to defend yourselves,” he said.
To start with, it must be noted that Masari was right in saying that the bandits are not spirits. He also got it right when he said the difference between us and them is that they have taken up arms against us, which to any reasonable person, is a huge difference.
But what one has failed to comprehend is the rationale behind Masari’s anger against Katsina residents, who he accused of failure to defend themselves but merely waiting waiting for security agencies to come to their rescue.
The question probing minds will readily ask Masari is, with what do you want Katsina residents to defend themselves? With clubs and stones? Was the governor expecting Katsina residents to go out unarmed to confront bandits brandishing AK-47 and other automatic weapons, as we have seen in photo-ops Sheikh Ahmad Gumi had with the criminals?
It is also pertinent to ask Masari the fate that has befallen those in the southern part of the country, who had the effontery to confront rampaging armed herdsmen terrorising their farms and communities. What has become of operatives of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) and Yoruba Nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, who rose to the defence of his people in Igangan in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State?
One must also ask Masari why our security agencies have been unable to crush the bandits, insurgents and other criminals since they are not spirits.
Leaders, especially those elected by the people and maintained with taxpayers money, must be seen to be responsible in their utterances and not railroad their people into mass suicide missions, which is what the Masari self-defense call may likely become without adequate arms and preparation.
Also on Monday, the Katsina State Governor, went for those he called prominent Nigerians, lambasting them for calling for foreign help to solve the seemingly intractable security challenges confronting the country.
According to Masari, it was unpatriotic for them to call for foreign help, which in his wisdom, is interpreted to mean foreign interference in the internal affairs of the country.
Masari, who spoke on Monday while delivering his Eid-el-Kabir goodwill message to residents of Katsina, insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has all it takes to tackle insecurity in the country and there was no need to seek external help.
The governor also reasoned that Nigeria, being a sovereign country, deserves the respect of “foreign nations whatever their status on the global stage may be.”
He said: “For any compatriot to wilfully call on foreign powers to meddle in the internal affairs of Nigeria, is to display the highest level of unpatriotism.
“No responsible citizen, least of all those who are the foremost beneficiaries on the commonwealth, would encourage foreign powers to interfere in the internal affairs of their nation, regardless of its adversities.
“The insecurity buffeting the country is not limited to one section of the country, or affecting only one ethnic group or the adherents of only one religion. It doesn’t spare even social status.”
What is however not clear is how Governor Masari concluded that calling for foreign help to tackle insecurity in Nigeria amounts to calling for foreign intervention. Is he saying that such calls is for the foreign nations to come and take over governance in Nigeria? And what really translate to unpatriotic behaviour? Making suggestions on the way out or begging for help in the face of Buhari government’s inability to secure the lives and property of Nigerians?
The governor may just have forgotten that even President Muhammadu Buhari had recently solicited for the help of the United States, when he called for the relocation of the US African Mission, a standby military formation for intervention in Africa. Was President Buhari also being unpatriotic in calling for such help? Or the definition of patriotism depends on who is involved and his political affiliation and temperament?
Facts on ground has also debunked the myth that the Buhari administration has all it takes to tackle insecurity in the country, contrary to Masari’s tirades. For now, the current Nigerian reality says the Buhari government is overwhelmed with security challenges since it has been unable to abate the spate of attacks, killings and mass abductions that have become daily occurrences in almost every part of the country.
As stated earlier, the unenviable current predicaments of Governor Masari maybe understandable, it is however pertinent to remind him that whatever difficulties he may be having in governing Katsina State is part of the price he must pay for seeking to be a leader. Leadership is not a bed of Roses and any leader or aspiring ones must be ready to face them squarely and not cheaply crumble under the accompanying weight, which Mr. Masari is currently displaying with his incoherent utterances and thought process.