Insecurity And Southern Kaduna
Kaduna State straddles the country's ethnic and religious divide. Northern Kaduna's population is mainly Muslim and Hausa-Fulani, while southern Kaduna is predominantly Christian. The northern half is unofficially called Mecca; the south is Jerusalem (Hoffman, 2017). Due to this divide, the state has witnessed violent clashes since the early 1970s. Relations between the Hausa-Fulani and communities in southern Kaduna have been tense, stemming predominantly from competition over resources, including land and political control. These tensions have often led to violent ethnic and sectarian clashes resulting in the loss of lives and properties (Ewang, 2020). Kaduna State, in particular, has suddenly become an epicenter of terrorism, banditry, and kidnapping in the country's northwestern region. Under successive periods of political transformation in Nigeria, many tribal groups in southern Kaduna have shaped their histories and identities around deeply held grievances and the perception of suppression by the more politically influential Hausa-Fulani people.
According to Hoffman 2017, multiple challenges are intertwined with sectarian and ethnic tensions, which inflame conflicts in the state. These challenges are rural banditry, cattle rustling, land use and access disputes, farm and herding differences, transhumance and grazing disputes, electoral violence, criminal gangs, arms proliferation, high youth unemployment, and the prevalence of drug abuse.
Ayandele 2021, stated that Kaduna's security crisis revolves around three different but overlapping threats. The first relates to the farmer-herder conflict involving growing tensions over land access and its use between communities. The second threat comes from armed gangs engaged in criminal activities, including kidnapping for ransom, arms dealing, cattle rustling, and highway robbery, and the third is on the Ansaru's reemergence. Ansaru is a militant Islamic group whose ideological campaign casts democratic rule as corrupt and incompatible with Islam. They offer weapons and economic opportunities to recruit members. The extremist group appears to have had particular success recruiting among Fulani (Ayandele, 2021).
Impact of Insecurity on the State
Decrease in Human Insecurity: The Kaduna State Annual Security Report revealed that Bandits killed 937 persons and kidnapped 1,972 others in 2020. Over 220 violent incidents were recorded in the state by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data. The president of the Southern Kaduna People's Union (SOKAPU) stated that about 200,000 persons are displaced while the terrorists have taken over 148 communities (Tauna, 2022). The attacks on the communities have led to the mass displacement of people and deaths. In her records, the Catholic Archdiocese of Kafanchan, Kaduna, submitted 1,422 houses, 16 churches, and 19 shops destroyed since September 2016 across 53 villages in Southern Kaduna (Obia, 2020). Also, on March 11, 2023, 17 persons died from attacks by marauding armed herders. The constant attack across communities has devastated human Security, socioeconomic growth, and cohesion in the state.
Change of social and religious activities: Due to fear of attack, residents in the area have curtailed their lifestyles. Lliya and Mijah 2021) found that insecurity has adversely affected religious movements in the area. Saidu et al. 2018, in their study, stated that the lifestyle of many residents within and outside the Kaduna metropolis has changed due to growing insecurity, with residents imprisoned (indoors) in offices and homes.
Deterioration in Standard of Living: The constant clash and destruction of lives and properties has deprived many persons of their source of income and have lost breadwinners in their families. Farmers have abandoned their farmlands due to fear of attack, affecting food production.
Violence is a drawback to education in the region: Students have refused to return to school due to fear of attacks. Some parents have refused to send their wards to schools. Southern Kaduna Peoples Union stated that about 500 schools had either shut down, abandoned, or destroyed due to attacks in the community. This drawback in education poses severe problems for the North and the country. The reason is that the lack of education for the young generation makes them ill-equipped to perform optimally in this fast-changing world of tech.
The Operation Accord of the Joint Task Forces in Kaduna state needs to adopt a holistic strategy. The Operation Accord was formed to help restore the state's peace and Security. However, its success is minimal due to its unidimensional process, heavy-handedness, and indiscriminate approach, which has failed to counter the multifaceted security threat in the state. A holistic strategy would entail recognizing the diverse threat of different conflict drivers. Mapping out other groups posing threats to the state and security response accordingly. Also, developing a people-centered security strategy would go a long way in reestablishing trust in local communities.
Federal and state governments should commit to improving human welfare, emphasizing poverty alleviation, reducing inequalities, and access to justice with human development and Security.
The military and other security operatives should be proactive and quick in responding to the threat issued by bandits. Security agencies need more strategic intelligence gathering to foresee an attack and thwart it by any means possible.
Security operatives should heavily monitor the ungoverned spaces serving as homes to these bandits.
Government should compensate victims of the carnage of houses burnt and farmlands destruction by alleviating their plights by providing food and other items from government reserves.
Relevant stakeholders such as government, religious leaders, traditional rulers, community leaders, and development partners should build inter-religious engagement and dialogue to sustain peaceful co-existence and economic prosperity in Southern Kaduna.
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