In the just concluded week, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) deployed 1,300 Special Forces to Zamfara and Benue States to curb the heightened insecurity in the states. According to the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, a new attack helicopter (an Italian-manufactured Augusta 109) was acquired and would be deployed to assist the ground forces in their operations.
Of the Special Forces, 1,000 airmen were moved to Zamfara State to further tackle banditry while 300 airmen were posted to Benue State to tackle the renewed herdsmen violence as suspected herdsmen reportedly killed 10 people in their sleep in Guma Local Government area of Benue State on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Also, the Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, ruled out the option of further dialogue with the bandits despite his claims that the bandits had stockpiled a significant cache of weaponry and that they were more equipped than the entire security forces deployed to combat them.
The Governor’s position was due to the fact that the bandits had, in the past, rejected an offer of amnesty in exchange for their weapons in an earlier meeting. Further escalating insecurity in the North West were the killings by unknown gunmen in some communities in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State which have also displaced thousands of people in the state.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, the Senate finally passed the N30,000 new minimum wage bill for all Nigerian workers and called for a review of the Revenue Sharing Formula to give the states more financial muscle to foot the new wage bill.
Recall that Federal Government decided to add N3,000 to its workers’ pay to increase it to N30,000 after N27,000 was approved as new minimum wage at the first Council of State meeting in January 2019. However, the governors proposed N22,500, stating insufficient fund as excuse.
We feel it is high time the Federal Government changed it strategy in arresting the heightened insecurity in the country as the frequency at which different forms of crises spring up has reached alarming proportions.
Also, given the sophistication and volume of weaponry at the disposal of the bandits (as alleged by Zamfara State Governor), deploying military officers to the battle field without superior weaponry could be a futile mission.
Meanwhile, we opine that the deployment of the airmen and other resources to complement the operations of the ground troops was a good move which should stabilize the troubled regions. Also, we commend the passage of N30,000 as the new minimum wage by the Senators but note that it might not amount to a living wage for Nigerians, given the proposed increase in VAT rate by the Federal Government which would drive increase in general price level.