A governor’s awkward apology

Mallam Nasir El-rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, Monday, apologised for his administration’s inability to protect the people. He spoke during a visit to Karewa and four other villages in Igabi and Giwa local government where 51 persons were killed by bandits in early morning attacks Sunday. “If not for security agencies’ prompt intervention, they (bandits) would have wiped out the entire villages,” el-Rufai lamented. “I also came to apologise for (my government’s) failure to protect you fully, (but) we are doing our best to minimise such incidents; you should continue to forgive us.”

In the same breath, the governor tried to explain his government’s helplessness. “In Kaduna, we have vast land, if the security (forces) close up one area they (bandits) attack another area,” he said. “The security agencies are doing the best they can, but they find it difficult to get to remote areas in good time due to poor access roads while the natives also find it difficult to get intelligence across to security personnel due to poor GSM network. I am grateful to the Air force, Army, Police and the DSS for being always prompt otherwise it would have been worse.” According to him, security operatives intervened shortly after the attacks, both on the ground and from the air, and “succeeded in wiping out the attackers”.

El-Rufai told the villagers that he had asked the security agencies to “wipe out the bandits” because “It is our duty to wipe them out. The security agencies are taking the war to the forest and we are eliminating them.” However, he pleaded with the villagers to “continue to be patient and vigilant, as well as support government and security agencies to win the war against the bandits.”

We admit how awkward it must have been for the governor to have had to apologize to his people, the very same people he vowed to protect when he took the oath of office. Now they are left to their own devices, confronted by an enemy that exploits the same challenges the governor complained of to maim and kill in teens and hundreds. However, in admitting that his government has failed people of Kaduna, El-Rufai has demonstrated uncommon candour. Many of his colleagues in similar difficult situations would so easily pass the buck. He, instead, chose to take the embarrassment under the chin. Bravo.

Regrettably, an admission of failure was not what his traumatized audience wanted to hear from the governor. Yes, there are challenges to overcome. How to do that was what they would be happier to hear. For instance, El-Rufai’s Commissioner for Internal Security, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, speaking yesterday on a radio programme, said one of the things the government had decided was to turn over large swathes of bushes where the bandits hide to the military to use as shooting ranges. This should be music to the ears of people of Kaduna State. The military’s big guns going off boom boom will put the bandits on the run all the time.

As for bad access roads, we advise El-Rufai to do as his colleagues in some states are doing. Let him reach an agreement with the federal government to rehabilitate the bad roads and claim compensation upon completion. On poor services by GSM network operators, we are afraid this is out of the hands of the governor. But we shall help him appeal to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to get the operators to improve on their services nationwide.

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