2020 Kaduna state security report: The assault on transparency

Before the illogical Nigerian Tribune editorial “Banditry: Kaduna’s Frightening Casualty Figures”, that attempted, but failed woefully to dismiss the 2020 Kaduna State Situation Report on the grounds that “the commissioner attempted to rationalize the stupendous figures ”, there was equally the attempt by Joseph Hayab, Chairman Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), a  known card carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to shoot down the report, on the grounds that “the Nasir El-Rufai administration was playing games with security challenges in the state”, without offering any specifics. 

Hayab deserves credit for being “authentic”, for never disguising his vehement opposition to the El-Rufai administration and his preference for Isa Ashiru, who El-Rufai roundly defeated in the 2019 general elections. Given the antecedents of Hayab, he wasn’t expected to acknowledge the effort at accountability by the Kaduna state government nor admit the credibility of the report, because the unintended, but calamitous consequences of the report, for him and his ilks, is that they have been denied the oxygen (untruthful claims of genocide and Islamization), on which their relevance and fund raising activities are predicated. 

By dismissing a security report that is transparent about incidents and casualties, is the Nigerian Tribune and Hayab saying they prefer the concealment of challenging records cloaked as classified reports? Will any of the other 35 states or the FG contemplate similar efforts at transparency, going by the assault by some persons and a section of the press? What can safely be concluded from the concerted attacks, by some sections of the Nigerian media, and indeed the likes of Hayab, is  that only governments that make efforts at tackling issues get attacked, while the do nothing ones  are never held accountable. Precisely why the Nigerian Tribune and Hayab, that haven’t demanded the publication of security reports on the situation in the country and the 35 states from the National Security Adviser would have issues with the Kaduna state report. 

What the Nigerian Tribune and likes of Hayab clearly set out to achieve from the outset with their deliberate and concerted assault on transparency, was to dissuade the Kaduna state government by subtle intimidation from further publication of the daily, quarterly and yearly reports on the security challenges facing the state. The report has not only debunked the false narratives that had been left unchallenged for years, but extremely bad business for a section of the media, who celebrate crisis, propagate falsehoods and merchants, profiting from the crisis in the name of “fighting for their people”, who only matter during clashes. 

For instance, while the Kaduna State Security Report shows that in 2020, 1,972 people were kidnapped, 937 killed and 7,195 animals rustled in the state, Hayab claims that over 500 Christians were kidnapped and over N300 million paid  in ransom, a figure which official statistics doesn’t support, and a claim the media never subjected to any interrogation. No wonder Hayab can confidently tag  the report as celebratory, like the Nigerian Tribune, 

We must commend the Kaduna state government for breaking with tradition, by making security information that were previously classified public. The departure ought to have been welcomed by the Nigerian Tribune and Hayab. The ministry in anticipation of the concerted onslaught, had painstakingly made clear that the objectives of the report; includes, but not limited to “extending the transparency of the daily reports across an annual cycle, providing a facts-based assessment of the security challenges the state confronts”. This is the noble objective the Nigerian Tribune, and Hayab, for different reasons, but with one objective wanted killed. 

For the Nigerian Tribune, the demonization of El-Rufai, an agenda being vigorously pursued by those who perceive him as an obstacle to the presidential ambitions of their mentor, is understandable, but not a sufficient reason to turn logic on its head as it attempted with its editorial “Banditry: Kaduna’s Frightening Casualty Figures”, because editorials are vital contributions to discourse, and so must reflect a depth of organized thinking,for readers to take it seriously. On the part of  Pastor “crusader”  Hayab, the voyage to even scores with a government that has refused to do business with him, has blinded him and made immaterial the commitment to transparency and accountability, which the report represents. It is all about interest, so Hayab can be excused his laughable claims that “no effort is being made to tame or put kidnapping activities in Kaduna state in check”. 

If only they had paid attention to the report, they would have seen the account of the challenging security situation, a transparent effort to present the bare facts of the reality, as well as an account of the state government’s efforts to address the various dimensions of the security issues, rather they were dismissive of the efforts to set the records straight, because it contradicts their narratives of who constitutes the victim of banditry, it repudiates the oft peddled fictions of land-grabbing and genocide against particular ethnic groups.

Thankfully, the attacks rather than intimidate the Kaduna state government, from continued publication of the security reports, which details incidents of banditry, based on credible reports from security agencies and traditional rulers on cattle rustling, kidnappings and killings in the state, including facts on casualties and an analysis of the causes of these security incidents and an outline of what the Kaduna state government is doing about the situation, it has in fact increased the resolve to continue its publication. 

The Kaduna state government report is worthy of emulation by other governments. 

Musa writes from Kaduna

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