By Emmanuel Gandu
Hunger looms in Southern Kaduna as farmers across the region cannot access their farms for agricultural activities.
This is as a result of the genocidal herdsmen terrorists and gunmen who kill every indigenous person on sight at the farms, and in their homes.
In same manner, the surviving displaced persons who’s towns and homes have been burnt down and taking refuge in IDP camps will be unable to vote in the forthcoming 2023 elections.
This voter disenfranchisement will definitely affect the already precarious existing situation, and the uncertainty associated with the never-seen expected accrued dividends of democracy.
This discourse is an attempt to bring to the fore the consequential effects of the many years of genocide, destruction, hunger, neglect, and voter disenfranchisement as lethal weapons of war on the people of Southern Kaduna.
HOW HUNGER IS USED AS WEAPON OF WAR
Hunger is said to be the most potent, deadliest, and lethal weapon used as a deliberate arsenal in the destruction of a people during conflict and war.
This inhuman act which is more of catastrophic consequences than the bullet began to gain attention from World War I, gaining notoriety during world war II. The Biafran War came, then the middle east wars including the on going Syrian war, to the present Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen rampage, and now the menace of Banditry.
This is achieved by causing disruption and instability in food production, preservation, distribution, and the supply chain.
This war strategy forces people away from their homes, land, farms, and livestock.
The act also include blockade of supply and delivery routes, closure of land and sea borders, and airports. As a result,
hunger, starvation, famine, malnutrition, and diseases sets in, thereby causing the deaths of children, women, and men.
Then the few surviving helpless men surrender their sovereignty, franchise, heritage, pride/dignity, and land to the conquering forces of occupation.
USE OF HUNGER AS WEAPON OF WAR IN HISTORY
(1) During World War I Germany was confronted with wide – scale food shortages which led to a breakdown in the will of the German forces and the people to fight. This hunger brought about Germany’s collapse and surrender.
From the ashes of that defeat arose the notorious Adolf Hitler and his ascendency to power, and the rise of the Nazi Party. This was the period Hitler’s Nazi Germany popularised the frugal ‘Guns or Butter’ policy.
(2) The ‘Hunger Plan’ introduced in Nazi occupied countries inflicted deliberate mass starvation on the Slavic population and other territories under German occupation such as Greece, and France – including the Jewish race.
(3) In Italy, the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini employed the politics of food as a weapon of war to subdue his enemies.
(4) During World War II Napoleon’s ‘An army moves on its stomach’ Philosophy became a watch word for the US and Canada in their production of grains in the plains of the Prairies.
(5) In World War II period, the war time leaders of the Allaid forces came together to liberate the conquered peoples of Europe and Asia with adequate supply of food as a priority both during the war and the post war years.
(6) As the war in Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan rages on, the closure of land borders, sea and air ports have led to starvation and deaths due to non delivery of food to opposition’s controlled territories.
(7) During the 30 month Nigerian Civil War of 6 July,1967 to 15 January, 1970, Obafemi Awolowo as the war time minister of finance in the Gowon administration is widely alleged to have introduced the ‘Starvation policy’, a policy of blockade of food from reaching out to the Briafran Igbo region. This brought about hunger, malnutrition, diseases, and widespread deaths of children, women, and men.
This deaths badly affected the morale of the Briafran troops – the last straw that broke the camel’s back, with defeat staring the young “Country of the Rising Sun” in the face.
The Briafran leader Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu personally hit the final nail down the Igbo coffin With his escape to Ivory Coast, leaving behind the second in command Col. Philip Effiong to surrender – a surrender that marked the eclipse of that rising sun.
THE CASE FOR SOUTHERN KADUNA
The crisis of food insecurity as a result of communal, tribal, religious, farmer/herders conflict on the indigenous people of Southern Kaduna has lingered for too long. This prompted both past and present State & Federal government to set up Judicial commissions of enquiry, fact finding and recommendation committees, boundary delineation committees, peace and reconciliation commissions, white paper/ and implementation committees, compensation and resettlement committees, etc in order to solve the problems.
The present state governor Mallam Nasir El Rufai even admitted paying monetary compensation to foreign Fulani herdsmen for loses to their cattle and men suffered in Southern Kaduna. However, the crisis have not abated.
Southern Kaduna have been under constant attack by Fulani herdsmen for prior to 2011 with hightened attacks in 2016/2017.
There was a resumption of hostilities prior to the 2019 elections, and the attacks are now assuming a frightening dimension.
Armed men are having a field day hunting and killing Southern Kaduna people like rats and wild animals for a game unhindered and without repercussion.
Farm crops and livestock have been abandoned and are being vandalized.
The farming season had since commenced but farmers are killed in their farms and homes on a daily basis by the herdsmen terrorists.
War is declared on the people from all fronts, towns, and villages. The menacing herdsmen terrorists kill, burn, drive, and occupy Southern Kaduna land.
Woman and men have deserted their burnt down towns and villages, and a respite seems to come from nowhere.
Hunger looms in the land with catastrophic consequences.
Whether the Southern Kaduna race will survive this war or will get to the brink of the precipice and eventually go into extinction remains to be seen.
(1) Since the government lacks the political will to take decisive actions to protect life and property of the people, the affected communities should resort to self defense in order not to be killed continuosly like wild animals.
(2) The United Nations Security Council adopted the ‘Resolution 2417’ at its 8267th meeting on 24 May, 2018 to act accordingly to save vulnerable populations where hunger is used as a weapon of war.
(3) ‘Humanitarian Appeal’, a leading UK charity organization have called on the International Criminal Court to begin prosecution of military actors, dictatorial regimes, War Lord’s, terrorist groups, armed bandits who deliberately employ measures to starve the people to death as a weapon of war.
(4) Nigeria is a member of the United Nations and a signatory to her conventions and protocols. – The needful should be done by appropriate agencies.
(5) The creation of a state for the Southern Kaduna people who inhabit 12 local governments, with a population of over 3 million people (2006 census : Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette no. 2 vol. 96 Extraordinary) is more cogent now than ever before.
You may wish to also know that according to that 2006 census, Southern Kaduna is more populated than 11 states in Nigeria.
These are :
Abia – 2.8 million
Bayelsa – 1.7million
C/River – 2.8million
Ebonyi – 2.1million
Ekiti – 2.3 million
Gombe – 2.3million
Kwara – 2.3million
Taraba – 2.2million
Yobe – 2.3million
It is interesting to know that Kachia Local government, and Zango Kataf local government each alone has a land mass that is more than some 3 states put together.
Voter disenfranchisement in Southern Kaduna to a large extent affect the people’s participation, and by extension the expected accrued dividends of democracy as already observed in recent times.
We need to have an informed citizenry on the effects/consequences of disenfranchisement as not only to defend the people’s rights to vote and be voted for, but also to serve to ensure a sustainable democratic culture.
(1) It will be impracticable for displaced people who’s towns, homes and settlements have been burnt down by herdsmen terrorists, and living in IDP camps to vote in the 2023 elections because of loss of voters cards to fire etc.
(2) The existing political wards/polling units delineation does not favour the high population of Southern Kaduna.
Meanwhile, Kaduna State is the third most populous in Nigeria with more than 6 million (2006 National population census) with an allocation of a 25 year old 255 wards and 5,102 polling units.
Although INEC has created additional 2,910 voting points in Kaduna state so as to expand and enhance voter access to polling units in 2023, Southern Kaduna is still not having a commensurate fraction of this increase as compared to the other part of the state.
(3) Despite Kaduna State’s bigger land mass and population than Katsina state, Katsina state has 34 local governments while Kaduna State has 23 local governments.
In spite of this lobsidedness, Katsina state still has more wards and polling units than Kaduna State, thereby leaving Southern Kaduna to bear the brunt of the shortfall.
(4) Disenfranchisement and denial of voting rights by whatever guise as experienced in Southern Kaduna over the years may be comparable with the racial discrimination against blacks in the USA leading up to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In addition, the racist and apartheid system by white South Africa where the majority blacks were denied voting rights is still fresh in our memory.
(1) Community leaders, tribal associations, religious leaders/groups, politicians, elective/appointive representatives, etc to embark on aggressive voter/public education, as well as constructive engagement with relevant government agencies.
(2) Concerted efforts be made to re-register people who have lost their voter cards to the endless crisis.
(3) If unable to re issue or replace such to displaced voters who lost their voters cards with new ones before the expiration of the dateline, INEC should ensure the use of some kind of identification to enable them vote in the 2023 elections. If it was done in the North East during the 2015 and 2019 elections why not in Southern Kaduna for the 2023 elections.
(4) If, for example, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been in the vanguard of defense of the rights of disenfranchised people especially the blacks and coloured minorities, similar organizations in Nigeria should intensify efforts to eliminate all forms of voter disenfranchisement in Southern Kaduna.
As highlighted above, hunger and voter disenfranchisement is imminent in Southern Kaduna and other Middle Belt communities ravaged by the menace of herdsmen terrorists, and other criminal gangs/gunmen.
Though it would be easier to sit idly by and do nothing, there is no way to secure and change our society if we don’t take action.
I therefore implore you to consider contributing your quarter towards eliminating these vices that will drive Southern Kaduna and some parts of the Middle Belt to extinction.
Peace ? 23/5/2022