Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you greetings in the name of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ by whose grace we are all gathered here in safety and health to discuss a way out of the evil that has bedevilled our dear nation and state.
I stand before you with every sense of thanks and encouragement for the incredible response to our call for this all-important summit. The reaction shows to the world our collective dissatisfaction about the insecurity challenges that we face and our common will to support all positive efforts firmly intended at bringing this ugly challenge to a permanent end.
Security challenges in Nigeria and Kaduna State, in particular, is not a new thing to us; it is a monster that we have been struggling very hard for decades to deal with. Every government has had its fair share of this experience. Accordingly, a keen look at our security challenges will reveal two basic facts; one is the proof that the challenge keeps changing with time while the second is that it is outrageous now.
For Kaduna State, in 1987, it was a students’ riot at the Kaduna State College of Education Kafanchan triggering religious intolerance, and then we had the 1992 and 1995 Zangon Kataf communal unrest, ignited by the relocation initiative of a market. Then came the 2000 Sharia crisis and the 2002 Miss World crisis. There was equally the 2011 post-election crisis. Next, Kaduna state witnessed series of bombings believed to be by the BOKO Haram terrorist group.
However, security challenges in Kaduna State started taking a new form by the end of 2014 with banditry, cattle rustling, and guerilla attacks of towns and villages, especially in the southern part of the state which became worst by 2016.
The existing challenge is even more terrible with the advent of kidnapping. This turn of events has affected the community, state and the nation terribly. In all fairness, the current problem has adversely hit the body of Christ and humanity in general.
Earlier, in 2019, CAN published records of kidnappings where it recorded a total of over five hundred (500) Christians who had been kidnapped. On record, CAN had about eighteen (18) pastors kidnapped with four (4) of them killed namely: Past. Jeremiah Omolara – Living Faith Church, Romi New Extension, Rev. Iliya Anto – Former Vice President of HEKAN Church, Rev. Fr. John Bako Shekwolo – St. Theresa Catholic Church, Ankwa, Kachia Local Government Area and Rev. Hosea Akuchi – Nasara Baptist Church, Guru.
CAN gathered these records through a questionnaire developed and shared in one of her meeting with hundreds of Pastors and relations of kidnapped victims that over twenty (20) communities were sacked from their communities as a result of their abductions. Data gathered also reveals an approximated amount of money paid as ransom to have people freed within the period, on a survey, to be over three hundred million naira (N 300,000 000) as at 2019. Today, the amount has risen to over a billion naira with many victims’ dead and even more still in the hands of kidnappers as we speak.
When CAN presented the statistics above, CAN was misinterpreted, but a Kaduna state 2020 annual Security report released by government and published by Guardian Newspaper on 10th of March, 2021 vindicated CAN and furthered showed that our record did not capture the colossal damage that the spade of kidnapping has brought to bear on the population. The government’s report as published stated that 937 people were killed by Bandit and 1972 kidnapped within the period. Another first quarter 2021 security report published by government reported by premium time, on the 30th of April 2021 indicates that 323 people were killed, and 949 people have been kidnapped, CAN believe that the second quarter report that we are waiting for from government may have a higher figure than what we already have.
Manifestly, the trouble with Nigeria’s security, like most of our challenges in Nigeria, simply lacks a sincere collaborative effort in solving it. To drive home this message, I will make use of an illustration where a story is told of an engineer in a car manufacturing company who designed a world-class car. The CEO was impressed with the outcome and praised him a lot. While trying to bring out the car from the manufacturing area to the showroom, they realized that the car was 2 inches taller than the entrance. The engineer felt bad that he did not notice that before creating the car.
The CEO was confused about how to take it outside of the manufacturing area. But the painter said that they can bring out the car and there will be a few scratches on top of the car which could be touched up later on. The engineer said that they can break the entrance, take the car out and the CEO was not convinced with any ideas and felt like it was a bad idea.
However, a watchman who had observed all the drama slowly approached the CEO. He wanted to give an idea if they had no problem listening to him. They wondered what this watchman would tell them that the experts could not give. The watchman said: “The car is only a few inches taller than the entrance. So, simply release the air in the tyre and the height of the car will sink and can be easily taken out.” At this point, everyone clapped for the brilliant idea.
The Moral of the story:
We should not always analyse the problems from an expert point of view alone. The issues of life are similar. Let us listen to everyone ready to suggest a way out, not only the “professionals.” Traditional leaders, religious leaders, association leaders and even the common people, youths, women and children all have a stake in this matter.
It is against the above background that the church in Kaduna State thought it wise to bring together pastors and church leaders in this great assembly to jointly deliberate and come out with practicable strategies within Christian teaching and biblical provisions meant to complement the government’s efforts in the great task of handling the challenge of insecurity.
Permit me to close my remarks by appreciating all stakeholders in the security sector for the efforts already put in to salvage the situation of insecurity. Also, I like to appreciate you all for making out time to attend this summit. I, therefore, call on our participants to listen with keen interest and contribute meaningfully. In the end, we shall give all glory as God will step in to uphold us where our efforts stop.
Thank you, and welcome to CAN Kaduna State’s Peace and Security Summit 202