– By Muhammad Hashim Suleiman.
Zaria is on the brink. The kidnappers seem to have found gold deposits in Zaria. They seem to have set an invincible circle around Zaria from where they move in and out to carry out their deadly raids with little or no kinetic resistance from our coercive apparatuses. They kidnap Zaria men, women and children, some of whom are never even reported.
Sir, do you know that farmlands after Shika gari have since become no man’s land? Do you know that places like Saye and environs are fast becoming ghost cities? Do you know that many people, particularly cattle rearers have since emigrated from such abandoned places and are settling in new areas like Kabama, Hayin Bagadaza, etc with consequent hardships? Do you know that such kidnappers now easily get access to our campuses and poach on staff in staff quarters? Do you know that such kidnapped victims regain freedom only after selling their houses, lands and cars? Imagine someone who’s worked for 20 years being made to sell all that he has to regain the freedom of his loved ones and go back to square zero after a decimal point.
Sir, do you know that it is the victims of such siege that your tax agency has gathered men and gun, including DSS in order to force them to pay “taxes?” Do you know that to date your government hasn’t come out to communicate with Zaria people to reassure them of your commitment to safeguarding our lives? Instead, what we have is an open threat in both English and Hausa about how your government has amassed its arsenals, not to fight the kidnappers but to fight victims of kidnapping into paying “taxes?” Sir, governance as you know, isn’t only about revenue generation. You can only generate revenue where there is peaceful coexistence and smooth economic activities.
So, how do we pay taxes when the little we have is being threatened by bandits marauding as kidnappers. How do we pay taxes when we are lost as to whom to fall back to when the kidnappers strike? In as much as it is alright for the government to demand for taxes to be paid, it is also pertinent for the same government to safeguard the lives of the taxpayers. It is inappropriately tyrannical to allow us to be victims of kidnappers and at the same time to organize men and machinery, not to fight the kidnappers but to force people suffering to pay taxes.
In governance, communication, particularly communicating with people says a lot about our leaders. Yes, in terms of security issues, not everything should be in the open. However, showing strong feelings to people that have suffered from the inactions of government goes a long way in soothing their pains. You cannot keep quiet while people are under siege by kidnappers and then just wake up to tell them you’re coming with arms to force them into paying taxes. Actions should be seen in stopping kidnapping and collecting taxes.