The threat from some northern leaders earlier this week of a likely reprisal attack on southerners residing in the North is already generating palpable fear among southerners living in Katsina State.
Sources revealed that the threat is causing many of the southerners to now live in perpetual fear of being attacked by angry northern mobs.
In a statement last Thursday, the governor Matawalle Bello of Zamfara, throwing caution to the wind, warned that northerners may start seeking revenge on southerners living in the North.
“No community, or region has the monopoly of violence.
“The North has more than what it takes to respond to any kind of aggression and hatred,” Governor Matawalle was quoted to have said.
In the same spirit, a serving member of the current Nigerian Senate, Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita, representing Katsina North Senatorial District, in a piece he titled, “The North: When silence is no longer an option”, warned of the looming danger to southerners living in the North.
“That the river is calm doesn’t mean there are no crocodiles beneath. That the North is taking physical and verbal insults stoically and with dignified silence doesn’t mean the North is either out of reprisal options or is lacking in expertise in how to play the game the way it’s crazily and irresponsibly being played,” Senator Kaita said.
It was reliably gathered from sources that the inciting statement from Governor Matawalle and his other co-travellers has led to countless calls from family and well-wishers who have people residing in the north to evacuate now before the situation gets out of hand.
A lady who did her NYSC in the North and stayed back to work in one of the Northern States, said “before now due to activities of bandits and terrorists my family members have been on my neck to return to the south but I blatantly refused. But with this threat coming from a whole governor, It seems I don’t have a choice but to return to the south now.”
Another southerner said, “finally, the time to leave the North for me has come. These Northerners don’t joke at all when they say something, they don’t just do it, they overdo it.”
He cited instances of when kidnapping became popular in the North.
“The kidnapping industry took a whole new dimension when they came into it full time.
“Nobody is safe anymore.
“They kidnap anything, whether rich or poor.
“But I won’t leave the North. If they want to kill me let them kill me but I will send my family to the south as soon as school closes for holiday. Wherever man is, when it’s time to die, man must die,” another southerner said.
“Deep down inside where we know as home now is the North because this is where we reside and make a living. This is where we really feel at home. I only go to the south for ceremonies when it becomes mandatory. But if they say they will kill us, we have no choice than to run for our dear lives. But we are praying seriously for the government to find a solution to these problems so that we can feel free and live anywhere as one Nigeria,” another southerner admits.
However, several notable voices have dismissed the threat to life and properties of southerners living in the North from the Zamfara Governor and others.
Here are some of them:
“It is not justifiable to say that because northerners are being killed in the south, we are also going to kill southerners in the north. That is not correct and ACF is against it. That is the easiest way to destroy this country if everyone takes the law into his hands and decides to take revenge. We are completely against that,” Arewa Consultative Forum said.
“We are not happy with the governor’s statement. Such a statement should not have come from a leader holding the sensitive position of a state governor,” said the Chairman Yoruba Council of Obas and Chiefs in Northern Nigeria, Alhaji Mohammed Arigbabuwo.
“I am sure that he (Matawalle) is just trying to gain the support of APC in order to win a second term in office.
“I am disappointed at the way the man spoke. The problem is about herdsmen having issues with the local farmers and in the course of the clash people get killed,” Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s Spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia said on his part.
Nevertheless, the southerners based in the North are not taking the threat from Matawalle lightly as some of them are already looking for an alternative way out of the quagmire.
One of the issues that generated this public outcry by Governor Matawalle and others may not be too far-fetched from the Sasha market crisis that occurred in the month of February.