Abike pretty
by on February 22, 2021
All is not well with this country and nobody seems to know where it is heading to. It is not that the foreboding signals have not been there all along. Neither are the nagging issues and their potentials to wreak incalculable harm on our corporate existence entirely novel.
What has been in criminal short supply is the absence of the political will, sincerity of purpose and courage to confront the challenges headlong to the satisfaction of all the constituents. Instead, we have had to contend with a growing culture of silence and official denials of the unmitigated damage such challenges are capable of inflicting on our collective being. Curiously, underneath this inexplicable official attitude lurk self-serving and clannish interests.
Notable Nigerians had drawn unceasing attention to the increasing slide to lawlessness with wanton wastages in human lives in the face of inability of the nation’s security architecture to rise to the challenges. Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, had warned severally that Nigeria was fast drifting towards a failed state on account of the increasing slide to anarchy, a leadership enmeshed in nepotism and increasing lure of self-determination consequent upon the mismanagement of our diversities.
Obasanjo is with many in this. That was also the central theme of the homily by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Kukah last Christmas. Instead of the Buhari regime to work on those observations, they resorted to name-calling and denials of the dangers lurking at the corner. A Muslim group in Sokoto state even served quit notice to the Bishop for speaking truth to power. But the killings by the herdsmen and bandits across the country neither abated nor were new effective therapeutic responses evolved to checkmate them.
It is little surprising that the chicken appears to have come home to roost with some state governments and individuals taking up the challenge for self-preservation in ways they considered expedient. Nature abhors vacuum. There is a limit beyond which a people will face threats of extermination by invaders without rising to the challenge of defending their territories.
That was the challenge that threw up one Sunday Igboho. The quit order by the Ondo State government for herdsmen to leave their forest reserves and the flushing out of criminal herdsmen from Oyo forests by operation Amotekun were all desperate responses to save their peoples from annihilation. The skirmishes in Orlu, Imo State, Abia, Ebonyi, Delta and parts of the south-south bear the same imprimatur.
But even as these states are increasingly getting restless on account of the insurgency of the herdsmen, kidnapping and hostage taking in the northern parts of the country have taken alarming dimensions. As I write, more than 42 students and staff of Government College Kagara, Niger State were taken captive by the marauding bandits who now seem larger than the government. Less than three months back, more than 300 students of Government College Kankara, Katsina State suffered the same fate. Abduction of students from their hostels without any form of security resistance in the northern parts of the country has become a new normal.
When a former military head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar warned last week that the country could disintegrate if Nigerians do not remain calm and united in the face of the current challenges, one could observe the same equivocation that put us in the current pass. Abubakar had told journalists in Minna Niger state that “in the last two weeks or so tension has been growing in the country and embers of disunity, anarchy and disintegration are spreading fast and if care is not taken, this might lead us to a point of no return”.
He fears with continuing insurgence, kidnapping and armed banditry in the country, emerging ethnic attacks in some other parts was bound to complicate the situation. He is right. But the issues are not new.
Yes, there is need for calmness and unity in the current challenges. But these precepts cannot suffice as solutions to the deliberate mismanagement of our diversities and escalating insecurity across the country. That a people are panicky and divided are signs of festering systemic ailments. The solution is to realistically address the issues that put them into those conditions. Mere exhortations as Abubakar would goad us into will serve little purpose.
Even then, the government is not lacking in recommendations on what to do to reverse the dangerous trend. The senate has called for the declaration of a state of emergency on security while urging the president to implement its subsisting recommendations to resolve the security situation. State governors have also met in Abuja to evolve ways out. These underscore concerns on the increasing prospects of heightened insecurity sliding the country to the edge.
But suggestions emanating from some quarters indicate that vested interests want to make political capital of the festering insecurity. In this category, fits the recommendation of Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi. He had after his tour of bandits’ and Fulani camps in Zamfara State called for amnesty for the bandits and killer herdsmen in the same fashion Niger Delta militants were handled.
If Gumi’s suggestion which amounts to rewarding bandits for their murderous activities is not provocative enough, the call by the minister of justice, Abubakar Malami for the setting up of a federal agency for herdsmen further exposes the hypocrisy in the festering insurgency of the herdsmen rated by global terrorism index as the forth deadliest terrorist group in the world. In all, positions as these, account for why we are unable to find a good handle to the danger which the insurgency of the herdsmen and the bandits had constituted.
But those who bear the brunt of these mindless killings, kidnapping for ransom, rape and maiming of their loved ones by strange elements hiding in their forests seem to have a new friend in the Minister of Defence Bashir Magashi when he urged them to defend themselves in the face of the security challenges. Magashi’s position could pass as admission of government’s failure to protect lives and properties-the raison d’être for its existence. But it is a statement out of frustration as former Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai has just told us that insurgency may be with us for the next 20 years.
Incidentally, that is where the country has found itself. That is why some state governments, groups and individual are now rising to the duty of defending themselves in the face of the orgy of violence that has reduced the country to a verity of the atavism of the state of nature. Curiously, even in the face of the degenerate security situation, we are still engrossed in clannish rationalizations and trite excuses.
Of note is the energy dissipated on the alleged profiling of all Fulani herdsmen as criminals. Even when nobody has said so and it is not possible to tag all herdsmen as criminals, the media space is replete with efforts to debunk that touted insinuation. But in the attempt to do that, little compassion is given to the substantives issues in dispute-the mortal harm posed by criminals posing as herdsmen at the backyards of their hosts.
That is the key issue. The attempts to displace the real issues with such irrelevances as rationalizing why herdsmen carry AK-47 sophisticated riffles as was done by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State is part of the deception that has brought us to this pass. If the security of the herdsmen is the basis for carrying prohibited weapons unchallenged, then the host communities they terrorize courtesy of the same weapons have better reasons to be more armed.
The way out is to admit that the leadership of this country has been less than honest in handling the festering insecurity and other challenges of our federal order. The perception is that there is an agenda in the reign of terror by bandits and herdsmen across the country in the face of the ambivalence of the Buhari regime to stem the tide. That is why those at the receiving end are now taking up the challenge to defend themselves. That is the new momentum nobody can predict unless quick and realistic measures are taken to reassure the people of the capacity of the government to protect all citizens and do justice to them all.
Tags: nigeria
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