The recent protests and ultimatum by a coalition of nine Arewa youth groups on the Federal Government to address the security problem in the North or face mass action, underscore the frustration Nigerians are going through on account of spiraling insecurity in the country. The demand came on a day the indigenes of Katsina State asked the government to declare a state of emergency in the state to halt the frequent killings of innocent people by bandits. Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 states in the North had urged the government to tackle the high level insecurity in the region. The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) had reminded the Federal Government and northern governors to take decisive action against the high rate of insecurity in the zone.
These are issues that should not be waved aside. Earlier in the month, more than 80 people, including soldiers, were killed by suspected members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect in Monguno and Ngazai areas of Borno State, in continuation of their murderous campaigns in different parts of the North. Within the same period, about 60 Sokoto residents were killed in raids by bandits. In April, 47 people were killed in attacks on communities in three local government areas in Katsina State. Zamfara, Niger, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue and Plateau states have also experienced sordid tales in the hands of terrorists, bandits and killer herdsmen. The chilling developments give the North the image of a killing field and epicenter of violence.
States and communities in the South are not entirely free from the menace. Apart from armed gangs robbing and killing with relative ease, kidnappers have also been on the prowl. Due to the worsening security situation in the country, people are now living in perpetual fear as they are not safe on the highways and even in their homes. Rural communities are also not spared as they are regularly invaded by bandits preventing farmers from going to their farms for fear of being killed or abducted. The development is dangerous to the corporate existence of the country.
The people’s protest coming from the President’s constituency shows how bad the situation is. The protection of life and property of the citizenry is a constitutional responsibility of governments all over the world. The President Muhammadu Buhari administration had also pledged to ensure adequate security on coming to power in 2015. The government must, therefore, live up to this eternal promise.
The ease at which the attacks are unleashed on Nigerians create the impression that the security agencies are overwhelmed and lack new tactics to handle the situation. The federal and state governments also seem to shy away from the reality of the situation and appear to be living in denial, while Nigerians are being massacred by criminals. We call on both tiers of government to rise up to the occasion and ensure that the primary responsibility of the government in securing life and property is prioritised.
The President’s expression of dissatisfaction to the Service Chiefs on the ugly state of affairs is a welcome development. The realities on ground go beyond mere verbal admonition on the security chiefs. It is time to inject fresh hands into the country’s security architecture for more effectiveness. Whatever that is working against the security agents performing their functions diligently should be looked into.
The Police should be adequately equipped and empowered to do their job of securing Nigerians. It is not enough for the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to lament the worrisome security situation. Something must be done to arrest the drift. Government should act fast before the time runs out. It is of no use addressing governors as chief security officers of the states when security agents in their domains take orders from the centre. The rising insecurity in the country calls for a decentralised policing system as obtainable in America from where we borrowed our presidential system of government.
There is urgent need to revisit the call in some quarters for regional police, in line with an ideal federal set up. Community policing may also not be a bad idea. The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) should come up with measures to curb the escalating insecurity across the country.