President Muhammadu Buhari, last week, described the Boko Haram insurgency as a fraudulent and deliberate plot to destroy the country. The President stated this when he received the leaders of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in Abuja. He also used the occasion to assure Nigerians that his administration would do more in the security and economic sectors before May 29, 2023.
No doubt, the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East region has threatened the nation’s sovereignty in diverse ways. The murderous attacks of the insurgents have disrupted education, farming, businesses and other socio-economic activities. Apart from displacing people from their homes, the Boko Haram insurgency has contributed so much to the rising number of Nigeria’s out-of-school children, currently put at over 20 million. The insurgency has led to the displacement of about 1.8 million Nigerians in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states.
In 2021, the United Nations (UN) report linked the insurgency with the deaths of some 324,000 children under five, mostly from disease and hunger. It also predicted that the casualty figure in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states would hit 1.1 million in 2030. The worrisome security situation can explain why Nigeria is ranked as one of the most terrorised nations in the world, alongside Iraq and Afghanistan.
The President’s stand on the Boko Haram insurgency is in tandem with the views of other Nigerians. Like the President, many Nigerians believe that those behind the general insecurity in the country can be defeated. Nigerians have paid so dearly for the insecurity. Therefore, it is commendable that the President has promised to make the country safer and more conducive for economic activities before leaving office.
Since the security situation in the North-East, the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency, has considerably improved, and the focus reportedly shifted to rebuilding of infrastructure and revamping education, the Federal Government should also curb the festering insecurity in the South-East, North-Central and North-West zones of the country.
We say this because without providing adequate security in the aforementioned regions, where innocent citizens are killed on a daily basis and property burnt, the prospect of holding the 2023 election in these areas is doubtful. The government should be mindful of Section 14 (b) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) which clearly states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” This constitutional provision must not be observed in the breach.
Beyond the promise of making Nigeria more secure before the 2023 poll, the President should do more to equip and motivate the security agencies for the tasks ahead. We also urge the security agencies to improve on intelligence gathering and sharing. The increasing insecurity in some parts of the country, especially the killing of people and burning of INEC offices, calls for a change of tactics in battling the monster.
The government should not allow armed gangs to continue to compromise the security of the nation. And no part of the nation’s territory should be allowed to be controlled by any armed group, be they terrorists or bandits. Since Nigeria is home to thousands of illegal arms and light weapons circulating in the West African sub-region, urgent steps must be taken to control the flow of illegal arms into the country, through strengthening the control of the borders to detect and seize any illegal importation of arms.
At the same time, law enforcement agencies should also be encouraged to arrest and prosecute any person associated with the illegal flow of arms into the country. On the other hand, we call on the government to evolve effective policies to reduce poverty and lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty. We believe that tackling poverty through massive job creation will go a long way in reducing the general insecurity in the land.
As we approach the very important 2023 general election, the government should provide adequate security in all parts of the country before, during and after the exercise. Above all, everything humanly possible must be done to ensure that the election is free, fair and credible. Let the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the relevant security agencies ensure that the election is seamlessly conducted