Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President of Nigeria, recently submitted that war is a direct result of the failure of the elite. Last week, we x-rayed how politicians and religious fanatics manipulate security challenges to better their political or religious lots. However, the intractability of insecurity in Nigeria results from the simultaneous occurrence of numerous events. The ubiquity of the security challenges calls for concern. There’s hardly any Geo-Political Zone that is not witnessing one challenge or the other, giving credence to the aphorism that the welfare of each of us fundamentally depends on the welfare of all of us. What aches Borno, if not checked, will soon ache Cross River. That’s why East, West, North or South, we all wake up as citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ethnicization of the security challenge is another unfortunate factor that is exacerbating insecurity in Nigeria. When the terrorists landed on Nigeria soil, they were summarily dealt with. The government of Goodluck Jonathan inherited the subdued Boko Haram insurgents from President Yar Adua. At that time, Boko Haram had sympathy of some of the political and religious elites of that area. President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff. Ihejirika performed so well that Boko Haram was almost extinct. Rather than decorating this gallant General with medals, the elites from the Boko Haram territories accused him of genocide who should face war crimes at the International Criminal Court at the Hagues. Of course, President Jonathan wanted to curry the favours of the voters from the area and this prompted him to remove Ihejirika on the spurious charge that they were engaged in inter agency rivalry. Bade was elevated to the Chief of Defence Staff, while General Minimah from the same old Rivers State with President Jonathan was appointed Chief of Army Staff. This period witnessed the greatest resurgence of Boko Haram in Nigeria and by the end of that regime, the terrorists had occupied 17 LGAs and dominated three States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. They were operating freely. The morales of the men in uniform deteriorated even leading to mutiny of soldiers, yet President Jonathan retained them. It was not until this regime came that the Army Chiefs were removed and replaced.
One would have thought that the Army Chiefs that replaced them would have been better, but overtime, they did not prove so. General Buratai, from Borno State, the epicentre of the Boko Haram menace, couldn’t chase away the terrorists from his State and emerged after his failure to unashamedly proclaim that the war against terrorists will last for 20 years. God forbid! The elites from the Southern part of Nigeria, who have been sympathetic to the separatist agitators, still accused Buratai of genocide against their people and threatened to send him to the International Criminal Court at the Hagues. This shows that we are still ethnically biased with our security issues. When a Southerner is Army Chief, the Northerners will call him a war criminal and when a Northerner is an Army Chief, the Southerners call him a war criminal. Their only crime was that they were fighting to defend the lives and properties of Nigerians.
It’s revealing that the indigenes of Borno are now praying for the peace they had during Ihejirika’s time, even if the present Ihejirika will come from South Africa. The so called separatist agitators have become a nuisance in the South East that the indigenes are wishing for any strong military officer to come to their rescue even if the officer is a mercenary. Take it from me, we will come out of this security menace stronger and wiser. Nobody is interested now in where any military officer is from provided the officer will ensure peace. To be ethnically biased, especially in the issue of security, is foolishness of the highest order. The aim of the bandits is to extort money. A bandit from Fulani Land will prefer to kidnap a rich Fulani person instead of a poor Igbo or Yoruba man whom he may end up providing the transport fare he will use to get out of his den. If the bandits are ethnically blind and are united in their objective of extorting money from the people, is it not foolishness for the people not to unite to fight against them? Whoever is appointed as a military Chief deserves the support of all Nigerians irrespective of his ethnic origin.
The greatest cause of insecurity today in Nigeria is the insufficiency of men, materials and money deployed for the fight against insecurity which results principally from the monopoly of the power to provide security and protection for all Nigerians by the Federal Government. We are a country of about 200m people and no matter the number of our men, the mere fact that the entire police force is under the command of one officer, the IGP, is an incurable setback. Ordinarily, the fight against banditry should be a police affair, but it is obvious that the ubiquity of banditry in Nigeria is overwhelming even the army which has about 160,000 personnel in their fold. The Governors in Nigeria today are men with full responsibility for the security of lives and properties of people in their State but zero authority to execute such responsibility. It is a managerial blasphemy when the authority and responsibility given to an employee is not at par. If authority is bigger than responsibility, it leads to power abuse, but when the responsibility is bigger than the authority, it leads to lack of performance. It’s unfortunate that some people are calling for foreign support to diminish our scarce foreign exchange when we have not exhausted local, more efficacious option – devolution of the power of policing to the state and local government levels, what we now refer to as state policing. Count one month from any day state police is legalised and authorised and our security challenges will be no more. The situation we presently have leaves the Governors as weeping children rather than working Governors. The security situation in Kaduna is trying to compel the Governor, Mallam El-Rufai, to almost practically eat back his words of absolute non-negotiation and non-payment of ransom to criminals. When El-Rufai was given a bulldozer as the Minister of FCT, he brought down all the illegal structures in the FCT. Give El-Rufai state police today and he will bring down the bandits within a month.
It’s unfortunate that the members of the National Assembly are busy crying like babies and wiping out tears when they can initiate a bill in the National Assembly immediately to remove the word “one” in the Constitutional provision that guaranteed only one police force for Nigeria. No member of the National Assembly has any moral right to criticise the President for our security challenges when such a member has done nothing to ameliorate the situation, because they are all members of the same government. The duty to make laws lies with the Legislature not Executive. I doubt if any person, no matter how brilliant, can effectively police the country such as ours in this modern world that is infested with insecurity and terrorism. The Legislature can speedily introduce a bill today to ensure the creation of state police and save the situation. I heard Senator Smart Adeyemi screaming about the security situation and bemoaning the failure of his party, the government and the National Assembly to curb the security challenges but ended up doing nothing about it, except sitting back in the same seat wiping out tears. He should immediately initiate the bill for the creation of state police and he would have justified his election.
The reactionary nature of our armed forces is another issue that is exacerbating the insecurity problem in Nigeria. Waiting for the terrorists to strike before responding amounts to a problem solving approach to issues of society. Our armed forces should be proactive in solving security issues. This is the solution providing approach to issues of society. Whereas the problem solving approach allows problem to occur before intervention, the solution solving approach anticipates the problem and finds solution before it occurs thereby preventing the problem to occur in the first place. Prevention they say is better than cure. America, after the terrorists attack on 9/11, proactively went to Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of miles away from America to fight the terrorists rather than waiting for them to attack their homeland again. Till today, the terrorists have not hit America again. Our armed forces should invade the forests and every known hideouts of these criminals and take the terrorists out before they organise and invade the cities carting away human beings as their booty and as bargaining power to extort money from innocent Nigerians.
Related to the above issue is the payment of ransom to terrorists. This is a tough one because of the finality of death in the determination of the destiny of human beings. Whoever dies, ends, no matter how bright his star appears to shine. No amount of sacrifice should be too small to secure the release of an abducted human being bound to be executed if nothing is done at all. History often forgives leaders who take wrong decisions but does not often forgive leaders who take no decision at all. However, as difficult as this situation is, it’s important to note that payment of ransom exacerbates the security situation. It turns the bandits from being ordinary thieves to sponsor of thieves. It increases their motivation to continue in this nefarious act. It makes recruitment of other potential bandits easier as it would appear that they are benefiting from their murderous actions. This path is not an option and efforts should be made to wipe out the criminals without payment of ransom. The most annoying and irritating additional cause of insecurity is fake news. Ignorance and foolishness make citizens vulnerable to the antics of terrorists. The separatist movements manipulate accident scenes that happened years ago and portray them as if they were attacks by Fulani Herdsmen on their people to instigate their people against other tribes. They equally manipulate same pictures and portray them as if their people are killed in the North and instigate their people to leave the North and head home so that their utopic republic will be realised. At the end of the day, the simple hearted among their people will be misled to carry arms against the Federation and most perish along the process while their instigator will hibernate somewhere abroad enjoying himself. Nigerians must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff and empower their children with good education to equip them against these blood thirsty deceivers