Economically, scale of preference is a concept that satisfies the needs and wants of a nation in the order of their priority and importance. There will always be competing needs and wants that yearn for attention in a country of about 200m persons at any given time. No nation on earth has enough resources to satisfy all their wants at the same time hence the need to prioritise. It is important to note, however, that when it comes to the issue of security, governments do not have a choice. The reason is that constitutionally, the security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government. The Constitution is supreme and its provisions have binding force on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria and if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, the Constitution prevails, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void. The dictionary defines primary as the first or highest in rank or importance; chief; principal; first in order, in any series, sequence, etc. Therefore, when the Constitution declares that the security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government, it is simply saying that the issue of security and welfare of the people should be the first, chief, principal or highest in order, in any series, sequence, etc. In a nutshell, it should be the first in the scale of preference of any government in Nigeria, irrespective of the urgency of any other matter.
No country in the world can achieve perfection in securing the lives and properties of its citizens because the criminal needs only be right one percent of the time to puncture the perception of perfection in the provision of adequate security. In America, which is the most powerful nation on earth, there has been incidence of 50 mass shootings from January 2021 to 20th of April, 2021 in the country, leading to massive loss of lives. We note, sadly, that conflict is inevitable in all human endeavour and according to Paige, a non-violent society is impossible because of three basic reasons: “First, man is a dangerous animal capable of killing by nature. Second, there will always be a scarcity of economic resources which in turn, will lead to violence. Third, violence may be used in the case of self-defence or defending loved ones”. This is why in our world, there will always be flurry of revolutions and violent conflicts, across many countries, Nigeria inclusive.
Every citizen, however, expects hundred percent protection of his life and property and expects explanation if such is not done. He gave up his right to take laws into his hands and relies on the government to protect him against external hazards. This is the social contract between the government and citizens. In Nigeria, the security challenges are enormous. Successive regimes are finding the issue of security a hard knock to crack. The previous regime failed in this regard to the extent that Abuja witnessed series of bombing in prominent places like the Police headquarters, United Nations headquarters, prominent Media headquarters, prominent market places and bus parks. If Abuja was overrun, your guess is as good as mine what other states and cities were suffering then. Nigerians got fed up when they felt that the regime had no clue on how to solve the security problems, coupled with the barrage of buffeting from the opposition who convinced Nigerians on the need for change and promised to end all manners of insecurity. Nigerians voted for the change and have positively benefitted in many economic areas but when it comes to the issue of security, it does appear that the challenges continued. The initial successes gained by this regime, on assumption of office, evaporated when the terrorists, bandits and criminals abandoned the cities and headed into the forests from where they continued their merciless attacks on the citizens.
The intractability and consistency of insecurity in succeeding regimes have made it imperative that we trace the prominent causes of this insecurity. In Nigeria, there are several causes of insecurity acting at the same time to sabotage the genuine efforts of successive regimes at attaining an acceptable and tolerable level of security. The foundation of insecurity in Nigeria is the unfortunate politicisation of the matters of insecurity. All organised insecurity in Nigeria begin as private army of thugs for the politicians. Whether you call them militants, terrorists, bandits, etc, their origin lies in the establishment of a private army of thugs to be used mainly to rig elections. What happens after elections is what results in insecurity. These thugs were often well trained and equipped with lethal weapons and provided official legal protection by their politician sponsors. They were always abandoned after elections. The Boko Haram main negotiator, Mama Boko Haram, revealed that when she confronted Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram, on why he suddenly turned violent, he kept voicing out loud that he was betrayed by the politicians who used him and his followers for election and abandoned them. President Goodluck Jonathan screamed that there were Boko Haram sponsors in his cabinet.
It’s common knowledge that most separatist agitators have the sympathy of politicians in their embryonic stage who use their fake sympathy for them for their election victory. Most of the politicians serve as sureties for the militants and agitators when arrested under the guise that they are simply protecting members of their constituency. It would have been impossible for the terrorists, militants or agitators to gather enough resources to purchase heavy duty fighting weapons at the initial stage without the support of people in power. An AK 47/49 rifle costs about N500,000.00 (Five hundred thousand naira only). An assault weapon in the hands of an abandoned hungry thug turns him to an armed robber because man must survive. There’s no doubt that politicians may not intend the eventual violent and criminal turn of events from these their untamed thugs because, sometimes, they themselves turn out victims also, but they must accept responsibility for their actions and stop henceforth from establishing illegal private army for election purposes. The best solution to this is ensuring free and fair elections at all levels making it unnecessary for politicians to breed private illegal army for use during elections.
Apart from being the foundation of most violent criminals, politicians are also complicit in the fueling of their advancement and growth. They do this to undermine political opponents. The categories of politicians here take advantage of an existing security challenge to destabilise political opponents. This happens from both sides of the political divide. Gov Matawalle of Zamfara State revealed that some APC members were secretly encouraging the kidnappers of the school children not to release them. We have heard tales of PDP members secretly supporting terrorists, even from President Jonathan’s regime, simply to bring him and successive regimes down and ensure a change of government. This ranges from direct and indirect channeling of funds to the terrorists or simply refusing to cooperate with the current administration in the war against terrorism and banditry. This amounts to crime of omission.
The habitation of all the criminals are known to people in power. Opposition politicians simply refuse to cooperate with the government in power in intelligence sharing in all tiers of government that would have helped curtail the advancement of the criminals. In the words of Gov Hope Uzodimma, “those sponsoring this banditry are politicians”. He challenged and called on security agencies to make their names available to the press because “what they want to do is to distract a government that is focused. A situation where you will leave the ethical way of doing politics and you are now sponsoring banditry to bring down a government, for Christ’s sake, we should rise up and condemn it, all of us.” Gov Hope Uzodimma, as a Governor, is exposed to security reports and should be taken seriously. The political class should stop henceforth playing politics with people’s lives. They must come together, irrespective of political parties, to fight against this insecurity. When 9/11 attack occurred in US, the entire political class, irrespective of political parties, came together to fight against the terrorists, ensuring that such attack never occurred again on the homeland. Nigerian politicians can do the same.
Religionizing security is another unfortunate issue that is exacerbating insecurity in Nigeria. A Sheikh went into the den of bandits and told them that it is non-Muslim soldiers that are killing them. Strange! He said this, irrespective of the fact that majority of the people killed or kidnapped by these bandits are Muslims. When terrorism started in Nigeria, through Boko Haram, their main aim was to rid Islam of western education. They attacked only Muslims who subscribed to western education. In a bid to be religiously correct, the Sheikh unwittingly promoted non-Muslim soldiers to high heavens and denigrated Muslim soldiers. If the non-Muslim soldiers are attacking bandits who are killing Muslims, are they not heroes that deserve commendation? Is this not the highest level of patriotism to fight for people who belong to different religion even when the soldiers who share the same faith are not fighting for them? However, the Sheikh stood logic on its head when he made this incongruous statement, especially when one remembers that the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, who constitutionally sent these soldiers to fight is a Fulani Muslim. The Minister of Defence and Chief of Army Staff who deployed these soldiers are Muslims. One of the brave officers of the Nigeria army who fought and died in the battle field fighting these terrorists and bandits, Col Abu Ali, was a Muslim.
In as much as the statement is factually incorrect, the implications on the cohesion and morale of the fighting force may not be palatable. The bullet does not differentiate between Muslims and Christians and it will be dangerous for them to fight wars believing that they are divided along religious lines. It will be demoralising for a Christian soldier to think that he will be singled out for condemnation if he heroically decimates bandits of other faiths or vice versa. These unhelpful rhetorics are dangerous. The clerics should concentrate on how to teach people to make heaven and leave security issues for trained military and para-military personnel. They should reconcile men to God and not disunite men and men.