Our disposition to criminal activities has come to assume a pattern. We are no longer shocked whenever crime takes place. We have become used to it. We have come to internalize it. And so, when we hear that terrorists have killed tens or hundreds, we shrug it off within minutes. We carry on as if it is normal. Perhaps, it has become normal on our shores. It has become an accepted way of life. That explains why we are already through with the massacre that took place in Ebonyi State a week ago. It is just another normal occurrence. There is, therefore, no need to fret over it.
If Nigeria were still a proper country inhabited by normal human beings, the bloodbath would have remained an issue. It would have remained on the front burner. But we forgot the matter in less than 24 hours. The country has since moved on. Who cares if scores were felled by gun-toting, trigger-happy blood hounds masquerading as herdsmen? It does not matter anymore. We have become used to bloodletting of that variety and magnitude. Our humanity has been degraded to the point where we no longer get shocked. The country and its peoples have become at one with violent death.
The government itself is even more indifferent. It does not feel embarrassed when criminals seize the stage and convert the environment into a killing field. It does not worry the government that the reign of terror signposts its failure to discharge its basic responsibility to the people, which is the protection of life and property. Rather, it maintains a studied silence that suggests that we should understand. But it didn’t used to be so. It all started with the present administration that, at the beginning, flaunted its capacity to secure the country. Nigerians had high hopes in President Muhammadu Buhari. They thought he had the capacity to deal with insecurity. Unfortunately, the people got the very opposite of what the administration said it would do.
Contrary to the people’s expectations, life in today’s Nigeria has lost its meaning. It hardly matters anymore if Boko Haram sacks an entire community and kills hundreds in the process. It is no longer news to hear that criminal elements, who we euphemistically pass off as bandits, have abducted hundreds of schoolchildren. Under the present order, the country has impenetrable forests that provide safe haven for terrorists. Our security forces do not seem to know what to do anymore. The government, from all indications, has done its level best. The situation has overwhelmed it. It has given up on securing the country. The country is just ambling along in search of rescue.
Many have located the inability of the government to secure the country on the omnibus political structure of the entity called Nigeria. Those who feel this way want the country restructured. They want a situation where states will be allowed to have their own police. They argue that security is largely local. But the Federal Government of President Buhari is not interested in any of that. It wants the old order to remain. It is hardly interested in what will solve the problem. It is for this reason that states and regions have chosen to help their own situations. Even before the advent of the Buhari disorder, states like Kano established their Hisbah police. Only recently, some other northern states like Sokoto set up their own Hisbah.
The South, which has been at the receiving end of herdsmen’s invasion, has been responding to the situation in its own way. In the absence of any federal government intervention, the South-West, for instance, has set up its own regional security. The Amotekun security operatives are ensuring the enforcement of the ban on open grazing in the region. They arrest cows and their herders that violate the ban. The South-East has not been able to set up a regional security outfit. The governors of the region, led by David Umahi of Ebonyi State, lack the will to act in this regard. Umahi said South-East governors have banned open grazing in the region. But there is no law backing the pronouncement. There is also no mechanism for the enforcement of the ban. The result is that herdsmen roam about with their cattle everywhere in the South-East. Calls by concerned stakeholders in the region for the setting up of regional security have been rebuffed by Umahi. He said that his Ebonyi State did not need such an arrangement. He said his people were living peacefully with Fulani herdsmen. When, therefore, his people were felled in their numbers last week by people who had been living peacefully with them, Umahi wore a worrisome look. But those who knew told him to stop shedding crocodile tears. They told him that he was to blame for the misfortune that befell his people.
Regardless of Umahi’s indiscretion in this matter, the fact remains that Ebonyi is not alone. The killings have become very commonplace. But the regret in all this is that there is no consequence for crime. Every day we fret over killings by Fulani herdsmen. Yet, no one is ever arrested for such crimes. When they kill, they melt into thin air. The police do not go after them. The army and other security agencies are not interested in where they may be. The matter is usually treated as if the criminals do not live with us. Their sacred groves, wherever they may be, cannot be reached by anybody. The authorities who should know have not even stopped to ask the necessary question, which is: who armed the herdsman? We keep talking about AK47 as if the herdsman was born with it.
The truth about all this is that the government of the day is responsible for the escalating tension in the land. Government is promoting insecurity while at the same time pretending to be fighting it. If government is interested in securing the people, it will not treat the murderous activities of herdsmen with indifference. It will take concrete and decisive steps to arrest the ugly situation. If our government is concerned about the activities of those who kidnap schoolchildren for ransom, it will fish out the criminals. Government is not even interested in going after them.
Why is it that our security operatives have never bothered to go after the people they call bandits? Why do they kidnap, kill and maim at will without consequence? We just talk about these criminals as if they operate from outer space. All of this is indicative of the complicity of government. A government that is interested in securing the people will not allow criminals a free rein. This permissive disposition of government to criminal activities is in itself criminal. It is criminality by other means.
From all indications, this government is not sincere in its so-called battle against insecurity. It seems that the government has a plan, an agenda, which the rest of us do not understand. A government that sees a criminal and pretends not to have seen him must be up to something sinister. The citizenry needs to engage that government roundly and squarely.