As a first-year student of Lagos City College, Yaba, Lagos, before the beginning of the Biafran war, our English teacher, Mr. Uche Chukwumerije (now late), once asked the class to construct five sentences with the word “doom.” Many of us were unable to do so because the word was alien to us. Our failure did not go down well with him, and he described it as the beginning of our examination doom. The word “doom” instantly registered in our brain.
Less than seven months after what seemed like a prophetic statement, many of us easterners in the class were on flight back to the then Eastern Region, on account of the impending doom that later enveloped the eastern part of the country. Then, Mr. Chukwumerije was also a broadcaster with a radio station. We heard first-hand from him what was brewing in the country.
At that time many did not envisage the emergence of the Nigerian-Biafran war, neither did anyone prophesy the heinous killings that took place. Since the end of the war, the country still carries on as if there are no lessons to assimilate for a complete change of attitude. Despite the historic facts, various henious crimes have been experienced by the citizenry since 2013. These criminalities range from armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killings and political assassinations. As the country evolves in development, more crimes are invented, to the chargrin of our security agencies.
More painful is the wanton killings perpetrated by a new sect known as Fulani herdsmen. Many believe these killers are migrants from outside the northern fringes of the country; many others think otherwise. What is more puzzling is their style of annihilation of innocent and poor Nigerians, especially farmers and villagers. States like Benue, Yobe, Kaduna, Platueau, Bornu, and recently Zamfara and Katsina are recipients of their heinous doom. Yes, it seems like doomsday has enveloped these states, leaving Nigerians to ask whether our security agencies are overwhelmed.
What appears like the cyclone of doom is gradually enveloping the country. Today, travelling by road is regarded as taking a huge gamble. The train stations and airports are experiencing an overload of passengers, with airplanes fully booked months ahead. Commercial transporters have resorted to the old system where armed security personnel are hired to escort their vehicles. In fact, travellers are scanty on the major highways across the country because of vicious kidnappers despite the introduction of the police operation “Puff Adder.”
There is palpable fear in the land and insecurity has become the major issue of discussion in many offices, hospitals, marketplaces and anywhere two or more Nigerians are gathered. It is a cyclone of doom sweeping gradually across the length and breadth of the country.
Security analysts are afraid of the situation as they blame some of government’s recent actions as blunt indices of what could be the indicators toward the cyclone of doom. When the Benue and Plateau killings started, there were strident calls for an immediate clampdown on the perpetrators, “Fulani herdsmen” who were also the rustlers. The efforts put in place were deemed not sufficient and before we could spell Nigeria, the peaceful state of Zamfara was enveloped in the cyclone of doom, as innocent citizens were killed like chickens. Even the federal government’s assurances were taken with a pinch of salt, as the killings traversed to Katsina, the President’s home state. What a slap on the Presidency!
What is more disturbing is the unusual romance between the federal government and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria, which claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari was their patron, with some emirs as leaders. In an exclusive interview with this writer, the national secretary of MACBAN, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, confirmed the position of the President.
The question is, could the pampering of the Fulani herders be on account of their ethnic affinity with the President? One would have expected a presidential directive to clamp down on these killers, be they Fulani herdsmen, bandits or whatever name they are called. It is rather disheartening that innocent Nigerians are now afraid to peacefully live in their God-given communities.
It is unfortunate that Nigerians who thronged out to cast their votes for President Buhari to provide security for them are instead being reminded of the same rehashed allegations of how previous administrations corruptly embezzled millions of naira meant for development.
The Buhari government should be reminded that four years have been spent, yet it has not changed its rendition in the ears of the people.
It is no more surprising to hear young men involved in crime confessing that they ventured into criminality because of lack of employment. Recent reports state that 70 per cent of our youths are not employed, even though government had promised to create jobs for millions. One expects this government to first curb the insecurity in the country, instead of the avalanche of porous and ineffective promises.
Any country that really desires stability must first ensure that its security is stable, not what we are experiencing in Nigeria today that suggests incompetence and lack of willpower to frontally tackle the rising tide insecurity that has almost overwhelmed the whole country.
We have seen many countries in the world that were worse hit by insecurity yet they have emerged victorious. Examples like lraq and Rwanda come to mind. It would be a misnomer should the Buhari administration step into its second term of four years in office and Nigerians cannot sleep with their eyes closed nor walk freely without entertaining fear of being robbed, kidnapped or killed. It would be a disservice for Nigerians not to be able to travel by road without fear.
Four years of internal insecurity does not speak well of a country not to talk of the President who, incidentally, is a retired general. This painful and pathetic situation cannot be the reason why Nigerians filed out to cast their votes in the month of February 2019.