‘The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance’
– J.P. Curran
Nigeria and Nigerians are now at the security crossroads, if not in a cul de sac. The security challenges facing Nigeria has started to overwhelm all. Almost all have woken up from their different dogmatic slumbers and have become apprehensive of the situation. The insecurity phobia has become pathological for many Nigerians irrespective of class and status. Unfortunately those who were supposed to address it while it was budding and skeletal saw it either as a storm in a teacup or the concern of only the common people and therefore felt immune and went to sleep feeling protected. Today, it is the concern and challenge of all no matter how highly placed as long as one remains within the shores of Nigeria. It is now a case of Frankenstein monster gone berserk.
Recently, there have been a concerted effort to take charge and tackle the ugly security situation. Individuals, States, regions and the Federal government have seen that the situation is no longer the one to be politically toyed with nor handled with a kid glove. Those who initially felt immune are even the ones spearheading the clarion call just like the Rousseaun’deceptive’ social contract which was contracted only because the rich, the high and mighty of society then felt insecure. Thus had it been that they weren’t threatened, the call for the contract wouldn’t have been made at all. The rich and mighty in Rousseau’s case never bothered themselves of the massive unemployment and miseries of the masses until the consequences dawned on them. This is the same with the Nigerian situation.
The rich and mighty in Rousseau’s case did not tackle the underlying causes of their perceived insecurity despite the contract. They swept that under the carpet. This was what made the contract faulty. They fought only the symptoms. Our government and political clinicians are specialists in cyclically dealing with symptoms.
Today in Nigeria, many have come to realize the faults in our own social engineering. Both the commoners and the other estates are rattled.
The question now is: from where shall our salvation come? Thus the challenge now is how to overcome this security conundrum. How do we come out of this cul de sac? Initially it was unfortunately taken to be a storm in a teacup but it is now a tsunami. We going to be submerged.
As a starting point, the National Assembly on its own has started querying the abilities of the Service Chiefs to handle the present situation. Some states and regions have taken their own initiatives to ensure the safety of their citizens after years of relying unsuccessfully at the federal security architecture. What is clear is that there is need to beef up security and all the necessary apparatus for it.
Recently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Army, in one of the programmes in a national television, stressed the need for more personnel in the Nigerian army.He campaigned for recruitment into the Nigerian army to increase its strength and size. On another occasion, the Vice-President made a similar call.
This call demands a critical assessment. There is a serious need for a caveat in this call for recruitment of more personnel into the Nigerian army bearing in mind the current security and crime sociology. It is no longer easily decipherable who is the enemy of the Nigerian state and its citizens. We might inadvertently or otherwise recruit and empower those we wish to fight and they will then easily uproot us from the within. An example of such a scenario that calls for this caveat is when the US wanted to assist us initially fight BokoHaram. They planned with the Nigerian army to gas the Sambisa forest. It didn’t take long before the plan could be carried out that the leaders of BokoHaram appeared in some of their media wearing gas masks, an indication that they got intelligence reports. However they got the intelligence report is anybody’s guess.
Also the case of the notorious kidnapper Wadume is a clear case in point. Wadume was somehow promoted and protected because he was able to ‘infiltrate’ some of the military rank and file. He shared his loot regularly (he brought returns) and got the necessary protection in return, from his cronies. He became bolder than ever. However he was later fatefully arrested. Just because there were some ‘power’ wielders interested in his ‘enterprise’, through a simple military fiat, some of the best hands and brains in police intelligence were sent to their early graves. We equally have the case of Evans and his own allegations.
These are some of the circumstances that make criminality to thrive in Nigeria. Such criminal minded individuals (terrorists, kidnappers, rapists, etc) could be recruited into the Nigerian armed forces in such a dire and desperate situation. There is need for caution in this current regard so that we don’t jump out of the frying pan and land into the fire. As said earlier, Nigeria and Nigerians can no longer easily decipher who is the enemy of the Nigerian state and its citizens. As it stands now there is no gainsaying the fact that many terrorist organizations now have sympathizers among Nigerians. Also we have to be aware and wary that amnesty has been granted many of their captured fighters/members who still sympathize with them and remain loyal to them, though not actively involved with them. They can be leaking serious security information if they succeed in infiltrating the Nigerian armed forces. This is one of the reasons for the moratorium on recruitment pro tempore. Any recruitment exercise now will afford many terrorist groups the ample opportunity to infiltrate the Nigerian army and this would worsen the case. The idea of recruitment into the army should be suspended for the mean time until things become normal or somehow normal.
It remains a serious hypothesis that the main aims and objectives of these terrorist and insurgence groups have been hijacked by our politicians and other individuals for different selfish interests. There are serious allegations of illegal fundings in many sectors. Such can successfully fund and sponsor the recruitment of their disciples/zealots into the Nigerian armed forces.
For the mean time one of the best options left is the current Amotekun-styled regional approach for all the geopolitical zones. As it stands, it is easier to recruit and infiltrate the federal police and army than these regional outfits. From another perspective, the regional approach appears to have many advantages in achieving the desired security goals. Comparatively, the army personnel are usually posted to any place or region where they know nothing of the terrain and other socio-cultural or political topographies. They will take time to appreciate these. They can unprofessionally miam, rape, assault, etc with reckless abandon in such areas of postings. They may also have their regional, political and religious biases latently which can negatively influence their decisions. This may not be easily the case with Amotekun-like security approaches. The people to be recruited into such regional outfits are no foreigners to the place. The people know them and they know the people. This can easily checkmate certain excesses. It will also help in checkmating certain religious and other cultural biases. They also know the crime-breeding hot spots.
These regional outfits can easily assess suspected criminals and trail and monitor security reports and intelligence on people who suddenly become wealthy without any meaningful sources of livelihood. When individuals suddenly begin to exhibit wealth and affluence without any meaningful means of livelihood, there is need for scrutiny. This is self-evident and self-initiated whistle blowing by suspects. There are no third parties needed in such cases since the people know themselves in and out.
Dr. Nneji is aLecturer at Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State