There is no doubt our country for some time has been passing through flux of a peculiar kind. As would be expected this state of uncertainty is daily producing pains and propelling dislocations of various nature. If anyone says we are enjoying the situation, it is a blatant lie. It is disturbing us, from the government to the least person there have been attempts to give a name to what is happening to us, and that is because as the popular saying holds “a problem identified, is a challenge half solved”. We have not been successful on this venture, yet we live with the consequences of what is happening; the highways are not safe, innocent rural settlements are invaded at early hours of the morning, sacked and destroyed by hoodlums who equally terminate lives.
As you read this, the country’s crime statistics has continued to progressively grow and at the point at which it is, everybody seem to agree that something could give in if drastic but sustainable efforts are not deployed to reverse the ugly trend. We agree on this but the issue of definition or identification of the challenge continues to be a cog in the wheel of progress. Ask the leaders and every average citizen what they think is happening? The answer you get is that insecurity is pervasive. Successive governments have gone to town with this song and overtime its lyrics have become jaded; they have sung the song for too long and yet have not been able to provide one lasting solution. It could well be because the identification they hold is far from the malice.
Identification is germane to the finding of lasting solution. It is not as if we don’t know, we know. If nothing else, we have learnt some lessons from the developed world when they try to make a distinction between freedom fighters and terrorists organizations; or asylum seekers, refugees and illegal immigrants. Both freedom fighters and terrorists use force to pursue their goals, but the treatment for each differs based on identification. When most Nigerian citizens asked the international community to declare Boko-Haram a terrorist organization, what was involved in such a proclamation was very clear to all who made the demand. I have gone to this extent to show that there is a different between insecurity and social disorder. When it is about insecurity and a country is truthful to itself, solutions can easily be found and within a short time there will be a trend reversal, and this would be for the reason that insecurity is usually associated with grand omissions in the application of state power and finance.
We can take a typical example, when the population is growing at a geometric rate but the state by way of ineffective leadership lacks vision and or ability to make adequate provision for sustenance and self actualization, insecurity in the real sense will be the consequence. The contest for very limited opportunities will naturally throw up deviants, because under that atmosphere the temptation to see might as right is overwhelming, it is more so in our kind of environment where there is little or no organization. On the other hand social disorder can be a product of disagreement over a particular government policy or actions. The good thing in this case is that it is a targeted action and everyone has enough information to know what motives chiefly inspire the reaction. In this instance too there is a solution; but on the other hand social disorder can also be instigated, and when this is the case, the social challenges thrown-up would seem intractable in terms of provision of solutions. Leaders would seem to be working very hard to stem the tide, but very little results will be achieved.
From what we see, it is safe to say that the challenge of our country is not insecurity in the classical manner, but it is more of social disorder and successive political leadership has been behind it all. Our country started experiencing social disorder of the instigated kind shortly after independence. In the core Northern areas, what has been known as religious riots have always been a constant feature; a few people run into the streets and by the time it is over, non-natives have become victims of undeserved brutality. We see conflicts but no one can say exactly the causes; arrests are hardly ever made even when the culprits were clearly seen displaying victims’ skulls as trophies from declared war. That ugly trend has not died down and one of the reasons could be that our leaders in playing the ostrich have refused to properly identify the phenomenon for what it is, criminal acts against fellow citizens. If we had defined it this way, arrest will be made and misguided citizens made to face the law and possibly adequately punished. Such deterrent measures and a few enlightenment exercises and operations would have gone a long way to restore permanent order; but we have not done so, and so enemies of our state have seen no reason to change course.
Most of the conflicts bedeviling the North-central region are not because Nigerians of various tribes cannot co-habit in those areas, it is just that governments both during the military and the civilian era have themselves involved in acts full of potentials for instigating social disorder on a very large scale. In some instances known to us, military administrations created Local Governments from small non-indigene settlements, such acts were not only brazen, they were clearly reckless abuse and display of state power. Such acts were clearly provocative and they indeed provoked many inter-ethnic conflicts that have remained with us till this day. Now RUGA! Who are the Boko-Harams? What actually are they fighting for? How come they can buy weapons of various calibre and yet are said to be jobless and hungry? Why base in Borno and not Sokoto? Why is it that the Northern establishment is not very assertive on them?
Who created Niger Delta militants, Odua People’s Congress (OPC), Bakassi boys? Who created them and for what purposes? How about groups of “strong men” created by major politicians across most Local Governments in their respective states, and for what purposes? What happens when their initiators are not in a position to fend for them again? There is a truth we must admit, political quest in Nigeria is a gang war by another name and it is the fall-out of these gang wars that the country suffers under the guise of insecurities. We have not been able to solve it because it is difficult to ask a thief to catch himself. When President to Buhari is holding on to religion and ethnicity, it is not like he doesn’t know what he is doing and what the likely consequences are; he is fully aware that the country’s politics is a gang war and only the strong thrive irrespective of the residual consequences. Disorder will be our lot for a long time to come, it is not a wish but it is a conclusion you can reach drawing from what is truly available.