Every passing day, it’s looking evidently clear that Nigeria is approaching a tipping point, a looming anarchy. Fear is rattling everyone’s nerve paths. It has conscripted many. It’s all about the frightening upsurge of insecurity that compels one to ask: Is there really a government in place in Nigeria? Or rather, is the government overwhelmed by the level of insecurity in the land, and has therefore, abdicated its responsibility to protect lives and property?
Why must it take the killing of a prominent individual to remind the government that the country is almost consumed by banditry, kidnapping and general insecurity, increasing in such a manner not seen in many decades? The outrage of last Friday’s killing of 58-year-old Mrs. Funke Olakunri, daughter of the leader of Afenifere, a pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, by suspected herdsmen (some say the perpetrators are not herdsmen), has reopened the security challenge debate and other faultiness’ that divide us.
Mrs Olakunri was alleged to have been murdered by suspected Fulani herdsmen at Kajola village, along Ore-Benin Expressway, Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo state. Her murder is one, out of hundreds of people who have suffered same fate this year alone. About 89 Nigerians have been reported killed in two weeks alone by bandits across the country. Can this be the failure of the present government to protect the people? As Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka said at the weekend in Abeokuta, Ogun state, “the carelessness and negligence” of the Buhari’s administration has led to the death of many Nigerians. He argued that the problem of Nigeria seemed to have “overwhelmed” the President. Soyinka, we must say, is not given to idle talk. He speaks truth to power.
Just yesterday, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, wrote yet another letter to President Buhari, warning that Nigeria under his leadership is tipping towards a dangerous cliff, some say, a failed state. He warned that the country may be consumed by violence and ethnic divisions never seen for years. Also, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi says it’s high time the South West defended itself against bandits. There are many voices speaking up on the grave danger that Nigeria has found herself, and something urgent must be done to halt the drift towards a state of lawlessness in the country. What more shall we tell Mr. President?
The truth is that there have been plenty of broken hearts to go round in Nigeria today due to government’s seeming inability to solve the present danger posed by herdsmen across the country. As Prof Soyinka said, this failure to stop the madness of the herdsmen has eroded Buhari’s achievements. And, I add, if at all there is any ennobling achievement worth remembering. No thanks to the frightening upsurge in banditry and bloodletting across the land. The statistics are heartrending. According to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, about 1,071 people were killed, 685 kidnapped in the country between January and April 2019. This may just be a conservative estimate. The figures may have doubled between April and last week. In Zamfara state alone, one of the hotbeds of banditry and kidnapping, over 8,000 women had been made widows by the bandits, while at least 16,000 children have been orphaned in the past decade.
Until two weeks ago, the people of Daura, the President’s hometown wept and prayed fervently for the release of their district head, Alhaji Musa Umar, who was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen right in his residence. In Sokoto, the former governor of the state, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa is still shell-shocked. He hasn’t come to terms with the recent attack by bandits who killed one of his aides. His nephew was also kidnapped. This happened some hours after he reportedly made anti-bandit comments in Abuja where he was to launch his Foundation. Across the country, no one is sure any longer of his or her safety. Schoolchildren are abducted at will for ransom, leaving their parents to grieve for their missing loved ones. In churches and mosques, prayers are offered every day. Even soldiers have suffered terribly in the hands of bandits. Isn’t this the best President and the best administration Nigeria has had?
All this makes the mind to squirm. Across the country, a pain cry is going up like a lightening rod in the air. Nigeria is dying and hurting. To say that is not been unkind or unpatriotic. But those entrusted with security of lives and properties are playing the ostrich while the citizens are mindlessly killed. It must be said that while the blame game goes on, the enemy of the people is not only ignorance but falling to admit failure and design a concrete approach to tackling our security challenges. This much is plain: Nigeria is gradually, and sadly, approaching the dreaded status of a failed state. Let’s attempt a dictionary definition of a failed state. It includes a “state whose political or economic system has become so weak that the government is no longer in control”. A “failed state” is also a country whose government is considered to have failed to perform the two fundamental functions of protecting the lives and property of its citizens as enshrined in that country’s Constitution.
That’s exactly what Section 14(b) of the 1999 Constitution provides in the Fundamental objectives and Directive principles of State Policy. And you ask: Is the government providing those basic objectives of security and welfare of Nigerians? I guess former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will be having a good laugh wherever he’s watching the unfolding events in Nigeria, especially the upsurge of insecurity.
Recall that the present administration once called Jonathan presidency “clueless”, and that Nigeria was drifting dangerously under his watch. Who is more clueless and inept now? After reading the former President’s memoir, “My Transition Hours”, I find this statement as a comforting jab at the present administration and his possible vindication now. This is what he said on page 173 of the book,”If you embark on digging a hole for your enemy, you better make it shallow, because you might end up in the hole yourself.” Time heals all wounds, isn’t it?
You see, every President, every administration, begin to run aground when it sees the red flag and fails to design strategies to prevent or contain the problem. Sure, tough times will come in the life of every government, but how you confront it is what matters. This government has its hands full, and its fingers bitten to its skin. This government is ever learning, yet not coming to the knowledge of what it takes to solve the security challenges that confront the country. After all these years of insecurity, hear what vice President Yemi Osinbajo said when he visited Pa Fasoranti at the weekend, “we are looking at the whole security architecture and trying to ensure that we are able to scale up and ensure that we are able to protect the lives and property of Nigerians.“
Today, Nigeria is ranked third in the World’s terrorist index, behind Afghanistan and Iraq. Maybe, by the time the 2019 is released, Nigeria may climb ingloriously higher. What does all of this tell us regarding power struggle in our politics? First, as the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for, because you may get it. But, how you govern when you get power is a different thing altogether. It’s either that this administration is not adequately prepared to govern, or as Prof Soyinka has said, the problem of Nigeria has overwhelmed the President.