Armed robbery, banditry, carjacking and the whole lot from the armoury of Satan have gradually become a way of life in Nigeria. There is no doubt we have come to accept this dangerous and inglorious situation as everyday gift and the fact that our security agencies cannot respond to this challenge except they receive the President’s order is pathetic.
Even at that, the situation is nowhere over nor improved. This is one place on earth not at war with any nation, yet so insecure. Indeed, there is this thing about the love of nation and people that keeps one from arriving at hard verdicts and being optimistic. I love Nigeria, no doubt, and my privileged opportunities to visit and intract with her peoples found in all the 36 states of the country is sure evident fact.
Truly and significantly, I live my life on our roads and airspace. I have seen death at close quarters in accidents, highway robberies and the whole lot of the dark sides of certain elements, Nigerians and foreigners who have joined hands with Satan to hound peace out of a very wonderful, peaceful people on earth.
Surely and you should believe me, Nigeria is a beautiful country with one of the most hospitable people on the face of Mother Earth and, all things being equal, it has no business showcasing the worst and negative types of humanity ever. The fact is that our security system has collapsed, it is over-stretched and needs to be reviewed in view of challenges facing us today.
I dare say that Nigeria is not just a killing field, it is now the cemetery of its citizens that dare to travel our highways either for business or leisure. To keep silent in the face of the damning reality is to pretend that we are at peace with ourselves and that each time you dare travel on our roads you would make it back home in one piece.
Sadly, it took the confession of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State that he was attacked by kidnappers on Ibadan-Akure highway before we woke up from the slumber on this deadly reality. Before the governor’s “gracious” confession, we had all by way of our silent disposition pretended that the kidnapping of Nigerians all over the country and particularly on our highways was all social media hoax or a Nollywood movies game.
We pretended that we were not boxed in by rogue elements and their sponsors. We shut our eyes to the fact that the cow business, the herdsmen’s lifeline, was no longer “meat” business but “fast” blood money generated from humans and not animals. The reality that Nigerians now die like animals (cows) did not sink early because we thought it would be over soon.
Recently, certain roads and highways in the South West were circulated to Nigerians as dangerous and dens of kidnappers. True, these roads are not only dangerous but replete with man-eating potholes and un-policed, with weeds blocking driving view, providing sheds for these criminals. The Kaduna-Abuja highway was like a war theatre. As usual, we pretended nothing was happening there, probably a mere sore thumb in a pot of soup, until top government officials and their families got caught up in the soup, then order came flying around.
Honestly, you need to sit around diplomats to hear how they deride our simplicity and poor judgement. I once used to be hard on Americans and their British brothers for issuing frequent negative travel alerts on Nigeria, warning their citizens not to visit our dear land. Then, we were not as bad as today but their sudden silence over the emerging kidnapping crimes in Nigeria bothers me greatly.
As a frequent traveller on our highways, I could count and recollect several encounters with British, American, Canadian and other nations’ embassy leadership, driving through our highways, getting to know our people, our culture, food, dances, festivals, but sadly not anymore in recent times.
In the good old days, these foreigners drove their jeeps unaccompanied by security and stopped over to mingle with our communities and traditional rulers. They bought our fruits and other vegetable edibles in season and generally commended of our diversity and unity as a people.
The silence of these diplomats portends great danger and can only confirm that they are no longer safe travelling around Nigeria to meet our rural poor and to appreciate our tourism. Our case has outgrown travel alerts, it is now a serious matter, a kind of war, yes, a nation at war with itself.
If you are among the very few courageous ones that traverse our country, you would have noticed that the numbers of trucks laden with agriculture products from our rural farmers to the city dwellers are hardly seen in their numbers. Our mothers who would gladly passenger the open trucks with their wares dare not embark on journeys on our highways, a huge gap not only in the food supply chain in the economy but a telling disadvantage to farming, transportation – movement of goods and services.
Last month, on my way from Owerri, around Ore, Ondo State, we ran into these gangsters and had to detour into an abandoned forest “highway” through Area J4 village of Ajebandele to access the Ijebu East end of the Lagos-Benin highway.
It was an experience that should not happen in Nigeria. How we respond to this attempt to cow us into “animals” is important. I wish to see how Governor Wike’s strategy to free kidnapped workers on a highway project in Andoni would play out. The governor had threatened to depose the first class traditional ruler of the area and withhold any form of government support and development for the area, which would affect the youths, if the kidnapped persons were not found and released.
If it works, and I know it would, then President Muhammadu Buhari should sack any police commissioner and GOC, Army commander within areas where kidnapping and highway robbery take place henceforth. A wicked situation needs wicked prayers, so says Dr. Daniel Olukoya. Let me even ask, what does our secret service or intelligence community do? Nigeria needs enduring peace to achieve any meaningful development, particularly in marketing our culture and tourism to the outside world. Is somebody there?