On the lips of many Nigerians is the expression of two major issues very important and necessary to their wellbeing. These are hunger and insecurity. Everywhere, these top the agenda for discussion and they are unrelenting because they can feel it and see it happen in every part of the country. Their summation is that the government is not doing enough to provide them with the needed security that would help enhance their productivity. The people believe they are not secure, despite the fact that the Constitution empowers the government to protect the people of Nigeria wherever they reside. For 60 years since its independence, the story of insecurity has not changed, instead it has continued to evolve dangerously with each passing decade like a rudderless ship.
No sooner was the country baptized with the Independence water than the people of the West embarked on violent recklessness triggered by political differences between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Ladoke Akintola. The early 1960s threw up violence that was on a rapid rise in the political system of Nigeria. This resulted in what was popularly known as “Operation Wetie,” meaning, “the setting ablaze of politicians and their properties with petrol.” Thousands were killed in an undignified manner. Nigeria was burning from the western part of the country. Violence of various dimensions was perpetrated under political guise. Such has been the root of most insecurity issues in the country. This led to the first military coup in Nigeria on January 15, 1966. followed by the merciless killing of easterners, especially the Igbo resident in the North, and this snowball into a civil war that would have disintegrated the country as the Igbo wanted to secede from Nigeria. That war claimed over three million people.
Apart from political violence that created the shaky foundation of our democracy, there are other offshoots of this instability, such as religious violence. Two major religious uprisings that could have been averted are the government security agents’ killing of Mohammed Yusuf, which marked the beginning of Boko Haram insurgency, which aims to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, and the killing of Mohammed Marwa, which sparked off Maitatsine riot of 1980. Marwa was a controversial preacher in Nigeria. Maitatsine is a Hausa word meaning “the one who damns” and refered to his curse-laden public speeches against the Nigerian state.
His militant followers were known as the Yan Tatsine. In the past, religious and political differences have sparked violence around the country. Indeed, the1980s saw an upsurge in violence due to the erstwhile military ruler of Nigeria General Ibrahim Babangida’s enrollement of Nigeria in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OlC).
The move aggravated religious tensions in the country, particularly in the Christian community. Unfortunately, the government failed to be proactive in most of its policies. In 1993, the Ogoni uprising in the Niger Delta led to the hanging of renowned writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues by the Nigerian government. Even at that, insecurity like a wildfire continues to ravage every corner of the country, claiming hundreds of innocent people; armed robbery and other forms of criminality have worsened the problems of the country. Insecurity keeps the security agencies busy just as the press (news hunters).
Another surge of insecurity that hit the country was the announcement of a group known as the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), a militant group in the Niger Delta, in March 2016. The militant group attacked oil-producing facilities in the delta region, causing the shutdown of oil terminals and kidnapping expatriates.
In 60 years, Nigeria has not known ultimate peace, in the face of insecurity caused by tribal, political conflicts, highway robbery, kidnapping, banditry, Fulani herdsmen’s killings, campus cultism and unfavorable government policies, for instance, increase in fuel, electricity price.
(To be continued)
T.Y. Buratai: General with a human face
Many years back, Nigerians were jolted when a military ruler who ascended office through the hot barrel of the gun openly told Nigerians that even the military can rule with human face. Ibrahim Babangida was the General. In fact, Nigerians, after observing the activities of the military, had concluded that every officer was heartless and uncompromising.
As the years rolled by and civilians mingled with military officers, their good nature came to the fore. You know good people when others are in need. As the economy gets tighter, many have resorted to begging, while many families are painfully facing penury, looking onto their creator for salvation. Such pathetic situations befall many pensioners across the country. In fact, some state governments cannot pay pensioners their entitlements any longer.
The octogenarian in question, Pa Paul Ojo, retired warrant officer, was living at L2, Kasupda Quarters, Kabala Costain, Kaduna. The accommodation was part of an estate sold to residents by the Kaduna State government. Owner-occupiers were expected to pay in three instalments. Ojo paid the first instalment of N250,000, but he sensed there were problems when his attempt to pay the second installment was blocked.
According to reports, the house had been allocated to one Mr. Abbas Mohammed Ango, without Pa Ojo’s consent. He approached the court to re-assert his legal ownership but the case was prolonged. However, armed policemen, led by one Deputy Superintendent of Police A. Ahmed, arrived at the premise to throw him and his family out. All his pleas that the case was before the court met a deaf ear.
It was alledged that his 75-year-old wife was rough-handled by the strony-faced policemen who also manhandled and arrested two of their children for confronting them. However, Pa Ojo’s story reached the ears of the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai. And, today, he has made available to Pa Ojo a three-bedroom bungalow, possibly better than his initial accommodation.
It is good to find a leader who, despite the avalanche of requests and demands, could still gravitate towards the problems of his subjects with the heart to find solution to their problems. Last week, Buratai displayed the other side of himself when the milk of human kindness flowed from his heart to a retired octogenarian Pa Ojo by blessing him with a house as a gift.
Unfortunately, Pa Ojo was rendered homeless in Kaduna on the orders of Governor Nasir El-Rufai. The news got to Buratai, who did not consider either his ethnicity or religion before ensuring that a three-bedroom home be allocated to the octogenarian. There are many lessons to draw from this outstanding gesture. There are many Paul Ojos who patriotically served the country, yet, the country and the institutions they served forgot them. To others, religion was the consideration that warranted the help they received. Bruatai has shown Nigerians that, despite his tough military training, as a patriotic Nigerian, there is still the milk of human kindness flowing in him.