In the face of the continuous killings of many Nigerians, especially in Benue State and by extension some other states in the North Central zone, we should all be worried. Let us not think that it is a Benue State matter or that it is located in the North Central zone alone. We should think beyond such simplified conclusions. What is happening in Benue and North Central can happen elsewhere in the country if nothing is done now to stop the carnage. With what is happening in Benue, there is no safe zone.
Everywhere is prone to danger and nobody is safe. We should not pretend that all is well with the country and its leadership. All has never been well with this country and its leaders, as far as I know. It has been from one trouble to another. Even in the pre-colonial time and colonial period, it is from one misery tale to another.
The freedom from colonial rule was short-lived and overshadowed by post-colonial disillusionment and tensions that culminated in diverse crises that later led to the fratricidal Nigerian civil war. The war has come and gone but its scars are still with us. The enjoyment of oil boom was overtaken by massive political corruption that is still our albatross. From civilian rule to military and back to civilian, it is the same old sad story of failed promises and unrealized dreams. It is no longer in doubt that everything is fundamentally wrong with the country and its leaders. Viewed from all angles, our woes can be traced to failure of leadership.
The continuous murder of Nigerians in their own country without the government arresting the killers and trying them demonstrates a failure of leadership. It is no longer enough to claim that the killers are foreigners or those trained by late Libyan leader, Col. Murmur Gaddafi. The bloodbath in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kaduna and other states can no longer be explained as herders/farmers clashes.
It has passed such unimaginative description. It can now be described as ethnic cleansing or genocide. The recent killings of two Catholic priests and 15 worshippers at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Benue State elicited national and global outrage. The government described the killings as satanic and capable of instigating a religious war in the country. The Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, condemned the killings.
The US President Donald Trump decried the killings and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the killings in the country. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) also condemned the killings while Christians in Nigeria protested against the killings and government’s inaction over the numerous murders. The recent media report that 901 persons have been killed in the Middle Belt region since January this year shows that the problem is getting out of control.
It is not enough that the president should condemn the killings, he should go ahead and declare the killers terrorists and treat them as such as some notable Nigerians have suggested.
The government must start apprehending killer herdsmen, whether they are Nigerians or foreigners. Since the primary duty of government is to protect life and property of its citizens, the government should just do that. The continuous killing of Nigerians shows that the government has failed in its primary function, the main reason that government exists in the first place.
There is now urgent need to overhaul the nation’s security architecture and put in place adequate measures to ensure that the nation’s overall security is effective. We cannot continue to lament each time the killer herdsmen kill hapless Nigerians. The Federal Government must muster the political will to equip the Nigeria Police Force adequately and increase its numerical strength appreciably.
President Buhari’s recent order to the police authorities to recruit 6,000 policemen from the 774 local government areas in the country, though good, would not be enough to address the manpower shortage in the force. Instead of the 6,000 policemen, the government should recruit at least 30,000 policemen annually in the next 30 years to largely beef up the numerical strength of the police.
Annual recruitment of policemen is the standard practice anywhere in the world. Let the government think in the direction of creating state police as a panacea to our current security dilemma. State policing is an idea that we cannot run away from. I have said it before and will continue to say that our current centralized policing cannot solve the security challenge we are facing. It will only compound it the more.
The government should stop running away from this reality. There is no doubt that security, state police, unemployment and restructuring are among issues that will top the agenda in the 2019 general elections. These are some of the key issues that will dominate the political campaigns. Nigerians will like to vote for a leader that would ensure adequate security of all Nigerians and their property.
They would like to vote for a person that strongly believe in the restructuring of Nigeria and create state policing. They will vote for someone that will create jobs for the growing army of unemployed Nigerians, especially the youths. While our politicians are busy talking about the 2019 elections, they should spare a thought on how to solve the existential problems confronting Nigerians.
They should do something about the poor minimum wage of N18,000 per month that Nigerian workers are complaining about. There is no way that minimum wage can cater for a Nigerian worker in one month. It is no longer realistic to pay a worker such pittance and expect the best from him. We should face the fact and increase the minimum wage to a level that can really take the worker home at the end of the month. While labour is asking for N65,000 minimum wage, the government and indeed all the stakeholders should meet and come up with what every state can afford as the new minimum wage.
All tiers of government must be carried along in the discussion as well as the organized private sector. For labour and the government, it is a matter of give and take. Let the issue be resolved in a win-win situation for labour and the government. The minimum wage issue should also dominate the 2019 political campaigns as well as non-payment of workers’ salaries and pensions in some states. Let those concerned resolve these matters before it is too late. The day of reckoning is very much at hand.