By Nnanna Ray
Citizens have the right to criticize security agencies when they make mistakes, but it is also incumbent on every good citizen to commend them and their valiant officers for ensuring the peaceful celebrations we all enjoyed over the Christmas and New Year holidays. This is more so that, prior to the festive season, there seemed to be increased criminality, ranging from kidnapping, targeted killings, banditry, armed robbery and so on, which instilled anxiety in citizens. I remember speaking in November last year with a Diaspora Igbo friend who complained bitterly about the rising activities of unknown gunmen in the South East and how it would ruin the yearly tradition of returning to Nigeria for the Yuletide to reunite with family and friends. However, with the assurances from our security agencies in ensuring a hitch-free festive season, my friend had a little faith, travelled back home with his family for the festivities and has since returned safely to Obodo Oyibo. No doubt, despite the security challenges in the zone, the South East recorded very minimal attacks, while assassinations and kidnappings in the region, contrary to many predictions and speculations, barely occurred.
Likewise, the Kaduna-Abuja highway, shortly before the Yuletide, was a hotbed for kidnappers and bandits, with of incidents that attracted public criticism by citizens. However, till date, nowhere in the media was an attack reported on the Kaduna-Abuja route during the festivities. In general, the Christmas and New Year celebrations were peaceful and hitch-free in the country, with no major reported incident, unlike previous years, where mass killings of civilians by Boko Haram, bombings and the likes took centre stage.
I hereby salute our security agencies for an orchestrated and robust plan of strategically providing security to check insecurity, particularly in hotspots around the country. The advisory by the Department of State Services cautioning citizens to be security-conscious in order not to fall victim of attacks was also helpful and to a great extent boosted public confidence. Similarly, the deployment of personnel of the provost unit, X-Squad and the Monitoring Unit by the Nigeria Police Force to ensure police operatives deployed for security operations during the festive period did a good job is commendable. This was bolstered by the order of the IGP that commissioners of police (CPs) in the 36 states and the FCT initiate and implement well-coordinated crime-prevention strategies and ensure round-the-clock visibility patrols towards peaceful Christmas and New Year celebrations in the country. It is due to these brilliant approaches that major highways were secured to ensure safe travel across the country, as citizens enjoyed protection on rail and water ways also. This was made possible by the efforts of the gallant men and women of our security agencies who worked round the clock to keep the bad guys from harming us.
The army, on the other hand, sustained offensive operations against bandits and insurgents in terrorised areas of the North East, thereby diminishing their influence and paving way for residents to enjoy the celebrations. Other sister agencies such as the FRSC mobilised 30,000 personnel and set up 15 traffic control camps on critical routes to proactively save lives, while the NSCDC deployed 2,000 officers to some strategic locations to ensure a crime-free celebration.
Possibly, no one believed the security forces when they took turns last year to assure citizens of a peaceful Yuletide. I remember that all-encompassing press briefing by DSS wherein it said unequivocally it would go after criminals. And it did. I remember those of the police, Civil Defence and the army. I heard Immigration promising to pay attention to the borders. Clap for them. Other numerous organizations, in one way or the other, contributed to our peace and security during the Christmas and New Year holidays. So, while we opened bottles of expensive champagne, feasted on delicious Christmas turkey and danced to the tunes of the season, our security men were in the bush, on highways, and in troubled nooks and crannies to ensure our collective safety. Therefore, we say a big Thank You and WELL DONE to them!!! In this regard, I thank especially the Service Chiefs, and heads of the military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Even after the Yuletide, the services are not resting on their oars. From Zamfara to Sokoto, Yobe to Borno, Anambra to Ebonyi and the entire South East and South South zones, as well as the West, the gallant forces are marching in speed and loyalty to deliver peace and security necessary for development to citizens. Let’s applaud and support them. It could have been worse. But they are relentless. Forward ever.
As the year begins, I crave the indulgence of all Nigerians, home and abroad, to have a little more faith in government and its revered institutions. It is unfair to simply allude that nothing is being done about the security situation. Government has continuously deployed resources and strategies to curb these challenges and would not relent in its endeavours to ensure a more secure Nigeria. Let us be conscious of the fact that there is no perfect situation anywhere in the world. So, we must learn to love Nigeria, support government and security agencies, even as we continue to hope for a better tomorrow.
•Ray is a public affairs analyst resident in Enugu, Enugu State