Nze Nwabueze Akabogu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently rolled out its timetable for the forthcoming general election scheduled for February 2019 amid ominous signs of a looming national catastrophe. The dark clouds are once again fast gathering momentum occasioned by the unprecedented level of general insecurity which has lately enveloped the country. Never in the history of Nigeria have we witnessed such level of general insecurity of dangerous dimension now prevalent in the country albeit with the possible exception of the dark period of the devastating civil war that ended about fifty two years ago.
The alarming security situation facing the nation today portends great danger of monumental proportion which might lead to total chaos and anarchy unless urgent and decisive action is taken by the political leaders to stem the dangerous slide to the precipice. The myriad of both security and political challenges facing the country are better imagined than described and, as such, Nigeria’s political leaders must brace up to the challenges and tackle the ubiquitous monsters head on before they consume the entire nation.
Just at a time when the highly dreaded Boko Haram Islamic insurgency in the North East region that had taken a huge toll on both human and material resources seem to have been effectively contained by the Nigerian Armed Forces, another extremely deadly group, the so called Fulani herdsmen who are armed to the teeth with highly sophiscated weapons including AK47, pump action rifles and rocket launchers, are rampaging over the entire country killing, maiming and destroying property of innocent and defenceless citizens in their homes and farms without any challenge whatsoever by the nation’s security forces whose primary responsibility is the protection of the lives and property of citizens against internal or external aggression.
The recent reported case of the horrendous attacks in Benue State by this terrorist gang masquerading as Fulani herdsmen, in which over seventy innocent people where gruesomely murdered in cold blood and many more grievously injured as well as property worth millions of naira were destroyed, poses a great threat to the cooporate existence of Nigeria.
From all available empirical reports, the perennial attacks by this terrorist gang called Fulani herdsmen have both religious and political undertones, even as these mindless attacks were often directed against non-Muslim communities across the Middle Belt region as well as parts of Southern Kaduna and Taraba States. The above scenario is equally commonplace in Southern States of the country where these armed gangs often carry out their heinous act of carnage, raping and maiming innocent citizens all in the name of grazing their cattle in people’s farms.
It is a matter of deep regret, however, that the Federal authorities whose primary function is the protection of lives and property of citizens have maintained a rather nonchalant attitude in the face of the incessant attacks. This rather unfortunate and embarrassing situation has emboldened the Fulani terrorist gangs to continue in their dastardly act of unleashing mayhem on innocent citizens. The various political and religious leaders as well as civil society organizations across the nation have already condemned the mindless killings and called for urgent and decisive action against the perpetrators and their sponsors.
It is sad, however, that the country is also witnessing an upsurge in other forms of criminality such as cultism, armed robbery, kidnapping, assassination etc, particularly in volatile States like Rivers, Delta, Lagos, Ondo and Kaduna. It is incumbent on the Federal authorities to quickly checkmate the ugly trend by providing adequate security for all citizens.
A situation in which certain wealthy and powerful individuals in society are usually provided with mobile policemen as their personal security as well as serving as domestic servants to these individuals is embarrassing. It is a serious dent on the image and integrity of the country and must be stopped immediately by the authorities.For many years, now, well meaning Nigerians have called for the immediate stoppage of this shameful and disgraceful practice of deploying police personnel as private security guards to wealthy individuals who constitutionally are not entitled to police security. Regrettably, however, the Nigeria Police High Command has up till date bluntly refused to respect these wise and patriotic demands. The current strength of the Nigeria Police which today stands at the ratio of one policeman to about six hundred Nigerians as against the global acceptable ratio of one policeman to about two hundred citizens is grossly inadequate and as such incapable of confronting the country’s mounting security challenges. The Fulani herdsmen menace as well as the unprecedented upsurge in criminal activities in the country require all police personnel to be mobilised to confront the problem.
It has become imperative, therefore, that the Nigerian Police as well as other security agencies must adopt pro-active measures to deal with the mounting security challenges and not remain complacent only to adopt the proverbial fire brigade approach after colossal damages must have taken place. The wise adage says that prevention is far better than cure.
The lack of social justice, equity and fairness in running the affairs of the country has recently compelled the alienated and marginalized sections of the country to call for a re-negotiated Nigeria or a restructuring of the terribly unwieldy Nigerian State which will be able to serve the collective interests of the diverse ethnic nationalities that make up the entity called Nigeria based on the principle of true federalism as was bequeathed to us by our founding fathers. The present military imposed anti-people and unworkable constitution must be jettisoned in order to allowed the people of Nigeria to freely fashion out a truly people’s constitution that will satisfy their yearnings and aspirations.
It is needless to emphasize the point that Nigerians have never had it so bad in terms of the unacceptable lopsided appointments by the Buhari administration which came into office three years ago with the populist slogan or mantra of change. Many key and high profile appointments were made by the administration without due regard for the cherished principle of federal character as enshrined in the constitution. It is incomprehensible and most regrettable that despite the strong protests by well meaning and concerned Nigerians against the lopsided appointments, the administration has remained adamant and displayed the height of insensitivity to the people’s feelings and has continued with the rather unjust policy.
It is instructive to observe in this piece also that since the creation of Abuja Capital territory over three decades ago when the seat of power was permanently moved from Lagos to Abuja by the erstwhile military regime, all the substantive Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory have always come from the Northern section of the country till date. It must be noted, however, that the original idea or concept of carving out a virgin land as Abuja Federal Capital Territory with the appropriate appellation as “the center of unity” was envisioned to give all sections of the country a sense of belonging in the affairs of the country.
It is inconceivable and an affront to the collective psyche of the Nigerian people that no Southerner has ever been considered fit and qualified to hold the position of substantive Minister of Abuja Federal Capital Territory in the history of Abuja as the modern capital city of Nigeria. The Southerners have always been considered only fit enough to hold the position of junior or Minister of state for Abuja Federal Capital Territory.
Akabogu (JP) writes from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State