In today’s Nigeria, the abnormal has become normal. And the line between the country and a failed state looks very thin. The recent verdict of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, on insecurity in the North is as revealing as it is disturbing.
The Sultan said: “Security situation in northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation. Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there with the governor to commiserate with the affected community…People think North is safe but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country because bandits go round in the villages, households and markets with AK 47 and nobody is challenging them. They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed.”
No one can fault the Sultan on this alarm bell he sounded at the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council in Abuja, last week. It speaks volumes about the capacity and capability of the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to effectively tackle the country’s myriads of problems, especially security challenges. Even the Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CONEPD) applauded the Sultan for his courage to voice out what has become a painful reality in the North in particular and Nigeria in general.
Look at what happened to the nine students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, the other day. Some daredevil gunmen kidnapped them on Abuja-Kaduna Expressway on their way to Lagos for a programme at the Nigerian French Language Village in Badagry. Their parents and relatives had to cough up hundreds of thousands of naira to get them released.
This incident has become a recurring decimal in different parts of the North nay Nigeria. Even the President’s home town of Katsina is not spared. Oftentimes, we hear tales of the exploits of bandits in that state. No doubt, Boko Haram, Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) and sundry terrorists have made life unbearable for Nigerians.
Down South, the situation is not totally different. Last week, a first-class traditional ruler in Ondo State, the Olufon of Ifon, Oba Israel Adeusi, was kidnapped and later murdered by his assailants. There have been similar murders in different parts of the country. People now move about with trepidation, uncertain what tomorrow brings.
Little wonder, the global terrorism index adjudged Nigeria as the third most terrorised country in the world for the sixth consecutive year. In a 2020 Global Terrorism Index released recently by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Nigeria only scored better that Afghanistan and Iraq which came first and second respectively. The IEP said the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 25 per cent from 2018 to 2019. The most fatal attacks in 2019 were the attack at a funeral in Badu, Nganzai in July 2019 and the one in Rann in January 2019, in Borno State. Seventy people were killed in Badu while 60 died in Rann. And just last Saturday, Boko Haram slaughtered 43 farm workers near Maiduguri in Borno State. It is shameful that we share headlines with failed countries that are perennially at war.
The recent EndSARS protests across the country worsened our security situation. Hoodlums hijacked the protests, killed scores of policemen and burnt their stations. Up until now, a lot of policemen still do not wear their uniform for fear of being attacked. It calls for serious concern that those empowered to protect citizens and hunt for criminals have themselves become the hunted. The Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, has been appealing to the officers and men of the force to go back to their duty posts. Some have gone back. Some are still afraid. Morale is very low. Criminal elements are currently exploiting this situation to their advantage.
Banditry and insurgency in the North and elsewhere in Nigeria are a direct result of years of bad governance, corruption, injustice, and poor economic policies. The most disturbing thing is that a long peep at the tunnel does not show any hope at its end. We have continued to trudge on as if nothing is amiss. But there is serious danger ahead.
President Buhari has always promised to tackle the spate of insecurity in the country. But after each promise, the worst happens. Our Service Chiefs keep boasting that they are on top of the situation; that insurgency would soon be a thing of the past. But the more they boast, the more daring the criminals become.
This is the time to change the Service Chiefs for there is no point keeping a losing team. Or is the President seeing something many Nigerians are not seeing? Beyond merely lamenting and condemning every killing in the country, what concrete steps has the present government taken to tackle insecurity in Nigeria? Are there changes in the welfare package and provision of arms for soldiers? Will the huge budgetary allocation to the military perform the magic this time round?
We used to pity Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and some others as failed or weak states. Today, are we really better off than those countries? In a 2005 report, the United States National Intelligence Council painted a gloomy picture of what will happen should Nigeria collapse. Thank God it has not collapsed so far. But there are danger signals all over the place.
The number one duty of government is to protect lives and properties as well as safeguard fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens. Government must also institutionalise measures to entrench equity, accountability and transparency in the affairs of the nation. Once these are lacking, there will likely be social, political and economic upheavals in the country. Consequently, peace and unity will be elusive.
Incidentally, a federal government delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, has been meeting with leaders of different sections of the country. This is apparently to get first-hand knowledge of how to bring peace to the country. Gambari and co. need not dissipate energy on such meetings.
What the government needs to do is to listen to the voices of prominent Nigerians who have been clamouring for the restructuring of the country. Rejigging the security architecture is part of that restructuring. Governors need to take more charge of security in their states. In case the present government is still not clear about what to do, it should revisit the report of the 2014 national conference. Time is running out!
Re: Oyigbo and cracking of Rivers govt megaphones
Hi Casmir, nemesis always catches up with the wicked. It’s biblical. “Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished…” (Pro.11:21) Again, sycophants always play to the gallery. These should comfort us. I read your write-up in The Sun of Monday Nov. 9, 2020 titled: “Wike and Oyigbo killings.” For any discerning mind who read between the lines, there was nowhere in that article you indicted Gov. Wike. If you had, River State’s vociferous commissioner for Information would’ve reacted. So, I don’t see why any sane person will get angry with you as to write trash against you.
Good enough, you asked fundamental questions that hold the clue that will enable Nigerians to know where to place blame. For me, the massacre in Oyigbo was premeditated. Nevertheless, let me commend you on your maturity in replying your critic. Rather than malign his person, you chose to present the facts to the reading public who’d now be the jury, thereby making your critic’s argument hokum. That’s the mark of a quality, prolific and persuasive writer. By your candour, you’ve made the best out of a bad situation. Truth never hides. No one can stifle it. Someday the truth about what happened in Oyigbo and LekKi Tollgate will manifest. History must, surely, vindicate the just. The blood of the innocent speaks.
•Evang. Isaac Abiahu Nwanosike, Mbutu, Isiala Ngwa, Abia,
Dear Casmir, who does not know that the false image attributed to IPOB is that of calling a dog a bad name to pave way for its destruction? Don’t mind Rivers State Government and the blind defenders of their erroneous actions against a people.
Be strong and courageous in telling the TRUTH at all times. God bless you and keep you for his Glory.
-Pastor John Igu Kalu,
Thanks for your Monday fearless publication. I wish the so-called Mr. Jackson Owhor should read it to bury his ugly head in shame. Keep fit in the Lord and remain blessed.
•Pastor Eze E. Eze, Enugu State,
Dear Casmir, it’s surprising that when public relations practitioners work for government, they practise image laundry rather than professionalism. Clearly, you were objective in your comment in that publication and didn’t opinionate. Perhaps you were attacked out of envy. Keep the flag flying.
•Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +
Dear Casy, truth that began her journey today, surely, shall overtake falsehood that began hers 24 years ago. Likewise, fallacies from Government officials can’t be the same as truth, no matter the embellishment. Therefore, ignore Mr Owhor for his overzealousness which drove him beyond the boundaries of his office into usurping the functions of the Governor’s direct media aides. Understandably, Owhor’s action was for the sake of provision of garri to his family which his job easily avails him of. Confront Owhor after serving out his tenure in office, he would tell you he only blew ‘Dogon Turanci’ for being in Government. My advice: Wisdom, moderation in words and actions while in government because of tomorrow.
•Steve Okoye, Awka,
My able editor, put his accusation aside. No one should blame spokesperson of governor Wike of Rivers State because he is on the pay roll of the governor. He is doing it to save his job. His appointment has time frame.
•Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia,
Dear Casy, the Obigbo massacre of Igbo in Oct this year was the continuation of the ethnic cleansing targeted against them in Nigeria since 1966. Facts of history had it that the Igbo crossed the Imo River and occupied the present Rivers state mainland since many centuries ago. It was during the Biafran war that Gowon brainwashed the Ikwere leaders to change their Igbo names and after the Biafran war, Obigbo became Oyigbo, Umuokoro to Rumukoro, Umuibekwe to Rumuibekwe etc. Nwike has used the Nigerian army personnel to kill his brothers and sisters.
•Eze Chima C. Lagos,
Governor Nyesom Wike and Mr. Jackson Owhor are blatant liars. Not only two of them because in Nigeria even the president can be dishonest. Rivers State people hate the core Igbo people. Remember the abandoned property saga which happened under the watch of General Yakubu Gowon in his capacity as the then Head of State of Nigeria.
•Chinedu Ekwuno (JP),