We have observed with increasing worry, the spiraling descent of the nation into a Hobbesian state, where life is ‘nasty, brutish and short’. In the spate of five years since the present administration came to power, an otherwise peaceful country has become a huge killing field in the hands of Islamists, rampaging Fulani herdsmen, ethnic militias, bandits and kidnappers.
These bloodthirsty villains, who seemed to be unstoppable, have held the nation to ransom, inflicting untold pains and hardship on innocent citizens.
On February 10, 2020, the nation woke up to the saddening news that more than 30 people were killed in Auno, Borno State when Islamists attacked stranded travelers during a night raid. The victims were mostly travelers who were burnt to death in the sleep after being denied entry into Maiduguri by federal troops.
Also on Sunday, February 29, 2020, bandits killed 51 residents during a raid on some villages in Igabi and Giwa local government areas of Kaduna State. The bandits, it was learned, staged the dastardly attack in reprisal against the villagers for providing information against them to law enforcement agents. Several other attacks targeting Christians and natives happen almost on a daily basis.
This newspaper believes that the attacks are one too many. More worrying is the fact that while security agencies that should shield them from attacks are sometimes complicit in the whole matter, the government that came to power on the promise of protecting its people from harm seems unbothered.
It is saddening that on many occasions, the best the government did was to condemn the attacks and the president paying rare condolence visits to victims. After that, it is business as usual for the outlaws who embark on another killing spree.
It is high time the government woke up to its responsibility of securing the lives and properties of its citizens before it loses the initiative. Nigerians are tired of the usual “I condemn this “murderous and cowardly attack on innocent citizens” from the president. They want action, not just rhetoric.
Already, there is growing restiveness and agitation among various ethnic groups across the country for homegrown solutions to the incessant attacks on their communities. The recent establishment of ‘Operation Amotekun’ by South West governors and leaders is a pointer to the fact that the Federal Government is daily losing the initiative, as Amotekun was clearly a reaction to the failure of the government at the centre to protect their citizens from attack.
The truth is that Nigerians are becoming immune to bad governance. They have over the years build their own security, their own boreholes and their own electricity and will not hesitate to take up arms to protect themselves if pushed to the wall. Due to the failure of the Nigerian Police, many Nigerians have developed means of protecting themselves from attack by criminals.
As at today, there is hardly a community in the country without its own arms-bearing guards. These are largely untrained and unstable minds. They inadvertently become renegades who turn around to torment the same people they are meant to protect. They could also be tools in the hands of mischief-makers.
Nigerians won’t forget in a hurry, how two well-intentioned outfits, the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) in the South West and the Bakasi Boys in the South East later unraveled. These outfits were hitherto well-meaning groups when they were established. However, they became part of the problem and subsequently anathema to the same people who embraced them.
The government of the day is daily losing the initiative to reactionaries. It needs to wake up and act fast to arrest the drift into anarchy. It is obvious that a nation where the government fails in its primary duty of protecting its citizens is definitely heading for anarchy; where the rule is ‘survival of the fittest’.
As a way forward, we demand that the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency, put a stop to the drift by living up to its responsibilities. This newspaper supports the call for a complete overhaul of the nation’s security apparatus. All serving security chiefs must resign or be forced to leave. We believe they have stayed in office beyond their usefulness.
Also, indicted criminals and their supporters in the military and the police should be identified and rooted out. The ‘Wadume’ debacle in Taraba State, where an army captain aided a notorious criminal to escape from police custody, is clear evidence that there are rogue cells in the military.
Furthermore, the Buhari administration should run an all-inclusive government by adhering to the principle of federal character in his appointment. A situation where the head of all the three organs of government in the country is all Muslim North, same for virtually all the heads of security agencies, will not bode well for the country.
Above all, the nation needs restructuring to give all aggrieved ethnic group a sense of belonging. The move by the Senate to enshrine in the constitution a provision that a police commissioner should be an indigene of the state is a welcome development. It is doubtful a police commissioner from Enugu State will allow the killing, maiming, and confiscation of farmlands by herdsmen in his domain.
This is the best time to restructure Nigeria. It is either we do it now or it is forced on the country by circumstances, as witnessed in Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Rwanda, and several African nations.
We don’t need another war. Those beating drums of war thinking they control weapons of terror should take a cue from the words of former President Olusegun Obasanjo that no one could predict the exact outcome of another war in the country. According to the former president, he was a member of the Nigeria Civil War committee which projected that the war, which spanned three years, will end in four months, despite the fact that the country then was more united than it is today.