Gradually, the country is sliding into total anarchy owing to gargantuan security breaches which have become routinely the order of day in the North, and parts of the South west. Daily headline news is often heralded by the audacity and brutality of banditry across the land. Earlier, it was killings on a pogrom scale by Boko Haram insurgents, which made most parts of the north and even Abuja, unsafe, through indiscriminate bombings of soft targets and impudently held swaths of territory in the north east.
Then the Fulani herdsmen joined the evil company of mindless killers, destroying lives and properties in defence of their cattle and search of grazing routes. As if this unholy alliance was not enough they were joined by the bandits in the North west whose motive is essentially criminal and material and operations involved kidnappings, cattle rusting, and the attendant impunity, creating general insecurity across the country.
The toll on the country has been incalculable in lost investments and rising prices of foods as farmers flee their farms with several EU countries issuing travel advisory on parts of the country further worsening the business outlook of the country. The combined psychological, economic and social effects of this war on innocent citizens are unquantifiable as evident in the crises present in most c.
Yet, the Buhari administration, like the proverbial Nero, seems to be fiddling as the country burns. Suddenly, our country has become a strange Mephistophelean land where security has given place to constant danger, the rule of law to the rule of all manner of outlaws from the terror of herdsmen to banditry of criminal elements, from nightmare imposed by kidnappers to mind-boggling massacres of the innocent by Boko Haram.
The security architecture of the state is overstretched and overwhelmed, even as government’s grandstanding on tackling this unprecedented challenge of security appears to lack the needed political will. The North western states of Zamfara and the North eastern states of Borno are now a contested region, as bandits and Boko Haram appear to be winning the battles, and gathering more steam in its war against the state, with criminal elements may have created a state within a state.
In the past two weeks, military formations have been targets of Boko Haram, and nothing demonstrates the lies of the official propaganda by the military and government that insurgency has been sufficiently weakened than the ease with which military formations are taken, routed and weapons carted away by Boko Haram fighters.
Contrary to the government’s position that the insurgency has been decimated, the audacious sackings of Jalingo and Adamawa communities by these islamists last week are a testament to their resilience and capacity. Normal life has been disrupted in Zamfara, Katsina ,and even Sokoto which had had a long history of insulation from political and religious disturbances in the North.
To underscore the challenge, the district head of President Buhari’s home town was kidnapped and yet to regain freedom. There have been spates of high profile kidnappings, the latest being the son of Professor Isaac Adewole, former minister of health.
As the government is yet to apprise the situation, the paradigm of insecurity is stealthily shifting, and the most potent highlight of this is the spread of insecurity from the North to parts of the South, especially the Southwest. Already, the President himself has acknowledged the depth of the challenge, when he recently said the security architecture is overstretched.
It would seem the administration is still handling the challenge with kid gloves. Many Nigerians have urged government to call a national summit on insecurity that will bring together stakeholders, including traditional rulers. But on this, the administration is dragging its foot.
The body language of the administration and its tepid response so far to this enormous challenge may have given fillip to some individuals who are promoting a certain conspiracy theory that government may be tacitly condoning the present order of things for primordial consideration.
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association has repeatedly made unguarded provocative, even if explosive comments that threatened our collective existence. At one time, it said the Igbo and the Yoruba will never again rule the country; till date, nobody was queried on this, given that the criminal elements within their ranks are repeatedly associated with killings and kidnappings. Some Nigerians believe these herdsmen have official cover, and the cover is the singular spur for the continued killings. There is high level of ethnic tensions in the land, which seem to pit the rest of other ethnic nationalities against the Fulani herdsmen.
As a newspaper, we are gripped by this insightful puzzle. Shortly before the election, the carnage perpetrated by these herdsmen subsided only to pick up on a large scale after the election. The correlation is baffling to keen observers. In all of this, the President has not taken a definable stand. The subtext is the dangerous insinuation in some quarters that the President has Islamic agenda for the nation, and this agenda may have explained his reluctance to come hard on the herdsmen and stop the killings.
These killings raise fundamental questions that President Buhari must answer. He was elected on a pan Nigerian mandate, as president of all, and not Fulani president. His election was in part an affirmation of a certain perception of toughness seen in him as the only candidate who could tackle Boko Haram and insecurity in general.
The security management of the administration has come under intense criticism. There is no parallel anywhere in the world where a government fosters a culture of ransom payment. Paying ransom to criminals is a fuel for more criminality. In the case of Dapchi girls, it was widely believed that government paid ransom to secure their release, and even opened a security corridor to allow inflow and outflow of these outlaws. It is our considered view there is no sincerity in the fight against insecurity.
This growing state of anarchy has created a widespread anxiety in the land, and to stem the tide, many States, especially in the South are considering partnership with vigilante organisations. The planned Southwest Security Summit is spawned by the need to stem the tide, and into the mix comes the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, a dreaded irredentist militant Yoruba cultural organization with a history of defending the interest of the region.
The organisation has issued warning to the rogue elements within the Fulani herdsmen responsible for kidnappings and acts of criminality in the Southwest. Between Miyyetti Allah and the federal government, there is no word of assurance that a solution is being worked out.
We are saddened by the admission of many parents in the North that they can no longer send their children and wards to school for fear of harm, even as farmers in Niger and Katsina States have openly voiced their frustration and inability to go to farms for fear of being attacked by rampaging herdsmen.
What this newspaper finds disturbing as many Nigerians, is the fact that despite calls for a reshuffle of top brass of our security and armed forces and key commanders of flashpoint areas, the Buhari administration has refused to heed the growing demand for a change of batons, even in the face of heightening insecurity, and near anarchy in the polity.
Yet, in neighbouring countries ravaged by the activity of Boko Haram insurgency, they have on many occasions, changed the leaderships of the military and intelligence architecture to inject fresh blood into the war against the sect. Perhaps, the only logical explanation for this administration’s reluctance to sack the service chiefs and top military commanders responsible for the prosecution of the war is the time-worn expediency of rewarding loyalty above competence.
For this newspaper, the nation together with her peoples has been over generous to Buhari’s failings, and the mark of this irresponsible act of generosity is giving Buhari oxygen for further failings, as the nation slides into Afghanistan and Somali model rolled into one. This is the path we cannot avoid, and the earlier we retreat the better.
Of course, the security structure of the country is so skewed and not made to tackle serious security challenge of this nature, given the nepotism and primordial consideration behind the controversial appointments of top brass in the first place. All top military positions are occupied by Northern Muslims of Fulani extraction. It would seem the chicken has come home to roost, and the Frankenstein monster the administration condoned when the ugly trend of Fulani herdsmen’s rampage started and allowed to foster has become uncontrollable.
It is not too late in the day to tackle the challenge headlong. This administration, together with the National Assembly, must as a matter of urgent importance go beyond rhetoric, to institute state and local government police. This administration can no longer afford the lip service it is paying to constructive suggestions without coming out with viable alternatives.
Last week, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai blamed the cowardice and lack of patriotism of the rank and file fighting on the front lines for recent losses, but the truth must be told. How much of modern military hardware is made available to them compared to the sophisticated weapons in the hands of the insurgents? What of feeding, allowances and logistics? The truth is that the troops are as good as the level of motivation and equipment made available to them.
There is a need for the administration to probe the prosecution of the war, and whoever is found wanting must be punished.
As it seems, for those profiteering from the insurgency, the more the war is prolonged the better for them. On this score, there is a need for a comprehensive overhaul of the administration of the war, and a timeline by which to end it through decisive defeat for the insurgents and by extension, those behind general insecurity in the country must be mapped out.