By Adebayo Obajemu
“Security has given way to danger, wealth to poverty, the worst of the common people are preferred to noble, no one observed the law nor walked in the fear of God. —-Al Said
The insecurity challenge in the country has reached unprecedented level such that many Nigerians now live in daily fear. According to Dr. Sola Olutoye, a psychologist, ” many of our country men and women are beginning to show symptoms of depression and hypertension due to high state of fear engendered by insecurity, killing and kidnapping going on in the country. ”
In the wake of the kidnapping of Kagara secondary school students, Emmanuel Nwandie, National President of the Nigeria Union of Teachers said “education sector is now under siege, and this portends great danger for the future of the country. ”
Recall that 27 students, three staff and family members of Government Science College Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of the state, were abducted by gunmen last Wednesday.
The Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello said the government was doing everything through interfacing with the federal, local government and the state authorities to rescue the victims.
“At the moment, there is no additional information apart from the one we have at hand. Our priority is to make sure we bring back the students safely, things are speculated or rumoured, but we cannot work with these at situations like this,” he said.
The governor noted that the state was using kinetic and non-kinetic measures to bring back the children to safety and assured parents and families of the victims to be hopeful as everything possible was being done.
He disclosed that an Islamic scholar, Ahmed Gumi, had offered to assist the government voluntarily and had both agreed that a comprehensive memo was sent to the government on his findings.
He urged traditional leaders to support government efforts by giving useful intelligence on criminals hiding in their communities and suspected movements in their domains.
Just as the dust was yet to settle, the bandits struck again and killed 11 people in an outlying villages in the state, while more than 15 villagers were said to have perished in a river identified as Kaduna river at the Niger State end, while trying to escape the bandits’ attack on their villages.
On Friday, marauding bandits struck yet again in Katsina, Adamawa and Niger States, killing a number of innocent citizens.
The Adamawa United Football club was attacked and kidnapped along Benin- Ore road by bandits who are demanding N50 million ransom.
Across the country, there are daily reports of kidnappings, killing by bandits and people now live in daily fear.
The situation is so bad that to commute from one part of the country to another is a great risk.
According to police reports, in the last two weeks, there have been more than ten kidnapping incidents, and more than 20 people have been killed.
On Saturday, a relative of one of the aides of governor Okowa of Delta State, Osemute Sowho, was waylaid and killed in broad day light by gunmen.
Also, a traditional ruler in Katsina State was one of the people kidnapped Friday by gunmen.
From Maiduguri to Akure , to Asaba and across the country, life has become cheap; and insecurity walks on four legs.
Many Nigerians are worried that the ship of the state is gradually sliding down the ditch into anarchy.
In a disturbing report which has underlined the worsening security situation in the country, about N 5,000 Nigerians who are displaced by Fulani herdsmen, have reportedly arrived at Beninese villages near Pobè, a border community situated some 100 km from Cotonou. According to the reports, Nigerian refugees consist of 2,163 men and 2,314 women.
In the PANA report widely cited by the media, these refugees escaped the worsening insecurity, killing, kidnapping and raping of women in their villages back home as a result of government’s inability to secure them. PANA has reported that:
“A total of 688 households are affected by this massive displacement of Nigerian citizens after the inter-community clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and the Yoruba in the border area.”
In a publication of the communal communication unit, these refugees were welcomed in the Igana district, and have been visited by the political and administrative authorities who reassured them of the plans to assure them of their safety and to offer them better living conditions.
“I can assure you, you are our brothers and sisters, you are our parents, you are our friends. So your safety will be assured. That is why the police are already mobilised for you,” said the mayor of Pobè, Adebayo Simon Dina.
Unlike in Nigeria where authorities often leave the people in dire situation in lurch, government agencies and departments, including Protection Agency, the Beninese Agency for Integrated Border Management, the World Food Programme, UN Children’s Fund, Care Benin-Togo, the Police, Departmental Directorates of Health and Social Affairs, and other organisations have already visited the displaced. The slide in the country into anarchy has continued to attract comments.
Professor Pat Utomi and Dr. Obadiah Malafia have separately given their take, with the duo saying the country is now ” exhibiting indices of a failed state.
Professor Adeagbo Moritiwon, a political science scholar told this newspaper that, “it is trite to say the country is exhibiting signs of a failed state. That is unacceptable euphemism. The correct position is that under Buhari this country has collapsed. As I speak to you now, I received a report that my alma mata, Government Secondary School Iluke Bunu was set on fire by herdsmen a week ago, yet the spokesperson for Kogi governor whose father was once a principal of the school denied the complicity of the herdsmen in a bid for his principal to be in the good book of the President. ”
In a bid to stem the herdsmen attack, the southwest governors and traditional rulers converged in Ibadan Saturday to openly canvas for the end of open grazing.
“As far as I am concerned, we are in Somalia situation if not worse, yet this administration, the worst in history pretends all is well. The security infrastructure has collapsed, yet the administration does not want the people under siege of Fulani herdsmen to resort to self help to protect themselves”, said Professor Funlade Anjoorin, of the department of history and international studies, Kogi State University , in his chat with Business Hallmark.
Last week, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and his colleague, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna have advocated state police and devolution of power between the Federal Government and states of the country.
The governors who spoke at a virtual programme last Friday advocated state police and decentralised judiciary.
The programme tagged “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Tactics and Strategies to Pull Nigeria from the Brink” was monitored by Business Hallmark Mr El-Rufai said having a state police is critical to the immediate needs of the country to pull back from the brink, saying “one centralised police for the country just has not worked”.
“Secondly, we must amend the Constitution and relevant laws to ensure control of oil and gas, mines, and minerals in the states that already have control over land under the Land Use Act with royalties and taxes payable to the Federal Government and the Federation Account.
“Number three, we must rectify the anomaly of a Federation that has a more or less unitary judiciary,” the governor said.
Emphasising on state police, Mr El-rufai continued, “my first recommendation is to implement the three key devolution proposals that I mentioned above. Give us state police now, vest all minerals in the state now, and decentralise our judiciary now, not tomorrow, not later.”
“There are certain things governors cannot do.
Some of them we have alluded to by saying we don’t control security agencies. So, you are chief security officer, but you can call the CP (commissioner of police) and if the IG (Inspector General) says, ‘Don’t talk to him’, that is it.
“In five and a half years, as governor of Kaduna State, I have had eight commissioners of police. They are just posted; they spend seven or eight months (each) on average. Do the mathematics. Eight CPs that have virtually no say in their posting, and so on. How can you have security management if you change the frontline chief of security every eight months on average?”
Fayemi Meanwhile, Mr Fayemi said the country needs a credible leadership structure to tackle insecurity.
“I concur with virtually everything that my brother (Governor El-rufai) has put forward,” Mr Fayemi said.
“Conflict is part of human existence and Nigeria has experienced his own cycle of it since independence. However, the spate of it in the last two years should certainly be a major cause of concern for not just the government, citizens, stakeholders as well as external interests who desire the best for our country.
“The root causes of violence are major layers of deep-seated, political, economic, social and environmental challenges that have been allowed to fester for so long to the extent that they are now able to disrupt livelihoods, cause unprecedented destruction of public and private property, and lead to nnecessary deaths,” he said.
“Given this worrisome state of insecurity in the country, from Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, farmer-herder conflict, youth restiveness that led to #EndSARS in October 2020, militancy, and piracy, the common trend is that we are now in a season of anomie in our country.”
Mr Fayemi also urged citizens and, particularly, the media against the ethnic profiling of citizens.
“We do not subscribe to ethnic profiling. We believe that criminals are found all over our country; they come from virtually almost every ethnic group.
“When you have lost somebody or you know someone who has lost someone, it’s no use telling the person to be rational about the ill that has befallen them and the bereavement they’ve suffered. The truth of the matter is that we also need compassionate leadership in order to help deal with these issues, in addition to all the substantive things we need to deal with.
“Our forests have now become a huge menace and a space for criminal elements to perpetrate their business. We need a forest management framework to ensure that those who don’t have business in the forests must leave the forests.
“Governors are very committed to the need to modernise grazing practices.
There is a national livestock transformation plan, which should be implemented by now, so as to promote ranching and modernised livestock management practices,”, Mr Fayemi, also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, said.
Also adding his voice to the conversation, the senior pastor of Daystar Christian Centre , Sam Adeyemi, said while restructuring agitation is correct, ”breaking up will not solve Nigeria’s problem”.
“Let me be honest, I have friends in government. We should be discussing Nigeria’s development; Nigeria needs to move into the 21st century as fast as possible. This whole thing is about the economy. If you have any problem in this country that is not tractable, somebody is making money from it.
“People are making money from Boko Haram. Banditry and kidnappings are about making money. Why don’t we then create a country where people can make money legitimately?
Once you begin to discuss that idea with Nigerians, a vision will give people hope.
Presently, there is despair; people can’t see anyway.
“When you look from a leadership standpoint, these crises we are going through are predictable. I had said to the people that listened to me years ago that Nigeria will go from crisis to crisis. Why? Because we have a culture basically that is not aligned with principles. We are dealing with cultural issues,
deep issues, mindsets, beliefs, values, that eventually influence behaviour.
“So, the leadership culture itself has a big problem because there is a wide gap between the leader and the led. It is a cultural problem – the leader is very powerful, the led powerless.
“Leadership requires change, that is the essence, if you are not taking me from A to B, you are not leading me. If we stand on the same spot for 12 hours, you are standing in front of me for 12 hours and they ask you what are you doing to him? You say ‘I am leading him’, that is not true; you are actually
obstructing my progress. We need to move forward.”
Archbishop Onaiyekan of the CatholicChurch says the way the insecurity is panning out that Nigerians may revolt. He accused the Buhari administration of outsourcing power to unelected non state actors, saying the President should resign if he can no longer secure life and property.
Professor Hassan Saliu, eminent scholar and former Dean, social sciences, University of Ilorin told this newspaper that ” no country can secure foreign investments in an atmosphere of insecurity”, warning that the country is gradually moving towards anarchy.
The insecurity challenge has further left a deep gorge in social and ethnic relations, widening the already fragile friction among ethnic nationalities.
“The reality is that when the government fails to secure life and property it loses its moral authority to govern, and by implications, it’s legitimacy”, says Dr. Olufemi Omoyele, a university don and public affairs analyst.
Last week, Ahmed Lawan, Senate President, in a BBC Hausa Service interview, accused southwest governors of being behind the Shasha unrest in Ibadan, as according to him, the utterances of the governors fuelled and emboldened perpetrators.
But the sociocultural group, Afenifere, Gani Adams and other eminent voices shot back, accusing Lawan of playing to the gallery while failing to show leadership in the current security challenge.
In yet another sign of siege to Nigeria, the Boko Haram insurgents have reportedly hoisted flag in Marte
LGA of Borno in a daring move that signposts their resilience and put a lie to the government’s position that the Buhari administration has degraded the sect, and reduced its capacity to claim territory.
In a report by Channels TV, the insurgents repeatedly launched assault on the local government within the week.
Recall that last Friday, they ratcheted up their attacks, by storming neighbouring Dikwa local government.
Reports and military sources say , they were repelled by a combined effort of the air component and ground forces of Operation Lafiya Dole in a battle that lasted hours.
Many residents of Dikwa were forced to flee into bushes to take refuge,In order not to be caught in the crossfire.
In a surprising move, the emboldened insurgents were said to have laid an ambush for the reinforcements deployed from the theatre command headquarters located in Maiduguri.
This new attack came barely two months after the Borno state government resettled 500 households in New Marte.
The casualty figure for the attack has not been made public.
But some soldiers injured from Marte have since been evacuated to Maiduguri for treatment.