Over the years, the Nigerian State has been bedeviled with insecurity in her polity. Hardly does a day pass without any incident of either loss of lives, properties or displacement. These phenomena occur as a result of acts of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, ethnic and religious bigotry, communal clashes and an inapt policy formulation and implementation by the government.
From the menace caused in the northeast region by Boko Haram to the banditry ravaging in particular Kastina and Zamfara States, the ethnic-religous wars in Jos, Southern Kaduna and Taraba state, the herder-farmer clash in Kogi, Benue and the Southern states and the inhumane activities of security operatives, life has become for the citizens,solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
The obligation of any State to her citizens is the provision of a stable environment where life could progress and economic activities thrive. In Nigeria, it seems that not only has the state failed in her basic assignment of protecting lives and properties of her citizens, it has equally had a hand in annihilation of her people. In the year, 1999, in the early stage of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration, the military massacred the people of Odi in Bayelsa State due to the murder of police officers and a subsequent claim of an attack of military convoy by the community. In retaliation, every building in the community except for a bank, an Anglican Church and a health centre were burnt to the ground (Wikipedia, 2020).
The herder-farmer clash has continued to be on the rise. There has being accusation and counterr-accusation from both groups on whose fault it is. The herdmen are on the loose with weaponry and arsenals, most of them go about to their day to day activities with Ak-47 looking for whom to maim. Most farmers have refused to return to the farms which has resulted to not only to food insecurity and scarcity but also a drop in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The once loved Northern Nigeria has become a war zone for ethno-religious crisis, banditry, communal clashes and kidnapping. The Boko Haram sect has continuously made progress in annexation of Nigeria’s territory. With every attack from the Nigerian military and other security operatives, Boko Haram regroup and force them back to their drawing board. Recently, the Borno State Governor’s convoy were attacked by the sect on his way to an official function. Traveling from Abuja to Kaduna on road is no longer safe. The Minister for transport, Rotimi Amaechi also escaped an attack by bandits on the road leading to the Kaduna train station.
In Southern Kaduna, there seems to be a deliberate attempt to annihilate a group of people. In this past few months, there has been a reprisal of attacks that death toll as a result of the massacre leapfrog the casualties of Covid-19. In his Lamentations, Richard Gajere, a resident of Southern Kaduna said, ” I remember when We freely move around every area whether dominated by Christians or Muslims. When We sleep and eat with anyone irrespective of one’s tribe and religion but today all we see is an enemy, who is a threat to our lives”. He continued, ” I remember when the Fulanis pass, We usually sing ‘ danfulani yana kiwon sanu song’ and even play and visit them in ruga but today we can’t even celebrate together during Sallah and Christmas. Until everyone is seen as the way he’s divinely created and nothing of all the social engineering of man is attached the better we understand our fellow humans the better, if not the way we live in peace with everyone before in the north will never come and I doubt if our children will experience such as they might only grow in hate.
Also responding to the national insecurity discourse, Caleb Onyeabor, a website developer stated, “When the government fail to provide a service or live up to it’s responsibility, people step up.Government failed to provide electricity, despite the fact that it is one of the most pertinent need by the people either for residential or commercial purposes, for a long time now, people have stopped depending on the government to supply electricity, they went ahead to purchase generators. Whether or not Nepa brings light,they don’t care as long as they can provide the electricity they need.When Government failed to provide pipe borne water, people stepped up. People built boreholes and devised other means or sources of water for their use.When government failed to provide jobs, people stepped up. A lot of persons are no longer interested in government jobs, neither are they depending on the government for jobs anymore. If people can step up to provide their own electricity, water and means of livelihood, how much more the security of their lives and properties ? The apparent failure of the government to protect lives and properties has created a gap. A gap in which the people has to fill themselves. Waiting for government to provide security is like waiting for them to provide electricity, water and jobs, they have been disappointing us since 1960. Self defence is a need. Security is personal. If you wait for the government, you will wait until you are no more”. “The people of southern Kaduna, katsina and other areas ravaged by banditry, gunmen and organized assassins should come to terms with the reality of their predicament and rise to the occasion.Defend yourselves until the government is ready. The point is, the government may never be ready”, he said.
The war against insecurity and terrorism has been sabotaged on so many grounds. There is no trust between the government and her citizens. Most officers of the law see civilians as merchandise and as a tool for the enrichment of their pockets. To this effect, one could easily see where these security agents abuse, maim and in some cases end the lives they’re meant to protect. The Nigerian State, always withhold sensitive information from the people as regards to the progress made by the security agencies. In some cases, there are divergent informations emerging from the military and other government media agencies and platforms.
Insecurity have continued to thrive because of lack of funding for security agencies, sabotage and mistrust among the military ranks and poor remuneration of officers. The cases of the dead benefits for fallen heroes being diverted by some officials have created a gap amongst the soldiers. All these lead to drop in motivation for the security personnels who feel that they should be treated better. There seems to be an unhealthy competition among the the security agencies as each department and agencies try to maneuver the other for selfish interest and credits.
To bring this issue of insecurity to a halt, there should be a conscious effort by the government to formulate and implement efficient and effective policies that would tackle the the problem from the root cause. In the developed climes, nomadic pattern of rearing animals have been replaced with rançhing. If efficiently and effectively adopted, the herder-farmer clash would drop basically to zero.
There should be a periodically mental health check for our security operatives. Most officers engaged in the service have accumulated stress resulting to mental imbalance and as such are ticking time bomb waiting to be triggered. The government should also motivate these security agents by catering for them through good healthcare system, provision of basic amenities, good renumeration and other incentives.
In the case of ethno-religious conflicts, the government should setup committees to address the issues. Also, religious and traditional rulers should be engaged in settling disputes as they are closer and would be listened to by their people and congregation. The security operatives have been outstretched in their fight against terrorism, this have been laid bare with their poor response to emergencies. This could be remedied by recruiting more people into the security outfits and the procurement of modern weaponry and arsenals to engage the insurgents.
Lastly, with the Nigerian economy plunging into recession, the government cannot continue to engage in an aggressive form against insecurities and terrorism. Much like how the Lebanese government engaged Hezbollah, subtle negotiation should be encouraged by the Nigerian government.
Chimezie Nebolisa is a poet, content writer with interest in politics and
economic relations. He is equally a lover of nature and a philomath. He can
be reached through email@example.com