‘One week, One trouble’, this line aptly captures the pathetic and sorry state of insecurity in Nigeria, especially in the North. In the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre, the outcry, and condemnation emanating from different quarters, one would expect that the Federal Government got a little more proactive rather than the usual reactionary stand that has long characterised their leadership style.
Once faced with any unfortunate calamity — terrorist and bandits attacks, Government’s Spokespersons reel out traditional condemnation, condolences and sometimes engage in an outright blame-game. These traits are sadly, what has come to define the government as a reactionary instead of precautionary. A serious and more concerned government would identify or delineate high-risk state which is prone to attacks in all region or zones in the country.
In Europe and other developed economies, policymakers and security operational categorize security threats, their severity, and levels in such variables like category Green or low, which simply means the threats are low, while Blue, means the threats and risk are high, and Red, which portends the severity and danger as very high. That said, states in Northwest, particularly Katsina and Zamfara which had lately become the hotbed of banditry and senseless killings should come top of the list.
Disparagingly, the government is giving lip service to the fight against insurgency and other criminality in the country. To buttress this point, security operatives had fallen to identify high-risk spots in these troubled states, which would include, but not limited to schools, hospitals communities, and markets. Had the security operatives been up and doing in these states, they probably would have foiled or, prevented the abduction of about 800 Students in Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State, last Friday.
There were, however, conflicting reports on the actual number, but, that does not invalidate the failure of security operatives at a time the C-in-C is on a state visit to his home state.
Although, two-hundred out of the nearly 800 abducted students had surreptitiously fled their abductors and returned home, the fate of the remaining captives are still largely unknown. So far, Governor Aminu Masari had ordered the closure of all boarding schools across the state, which is necessary, but sad, as yet again education is threatened.
Apparently, relying on the government for protection against attacks is not longer feasible. The Buhari led Federal government and security operatives had been overwhelmed by security challenges and has obviously run out of ideas. Within the same period, there are reports of early morning attacks in Askira Uba, In Borno state, and, killings in Benue state between farming communities and Gunmen.
Nigerian Government is fighting unconventional warfare, which, equally requires unconventional tact in tandem with present realities, especially in the area of intelligence, and technology. Terrorism and insecurity are global phenomena, but, we have seen how nations that prioritize security contained the monster and reduce the preponderance of such attacks using intelligence and technology.
After the abduction of Chibok schoolgirls, a government serious about security will not hesitate to provide unconventional security in all Secondary schools in troubled states plagued by the insurgency. If fighting unconventional guerilla-like warfare is complex, technology had long demystified that nation. For instance, installing gadgets like CCTV, 24hrs UAV drones and other surveillance equipment would do a perfect job twenty security operatives can’t.
The pattern and modes of operations adopted by these gunmen are known, they repeatedly use the same format, how they usually get away with it is baffling. This is why the call for the removal of Service Chiefs has been amplified recently due in part to the endless killings and the seeming inability of those responsible for our security.
As it were, their tactics must take a different shape and dimension. The bloodletting has assumed an insane and dangerous dimension right under the President’s nose.
At this point, however, it has become imperative and incumbent on us all to hold accountable not only the President but his handlers and minions who had visibly taken firm control of his persona and dictate the policy direction of the administration. In the aftermath of Zabarmari attacks, the House of Representatives summoned the President to appear before it, which he acceded to, and a date was fixed, out of the blue, the Attorney-general of the federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami told Nigerian astonished Nigerians the President won’t honour the invitation citing the unconstitutionality of such summons. While I’m not in the legal profession to ascertain the constitutionality or otherwise of such summons, flipping through sections 88-89 of the constitution affirmed so, by giving powers to the Reps to summon public officers holders if needs be.
Consciously, constitutional or not, the President, in his capacity as the chief security officer of the land, the C-in-C, has the moral obligation to speak on insecurity in the land, and what better platform than the National Assembly which acts as representatives of 200million plus Nigerians.
The visit, if anything would have provided the avenue to evaluate the achievements or otherwise, to make inputs and explore what needs to be done, when, how, and where. The session would have been productive.
Those who persuaded the President to rescind his decision to honour the invitation did a great disservice to Nigerians and robbed us of the opportunity to have C-in-C speak on the more topical issue — insecurity.
Buhari’s minions are the greatest culprit and beneficiaries of insecurity through war merchandising, and could be responsible for the abduction of students of GSSS, Kankara, and other parts of the country! It is safe, to say however that, Nigeria is at war, or state of war, but solely with itself. The continued retention of the Service Chiefs had cost, and unfortunately shall continue to, cost Nigeria the war! Had the President set out an order or target to the chiefs — restore normalcy or get fired; insecurity would have abated at least to a more appreciable level.
Grandstanding by the Generals and administration officials in the face of insecurity has proven Nigerian is on autopilot, as most are cashing out heavily while thousands die in the hands of terrorists almost on a daily basis. In a community in Zamfara, people pay their way into staying alive. Monies are paid as tax to known bandits by these communities in exchange for exemption from attacks. The same goes for farmlands — pay money and access to your fields or, get ambushed, kidnapped, or attacked. Which serious nation does that, which nation relegates the security and lives of its citizens for partisan politics and other monetary inducements/motivations in veiled corruption? And, how does a serious competent C-in-C, tolerated and allow these anomalies to thrive?
It is over nine months and no end in sight to the ASUU strike. Only last week, the ASUU-FG delegations announced it has suspended indefinitely, negotiations owing to distrust and insincerity on the part of the government. Sadly, a chunk of Nigeria’s challenges especially security is hinged on lack of education and access to practical teaching tools and training, which ASUU has been harping on. Most of those who engage in kidnappings are, unfortunately, youths of productive age, who might have been engaged in productive ventures had they had access to education.
Deprioritising education has been this government’s undoing which, would ultimately consume her.
Only recently, the Minister of Education, Mal Adamu Adamu, was quoted to have said many Nigerian graduates cannot read or write, this revelation further affirmed what most stakeholders and ASUU had been agitating for — a total overhaul of the education policy and budgetary allocation to the sector. So long as the sector continues to suffer neglect, Nigerian tertiary institutions would continue to churn out an unproductive class of graduates adding to an array of uninformed population.
With Nigeria’s population projected to hit 205.87 million at the end of 2020, the last thing the Government would want is an unproductive and uninformed population. China remains the most populous country in the world, and pride herself on such for the simple reasons it has a very productive population which are visible in all spheres — Technology, Education, Trade, and investment. Nigeria must take drastic measures to make education a focal point of its policy.
At the moment, the country is officially in recession, the second in the life of this administration, the World Bank cited Covid-19 pandemic and border closure as some of the factors responsible. But, that is not all, the level of malfeasance by government officials had further depleted the treasury making government borrow to fund capital projects, it 7, and other services. Budget padding, which is an advanced or disguised method known as legislative looting is well in practice and all arms of government are culpable. In the just-concluded budget defense by MDAs, weird and mind-boggling figures were sneaked into budgetary allocations by officials sometimes, in cahoot with lawmakers. Recently, the Petroleum Ministry was said to have spent a whopping N166 million on the purchase of pens, tonners, stationeries, and letterhead in 2015. The level of impunity in this administration is appalling, sharp practices are tolerated. Jobs, especially federal civil service are ups for grabs for the highest bidder. Government jobs/slots go for about a million naira or more, depending on the parastatal or agency. It is usually, the juicier the slot, the higher the price. And this is happening right under the nose of the APC-led administration, which prides Itself as fighting corruption.
To say this administration had lost its bearing is stating the obvious, it has failed to provide the most fundamental need of its citizens — security and a peaceful atmosphere. Similarly, other amenities like the power supply is still erratic, while, the pump price of fuel is astonishingly high.
Faced with an impending famine and food shortage, the response and approach of the government are most vague and capricious. No clear cut blueprint to address the looming danger, its focus is solely on 2023.
National security by far outweighs any 2023 political intrigues, because, lives and properties must be secured first, and voters have to be alive to a vote, in 2023. Should we adopt the culture of silence in the face of daunting insecurity? Chances are, bandits and terrorists will take over, gradually territories we consider comfort zone. We must not allow the government’s complacency and whimsicality to drive us to the abyss. We must hold the government accountable and demand our inalienable right to life, as it seems, that right is threatened by rampaging gunmen.
The recklessness and insensitivity of our leaders are legendary. Weeks after the Zabarmari massacre, Nigeria’s Army chief who should have since relocated to the Northeast was teeing off, unconcerned, in a posh Golf course in Abuja, at a time thousands could not sleep, peacefully at their homes across Northern Nigeria. The President is either unaware or, has zero empathy, whichever way, as citizens, we must take the bull by the Horn and do things differently. The government cannot protect us, the worsening insecurity has shown little sign of abating, rather, the terrorist is getting emboldened by day.
Thankfully, Katsina state has taken the lead by peacefully protesting, which is a means of sending messages to unresponsive leaders. The #Endsars protest had proven that collectively, as a people, and with strong will and the right approach, we can bend our leaders to do our bidding. President Buhari and his band of security operatives are not infallible, we must rise and demand an end to insecurity in the North, and Nigeria, in general. We owe it to thousands of those that died recklessly due to the incompetence of this administration. Failure to do so is akin to surrendering our existence to both government and gunmen.
Nigeria is not the only country battling insurgency, in the West African Sub-region, countries like Mali and the Niger Republic had their share of attacks, but, these are isolated cases, not traditional weekly attacks as seen in Nigeria. These countries had confronted terrorists headlong. Earlier in the year, Nigerien President, Mouhmadou Yousofo sacked his Army chief when a terrorist killed 75 of its soldiers.
On the flipside, soldiers who complained and demanded accountability in the fight against terrorism are axed in Nigeria.
For how long as a nation can we continue to condone weekly carnage and, the attendant condolences and condemnation by our leaders? We must say it as it is, any discerning mind who thinks this administration has solutions to the myriad of problems or challenges is hallucinating and living in self-denial. The onus is on us, to take charge albeit peacefully, and by democratic means to get, or force our leaders to take charge and confront the challenges.
Because at the moment, it seems the country is on a free fall without any central authority to take control. If we had responsive leadership, we won’t await the next likely sad news which had become a recurrent weekly episode in Nigeria.
In Katsina, Students that returned home from their captors were not rescued by the combined security operatives, rather they found a survival strategy which they groped fervently and escaped. A very weak attempt by the Federal Government to reduce the number of Students still missing was rebuffed by the Katsina Governor who staunchly disagree that only 10 students are in captivity.
As citizens, we must also activate the same survival strategy and demand a true change, away from the status quo and chart a new path to end the senseless killings of our fellow citizens in the North, and other parts of the country. Failure to do so, God-forbid, we shall keenly await the next sad and unfortunate episode, which has become the ” One week, One trouble” feature, in Nigeria.
We pray, for the safe return of both chibok girls and, GSSS, Kankara, Katsina state.
Abdullahi D Mohammed is with the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, He writes from Kano