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Nigerians vote security as priority in year 2021

By Godwin Ofulue (Assistant News Editor), Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos), Chido Okafor (Warri), Danjuma Michael (Katsina), Murtala Adewale (Kano), Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan) and Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt)
05 January 2021   |   4:30 am
Nigerians across regions have called on the Federal Government to give priority attention to security of life and property in the New Year.

President Muhammadu Buhari PHOTO: Twitter

• Buhari should tackle insecurity, the reason he was voted, says Peterside
• We need security for growth, environmentalist, Nnimmo Bassey, declares
• Insecurity has reduced Nigeria to a jungle, ex-IYC president laments
• Tackle uncertainties before discussing agriculture, Kano farmers tell President

Nigerians across regions have called on the Federal Government to give priority attention to security of life and property in the New Year. They demand that security be treated as fundamental to development and maintain that no progress will take place with the widespread insecurity in the land.

The views were expressed in a nationwide survey by The Guardian, which asked citizens, across regions, to state what should be the first focus of government in the New Year. They were given three options of electricity, security and employment.

Those who voted electricity second, contended that it would not only enhance standard of living, it would boost industries and lead to creation of jobs.

Majority of those that responded argued that though there were many needs and challenges government should address urgently, tackling most of the challenges would amount to naught if insecurity was not addressed first.

This came as President Muhammadu Buhari, in his New Year message, listed areas his government would focus on in 2021. They included corruption, insecurity and economy.

On anti-corruption fight, the President stated that the Executive would work with the Legislature to enact laws to strengthen the campaign, by reviewing regulations to ensure effective combat.  He also promised that the Executive would ensure diligent and timely prosecution of corruption cases and appealed to the judiciary to ensure corruption cases were dispensed with expeditiously.

On security, he promised to re-energise and reorganise security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and police, with a view to “enhancing their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle operations of internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities in some parts of the country.”

And on economy, he said, government would revamp the economy through the national economic diversification agenda, with the primary goal of national food self-sufficiency.

But persons interviewed in The Guardian survey argued that every effort of government would collapse without putting security first in place. They argue that without security and peaceful environment, efforts at job creation, electricity and others would yield little or no result.

RIVERS State varsity don, Prof. Sofiri Peterside and an environmentalist, Nnimmo Bassey, said government should place tackling insecurity on the front burner.

Peterside, a political and public affairs analyst and senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of Port Harcourt, recalled that the major reasons citizens gave the first term mandate to President Muhammad Buhari was the assurance he gave during his campaign that he would tackle insecurity. He regretted that the President had failed to keep that promise.

“So, one of the issues that needs to be taken seriously is insecurity. How can farmers be slaughtered? Not only that, their children were also killed, creating serious problem and making production of rice, which sustains the economy of that area, to be affected”

Bassey said it would be hard for the economy to grow without security.

“A situation where the workforce isn’t secure, as shown in the case of recent mass slaughter of farmers, is a dire threat to the economy,” he said and urged government to overhaul the security system.

DELTA State respondents to the survey supported the need for government to give priority to tackling insecurity. The immediate past President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Eric Omare, likened the situation in Nigeria to a jungle where life has become short, nasty and brutish.

To redress this, he argued that government must take security as its first priority. Rex Ekiugbo Anighoro, the senior special assistant to the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, also voted for security. Saying that Nigeria is in comatose, he asked: “Without security, what are you going to do with electricity or employment? When you cannot go to your place of work in the morning, what is electricity for? You need electricity to power the economy and you can only power the economy when there is peace and security.”

Mr. Paul Akporowho, who is the chairman of Professionals Association of Nigeria (APBN), Delta State chapter, said security should be given priority.

According to him, government should have nothing to do with job creation since it does not have the capacity to do so.

“Government has already bloated workforce and cannot create sustainable employment. What government can do is to create enabling environment,” he argued.
KATSINA State residents, similarly, insisted that government should give priority attention to security.

According to them, it will be difficult for other economic activities to take place where insecurity prevails. They stated that while electricity and employment are also important for socio-economic transformation, “security comes first.”

Mr. Reuben Okoliko, a civil servant; Abba Katsina, a commercial farmer; and Mohammed Zubairu, another civil servant, backed the call on government to focus tackling insecurity.

Okoliko argued that without security there would be no peace of mind to enjoy other government provisions, like electricity or jobs. He is supported by Abba Katsina, who stressed that “without security, life generally would be at a standstill.”

According to Zubairu, security is number one because experts are predicting food scarcity due to insecurity affecting agricultural belts, hence the need to give security the highest focus.

IBADAN respondents unanimously gave their votes to security.

Leading the pack is Prof. Ayo Ojebode, the immediate past Head of Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan.

He warned that if government fixed electricity amidst insecurity, bandits would kill those to enjoy the electricity and vandalise installations, thereby returning the country point zero.

“We didn’t know before now but now we know security is everything,” he said. Another resident, Dr. Chijioke Iwuala, a medical practitioner and cleric, said security must come first, because “when there is peace and security, there won’t be vandalisation of electricity cables and equipment, people can invest in the country and create jobs.”

A businesswoman in Bodija Market, Ibadan, Mrs. Oluwakemi Olowoyeye; founder of Stablemums and an on-air personality, Mrs. Ope Lawal; Olusegun Akeju, a student leader; and Abiodun Bamigboye, a politician, said security should be government’s number one priority.

Olowoyeye said: “Security should be number one priority. When there is security, we can do our business peacefully and more businesses can spring up.”

Lawal voted for security because “when everywhere is safe, it would be easier to do business” and people with jobs would put in their best because they would not be afraid. Akeju argued that if insecurity and lawlessness, which had become the order of the day, were not given utmost attention, Nigeria would become a failed state.

KANO residents, similarly, asked government to pay greatest attention to security by renewing strategy and adopting proactive measures towards ending kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and attacks, especially in the northern part of the country.

The National Vice Chairman, National Association of Cotton Farmers of Nigeria, Dr. Muzzali Dayyabu, observed that insecurity had worsened under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration despite promises before taking over the mantle of leadership.

“The situation in the country in recent times clearly shows Boko Haram is defeating government. Look at the killings in the North East and kidnapping and banditry. Farmers cannot even go to farm to harvest their produce and government kept spending billions of dollars on security without result.

“My top most demand from government in 2021 is to find solution to security challenges in the country before we can talk of agriculture and other matters.”

The Chief Imam of Usman Bin Anfan Central Mosque, Sheikh Aliyu Yunus, said government should tackle insecurity first and find lasting solution to the challenge. He wondered why Nigerian troops would perform gallantly outside the country but be overwhelmed at home, hinting there could be something wrong with the security architecture.

“Everyone can testify to the capacity of Nigerian troops outside the country. For the troops to be overwhelmed in their own country means there is something going wrong. We hope the government will look inward and find solution to the lapses,” Yunus said.

The demand for security is sacrosanct, the Director, Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability (CAJA) in Kano, said. He urged government to build public confidence and boost intelligence gathering, which he identified as a major deficit in the fight against insurgency in the country.

“Government is losing ground in intelligence gathering and this, largely, is as a result of lack of trust in our security agencies. You realise information volunteered to security agencies are leaked to enemies.

LAGOS contributors to the survey also agree that the security of life and property should top government’s plan in 2021.

One of those that expressed this view is the National Publicity Secretary of pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin.

He said 2020 witnessed what he described as height of insecurity. He said Nigeria had become a failed state, lamenting that closing the year with the kidnap of Kankara boys was one of the heights of insecurity in 2020.

A communication specialist, Lucky Ihanza, said considering the spate of kidnapping, ritual murders, highway robberies, among others, the President should give priority to security in 2021.

Dr. George-Hill Anthony of the Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group (NDEBUMOG), noted that huge spending on security should be justified. He lamented that rather than improve, the security situation was getting worse.

“Security of life and property will encourage employment. Presently, several entrepreneurs and investors are not investing in employment because of fear of the unknown. ”