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A curious new reality

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
27 October 2021   |   3:35 am
The last dozen years must go down as our new reality as insecurity has consumed the entire country. Crime is going up, and government seems helpless as almost all forms of criminality are growing on a daily basis.

Protester Block Kaduna-Abuja Highway, Protest Incessant Kidnapping PHOTO: Guardian Reporter

The last dozen years must go down as our new reality as insecurity has consumed the entire country. Crime is going up, and government seems helpless as almost all forms of criminality are growing on a daily basis. Simultaneously, the police strength in human capital is at its lowest ebb. Aside the poverty in numbers is the manifestation of inadequate equipment for the police to efficiently do its work. In a way, the reality has established a malign presence of blood-suckers generally referred to as bandits, kidnappers name it, as they haunt Nigeria from all corners. Despite calls from well meaning Nigerians asking the ruling government to declare bandits as terrorists, the government’s deafness has left the people helpless.

As the days progressed, the bandits acquired ever greater menace and become more daring in carrying out their atrocities. With such broad increase in crime and insecurity in the country, there is still a strong temptation to trace the root cause of the ugly insurrection. Before being referred to as bandits, Boko Haram, an Islamic sect led by Mohammed Yusuf, believes politics in northern Nigeria has been seized by a group of corrupt, false Muslims and in its bid to wage a war against them and the federal government to create a ‘pure Islamic state’ ruled by Sharia the group became notorious in planting bombs in churches and burning schools in the north. Yusuf’s capture by the Nigeria army and his sudden death in a police cell shortly after the military handed him over to the police leaves several unanswered questions. Ever since then, Boko Haram gets more daring and continues to be desperate in their attacks and bloodletting.

The rate of insecurity has left the past few weeks to be alarmingly terrific for Nigerians. The country has witnessed gory attacks from Goronyo market in Sokoto to the bombing of Abuja-Kaduna rail track among other dastardly acts. Not too long ago, Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief after President Muhammadu Buhari proclaimed his administration’s zero tolerance and to deal ruthlessly with the bandits. Somehow, this supposedly riot act seems to have spooked the bandits as it has exacerbated hostilities from the bandits and created another unsettled moment in the minds of the masses.

However, it is worth saying that the bandits have suffered, still suffering enormous casualties. Notwithstanding, to borrow one best phrase from the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who claims the bandits are ‘degraded’. Despite that, degrading the bandits or inflicting casualties on them is no palatable news for Nigerians than seeing the end of banditry in the country.

In the last decade, the world attention has been drawn to the menace of insecurity in Nigeria. From the grip of fear on farmers across the country, to the threat on education by kidnapping of school pupils, first at Chibok in Borno, and Nigerians especially the affected parents have hardly come out of the shock than it happened again in Dapchi in Yobe (Leah Saribu is still in captivity), Kankara in Kaduna and the Baptist High school in Kwara among others causing school children to be wary about attending school.

Now, it is the turn of United Kingdom to warn its citizens to beware of 12 states considered to be dangerous in Nigeria. It is obvious that, the adverse effect of such international directives would discourage foreign investors from the country.

As Nigeria descends further into an insecure nation, insecurity remains a curse as it is allowed to spread like wild harmattan fire, especially as it is lodged in bigoted minds. No doubt, the challenge of insecurity has gone higher than at any time before now and this is a President that talks about legacy. What would be the Buhari administration’s legacy in the face of growing insecurity in the nation? It is not just about promoting economic development in poor communities or spreading infrastructure more evenly across the country.

But the need to tackle insecurity and stop the orgy of bloodletting in the country so that the people for whom these infrastructure are provided can enjoy these public services (particularly education, transport and law and order) This will improve pride in coexistence and spruce up confidence and trust among the people.

The time has come for the ruling government to go beyond the rhetoric and propaganda of degrading the bandits or claiming to wax stronger in sophisticated equipment and ammunitions to confront the bandits. It is obvious that government has conspicuously ebbed away from its authority into making empty statements.

This perceived weakness has given those behind the criminality to unleash their bloodletting instincts on Nigerians. In his reaction to the Goronyo killings, President Buhari said, “…the clock of your ultimate destruction is ticking as you will no longer have a place to hide”, but no sooner than the statement was issued, bandits blew the Abuja Kaduna rail line. In a way, the insecurity tales seems too good to come from other lands than Nigeria.

From inception, despite President Buhari’s unique selling point and his efforts to be as different as possible from his predecessors, the issue of insecurity has squared him up in the same mess of portage.

The news media, as usual, played a commendable role in reporting insecurity as quickly as it happened. However, the ruling government believes that the time has come to revise the prefixes ‘rising insecurity’ with declining insecurity. One wonders if the context with which the media outlines its report should be the primary concern of government. The need to pay greater attention to the concerns and sufferings of Nigerians should be government major prerogative at all times.