Monday, 2nd October 2023

A solemn duty to protect Nigerians

By Editorial Board
20 May 2019   |   3:49 am
Going by all the emerging evidence of the brazen, defiant criminality in its many forms ravaging this country now, the rule of law is failing and the power of constituted authority to fulfill its very purpose is quite embarrassing. There is a sense in which we can claim that this nation is still in jeopardy…


Going by all the emerging evidence of the brazen, defiant criminality in its many forms ravaging this country now, the rule of law is failing and the power of constituted authority to fulfill its very purpose is quite embarrassing. There is a sense in which we can claim that this nation is still in jeopardy as we noted here the other day.

It is therefore pertinent to continue to remind those in authority that the constitution of this federal republic says that ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government …’ It is so shameful that government continues to fail in its primary duty in a manner that indeed amounts to a betrayal of the trust of the people. This is terrible and where do we go from here?

Early this month, as we were still smarting from spate of abduction and banditry all over the place, the district head of Daura, Alhaji Musa Umar was abducted from his home by bandits. He is the head of President Muhammadu Buhari’s village and the father-in-law of Buhari’s aide-de-camp.

A few days before this incident, the board chairman of a federal agency, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Muhammed Mahmood was kidnapped with his daughter while travelling along the now dreaded Kaduna –Abuja road. And, a few days after the Daura incident, five persons were kidnapped in a government-owned secondary school in Moriki, Zamfara State.

In the two or so weeks since Buhari’s village head was abducted in Katsina State, Boko Haram insurgents have reportedly killed five Nigerian soldiers in Bornu State, gunmen have abducted from her home the Permanent Secretary of the Taraba State Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs. Suzzy Nathan, suspected armed robbers invaded the home of the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Higher Education and killed Terlumum Hemba, a 400-level university student and bandits entered the staff Quarters of Plateau State Polytechnic and abducted a 24-year old Abigail. There is hardly a day that human blood is not shed in this land of poor and miserable people.

The gory list of acts of criminality continues to grow and Nigerians are becoming inured to evil.

Killing, kidnapping, robbery, cult-related murder, ritual killings and communal conflicts have become the ‘new normal’ while government concerns itself with the mundane and other inanities in the name of infrastructure and other non-human issues. Pray, just how tolerant of criminality in its yard can a government get!

Some have argued that government may have been overwhelmed by the myriad problems it has to take on. But that is not an acceptable excuse. A government such as exists under the extant constitution of Nigeria is a constituted body of willing persons invested with the authority and power to first enforce law and order.

Second, the authority is in place to harness the human and material resources of the country to serve the highest good of the greatest number of citizens.

This is the essence of Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where is clearly stated that the primary duty of government is to provide welfare and security to the people.

Of course, it appears that this government is ill-prepared and incompetent to provide security to the people and it is clearly overwhelmed by the challenges of office.

The brazenness and audacity of bandits to take the battle to the home of Nigeria’s leader speaks volumes about the insufferable failure of the government. This is a direct and bold challenge to constituted authority. But there is a message here: it is a personal affront to the president, daring him to protect even his own turf too.

If it can happen to this ‘Magajin Gari’, it is only wisdom to assume it can happen to any other community head. There is a clear and present danger in this land. Even now, not a few political leaders and other prominent men and women can visit their villages for fear of kidnap.

We are constrained to warn that the faith of the people in their government to protect them is fast eroding. The implication of this is dangerous for both the individual and for the society. Besides, no human and physical development can happen in an unsafe environment.

The Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Usman, in whose domain many atrocities have taken place with impunity, said in exasperation, ‘I have not seen this kind of country.’ While receiving Buhari’s Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, he was reported as sending him to his boss that, ‘we have to take care of our people, because security is first and fundamental.’

So many groups and persons have expressed concern with the situation and dismay at the apparent levity with which the Buhari government has been handling this homeland insecurity. The House of Representatives has summoned the president to explain his efforts in confronting this growing problem.

The state of insecurity is a serious governance challenge now and so must evoke a sense of shame in Abuja where the governing party is located. The governing party promised the nation security in its manifesto.

Besides, the president’s May 2015 inaugural speech contained a promise to tackle ‘head on’ ‘insecurity and pervasive corruption’ He cited the Boko Haram, ‘kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustling’ as factors in the insecurity in the land and said that his government would ‘erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined, people-friendly and well compensated security architecture’ to combat these crimes.

Buhari assured, so solemnly that, ‘Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to him and his party.’

On Democracy Day 29th May 2018, and three years on the job, Buhari assured Nigerians that ‘public safety and security remains the primary duty of my government’ and that ‘culprits and their sponsors shall be made to face the full wrath of the law.’

It is however unfortunate that one year after, this government is yet to walk its talk. Indeed, Nigeria in the past four years has become far less safe and the pity of it, the authorities in Abuja seem unable to appreciate the nature, dimensions and magnitude of the problem.

All told, Buhari should be told in clear terms at this moment that his most solemn duty is to protect Nigerians. The people are tired of excuses and endless meetings of security chiefs with national assembly leaders and their commander-in-chief.