Deafness to voice of reason amid insecurity
Escalated killings and tension have lately gone viral across the land, leaving on its trail a growing discontent and vote of no confidence in the Federal Government’s handling of insecurity. But beyond an inane expression of surprise at the turn of events, President Muhammadu Buhari must, for once, admit that he has a national security challenge in his hands, which requires him to man up to save the soul of Nigeria at this defining moment.
Indeed, it is a trying time for the country and almost hellish living in it! Be it in the ravaged North East or South West, North Central or South South region, it is almost impossible to live without the paroxysm of fear. Across the board is the apprehension of insurgent attacks, banditry, marauding killer herdsmen, kidnappers, cultists and armed robbers going berserk in a neighbourhood. And no day has gone by without a record of gruesome murder somewhere close by.
So dire is the situation that erstwhile sacred places are all gone. Assorted criminals with near impunity now invade residents, highways, clubhouses, restaurants, banks, weddings, funerals and even naming ceremony, to shed blood, death and sorrow. Besides the bizarre mass killings executed around Christmas, blood-thirsty implements of horror returned to Plateau the other day. Official record puts the number of the slain at 20. Eyewitnesses’ disclosure will be more frightening. The truth is that Nigeria is fast declining to the Hobbesian state of nature where life was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
The bonfire of savagery and helplessness wafting across states took the president unawares, or so it seems. And in an uncharacteristic manner of modern governance, our president publicly expressed surprise according to reports. The element of surprise was a departure from the norm of finding scapegoats for in-house gross ineptitude. It is also at odds with earlier claims in 2016 that Boko Haram had been depleted or “technically defeated.”
The reaction of Mr. President, a former military general and Head of State, rightly shocked many including his loyalists. And some are already asking the validity question of Buhari’s presidency. Let’s face it: the 1999 Constitution, as amended, clearly states the primary functions of the government. Specifically, the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy, session 14(b), states that, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” But there is no gainsaying that this administration has failed in this remit and public reaction to Buhari’s surprise at Boko Haram’s renewed vigour said as much.
Even the fawning leadership of the Senate, led by Ahmed Lawan, seemed to have been rankled by the widespread insecurity, and had to call out Buhari and his security chiefs at the resumed session of the Senate recently. More extreme views have started calling for Buhari’s impeachment. The most bizarre thus far was from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), who matched in their scores to the United States’ consulate to “report the matter” to America and United Kingdom! The opposition party of the most populous African country, in their wisdom or the lack of it, implicitly told the world that they, the politicians, are incapable of governing themselves or our affairs. This is curious and bizarre.
But one thing is certain: the groundswell of hostile remarks simply points to the fact that the current approach to the security problem is not working and in need of an urgent reform. This is not to undermine the efforts of the security agencies, who against the odds have kept walking the tight rope of combating insurgency in the North East. However, there comes a time in the life of every nation where critical self-assessment and evaluation are most germane. Man, know thyself, the ancient philosopher once said. And a country like Nigeria – a man in its enlarged form – has to turn the critical searchlight upon herself and come face-to-face with the stark realities of her existence.
In the light of the widespread insecurity and general displeasure of today, we should be asking ourselves, who are we as a people or as a country? What are our hopes and aspirations and how do we aim to achieve our goals? What is the nature of our problems and how can they be tackled indigenously? Until we acknowledge these facts of our existence, broken down to granules to collectively identify and organically deal with the issues bottom-up, we will keep blaming the overwhelmed security forces of the state for the current general helplessness.
Lest we forget, Nigeria once had a system that worked until the unitary system of government was foisted upon us by ‘‘soldiers of fortune’’ in 1966. We once solved our problems in ages past. We had the native authority police back in the days, hired and paid for by the towns in this same country. They were strong enough to repel marauding forces. That was an architecture that worked because the natives are better placed to protect themselves and solve their problems before they escalate. The vigilante model in modern houses, streets, estates, towns, councils and even some states – whatever name they have been christened – resonates the same indigenous model to date.
Apparently, it is the domestication of our security challenges that has led to the Amotekun regional option in the South-west states – a simplified, all-inclusive self-help security model whose time has come. Notwithstanding the Federal Government’s earlier disassociation, it has validly shown how the people themselves want to solve their security problem from one constituency to another. Having realised that there is no magic wand or propaganda to tackling widespread insecurity and apprehension, Buhari should listen to time-tested alternatives in the absence of a superior grand plan to keep us safe and alive. Because when it comes to security, it is government as low as possible and as high as necessary.
Indeed, Buhari and his advisers must admit that there are many facets to the Nigerian reality. So too is the dynamics of alternatives to our problems. As the head of the Nigerian entity, it is their core duty to be undaunted in exploring alternatives, though rational to know what is not working and bold enough to change it. And what is not working should freely give way to alternatives with better potential. After all, what a man is looking for en route Sokoto may all along be nestling in the pocket of his trousers. But if he is not looking inwards, how will he know?
Certainly, a sense of deliberate deafness to the sound of reason is never the solution at critical times like this or in modern governance. Or, how many of our best must get killed before Aso Villa realises that Nigeria is not standing upright? Or how many millions must lose faith in this fatherland before the essence of Nigeria is completely lost? A problem that has solution cannot be as bad as the one without.
Here now is a solution that is not even being preached but preaching itself. Doubtless, the solution is not only in changing the service chiefs as being generally demanded. Leadership in the country should reflect on the near collapse of internal security force – the police. Why the permanent recourse to the Nigerian army for internal security operations? All told, the authorities in Abuja must listen to the cacophony of voices of wisdom that even the politics of security is local. This should be the starting point before it is too late.
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