Insecurity: A major minus to good governance
Presently, the issue of insecurity has been ethnicized by some people; and, this has led to the ‘banishment’ of the ‘suspected culprits’ (the Fulani herdsmen) from different parts of the country. This dangerous dimension is gradually degenerating to ‘ethnic clashes and reprisal attacks’ which are capable of snowballing into full blown civil disturbances. I saw the handwriting on the wall years back; and, I delved extensively on the subject matter in some of my numerous articles. Dishearteningly, nothing has changed because of the insincerity of those at the corridors of power who are very quick to politicize advice.
It is obvious that the problem is multifaceted. Some people are indulging in these crimes to ‘make ends meet’ because of the rising rate of employment and the stifling economic situation; some are involved as a result of ‘conflict of interests amongst different groups’ (which is the root cause of the persisting herders/farmers clashes); while, some others are carrying-out these criminalities ‘to cause disaffections amongst the people and destabilize the government’.
So, whether it is pleasant to hear or not; the fact remains that as many Nigerians (across all ethnic, political, social and religious divides) are weeping and wailing as a result of their losses (loved ones and valuable properties); some are also laughing all the way to the bank with the proceeds from these nefarious activities (either as direct perpetrators, accomplices or beneficiaries of the precarious situation); and, some others are boosting their electoral chances as a result of the unpleasant state of the nation. Thus, if we continue to tackle it sentimentally from ‘narrow angles’, we can only fail woefully or at best, achieve minimal success; while, the menace will continue to devastate the polity and make it almost impossible for the government to thrive. However, if we tackle it from ‘broader perspectives’, then, we will definitely achieve excellent results.
Expectedly, our leaders and the citizenry are now disunited in the fight against ‘the monster’. Most people have been made to embrace the ‘general belief that the Fulani are the major culprits’ of the heinous crimes across the length and breadth of the country; due to the fact that they mostly traverse in the forests which have been identified as the ‘hideouts and operational bases’ of the ‘criminals’. So, whenever any crime occurs in that terrain, the Fulani herdsmen readily come to mind. At this point, the questions that require prompt responses should be as follows; “How many of ‘these Fulanis’ have been apprehended so far?”; Do we have credible evidence(s) to substantiate their culpability in the numerous incidents?”; If so, “How many of them are currently in police custody?”; and, “what is delaying their arraignment, prosecution and conviction to date”? The honest answers to these questions are very germane and would go a very long way to helping us to unraveling/confirming the identities of the criminals and finding lasting solutions to the problem. It is only then that we can know and be sure whether they are truly ‘Fulani herdsmen’; or ‘Yoruba ritualists’; or ‘Igbo kidnappers’; or ‘Edo robbers’; and, or ‘whoever they are’.
Interestingly, I have posited in the past that the ‘agents of destabilization and enemies of our nation’ are very smart/strategic; and, they are capable of employing numerous tactics in carrying out their nefarious activities. They sow seeds of hatred amongst the citizenry to cause disunity and restlessness in the polity. In this situation, the people will lack the needed unity and impetus to jointly tackle the problem squarely. This unscrupulous elements have the capacity to perpetrate crimes and make them look as if they were carried-out by any of the ‘ethnic nationalities’. In other to carry out and consolidate their destabilization agenda, they can attack the herders and rustle their cows in the morning, and come back in the night to destroy farm settlements in the same area to make it look like reprisal attacks by the former. They can set churches on fire in the morning, and return in the dead of the night to destroy mosques to balance the equation. They can destroy Igbo businesses in the morning and return in the night or few days after to do same to Yoruba or Hausa businesses to cause confusion in furtherance of their set objective(s). It is very easy for the ‘enemies of our nation’ to cause disaffection amongst the citizenry.
Presently, the Fulani herdsmen have been successfully painted as the ‘major criminals’; while, the ‘real criminals’ are walking freely amongst us.
Unfortunately, ‘the hopelessness of the situation and the people’s survival instincts have driven some individuals and groups into embarking on self-help to defend themselves and their people’. In as much as these moves would not have posed any problem in unambiguous situations where the real perpetrators are identifiable and known; it becomes problematic where such actions are hinged on ‘mere suspicions’ and ‘hearsays’. Therefore, there is need to take a ‘lot of precautions’ so that ‘innocent people’ would not be made to suffer; otherwise, the law will catch-up with whoever is adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to have infringed on other ‘innocent and law abiding people’s rights’. So, we should all have it at the back of our minds that, ’no matter how defective or unfriendly that the present constitution is said to be; its provisions are still sacrosanct and binding on everyone under its purview until when it is repealed and replaced’.
Also, in the case of conflicts with other laws/statutes in the country; the constitution remains supreme. Thus, we must be guided accordingly in order not to become victims of avoidable and unfortunate circumstances where ‘our today’s heroes’ would end up as ‘tomorrow’s culprits’. We should ensure that our actions does not send ‘wrong signals’ that could lead to ‘reprisal attacks’ on innocent and law abiding nationalities from or in other regions. We are all in it together; and, we should be prepared to come together to tackle the problems together without parochial and myopic sentiments. Our focus should be on the flushing out of criminal elements from our polity (within the ambit of the law) regardless of their ethnic, political, religious and social affiliations.
So, if we truly wish to curtail the dangerous trend of insecurity in our nation, all hands must be on deck to supporting the government to deliver. We all know that it is the cardinal responsibility of the government to protect the lives and properties of its citizenry and other people within its territory; the co-operation and support of the people are required to achieving this feat. However, our case is very complicated because of the complicity of the people in the matter. For example, the security agencies need vital information from the people so that criminal activities can be nipped in the bud; but, in our today’s society, reverse is the case; because, some people would rather give criminals information to successfully carry out their activities and avert the long arms of the law, than to give information that will expose them (criminals) to the police and other agents of government. In the same vein, rather than join hands with the government to finding solutions to the menace; majority of our leaders across the political divide (depending on their political calculations/permutations) would prefer the lingering of the menace to make the government unpopular in the eyes of the electorates/citizenry and the international community.
It would be recalled that the present administration also capitalized on the unpleasant security situation under the last regime to gain supports at the 2015 polls. This politics of tit for tat is very dangerous and undesirable in any progressive society; because, the electorates/citizens will always be the ‘ultimate losers’.
Our security agencies should be reorganized to make them more people-friendly. Bad eggs and negative influencers should be flushed out; and others re-orientated, adequately trained, fully equipped and bountifully remunerated. By so doing, the level of professionalism will be very high; and the people/citizenry would be comfortably disposed to giving them necessary information required to assisting them in carrying out their functions comprehensively. Today, many people are of the opinion that it is ‘unwise and unsafe’ to ‘say something when they see something’; and that is why criminal activities are flourishing in our society.
The Joint Task Forces on border patrol must ensure that illegal immigrants and contrabands (especially weapons) are not allowed into the country. If our borders are secured (not closed), the influx of arms and ammunitions will be a thing of the past. Today, it is commonly alleged that the criminals are usually armed with sophisticated weapons (which are not produced in the country); so, it means that they were imported or smuggled into the country. Therefore, the agencies in charge of the borders and the Ministry of Interior have an ‘uphill task’ to handle. Also, if detailed investigations are carried out on weapons recovered from such criminals; the manufacturers and the eventual importers could be traced and made to explain how they got into the country and to wrong hands.
To be continued tomorrow
Oise-Oghaede wrote this updated piece from Surulere, Lagos State. firstname.lastname@example.org.