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Insecurity: Action, not explanation, Mr. President

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President Muhammadu Buhari

One of the obligations of any government in the world is to guarantee the security of life and property of its citizens. This is the minimum standard required for anyone who holds the reins of power in trust and on behalf of the people, especially in a democracy.

Doubtless, the last year has been frightening to the Nigerian people and the international community on account of the level of brigandage and impunity perpetrated by the now notorious Fulani herdsmen and others masquerading as herders.

Gradually, the soul of the nation is being seized by scoundrels and common criminals. Yet we have a government in a place whose head and commander-in-chief flaunted his military credentials in the pre-election days as capital enough for him to flush out the Boko Haram insurgents. Strangely, some four years after, we are still battling the insurgency and insecurity has developed into a hydra-headed monster. It is a national embarrassment that the government has been helpless.

A serving state governor came face to face with some of these criminals the other day and his account ought to have jolted the federal authorities out of its complacency. Last week ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Balarabe Musa and former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Sir Emeka Anyaoku on different occasions spoke on the issue of insecurity and the deep fears nurtured by compatriots concerning the future and fate of our republic. Their verdicts hinged on one point: the inability of the incumbent government to manage the nation’s plurality is alarming.

For some, the public medium employed by these opinion leaders to air their views may be curious because as former officeholders, they ought to have access to the presidency to whisper words of advice into listening ears of the powers-that-be. It would seem that the exigencies of the time have dictated otherwise.

Therefore, we urge the president to study the message and pay less attention to the messenger. Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka had also in the past alluded to ‘Road to Kigali’ as a metaphor for the frightening descent into anarchy which stares us in the face. It is also possible that these stakeholders have lost faith in private channels because they did not yield any positive fruits in the past. How did we get into this impasse?

Instead of addressing the fundamental issues raised by these statesmen President Muhammadu Buhari responded by saying they were ‘not patriotic,’ arguing further that insecurity is a worldwide phenomenon at this time. This is rather misplaced, out of context and begging the question. After a visit with the president during the week, the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi also observed that ‘the issue of insecurity in the southwest is real’ and that ‘most of the bushes are now occupied by strange people.’ Northern Elders Forum has also called the president to act on the challenge of insecurity. These are concerns, which the Federal Government must address instead of playing the ostrich. Critics of the government are not less patriotic for presenting facts from the other side. Indeed they are the true patriots of the land.

All the voices were united in drawing Mr. President’s attention to the possibility of war breaking out if any group embarks on a vendetta. They spoke against the background of a series of murders, kidnappings, and sacking of some communities.

Specifically, the death of the daughter of Afenifere leader Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, drew wide opprobrium because of her father’s political profile. And if the tragedy is not carefully managed, revenge could trigger off what we may not be able to control. These are genuine fears. No one, either by design or default, should court war. “War”, observed Martin Luther “is the greatest plague that can afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.”

We call on Buhari to provide leadership and stamp out the menace and fundamental threat posed by the marauders whom the president says are fuelled through illegal funds.

At another time, Nigeria’s leader had said they were foreigners. Why have the security agencies failed to deal with this ugly and dangerous development? We have managed our diversity in the last 60 odd years and never have we become so divided and fractured as we are now except in the prelude to the Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967-1970.

Terry Eagleton writes that “it is easy to see why a diversity of cultures should confront power with a problem. If culture is about plurality, power is about unity.” What the Nigerian people want is for the Federal Government to use the power at its disposal to unite the people. Sadly, by acts of commission and omission, the incumbent government is promoting a narrative of cleavages and clannishness. This is a prelude to anarchy.

Indeed, Oba Ogunwusi spoke the minds of patriotic Nigerians when he declared after the visit to the presidency: “Everybody is beating the drums of war. We don’t want war. Who can stand war? We want something better for our youth.’’ We want peace. We want development.

The Nigerian people crave justice, equity, national cohesion on the platform of fairness and equal opportunities. They do not seek the culture of promoting one religion or culture or ethnic group above the rest. That would be a dangerous signal to the different nationalities, which constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The optics and impression of the presidency at this time of our history are not good.

The government should pause and have a re-think by listening to all stakeholders and curb the rise of impunity by a section or sections of the polity.

For, as expressed so articulately by one-time security adviser to the United States government Zbigniew Brzezinski, “the legitimacy of leadership depends on what that country thinks of its leaders.” Mr. President, the people, as well as other stakeholders, are deeply worried about the level of insecurity in the country. What they expect now is action, not an explanation.


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