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Insecurity: Not yet the last order

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[FILES] Buhari addressing troops of the anti-banditry Operation, Hadarin Daji. Photo: TWITTER/HQNIGERIANARMY

The last five years or so must go down as our season of marching orders. Since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed power, the government seemed to pose the ability to give orders than its predecessors. Usually, the privilege to dish out orders is a source of pride for whoever occupies the Aso Rock Villa or any leadership position for that matter. But it is worrisome whereby an order by the Commander-In-Chief concerning protection of lives and property and to bring about law and order in the society is being taken for granted or treated with levity. Worst still, the President cares less whether such orders are carried out or not. Therefore, it should be considered quite disturbing for Nigerians to hold the impression that we live in abnormal times nowadays.

In the last decade, the world attention has been drawn to the menace of insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in terms of the threat which it poses to nation-building and the setback it causes to grow the economy through foreign investments and the distortion in education curriculum among others. Of course, insecurity is largely responsible for the seeming collapse of anything we hold dear in the country. Even traditional institutions, farming and peaceful co-existence among the tribes and tongues in the society has been threatened by insecurity. At the moment, insecurity is not only worsening, it has become endemic in the country, particularly the North East, as social life and education is now under serious threat.

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The desperate security situation in the country necessitated Mr. President to profess that the kidnap of 300 school girls from a Government Girls Secondary School in Jangede, Zamfara state would be the last kidnap in the country and quickly ordered the newly appointed Service Chiefs to ‘go into the field and secure the country’. This the President believes should be done within weeks before farmers and Nigerians generally welcome the next raining season as it would give citizens the confidence to safely return to the farms in order for the country not to suffer food insecurity by running the risk of being unable to produce enough food to feed itself.

Not so long ago, the climax of security challenges necessitated a similar order from Mr. President to the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Yusuf Buratai to restore law and order in Benue state but was blatantly disobeyed. Of late, it has become a regular occurrence as kidnapping and banditry has become the order of the day. Today, the reality of the Nigerian life clearly reveals that no one is safe anywhere, even in the comfort of your home talk-less of travelling out of town to the rural areas.

It has got to a point that some thoughtful Nigerians began to place with suspicion the marching orders of the present government as it regards insecurity. Of late, government’s action towards fighting insecurity seems to regard bandits, kidnappers and insurgents as “friends” judging by the overwhelming romance going on between religious leaders, governors among others with them. Yet, the ruling government has remained surprisingly indifferent to such meetings with kidnappers. According to the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno as a Nigerian, the Constitution provides one cover to talk and deal with anybody, irrespective of being a bandit, kidnapper or insurgent, so long as such talk will assist government to solve the insecurity debacle. In moments of great national distress such as we are now experiencing, keeping insecurity at arm’s length and handling it like a new born baby, yet looking forward to the end of the floppy economic situation does not serve Nigerians interests.

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Before becoming president, Buhari and his party promised not to treat insecurity with kid gloves. But, strikingly often, the ruling government’s priorities are fast changing. One wonders what happened to Buhari’s intent on pivoting towards the previous government on its sluggish attitude towards fighting insecurity as it now chooses to pay ransom. The pretence that they are not paying ransom to free kidnapped citizens, signaled that the present government was losing interest in fighting the insurgents. Hence, the insecurity situations continue to deteriorate in the country as the bandits and kidnappers are becoming daring perhaps due to the bounty they collect from the illicit act. The President’s marching order to go harder on criminals and shoot at site anyone found illegally with AK 47 has created another doubt to carrying out such orders. This is because, the ruling government adopted ‘son’, herdsmen, are seen carrying AK 47 across the country to graze their herds in the forest. While the insurgents, bandits and kidnappers also trade in the forest with their victims. Indeed, few people would envy the security agencies as they are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea in their bid to carry out the shoot at sight order.

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Despite the repeated calls by governors of the North East states, particularly Borno state governor, Professor Babagana Zulum of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Buhari government ruled out the engagement of mercenaries to assist the country in the fight against insurgency. Thanks, again to the ruling government’s continued show of strength to come all out in full force to defeat the insurgents as it could no longer tolerate blackmail in any guise. In complementing the President’s position, the National Security Adviser came up with a familiar tone as he rendered an assurance that government will deploy all necessary force to deal with terrorists and bandits operating in the country. He emphatically argued that, dialogue with criminals suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of government.

No doubt, the cost of insecurity is quite enormous. The challenge before the present government is to reduce, and even eliminate insecurity in our society. This will require changing the way government does the business of governance. Hence, the President sought traditional rulers’ assistance at a meeting the other day, to use their roles and positions as bridge builders in each of their communities to compliment government’s efforts at bringing peace and security.

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However, in another forum, the traditional rulers through the Sultan, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III represented by Etsu Nupe, Yahaya Abubakar at the steering committee of the Senate Constitution Review Committee said, traditional rulers incapacity to bring about peace and rule of law in their domain is because insecurity foundation was laid by Aguyi Ironsi’s 1966 unitary government decree, Yakubu Gowon’s 1967 and Olusegun Obasanjo’s 1976 local government reforms decrees respectively which stripped traditional rulers of their powers and made them ceremonial heads while local government councils took charge.

Therefore, the current administration must do everything within its powers to restore the traditional rulers with their prestige and power as well as learn to match its words with action and stop making empty promises. Indeed, there is perhaps, no country that is free of insecurity, but what makes it even more challenging in Nigeria is the way it has become a norm. Tackling insecurity ought to be a starting point for strengthening our economy. It is regrettable, but true that investors are afraid to bring funds to Nigeria because of insecurity. Economically, no investor would choose to invest in a trouble nation.

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