Mutual suspicion and worsening security situation
It is so unfortunate that insecurity is still waxing strong in our polity despite all efforts of the government to bring the menace under control. Day in day out, people are being slaughtered like chickens and there is palpable fear in the heart of the masses.
Mutual suspicion has pervaded the nook and cranny of the country and this has provoked dilemma amongst the people as to the true identity (ies) of the perpetrators. Thus, it did not come as a surprise when some people persistently point accusing fingers to the direction of the Fulani herders.
As a result, I tried as much as possible in my article titled “Herders and the State of the Nation” (which was published in February 2018) to disabuse the minds of the citizenry from painting these nefarious activities with political, ethnic or religious coloration. I admonished the people from always jumping into conclusion to arrogating most of the killings to the herdsmen even without investigations by the security agencies.
The review further cautioned that it will be a miscarriage of justice if innocent people are punished for crimes they did not commit. Therefore, I advised that all hands must be on deck to give necessary support to the government in the fight against insecurity. This was followed by “The Politics of Insecurity in our Nation” wherein, the people were also advised to disregard sentimental considerations in their perceptions about security issues for the good of the nation.
It averred that there was a need for the collective and conscious efforts of all well-meaning Nigerians regardless of their tribal, religious and political affiliations to come together and rally round the government to fighting the wanton destruction of lives and properties squarely. I also cautioned that rather than waving aside the warnings of some statesmen and other well-meaning people; the government should engage in wide consultations with stakeholders (regardless of political affiliations) to finding lasting solutions to the menace and many others.
Just recently, I wrote about “The Real Enemies of our Nation” and “Insecurity and the Presidential Imprecation of Necessity” to support issues raised in the previous articles; but, I doubt if these have yet made any considerable meaning to the people in the corridors of power.
Presently, insecurity has taken another dimension with the perpetrators having the guts and the wherewithal to abducting/kidnapping and killing travelers at will on the highways. There have been reports of some victims who were taken into the bush to be dehumanised beyond human comprehension. The lucky ones amongst them were released after they have been repeatedly gang-raped, tortured, sodomised and ransom collected from their loved ones; while, the unlucky ones never returned to recount their ordeals.
As a result, there have been series of outcries from patriotic and well-meaning people for the government to do the needful about the undesirable situation; but, the last we heard was that the issues were exaggerated. However, some western countries have reacted by warning their citizens from visiting some cities in the country.
Just recently and unfortunately, the daughter of a prominent statesman was killed in an attack on the highway (May her soul and those of others who have been killed in similar circumstances rest in perfect peace) and the best our people could do is to start up another argument about the identity of those behind the act. The fact that we are still at the stage of trying to prove or disprove the true identity(ies) of the perpetrators is an indication that we are undoubtedly divided in the fight against insecurity. If that be the case, it means that we still have a very long way to go.
Interestingly, in the same “Herdsmen and the State of the Nation” under reference; I advised further that if we continue to arrogate all crimes to a particular set of people without proof; it will be difficult to find lasting solutions to the problem. I even went as far as making an illustration of how the “real perpetrators” could disguise as herdsmen or native farmers/hunters to carry out any crime and thereby create identity problems for the people and the security agencies.
So, it is unfortunate that some people are just waking up from their slumber to realize that it could possibly be so. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the security situation in the country is persistently worsening and the government has not been able to live up to expectations. It is, therefore, immaterial whether the perpetrators are herders, bandits, vigilantes, kidnappers, hunters, armed robbers or cultists; the most important thing is to put an end to the menace.
The government should step up its efforts towards discharging its cardinal responsibility of securing the lives and properties of the citizenry. At this point, it is very important to mention that our security agencies have shown great gallantness; but, the situation at hand is very difficult unlike the conventional battlefield where enemies are easily identifiable; no one can say for sure who is who in the present circumstances.
The perpetrators of these crimes are humans and they live amongst us. So, if we are not committed to co-operating with the security agencies; these criminals will remain elusive and continue in their devilish acts.
This is also an obvious pointer to the pervading mutual suspicion because the people are not comfortably disposed to giving voluntary information for fear of the same boomeranging at the end of the day. That is the more reason why it is very crucial to restrategise and think outside the box in order to make meaningful headway. Consequently, our honest responses to the following pertinent questions will go a long way towards eradicating the menace from our polity:
Is it the stockpiled ammunition of over four years (during the previous administrations) that the perpetrators are still using to date?
Is this administration sincerely committed to eradicating insecurity in the country?
Is this administration solely meant for members of the ruling party or the citizenry in general? And,
Are there any hidden/secret challenges hindering the government from achieving the desired results?
If the answer to the first question is in the affirmative; then, why has the government (security agencies) not discovered the armory where the arms are stockpiled ever since it came on board? In the same vein, if the answer is on the contrary; then, how did those sophisticated weapons (as we have been made to believe) got into the country under this administration? (It clearly shows that there is a need to improve on our intelligence gathering, and also ensure that our borders are better secured).
If the government is truly committed to eradicating the menace in response to the second question; then, why has there not been deliberate efforts to engage the rulers and leaders at the grassroots level with the aim of identifying the root causes of the problems and with a view to finding lasting solutions? (you will agree with me that the perpetrators are human; and, they live amongst the people. Give the people a sense of belonging and they will open up to you). If the answer to the third question is in the affirmative; then it is undesirable and most unfortunate.
Otherwise, why has the government not called an all-inclusive meeting of representatives of all political parties and other stakeholders in the country to deliberate on the monster called insecurity and other challenges facing the country? (It is not for the fun of it that democracy is defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. The people must be carried along in governance to get the best out of them).
The answer to the fourth question is also very important so that we can appreciate why it is taking the government `so long` to do the needful. The persistence reassurance that Leah Sharibu and other captives will be rescued sooner than later is an indication that the government is in contact with the captors and is abreast with the captives’ present condition. So, what is delaying her/their release?
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Why have there not been arrests, prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators over the years? (If Leah and others are still very much alive; get them released as soon as possible; otherwise, the mutual suspicion will persist). As easy as the questions seem if they are given deep reflections; you will be surprised that the keys to unlocking the security challenges are therein.
Therefore, the government needs to take bold steps to defuse the mutual suspicion pervading the country. The people have been brutally divided along political, tribal and religious lines; and, it will be very difficult, if not impossible for the nation to progress in such an atmosphere.
As an avowed proponent of good governance and peaceful coexistence amongst the citizenry; it will be a disservice to turn closed eyes and deaf ears to this perilous situation. Hence, I am using this medium to appeal to all patriotic citizens and friends of the country to come together and join forces with the government to save our country. Stop drumming for war. We have come a long way together.
Let us remain united to do better things together. It does not matter whether we are Hausa, Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Tiv, Berom, Ngas, Igala, Ibibio and Efik to mention but a few; or whether we belong to the ruling party or the opposition parties; or, whether we prefer this administration or still waiting on the tribunal/courts for a change; the most important thing is to save our country first.
Let us always remember that, “without a country, there will not be a government.” Please take note that the above recommendations are without prejudice to the subsisting suits at the various Election Petition Tribunals/Courts.
Oise-Oghaede, public policy analyst/commentator, wrote from Suru-Lere, Lagos.