Small security, big security, all na security
If there is one subject that keeps Nigerians awake at night, it is the subject of ‘security’. In their day conversation and their evening conversation, it is the central topic. As an individual living alone, as a parent with children in boarding schools especially young girls, you are forever thinking of their security.
There was the news item the other day of an all female squadron of soldiers specially created for the protection of secondary school pupils; what with the frequent kidnap threats all over the country. The first response was: they are lying. Where have they been all these years that they didn’t bring them out? Someone else was more sympathetic to the news. Perhaps they had not created the unit at that time. Give them time to try their ability against the kidnappers. The third person was fast in seeing the women not being able to do the job that men could not do. And so on as possible. What it boiled down to was that this new project will not succeed as far as everybody was concerned.
The most elementary level of insecurity is the one on the everyday road in the southern parts of the country. Going from Lagos to Sapele, how many times did you pray the days before your journey? Yet, how many times do you wake from a mild sleep to wonder why the driver slowed down only to see that cows were crossing the highway. Perhaps the driver is in cahoots with the kidnappers, who knows? Anyway it happens. The driver was speeding. A shot flies across and the driver is stopped with blood on the shattered glass. The driver is dead and nobody cares for him. The other two passengers are led into the forest. As a cellphone was being forced for her to call somebody for them to speak to negotiate the ransom details. With tears in her voice, she said the driver was her boyfriend and we were going home to announce our engagement, celebrate it and announce the date of our wedding the happiest day in… “Don’t say anybody is dead or else…”
The most frightening insecurity is that of secondary schools, especially girls’ secondary schools. One night, out of the darkness, a series of huge military type transport lorries entered a girls’ school and carried away hundreds of girls. Of course by the time we got to know what numbers, by whom kidnapped and for what reasons, there was nothing that anyone could do.
This was the first time that this mass kidnapping would happen in Nigeria by a religious organisation. it was a calamity to affect few families in the country. Since this kidnapping which received coverage all over the world, there has been one or two incidents. Schools have become security-conscious by sending students home as soon as the school year is over.
The most expensive insecurity is the one that occurs in the oil and gas business. And as a result of the cost of the insecurity, the top people have begun to cry out that the government was indifferent to their suffering. This in spite of the huge tax they pay. They invest their blood and breath in the oil and gas industry only to be rewarded with zero profit at the end of day.
Between the point of digging and point of handing over the crude for onward process outside the country, the pipeline linking these points run the danger of assault which makes the investor lose 99.9 per cent of crude oil to thieves. To the investors, there is no need investing in the oil industry.
As far as the owners of the oil wells are concerned, it is the fault of the government despite their huge taxes. Should they abandon the oil wells to the thieves and the oil robbers?
Apart from the regular thieves, there were those who are driven by the politics of poverty and wealth distribution.
This contestations can lead to civil war.
At the level of civil war, we are no longer talking of security.
What are the existing security set up in the country? There is the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps which was set up on the commencement of the civil war. This is a para-military agency of the federal government “commissioned to provide measures against threat and any form of attack or disaster against the nation and its citizenry.” Whoever was seated to formulate what this agency should be, did not understand what they were asked to do.
At some later point, a woman’s squadron was added to it to take care of secondary girls schools. I have not read of the reports of their brilliant works. By the nature of Nigeria’s lack of local government structure, this is not going to work here.
The Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Act was to address old problems but it created new ones. The way and manner of the issues of responsibility to the community and the investor is not clear at all. As long as there are duties of the community and the responsibility of the traders of the product from their region, there will never be peace. The government sells the oil and gas of the community and taxes the traders adequately. From the taxation, the government would satisfy the desires of the community. The way and manner the two are confused is not good and is the reason minor items such as security become major items consuming time and energy that could be used on other important matters.
If the three stages of government functioned as they should with the allocations for local government are not taken away from the local government by the state government, life would be better. Each section of the government would know where its own responsibility lay and discharge it accordingly. In systems in which what the federal government must do is not clear, even governors have spent money only to realise that he cannot do what he thought he could do. The investment of money and time is wasted. Nobody learns. Next time another governor would make the same mistake.