By Babatunde Lonimi Oluwaseun
Of the many tragedies that have plagued our country, insecurity is a very significant one, and in recent history it has become a monster, consuming lives, properties, money and destroying infrastructure. On Monday 19th February, 2018 Dapchicommunity, Yobe state and Nigeria were reminded again of how vulnerable Nigerians, especially the masses, can be in the area of security as about 100 girls were attacked and abducted from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe state. This is another reason we need to halt this drift towards the ‘’state of nature’’ as described by Thomas Hobbs, a state that was in existence before men gathered and established societies and government. In Thomas Hobbs’ state of nature, life was brutal and short, a state without laws and a coordinating/governing authority, one of ‘’survival of the fittest’’.
The art of ‘’unsecuring’’ Nigerians is one that the political elite has mastered over the years. This fourth republic(1999-date) has however been worse, with successive governments displaying no genuine interest in changing the narrative. In April 2014, over 200 school girls were ambushed and abducted in their school in Chibok community of Borno state. The federal government of president Goodluck Jonathan first denied the occurrence, even after it had been reported by several media outlets, but later admitted, after much condemnation, that it did happen. As at the time that government left office in May 2015, the girls were still captives of the boko-haram terrorists. The federal government of president Buhari claims to have recovered some of the girls, this they did by negotiating with the terrorists and releasing some members of this terrorist group that were previously held by the police.
Dapchi has once again shown that the APC government led by president Buhari is in no way different from its predecessors. According to one of the parents whose wards were abducted and who did not give his name, a support group has been set up and the first thing they did was to compile a list of the missing girls and so far about 105 names have been listed. The government has been condemned by the PDP which has asked Nigerians to hold the APC government responsible for the attack. The PDP has accused the pmb led administration of putting Nigerians at risk by allegedly deceiving the people with false performance indices, suggesting that the insurgents had been defeated. The presidency however, four days after the attack, has condemned the attack and those behind it. This, understandably, has not gone down well with a lot of people who feel it is the habit of this pmb administration to wait long before condemning crimes like this one.
The primary responsibility of any government is the security of lives and properties of its citizens, but Nigerian governments have continually shown Nigerians, through their actions/inactions, that only the elite(so called big men) need to be secured. Our political elites especially are seen moving around with security escorts, while the ordinary citizen is left unattended, resulting in the avoidable loss of numerous lives and properties of the common man. According to Mike Okiro, former police IG and chairman of the police affairs commission, about 150,000 police officers(of the 400,000 member police force) are attached to persons who are constitutionally not supposed to have such special protection. This leaves the remaining about 170 million citizens with just 250,000 police officers to secure them. This shows a police officer to citizen ratio of 1:680, a grossly inadequate one. How on earth can a police officer secure 680 people, is it possible even in the most advanced of countries?
The attitude of the Nigerian political class on the issue of security has always been that of indifference, so long their own does not fall victim to this menace. This current government of president Buhari has been worse in this respect, especially as it tends to decide which of various disturbing issues deserves its attention and prompt fixing. The swiftness with which it handled the IPOB issue which has led to the disappearance of the group’s leader Nnamdi Kanu, has not been seen on the problem of the terrorist herdsmen destroying and killing around the country. It is disheartening that weeks after the invasion, by this criminal herdsmen, of a village in Benue state during which 73 people were killed, president Buhari has not visited Benue. In a very unpresidential statement however, he asked the people to tolerate and accommodate the herdsmen as fellows. How can one accommodate criminals who killed ones relations and friends? Little wonder why the herdsmen umbrella group, miyetiallah, has been emboldened to be giving conditions for peace, people who should normally be arrested, prosecuted and rightly punished for crimes committed. The APC led government, for its own good, has to genuinely and immediately change its approach to governance if it does not intend to go the way of the previous administration.
As it is now, the business of securing Nigeria can no longer be left to the political class, everyone has to begin to take constitutionally accepted measures in securing their lives and properties. Governments at all levels must begin to show genuine interest in the welfare of the citizens. Poverty eradication has to be a major part of government’s priorities,there is just too much poverty in the land, especially considering that a few live large at the expense of the state. A hungry man’s mind is a fertile ground for negative thoughts and once such thoughts are allowed to persist, they birth negative actions. That is how crimes like robbery, kidnapping and others begin. Since 2015 it has become a normal thing for state governments to owe workers’ salaries for several months, leaving thousands of families and millions of citizens hungry and angry. This is very saddening especially at a time when the economy is in terrible shape, with the value of naira at an all time low. The salaries arein the first place inadequate to sustain these workers, the falling value of naira has further diminished their purchasing power, still the salaries are owed for months. In all of these the political class lives large and engages in avoidable wastages. Our rulers certainly need to learn from a Thomas Sankara.
Education is another thing that has to be taken seriously, especially public education. The state of our education sector is a sorry one, a tour of our public primary and secondary schools will probably leave one in tears. Governments at all levels have neglected the education of Nigerians, and this has resulted in the numerous business centres called private schools which are mostly for profit, but do not provide good education. Establishing of private schools is one venture that is growing at rapid rate, but unfortunately this growth does nothing to improve education in the country. Our tertiary institutions are in no way better, everyone just wants to make money without care for how the money is made. It now seems that all they do in our tertiary institutions is strike and clashes between various groups, academic groups, non-academic groups, managements and students. The primary purpose of establishing such institutions, teaching and learning, has been relegated to the minimum. If the decline in our education sector is reversed and proper education is made available to all, then we would have taken a significant step in securing our country.
Finally a reawakening of the Nigerian spirit in us is necessary. Politics, ethnicity and religion are major lines that divide us and the earlier we blur those lines the better for us all. According to David Easton, politics is the authoritative allocation of values, a definition which sees politics as a positive tool that is used for the advancement of human good. However, in Nigeria politics cannot be said to serve such purpose as Nigerian politicians have been so bad at it that the country is how it is at the moment. A very apt definition of politics as practiced by Nigerians is given by professor Nwolise who said politics ‘’is ultimately the struggle for the minds and resources of men’’. The political class obviously is the greatest culprit in the problem of insecurity in Nigeria. A good example of their culpability is their unfortunate relationship with and sponsorship/protection of the violent members of the umbrella body for road transport workers in the country, the NURTW. Their unpleasant activities are well known around the nooks and crannies of the country. A responsible way of playing politics will really help our quest for improved security of lives and properties in Nigeria.
We all have to devise new, positive and tolerant ways of practicing our various religions, ways that would make us recognize that we all cannot share the same beliefs, that one religion is not better/worse than the other, that religion is a personal affair and must be treated like that, that we are first Nigerians before we are Christians, muslims or traditionalists, and that religion should be a unifying force not a dividing one, it should remind us that we are first humans before anything else.All forms of ethnic bias should be avoided. We have to realize that none of us chose where he/she was born, so whatever part of the country we were born should be seen through the geographical location lens, nothing more. ADEOLU never chose to be Yoruba, CHINEDU never chose to be Igbo and ADAMU never chose to be Hausa. It is a fact that we all have the Nigerian spirit in us, it has only been laid unconscious by ethnic suspicion, negative politics and religious intolerance. This will be made obvious again in June, when the national football team, the Super Eagles, gets to Russia for the 2018 FIFA world cup tournament.
If we do not all begin to make conscious efforts towards solving the many problems that plague our country, especially that of insecurity, it is only a matter of time before we have a Hobbesian society on our hands.
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