By Yaya Ademola
SINCE Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, declared his presidential ambition on 10th April, 2022 for the 2023 general elections, the polity and politics have gone electromagnetic especially in the South-West Nigeria, between the supporters of the former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is also an aspirant for same President position and Osinbajo’s supporters. The intrigues, speculations and calculations of each side of the divides despite the fact that there are other powerful aspirants for the same position in same party have been very interesting and deserve critical analysis ahead of the party presidential primary slated for 30 May, 2022.
However, this will be an issue to treat the next edition. For now, our preoccupation is on how to fight and conquer Terrorism, Terrorists and their sponsors as nowhere seems to be safe any long with almost daily attacks, killings and kidnapping for ransom on the road; same experience in the train and train stations and in the airports as terrorist activities have radically metamorphosed from cattle rustling and killings of farmers in their farmland.
Paradoxical complexity of terrorist attacks have made some authorities in Nigeria, like Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, call for engagement of external mercenaries, as our armed forces seem incapable of ending the scourge. I, however, disagree with El-Rufai and co and align with the position of Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), in toto, that we do not need external help to fight and conquer insecurity; that our military and other security agencies have capacity once the government does the needful by equipping them with more sophisticated weapon and boost their morale. Besides, the bandits and their sponsors should have been exposed, tried and prosecuted very long time ago, which would have broken their chain of supply and logistics. This alone would have made easy the job of our intelligence and military incursion to defeating terrorism. Unfortunately, what is on ground is very disheartening.
For instance, for a very long time, the government had been very reluctant in labelling gunmen and bandits terrorists. After many years of foot dragging in pronouncing bandits terrorists, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, granted an ex parte application for gunmen and terrorists to be declared terrorists on 25, November, 2021. In spite this, it still took the government weeks to heed the judgment.
Eventually, on 6th January, 2022, Nigerian government, through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, made an official Gazette declaring bandits terrorists. In a similar development, on the 6th of February, 2022, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, at a press conference in Abuja, said it had uncovered 96 financiers of Boko Haram terrorists’ group and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP). He further said that 424 associates and supporters of the financiers were also uncovered; about 123 companies and 33 Bureau de change were linked to the terrorists in addition to 26 suspected bandits/kidnappers and 7 co-conspirators indentified. But all these are mere announcements on paper. What practical steps have been taken to try all these criminals and their associates as listed by the government? Is there somebody behind the scene holding down the government from doing the needful? Are there some problems Nigerians don’t know but only known to the government that are inhibiting open trial of these criminals while Nigerians are being daily killed, maimed, rapped, kidnapped for ransom among others? For how long shall we wait for government to protect our lives and property as sworn by the President when taking the oath of office?
As at today, it is difficult to have a statistic of deaths recorded as a result of terrorists’ attacks as they happen almost everyday and have become parts of our existence. There is a conservative estimate of 230,000 deaths and over 3 million people displaced as at March, 2022. A study has it that Nigeria recorded the second highest number of people who died in terrorist attacks worldwide after Afghanistan with several groups of terrorists’ attacks on civilian and military targets, especially in the northern part of the country.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had, since September 2021, named six Nigerians with ties to Boko Haram and terrorists financiers. UAE authorities didn’t stop at that; they tried and prosecuted them.
The manner with which terrorism is handled by the authorities in Nigeria seems to suggest possibility of terrorists’ collaboration within our security forces on the one hand and terrorists seem to have had larger capacity in terms of logistics and advanced weaponry than our national security agencies. The situation seems to suggest that there are some very rich and powerful individuals who have power of the laws of the land to perfect their evil and they seem to be succeeding. Otherwise, how could Nigeria have all the facts showcased by Minister of Information and nothing concrete is done in exposing and prosecuting terrorists’ sponsors? Nigeria government is responsible and accountable to us. It must be prepared to take a bold step, including stepping on some big toes, to salvage this degenerate situation. After all, the President and Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces owes us fulfilling an oath he sworn to – protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Our practical experiences in the past years have shown that insecurity and war are same. Either of the two breeds anxiety, uncertainty and despair. Development will certainly elude any society with these attributes and over a period of time, it may go into extinction as production and reproduction system that ensures continuity of life of mankind will be constantly disrupted and eventually come to a halt.
As presidential campaigns activities begin towards 2023 general election, anybody who wants to wear President Buhari’s shoes must not only assure us and demonstrate capacity to expose sponsors of terrorists and prosecute them, he/she must be prepared to mop up internal conspiracy in our system – in government and security agencies – and equip security agencies with latest sophisticated weaponry to fight with motivational incentives to boost morale of our security forces to defeat terrorism.