BY ADEMOLA YAYA
THE recent spate of kidnap, killings and attacks in South-West calls for concern. Around 6pm of Friday, 28th October, 2022, Professor Adigun Agbaje, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) of the University of Ibadan who is currently on sabbatical at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, was kidnapped very close to Sat Guru Maharaji Garden, Lagos/Ibadan Expressway having eliminated some policemen around the scene before making away with the Prof. The kidnappers demanded N50m ransom. That same weekend, 29th October, 2022, Nigeria Police confirmed kidnap of unspecified number of motorists and commuters at the same Lagos/Ibadan expressway. Yes, kidnappings and terrorism live with us on a daily basis but they have been mostly concentrated in the North, especially North-East. Turning Lagos-Ibadan route into another Kaduna- Abuja unsafe route is unacceptable! Politics and 2023 general elections have made the South-West Governors to be docile to their core responsibility of protecting the lives and propertyof our people; we have been turned into commodities with various hostage values of raw cash.
On 26th of October, the United States and United Kingdom Embassies raised an alarm and alert of a heightened risk of terrorist attacks especially in the Federal Capital, Abuja. The two authorities have closed down and warned their citizens living in Nigeria to avoid crowded areas like shopping malls, transport terminals, etc. This threat of terror has forced some elementary and secondary private schools to shut down; Jabi lake Mall in Utako area of Abuja also shutdown on Thursday, 27th October till further notice for safety of shoppers and staff. In fact, President Muhammadu Buhari schedule to commission the National Agency for Science And Engineering Infrastructure’s new Technology and Innovation Complex on Monday, 31 October, 2022 had to be postponed till further notice, despite strident disclaimer of terror alert by government spokespersons. This very Monday, October 31, Mr. President had to summonan emergency security meeting to “further review and strengthen the security network in the country,” according to Garba Shehu, President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity.
Although, insecurity and terrorism have become a global threat and not peculiar to any particular country or region, our ruling elite have overtly and covertly manufactured and nurtured terrorism and kidnapping for decades. Their neo-liberal policies have translated into economic hardship, dysfunctional education, unemployment, out of school children and numerous attacks on the working and living conditions of the mass majority of the people. They have frustrated institutions from functioning, thus allowing impunity, injustice and snail-pace judicial process. They have continued to sponsor violence against perceived enemies but shield their thugs from arrest and prosecutions. All these, amongst others, have been their practice for decades with which APC rode to power as a change harbinger in 2015, using massive propaganda including many uncharitable names-callings: clueless, inept, etc, against the Jonathan-led PDP administration.
Confronted with a new template of terrorism and kidnapping, the APC ruling government, since 2015, could not bail us out all the way from the North-East to the entire North to South-East and the entire South and now a threat to the seat of power – Federal Capital Territory. For a very long time, the ruling APC government had refused to label gunmen and bandits terrorists until this year – 6/1/2022 – through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in an official Gazette. Despite the fact that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced to the world on 6th February, 2022 in a Press Conference in Abuja, that the government had uncovered 96 financiers of Boko Haram terrorists’ group, 424 associates and supporters of the financiers, 123 companies and 33 Bureau De Change linked to them, no practical steps have been taken to arrest and prosecute them! Meanwhile, United Arab Emirates (UAE) had, since September 2021, named 6 Nigerians with ties to Boko Haram and terrorists’ financiers and had arrested, tried and prosecuted them.
The marching order by President Muhammadu Buhari to all security agencies to restore normalcy by the end of this year will be an illusion in delusion except the needful is done –taking decisive military campaign to arrest the terrorists known sponsors and crush the terrorists with a motivated and highly equipped armed forces; apprehend all kidnappers and their sponsors and everyone who makes business of violent crimes and bringing them to summary justice devoid of ceremony as in a state of emergency we are truly in.
Anything other than immediate display of zero tolerance of kidnapping, terror and violent crimes through superior force and demonstrated might with the full power of the state is a harbinger for impending doom, to an inconclusive 2023 general elections, to power vacuum, and to a downward plunge into anarchy – as the security forces will be over stretched to all nooks and crannies during the forthcoming general elections.
Having had successive and conclusive general elections, the new government must immediately kick-start implementation of a medium and long term economic and political solution. There must be massive investment in public education for a free and qualitative education to every child especially at the primary to secondary school level. Any parent who refuses to send his/her ward to school must be criminalised and punished. There must be a policy drive for all our workforce and young people to be trained and be skillful in all areas of life. This will make them employable, productive and engaged. There must be immediate arrangement for revert to true federalism as against the present unitary system masked with federalist cosmetics. Every region/state must own its resources, develop at its own pace and contribute to the federal purse. There must be policy drive to go back to the land vis-à-vis mechanised farming and agro-allied. It has unlimited potentials to massively engage the young but skillful people that will make foods and consumables affordable, run new factories and strengthen our naira. We must locally refine our crude oil for consumption with excess for exportation. Implementation of the aforesaid alone will rapidly eliminate anxiety, uncertainty and despair; it will translate our consumption economy to productive and reproductive system that will ensure prosperity, decent living and happiness for the majority of our people. However, does any of the candidates for 2023 general elections has what it takes to turn things around? This is the bottom-line.