BY ADEMOLA YAYA
UNTIL 2011, anytime bombings and killings were being reported in Nigerian media, especially on electronics media, they were always items under foreign news; they never had anything to do with our local realities. Such news items were only associated with Iraq, Rwanda, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and other war-torn countries. In fact, one could jokingly address a friend who looked thin and pale due to stress or other factors as looking like a “Somali.” I had severally made use of the expression and one of such occasions was with a sitting governor – Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola – in the presence of his Chief of Staff, Gboyega Oyetola. I said, “Oga, I don’t know how you’ve gotten it, you are now looking better. Keep it up.” He queried immediately, “How did I look?” I replied him point blank, “You were looking like a Somali who needed UN urgent intervention!” The COS immediately rebuked me and said, “Will you stop that? How could you be addressing Oga like that? What kind of a person are you?” But Mr. Governor intervened instantaneously and said, “Please, allow him talk. He says things as he sees them.” Of course, I meant no disrespect, the COS only took the banter too seriously.
Aside 6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970 Nigerian Civil War, bombings and mass killings were alien to Nigeria. While there could be some crimes, criminalities and skirmishes here and there, we were largely used to sleeping with our two eyes closed as the security agencies were up to the task of containing and preventing them from developing into large scale insecurity. As we speak in Nigeria today, insurgency, banditry and terrorism have become daily routine. Mass kidnapping has become a lucrative business as it occurs every day with families paying millions of Naira as ransom to secure release of their members, while the unlucky ones pay ransom and still lose their own to kidnappers’ cruelty. While the military and other securities agencies have done and have continued to do their very best to arrest this pathetic situation, some bad eggs among them have made winning the battle difficult as they work and give intelligence to these criminal gangs.
Recently, there were reports of arrest of bandits’ arms suppliers and negotiators by security agencies. Zamfara Police have, for instance, arrested and paraded 10 informants who supply arms and ammunitions, food stuff, motorcycles, military uniforms, negotiate and deliver ransom to the bandits in their enclaves. While these security efforts are commendable, they are just a scratch on the surface. Terrorists’ real sponsors are known by the authorities and until they are all arrested, paraded and prosecuted, the carnage would not stop. Although, I don’t have inkling to reason for terror, those behind terrorism have succeeded to a very large extent. They have demonstrated the capacity to make states and nation ungovernable; they have dramatically rendered the slogan, “promoting the welfare and security of citizens” as the directing principle of state as enshrined in the Preamble of Nigeria 1999 Constitution, as amended, impracticable. Terrorism has created fear in the mind of the populace, closed business environment and shattered lofty government infrastructures and welfare targeted for the people’s comfort. It has rendered many children orphans and many families in permanent tears and sorrow for loss of their breadwinners. Only those affected could express their feelings of perpetual pain and anguish. Nowhere is safe any long – mosque, church, farm, home, road, trains, airports and everywhere!
Again, terrorists have chased farmers out of the farmland which has, to a very large extent, contributed to the skyrocketing prices of staple foods and consumables that are now out of the reach of the poor who are the mass majority in Nigeria. Some farmers in the North-East, the food basket of Nigeria, were reportedly killed in their farms while others spoke to their legs and abandoned the farms.
Yes, more than any previous governments, President Muhammadu Buhari administration has revived our rail transport system which had literarily died. It has reconstructed and made functional, among others, 156km Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge; 327km Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge; 203.8 Kano-Kaduna Standard Gauge; 186km Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge among others. Not rail alone, the regime has put in place many huge road infrastructures that will make movements and travels easy for Nigerians but terrorists have made these road and rail infrastructures unsafe for use. 28th March, 2022 attack on Abuja-Kaduna train in Katari alone had more than 65 people kidnapped and left at least 8 people dead, including a medical doctor, a lawyer, TUC Secretary-General and APC Youth Leader.
If the truth must be said, our security infrastructure is shipwrecked. Assuming and conceding that the armed forces and other security agencies are able to deliver on President Buhari’s December, 2022 deadline to nip insecurity in the bud, we should not be so joyous. It is on the foundation of security of lives and property that all other things are built. We must ask questions from those presidential candidates who want to take over from Buhari via 2023 general elections what they would do differently to address our security challenges and restore peace, tranquility and prosperity to our land. Anyone of them that could not satisfactorily convince us of his/her strong security architecture outlay does not deserve our votes. We must eschew ethnic sentiment but give our mandates to who could secure our lives and properties first and turnaround our pathetic situation and hopelessness.