Since the advent of Boko Haram insurgency in 2009, the security situation in Nigeria has continued to worsen. In the last three and half years, it has intensified across the length and breadth of the country. This has been worsened by the brazen and wanton killings by herdsmen. On top of these are other forms of social vices such as kidnapping and ritual killings. Most people believe that these gory tales have been underreported even in the news media.
The statistics are galling. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) about 1,061 persons were killed by Fulani militias in the Middle Belt in the first quarter of 2018. In its survey, Amnesty International put the number of deaths across 17 states since the beginning of the year at 1, 8143. The U.S. Council on Foreign Relations earlier put the figure of those killed since June 2015- to date at 19, 890 while between 2011 and 2018, about 54,595 lives were lost due to the activities of the insurgents.
Little wonder that the 2018 Global Index on Terrorism (GIT) report rated Nigeria as the third most terrorised country in the world, trailing only behind Iraq and Afghanistan. Given the above figures, and if the trend of killings persists, the country would soon find itself competing in ranking with war torn countries of Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. These developments again call for an interrogation of the security architecture of the country as this newspaper has repeatedly noted.
It is to be noted that there was a general awareness of this dire security situation in the country when the people decided to elect an ex-general and civil war veteran to rein in the hopeless situation in the country. Therefore, it is scandalous and alarming that the incumbent leadership in the country is still shopping for solution to a major problem it promised the electorate that it would resolve if elected three and half years ago.
Curiously, therefore, the incapacity of the Buhari administration to deal with the security problems confronting the country became too obvious recently. While receiving a security report from Course 40 participants at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at the presidential villa, the president read copiously from the book of lamentation, claiming that he inherited a number of security problems upon assuming power in 2015. He stressed further that it was the reason while he had to task the management of NIPPS to strengthen the internal security framework. The president, of course, reiterated the well-known clichés about the absence of inter-agency collaboration and the ramifying nature of the security problems in the country. This is incredibly scandalous. You cannot use a whole four-year tenure in office blaming the lack of capacity of your predecessors. Governments are changed to face society’s challenges that the incumbents cannot resolve.
We have highlighted this reality several times on this page and in 2016 the point was also underscored in the Country Report on Terrorism of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism, which then noted the frosty or non-existent cooperation and coordination amongst the Nigerian security agencies, namely, the Army, Police, Department of State Services and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission among others.
The president would be well advised to stop lamenting about the security situation and its intractability. To be sure, well-meaning and knowledgeable Nigerians and organisations have suggested ways to end the security siege in the country. It bears repeating that the security architecture in the country needs to be substantially transformed in ways that can inspire patriotism in the personnel, ensure inter-agency collaboration and optimum use of resources and other appurtenances of security. How many times have experts suggested to the President about the expediency of tinkering with the ranks of the security chiefs? Even those that were long due for retirement were asked to stay on. This too is inexplicable when zeal and sophistication of young officers are a desideratum.
It is important to note that when the security offices and agencies are curiously dominated by sectional interest, patriotism, loyalty would be absent. Besides, when the leadership of the country plays politics by refusing to name the sponsors of the insurgents, whether internal or external, the war is doomed even before takeoff. When procurement of armament, often a government-to government affair is shrouded in mystery, the end result would be failure. Also, when a government refuses to act against killer herdsmen, it can only perpetuate impunity and engender a security dilemma. Above all, when the economic climate is disabled, the net effect will certainly be aggravation of the security problem.
Time has therefore come for the president to know that the public is weary of the act of speaking in tongues. The reasons the electorate gave their mandate in the last election was to superintend the security and welfare of the people which is the primary purpose of government. That is in the organic law of the land.
Unfortunately, the Buhari administration is yet to gain a handle to the problem beyond howling and buck-passing and it appears too late in the day given the expanding frontiers of the security problem.
It is getting curiouser and curiouser too that even the North-west that has enjoyed some degree of stability is pitching into the general atmosphere of siege as it was invaded by ‘jihadists’, the other day, which the Inspector General of Police claimed were ‘herdsmen’ from Mali. But no one has yet provided the country with reason for such alleged audacity from abroad.
In current circumstances, the options are limited. But first, the Defence and Security Council requires radical overhaul. Indeed, as this newspaper has repeatedly noted, the composition of the Defence and Security Council should be broad-based to command national respect and acceptability. It is not a good thing to continually ask when citizens of the most populous black nation on earth will feel secure in their country.
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