The emotional and lachrymose outburst of Senator Smart Adeyemi, among other senators, at the plenary session of the Senate on national security lately; as well as the affirmation by Senator Sani Musa (Niger East) that Boko Haram had captured and hoisted their flags in three local government areas of Niger State, have dramatically drummed home the worsening insecurity that is drowning this country. Nigeria, no doubt is under siege; and the citizens are mercilessly caught in it.
Anarchy is threatening from every corner. The carnage, suffering, fear and trauma envisioned in recent years have now become signposts of existence in Nigeria today. It has never been this bad. Now, the message is loud and clear, despite pockets of optimism being expressed by the likes of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the country may very well be experiencing the beginning of worse things to come, and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, by acts of commission and omission, is complicit.
As if deliberately planned to work out this way, Nigeria is acting as a monstrous self-consuming lupus, eating away the very organs that give it life. Traumatising news reports rent the air with stories of continuous massive killings that are becoming routinely numbing; of herders on killing spree, of Nigerian soldiers at cross-purposes in the north east, of the killing of five undergraduates of Greenfield University, of arsonists on the prowl in the south east, and numerous abductions. Only a few days ago, it was reported that bandits flaunted their impunity in grand style as they rode around Abuja border towns.
There seems to be a vengeful, draconian acquiescence with some external forces to compromise the security system in order to punish Nigerians. How does one explain the unwillingness to even admit that there is grave insecurity problem in the country? How does one explain the posturing of elements in the Presidency making pretentious justification for gross insensitivity? This is uncanny. The devil-may-care attitude trailing these incidents has invited dangerous speculation indicting the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for complicity in the worsening insecurity. Nigeria is indeed inching towards a deliberately contrived self-annihilation.
It is most disheartening that despite the gallantry with which Nigerian soldiers are traditionally associated with, the military seems to lack the cohesion and consistency needed to successfully prosecute the war against insurgency and banditry. They sometimes act as if programmed to fail, while at other times, they appear combat-ready and act decisively. Is the Nigerian military a split institution so managed to carry out a sinister agenda? Or are they so handicapped in terms of equipment? What has Nigerians done to the ruling elite to be inflicted with so much fear, pain and trauma? Not even the language of the presidential aides suggests any intent to raise hope that Nigerians earnestly yearn for.
There is little doubt that the insularity and clannish patronage of Buhari have informed the distrust, suspicion and growing unpopularity being expressed by a cross section of well-meaning Nigerians for the administration. Buhari’s past utterances which often highlighted favourable disposition towards the Boko Haram, as well as his tribal sentiments for the Fulani herders, a section of which have become the dreaded killer squad, have also not helped matters.
Whether or not the president considers it necessary to declare a state of emergency against bandits and terrorists in order to end this national carnage, the country is already in an emergency. His onerous duty as president is to mobilise all security apparatuses and, in an undiscriminating manner, rather than selectively, deal with these enemies of the country. As this newspaper stated in a lead comment on security, Buhari “must disabuse the minds of Nigerians about stories making the rounds of a supposed Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda for the country. He should make clear and decisive statements about the calamitous end this development would lead. His statements, in the wake of sustained violence and unconscionable massacres, have been feeble, vague and misleading. While he has been quick to respond to perceived enemies of state with intimidating military might, he has not been able to match killer herdsmen and bandits with equal action.”
Furthermore, this government should enable the states to police their territories as they deem fit. This imperative is now urgent, no thanks to the lack of political will still being exhibited by both the Presidency and the National Assembly. As we had cause to state before now: “No one needs any convincing that the country is overdue for the establishment of state police and localised security management systems. All the trouble spots in the country began as escalated and mismanaged local crises. The time is ripe for the decentralisation of the Nigerian Police as well as the formal establishment of well-organised community security watches for pro-active security management of the land.”
Nigerians want to see government on top of the game. The only way to demonstrate this is for good news expressing defeat of Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers. Nigerians want to see a president who has gone beyond mere routine bureaucratic process to commit himself to win this ongoing war. So far, his actions or lack of it have sold more fear and mistrust to Nigerians than understanding.
It is worth recalling that beside inundating the country with heads of security agencies from the north, the president’s arbitrary actions in offering sizeable public funds to the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria; granting licence for the establishment of a Fulani Radio have only emboldened terrorists, bandits and kidnappers who negotiate ransom through phone calls that are not tracked. Inaction on the part of the president to seriously address insecurity has been stronger than any routine speech expressing commitment. The military has become a pathetic victim of this seeming official complicity.
However, assuming that the government lacks capacity, the president must sincerely seek help that he is belatedly doing. While Nigeria direly needs all the help it can muster, it should be under no illusion that any country, including the United States of America, will send her troops to the jungle that Nigeria has become amid a profound official lethargy. Thus, as commander-in-chief, Buhari must ensure collaboration in efforts to deal with the insurgents and bandits.
In all, the president must display sincerity of purpose to recover Nigeria. He is expected to demonstrate that he is not perfecting a well-crafted script against Nigerians and therefore bite the bullet in this war. If Buhari fails in this regard, he will be presiding over the violent disintegration of the country.