This climate of insecurity – Tribune

Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari astounded not a few Nigerians and possibly members of the international community when he claimed that the security situation in the country had improved. In a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the president said that the term “rising insecurity” should be replaced with “reality of declining insecurity.” He urged the media to address the tone, content and standards of reporting on security and safety measures. According to him, the increased cooperation and collaboration with the citizenry, coupled with a reinvigorated, dynamic and energised police, security and military leadership was helping the administration to score more victories against terror, criminality, and economic sabotage. And so the president arrived at a verdict: “The reality of declining insecurity should replace the inaccurate narrative of rising insecurity in the country.”

Instructively, monumental security breaches and tragedies took place across the country just before and after the president’s unwarranted homily. For instance, gunmen attacked the Goronyo market in Sokoto, Sokoto State, killing 43 people in cold blood. The number of casualties was confirmed by the state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who had earlier put the figure at about 30 when the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Farouk Yahaya, paid him a courtesy visit. In the same week, unknown gunmen stormed the venue of a meeting of some traditional rulers and stakeholders at Nnenasa in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, killing two traditional rulers instantly. Many people sustained various degrees of injury as they scampered for safety. The names of the victims were given as Eze E. Duruebere of Okwudor autonomous community and Eze Sampson Osunwa of Ihebinowerre autonomous community, both in Njaba. Imo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Mike Abattam, confirmed the incident, saying that  investigations were ongoing to ascertain the circumstances surrounding it.

And in yet another dastardly incident, no fewer than 30 passengers were reportedly abducted by bandits at Konar Barau village in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State. The passengers were abducted as the outlaws waylaid three vehicles comprising an 18-seater bus and two other vehicles. According to reports, they stormed the Zungeru Garun Gabas highway in large numbers, shooting sporadically to scare villagers, before kidnapping the passengers. The state Commissioner of Police, Monday Kuryas, confirmed the incident. Again during the week, terrorists blew up portions of the Abuja/Kaduna railway, causing apprehension around the country and forcing the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) to temporarily suspend operations on the route.

If the foregoing establishes anything, it is the fact that the presidency is disconnected from the reality of the security situation in the country. In the face of blood-curdling and heart-rending developments across the country, the media has sought to give Nigerians an accurate picture, and it is disingenuous to suggest that their reporting of crime and criminality is inaccurate.  It is indeed saddening that amid unceasing threats to life and property, the Federal Government appears to be at its wits’ end. The security situation in the country is so dire that during last week’s congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger State, the state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, reportedly headed back to the Government House when he saw the rowdy nature of proceedings. He later returned to the venue  in a bullet-proof vehicle. If governors, the supposed Chief Security Officers of their respective states, are themselves wary of the security situation in the country, it is time to accept the fact that the country is in a deep mess.

To say the least, the climate of insecurity in the country is pervasive, and no realistic development can be achieved until it is drastically curbed. Almost on a daily basis, the terrorists who rule vast swathes of Nigerian territory continue to defy the state, making laws for the people and punishing dissent with death. Farmers cannot plant or harvest their crops without paying hefty fines. Killer herdsmen continue their sexual assault and killing spree undeterred by the State, while the increasingly blood-thirsty gunmen of the South-East impose authoritarian rule on the zone, making life a misery for millions. The country’s highways, ruled by kidnappers and bandits, are deathtraps, as are the railways which hitherto provided some reasonable level of comfort security-wise.

It is time governments at all levels woke up to their responsibilities and arrested the lawlessness prevalent across the country. Democracy, by its very nature, cannot co-exist with pervasive insecurity. It is time to redraw the map of security strategies and halt the agony in the land.

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