WEDNESDAY COLUMN by USSIJU MEDANER
This is my country. I love this country and its people and wish, above every other thing, that we get our acts together and come out of the travail of insecurity we are fully embroiled in. But frankly speaking, the country at present, does not present a probable tendency of an end to the insecurity that is plummeting it. We do not possess semblance of a nation and people yearning for an end to the many killings ravaging us, rather, we revel in the exhibition of political and tribal relevancies and superiority we amass from the continued killings across the country and the unique nature of reporting of the killings.
Despite the undeniable efforts of the federal government and the Nigeria Army at ending insurgency and terminating banditry across the northern Nigeria, incidents of attacks and kidnapping of Nigerians is suddenly on the rise again; the clandestine operations of the Boko Haram sect, which are both intolerable and unacceptable by the government is on a steep increase.
When the Muhammadu Buhari Administration came on board in 2015, the agenda was and still remains to uphold the sanctity of the lives of Nigerians and guarantee the citizens the security of their lives and properties. The government believes the lives of Nigerians are sacred and must be protected by all means at its disposal. This drive is geared towards bringing respite to Nigerians regardless of where they live and the nation must once again be able to truly concentrate on issues with direct and positive bearings on national growth and development. We hardly have had that opportunity; over the last three decades, our focus has been more on the killings that have undisputedly become one too many; from the militancy in the Niger Delta, to the rise of Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, to the spreading menace of banditry, kidnapping, and highway robbery, and a list of other seemingly uncontrollable criminalities of epidemic classification. We have been totally distracted and stagnated.
Without being a harbinger of evil news, Nigeria is not seeing an end to these many killings now or in the nearest future. This is because, winning the kind of war we are currently fighting in Nigeria requires a collective collaboration of all units and groups in the country; it requires the manifestation of an unprecedented level of cooperation and unity, the kind alien to us. Rather than wanting to see the end of the trouble, we mostly, consciously enjoy the use of the killings to open up the wounds of the many divisions in our body polity, engaging in political rhetoric that supply benefits to groups and interests behind the killings. The reality of the Nigeria security landscape is the gross emergent of the population who believe more in the need to benefit from continuous invasion of the country by killing machines. They seem to prosper from the continuous attacks and bloodsheds that have been ransacking the nation over the past years.
This would be the only rational explanation to the responses of several members of the elite population, that seem joyous by their responses, actions and dispositions to each and every other attacks that claim lives in the country. It is here in Nigeria that individuals, politicians wake up each day wishing for the news of yet another killing to discredit their perceived political “enemies.” They are always the first to erroneously comment on all killing, creating needless tension and instigating the masses against the government.
The nation Nigeria is populated by a people who willingly choose to fuel the ember of disunity and separation along all possible divides and celebrate their differences far more than they ever celebrate their nation. A people that have resolved to satisfy personal thirst at the expense of the country’s needs and therefore poised to engage in any act that will deliver their selfish individual and group needs. We have mostly become like war merchants who orchestrate wars to sell weapons to all factions in the war; benefiting from the non-ending wars and the killings it represents
Weeks ago, we had the omen of the youths taking over the streets of the nation, demanding for changes that are rational desirable; though, emerging uncomfortable realities after the events appear as a politically orchestrated and sponsored outing meant to serve as precursor to the possible takeover of power by the political opposition, and a more direct attack on the strength and the popularity of the Lagos state ace man and one of the grand leaders of the ruling party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The undeniable evidence of targeted attacks on his properties and name and the unbelievable non-attack on any other political leader’s properties or name during the entire outing in the state remain enough to come to the conclusion of a planned and targeted attack. The youth rolled out ‘Soro Soke;’ vowing to end the reign of the ruling party in Lagos as a litmus test to what they will do in 2023.
The youths and the list of celebrities were mostly paid for the job they did; paid by Nigerians who are hell bent on becoming and controlling the resources of the country for their personal use. Politicians who are bent on returning power, to the old days of unchecked corruption and feeding the citizens with crumbs to shut up their mouths while infrastructural developments are once again relegated to the background and the nation’s borders are once again wide open for uncontrolled importation while we continue complaining of unemployment. And in total manifestation of what is more important to us, we have gotten paid, set the nation on fire and resort to the side benches enjoying the proceeds of the services we render to the Dubai strategists and evil men who are bent on converting Nigeria to their private property. If the youths had been the originators of the ENDSARS protest and the brains and forces behind the occupation of the streets as was witnessed, Soro Soke would have become a force of the order of Kwara state Otoge that humiliated PDP and Bukola Saraki out of the state’s political setting. No, the same people; the same youths, were in Lagos last Saturday when a number of by-elections were held across the state, but forgot they wanted Soro Soke! The touted Soro Soke generation that, weeks ago, declared to chase APC out of government suddenly went to sleep when they had a legitimate opportunity at the poll; APC won all the by-elections in Lagos so convincingly that it appears most of the very youths who participated in the bogus protest were the same who made up the number for the APC votes in the election, most especially in the very Lekki of nation attention.
And that is one of the reasons we are not ready to see the end of not just the killings but other atrocities being perpetrated against Nigeria by Nigerians. When we accept to be paid to occupy the streets; not because we are tired of the unpalatable events and genuinely wanted to effect changes but because we want to get paid to help certain jackals to seize control of the government and resources of the country.
And who are these people we are helping? Who are these people we want to hand over our nation to? The same people, who over the last twenty two years have administered the country and turned the nation to the mess it is now. The same people that oversaw the dilapidation and total collapse of the nation’s refineries until we lost our refining power and become a total refined-product-importing nation with all the implications for the nation; the same people that oversaw the collapse of hundreds of companies and businesses in the country, leading to the collapse of the nation’s capacity to employ its youths and teeming job seekers; the same people who despite continued yearly huge allocation to fix the nation’s power generation and distribution challenges exited the stage leaving the country in darkness; the same people who till now have no tenable defense to the weighty allegations of corruption perpetrated while in office beyond the rhetoric of claiming others are corrupt too and attempts to bring them to justice are acts of political victimisation; the same people who housed the Diezani, Dasuki and the likes and are not repentant of their acts against the survival of Nigeria; the same people who are overwhelmingly of the opinion that corruption is not stealing. These are the same people we prefer, and openly support. These are the people we are ready to turn the country upside down to install in power.
I am so worried realising that the country presently does not possess any path to overcoming the gross insecurity challenges it faces from a number of fronts simultaneously. When it becomes obvious that a large number of Nigerians who should, as patriotic citizens, take the position of responding with empathy and decisively corroborating public efforts at addressing the nation’s insecurity challenges, have instead chosen the way of pleasing their political and associations biases. When we have unexplainably arrived at a destination where we see only negatives that we prefer to see and responding in manners that expands events, verified or not, to feed the relevance of our preferred narratives. When altogether, we close our eyes to the myriads of undeniable massive achievements of the current Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari across all critical sectors; most times, wading them off as the responsibilities of government that do not require anyone praising him for doing. Yet, these are individually and collectively, development the country has been yearning for in decades. The second Niger Bridge, the revival of railway transportation, the rice revolution, and the citizens targeted social services programs across all ages and the endless list.
It is obvious the nation is under attack and it remains the responsibility of the government to respond decisively to guarantee the security of the least of its citizens. We must accept there is no perfect person or a perfect government, but it will be a complete aberration to utter in any way, that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has underperformed in its security policy direction, most especially when compared to the responses and achievements of previous governments in the same sector. When acclaimed leaders of thought, religious leaders and high caliber political opposition leaders take to their oiled podium to berate government response, claiming non-action by the government and begin to popularise the past administration of Goodluck Jonathan, birthing the rhetoric of apologising to the former president for maltreating him when he had done better job on the nation’s security. I suddenly realised how far we are from getting relief from the problems facing us as a country when trusted men of God, have by abusing the control they have over their flocks, just exactly the way politicians use the financial control they exert on their bases, to instill the narrative that the government has utterly failed; that the government is doing nothing to protect their lives and properties; that it was an error for them to have voted out the government of Goodluck Jonathan in 2015; and that it is time to begin getting ready to vote out the ruling party. These people are absolutely conversant with the efforts of the government and its achievements so far in its security drives; they are aware of the hundreds of arrests of criminals on daily basis across the country; they are aware of the continuous decimation of bandits and the killings of the Boko Haram members on a regular basis. They are preferably silent on these and choose to raise their voices to propagate the news of insurgent attacks.
These people, the clergies who are now becoming the all-knowing and the self-acclaimed political leaders were all part of the country when we had the real definition of what insecurity is. They were there and witnessed the time when Boko Haram onslaught was at its peak while resistance from the government was minimal and poorly coordinated; when the morale of the men of the Nigerian military force was at its minimum; when Boko Haram became the lords of the North-East region of the country, holding and controlling territories; when they enter the cities and villages in convoy in absolute defiance to the nation’s military force and killed, maimed and vandalised various settlements with impunity.
How could they ever compare the operations of the Boko Haram and insecurity in general prior 2015 to what is happening now? Nowhere in Nigeria was safe before 2015; Abuja was unsafe; people slept in fear; Suleja was constantly under attack. Soldiers were deployed in every settlement in Abuja; government buildings were not safe; official meetings were held indoors; villages were completely overtaken in the North-East as Boko Haram marched into towns in convoy and wreaked havoc on the people. In the region, schools were closed, airport closed, farms deserted, women and children captured in their hundreds every now and then.
Today, Boko Haram hide and creep out to carry out their clandestine operation; you sleep at peace in Abuja and every other area they freely operated before. We only tell people what Boko Haram is doing but keep mum about the good work of our valiant forces that keep depleting the rank of the insurgent.
In 2014, the insurgents killed more than 10,000 Nigerians as quoted by the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relation; in the same year, more than a million Nigerians were displaced by the insurgency and thousands fled into Chad and Cameroon. The list is endless; November 4, 2011, Damaturu attack that claimed over 150 lives; the December 2011 Maiduguri and Damaturu attack that claimed over 72 lives; the Madalla, Niger state, attack that killed more than 41 and injure 73 worshippers in a Catholic Church; the January 5 and 6 attacks across Mubi, Yola, Gombi and Maiduguri that led to the death of more than 37 Nigerians; the January 20, 2012 Kano attack that claimed the lives of about 190 Nigerians; the April 8, 2012 Kaduna bombing with a death toll of 38; the June 7, 2012 Wusasa and Sabon Gari church bombings in Kaduna that left over 33 dead and 80 injured; the Deeper Life Church shooting on august 7, 2012 in Okene that killed 19; the April 19, 2013 massacre at Baga that left over 228 bodies; Mamudo government secondary school (Yobe) shooting on July 6, 2013 that killed at least 41 students and a teacher; the about 50 students killed at the male dormitory of the College of Agriculture, Gujba, Yobe state on September 29, 2013; the Kawuri massacre on January 11, 2014 with a death toll of 85; the February 11, 2014, killing of about 39 Nigerians in Konduga, Borno state. An attack that lasted for over 9 hours without help from anywhere; it was on record that the sect arrived on a Tuesday night in a truck, operated almost all-night, razed down a mosque and more than 1000 houses. At Federal Government College Buni Yadi in Yobe state, on February 25, 2014, 59 student were gunned down; April 14, 2014, two bomb explosion incidents at Nyanya, the outskirt of Abuja killed about 71 Nigerians; more than 300 people were gun down as they tried to escape at Gamboru, Borno state on May 6, 2014; between 200 and 300 people were killed in an attack on a village in Gwoza, Borno state on June 2, 2014; at the Kano State School of Hygiene, in June 23, 2014, more than 200 were killed by a bomb blast.
We cannot ever have genuine reason to rationalise death, regardless of where it happened or who the victims are. It would serve the nation no profit on the way to end these maniac behaviours and killings across our land by wanting to accumulate personal gains from the perils of the country; what is necessary at this point should be what we all should do to stop this menace.
It is high time we disregarded those who operate only to benefit from these perils. The same people who superintended the sharing of the capital voted for fighting the insurgency and watched children, women and the old dying like chickens while they were getting richer should not in a saner community have the audacity to take the high moral grounds being taken now. The clergies across religious beliefs that were busy campaigning for PDP and its candidates and running errands sharing blood money during those years without condemning their failure to save the country should not suddenly become the voice of the masses.
The good news for patriotic Nigerians is that these elements with all their stolen resources with which they thought they could buy off the rationalities of the citizens and sway them from the goods of the nation will always engage in futile exercises. They can only buy a few million of the over two hundred million Nigerians; that much we saw at the ENDSARS protest. They will never be able to pay the price to turn the patriotic Nigerians against the country. The results of the last week by-elections are a testament to that and the hope we carry into the future as we wait for love to prevail over hatred in our dealings with the country. Nigeria, despite the continuous attacks on its survival is still the land of millions who have recognised the nation would overcome its travails when they come together to transform their various communities, instilling national consciousness and patriotism in all citizens across the country for national development.
This is a critical period for the survival of nations globally. Saudi Arabia for the first time in its history is removing social benefits from a large proportion of its population while also raising the value added tax by as much as 300 percent. India has gone into recession for the first time in over eighty years. Developed countries are bailing out their economies repeatedly to suppress what is an obvious index of recession. The United State of America is on its knees, crumbling and begging for rescue; hunger is rising, unemployment is rising; a huge population of the country is now surviving on handouts of groceries organised by non-profits. Nonprofits feeding America estimates over 50 million citizens will be considered food insecure before the end of 2020. Lauren Bauer, an economic studies fellow at Brookings, submitted that food insecurity is right now the highest on record in the modern era of America. Educated Nigerians, the same clergies and politicians who sell the fake divisive messages to the general public and their followers know these global realities, but would choose to heighten tension in their own country by instigating it as a total government error that we are where we are.
I am of the opinion that our part to the resolution of the nation’s mounting insecurity challenge will be, all Nigerians, from all corners, recognising we have this problem as a starter, come to terms with the government’s efforts at making the streets and Nigerians safe; make ourselves available for possible collaborative efforts with the government at all level to respond to the challenge. This will be inclusive of intentionally altering the structure and content of our publicity of insecurity in the country; the idea should be objectivity, investigative and factual. Dishing out emotional, sensational reporting of events at these critical times must be recognised by all as detrimental to the war we want to win.
On a final note, the war against all forms of insecurity in Nigeria is an ongoing war. We are still a long way from winning the war; not only because the government is not doing enough but because the citizens are not doing enough. We must pragmatically change our orientation, begin to appreciate every effort, constructively criticise, make useful suggestions and pray for our dear nation.
GOD BLESS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA!