By Kareem Shamsudeen
I once had a discussion with a lecturer at Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, sometime ago. I remember he had asked me if I would come up to the North for anything. My response was swift, I had said “no”. He then said that Sokoto “is one of the peaceful Nothern states” in Nigeria. But then, Sokoto too have fallen under terrorist’s attacks who are suspected to be militants from Mali. “No place is safe anymore in this country”, I thought aloud.
Nigeria faces a lot of security problems ranging from BokoHaram insurgents, Bandits, Herdsmen’s attacks and a host of others. Almost every Nigerian lives in perpetual fear from unprecedented attacks from anti-security forces. A citizen walking along the streets could be kidnapped, and those sleeping peacefully at night could be caught in bomb blasts from terrorists. In fact, news report reel out cases of insecurities in the society so frequently to the extent that it has become a daily event that citizens will be killed, maimed by terrorists. The fact that there is no adequate protection of the the citizens’ lives and properties is becoming alarming, and with the incessant insurgents’ attacks, many Nigerians are becoming pessimistic that these dreadful scenarios will come to an end. Sadly, almost all the geo-political zones in the country are war-prone areas, facing diverse security challenges. With these recurrent happening, affected netizens sleep with one-eye opened, ready to run for their dear lives if their habitats get invaded.
As affirmed earlier, Nigeria has been battling with the problems of security over the years and this has seemed non-stop. However, every country faces challenges in the area of security in one way or the other, but the case with Nigeria is one of the most challenging, drawing the world attention and intervention. Pathetic! Nigeria that at one time is a safe haven has become a castle of gloom, such that citizens are fleeing to neighbouring countries to seek refuge, and those who have refused to flee, believing that there is no place like home are caught up in the melee of unfriendly security forces. It is therefore ironical that with the large number of security forces the country boasts of, problems of security have not been given an everlasting solution.
When the security forces that are meant to protect a national from external aggressions and curb any internal strife that threaten to disturb the peace of nation fail in their duties, recording colossal failures; then it would not be an exaggeration to say that such security forces have been rendered incapacitated. Do they fail? It will be a huge misgiving, a total delusion to presuppose that they do. Nigerian armed forces had to dance attendance to a continuum of deplorable regimes. Ammunition and whatever strength it is left with to defeat pogrom are coveted by our evil leaders and diverted to vendetta missions. Can we count on our armed forces when it remains subservient, docile, unsecured and corrupt, a bulldog that barks but never bites? Isn’t the crime of a guard that diverts funds earmarked for procuring weapons for securing lives worst more than that of any one who destroys life with no compunction? For emphasis, this is the shoe our armed forces wear. And the citizens of the country suffer the gruesome consequences.
Even if it is said that the security forces are addressing these challenges, it is pertinent to add that their temporary victories are invariably succeeded by fresh defeats from the hands of the terrorists. “Adequate security” that should be for all citizens is now reserved exclusively for the plutocrats.
For a decade or less now, the North Eastern parts of Nigeria have been struck by BokoHaram’s attacks. The residents there have been dislodged from their homes. Home that breed identity has been over taken by the terrorists. The slogan of Borno, for example is the ‘home of peace” which as at now is “in pieces”, shattered by the gun shots, suicide bombs of anti-security forces. In Adamawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Sokoto etc., the story has been the same. One will then wonder how it is when “home become no home”. Even the states that are not under the aegis of the insurgents are still no safe haven. Kidnapping, theft, cyber crimes are rampant in some states especially the Western part of the country. This apparent destructing situation scares me a lot. I fear, dear readers, lest Nigeria should encounter a tragedy like that of Syria, Afghanistan, etc. The global Peace Index(GPI) as at 2018 rated Nigeria as the “16th most dangerous country” in the world which is very scary– a result of numerous terrorist activities in the country. But we cannot stand, do nothing, hoping these situations will become history. The Government will then come to tell us that they are working around-the-clock to checkmate these challenges; have they truly them?
Reports from reliable sources show that the security forces selected to curb these insurgencies are under-trained, ineffective and ineffecient. Even, we hear of soldiers fleeing battlefronts on the account that they were not given sophisticated weapons to combat the insurgents and that the battle formations are hoax. So many soldiers lost their lives to these shameless bravura acts of blatant premeditated schemes and sabotage. How ignominiously abominable! Yet, the government for lack of shame turns taciturn at these cases. And whenever they address these issues, they will point accusing fingers at the media for reporting fake news claiming the carnage consumed less number of lives than were reported as if one life meant nothing. But the bitter truth is that this is reality! It is painful that security issues are becoming politicised. After the Metele attack in Borno state, President Muhammad Buhari had come out publicly to say that “this madness must stop” and pledged that he will give full support to the armed forces to end insurgency. But this madness has not stopped, it has proliferated to neighbouring states as well.
A Facebook user had posted that “Nigeria is a fucked up country”. The user had expressed his pessimism that Nigeria will be as peaceful as the city of Mecca. He wrote, “our leaders attack their opponents as if there are BokoHaram whereas Boko Haram people are somewhere in the North killing people like chicken, apparently unstoppable by the Nigeria armed forces”. This assertion is not false. The military leaders will declare that the insurgents are technically defeated, but by the next day, scores of civilians are killed, displaced and maimed. Who deceives who? Security issues should not be a joke! Surprisingly, the Nigerian government sends troops to neighbouring countries on peace keeping missions even when the country struggles to attain peace.
The citizens have been fed with lies. Our leaders will come to say that these insurgencies will be a thing of the past if they are elected, but once they take on the mantle of leadership begin to vomit flimsy excuses as to why these security challenges have not been curtailed. For these security challenges to be solved permanently, the Nigerian government should take effective measures, equipping the armed forces will modern warfare, and not by giving nostrums to these problems if they truly want these worst night mares to become dreams of yesterday.