Today, it appears that there is more than meets the eye concerning the unceasingly growing insecurity in every part of Nigeria. This is particularly disheartening because of the speculations, and/or striking naked facts, flying around, in the public domain.
These conjectures, and/or outrightly established facts, are explicitly painting scenarios concluding that those behind and active participants in, the proliferating insecurity in Nigeria are well-known to agents, and other organs, of the Nigerian State! These people are believed to be influential and powerful (perhaps than the State) that it (State) seems to portray a picture of itself being oddly incapacitated in dealing appropriately with these criminals! This may be debatable but with the way different forms of insecurity have been festering, before now and currently, one may find it difficult to resist (the temptation of) believing this line of argument in a country where everything – even well-known facts – are always shrouded in secrecy by the government(s)! We are still struggling to come to terms with the possibility of the Nigerian State being incompetent in tackling insecurity in the country!
The current scandalously dismal level of incompetence, by Nigerian governments (through their security networks), in ensuring their citizens’ security is gravely unfathomable! This is justifiably so considering the zeal with which a fugitive in the eyes of the Nigerian law was clandestinely “intercepted through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian Intelligence and Security Services” and brought back to Nigeria in order to face his trial coupled with another joint team of Nigerian Security Operatives’ Gestapo-style raid of the residence of someone suspected of stockpiling arms in Ibadan, Oyo State, that led to instant death of two people and arrest of others, in that location! Those arrested (at Ibadan) have been arraigned. They were later granted bail by a competent court of law. We do recommend this kind of zeal in finding solution(s) to insecurity challenges caused by real criminals – whose identity and location(s) appear known – in Nigeria! Thinking aloud, we ask: were we wrong to have believed Nigeria’s president’s standing orders and continuous several instructional commands meant for the security personnel, to go after the criminals causing insecurity in Nigeria? Are the speculations (or facts) true, after all, that the current Nigerian president – concerning certain ethnic stock – might actually not ‘mean’ those orders and instructions?
Or were the president’s orders and commands actually meant for crushing all those holding alternative views and/or critical of government’s position(s)? As patriots, it may be very difficult to believe these speculations (or perhaps the supposed facts) but the painful reality we need to embrace is that the country has lost (and is still loosing) security personnel, in droves, to insecurity! These are individuals whose ‘offence’ is to be working in the military and paramilitary sectors of government establishment! It is noteworthy that these operatives advancing efforts toward restoring normalcy, concerning security situation in the country, are also made up of ‘flesh and blood’ like every other law-abiding Nigerians! We believe that these operatives are acquainted with the risks associated with their job but do not, in any way, agree with the way their lives are lost, cheaply, during their lawful activities against the enemies of law-abiding Nigerians. We acknowledge that security operatives also have friends/relatives (plus dependants). We should not be loosing them considering the high level of unsuccessfulness in the fight against insurgency and banditry! Hence, Nigeria’s current strategies for combating insecurity need re-evaluation.
The responsibility of reassessing Nigeria’s strategies for putting insecurity under sustainable control should be saddled with those having, and ready to use, adequate training, competence and experience. It is instructive to know that not all challenges, relating to insecurity, are completely solvable using only brute force of weapons! This point is noteworthy as The United Nations, more than five years ago, raised an alarm concerning the illicit proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria, with over 350 million (about 70%) of an estimated 500 million of such weapons said to be circulating in West Africa being within the country alone! Another report, by SBM Intelligence, in October, 2020, went ahead to estimate that the number of small arms circulating in Nigeria within the hands of non-state actors is 6,145,000 while that for those with the country’s armed forces/law enforcement agents is about 586,600!
Analysing the two earlier estimates by SBM Intelligence together, it was observed that more than 90% of these small arms circulating in Nigeria are in the hands of non-state actors! Consequently, we need to ‘dig deep’, in Nigeria, to get to the basis for terrorism, a phenomenon that luxuriates in the various schemes of extremists’ radicalisation, worldwide. While we are not making, and will never make, case for these daredevil bloodthirsty criminals, it is certainly necessary to look at each other ‘eyeball to eyeball’ and collectively reflect on, and sincerely address, what we have done wrong in the past. This is a part of our collective national life many do not want to confront, for no well justifiable reason(s). It is a dangerous deception to conclude that yesterday’s unfairness, inequity and injustice will just be fossilised in history and forgotten, like that! Even if they appear fossilised today and now, they will one day get excavated! Homo sapiens sapiens is endowed with the ability to remember the past, for many reasons – good or bad!
This subspecies of Homo sapiens – singly and collectively – do not, really, forget perceived/real historical injustice(s) (even as some have debatably argued that justice may not actually exist in history). For example, this human endowment is a driving force behind calls for reparation for slavery, especially the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Apart from the perceived/real past unjustness, how can we explain the current realities depicting Nigerians’ lives as worthless? What about joblessness becoming a job for the youths? If people(s) fail to identify the root of their challenges and jointly direct efforts toward solving them, from there, then animosity will definitely flourish in such societies. Certainly, every society is believed to be, in the real sense – ‘work in progress’ – thus, if ours is one, really, it must not only be seen as such but also collectively accepted as such, based on sincerity of all the stakeholders! The past/present occurrences where some ‘on their high horse’ believe that they own Nigeria, and/or are more Nigerian than others, will definitely not augur well for this country! There is a need, now, for real sober reflection in Nigeria!
Andrew A. Erakhrumen currently teaches at the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.