The recent attempt on the life of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State by yet to be identified gunmen has once again confirmed the worsening insecurity in the country. Before him, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno state was repeatedly attacked between June and September of 2020 by Boko Haram terrorists.
These attacks of governors and their convoys, secured by well-kitted security outfits dramatizes on the one hand the dark, existential reality facing less endowed, ordinary Nigerians and on the other, the virtual collapse of the security architecture of the country.
Whether by the well know number one enemy of the state, Boko Haram or by the often faceless gunmen, the attacks and killings of Nigerians have become so frequent, bloody, senseless and deadly that it can be safely assumed that government has been overwhelmed by the fire power of death merchants and unless it acts fast to assert its power, Nigerians may sooner than later find themselves in a completely lawless state.
And in that lawless state, even animal life in the wild, governed by the instinct of survival of the fittest and might is right, would be a child’s play. We have seen such brutish existence play out in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Somalia and Libya, where only last week after more than 10 years, reason prevailed and the combatants shelved their bloodied guns.
Sadly, there is no visible, concrete government policy direction to show that things would improve in the near feature as every outbreak is often treated with levity. For instance, there has been no known arrest of high profile terrorists or their sponsors to underline government’s commitment to the war against terror.
Take one significant case. In November 10, 2020, six Nigerians were jailed in the United Arab Emirate for funding Boko Haram. The court judgement said that between 2015 and 2016, the accused transferred $782,000 from Dubai to Nigeria to support Boko Haram. Yet while the UAE prosecuted the case, their Nigerian accomplices have not been identified let alone prosecuted.
In another development, bandits who kidnaped 27 students and their teachers at Kankara Government Schools in Niger state confided in their negotiator , Sheik Abubakar Gumi, that somebody in government contracted them to carry out the abduction.
Similarly, after his government secured the release of 317 kidnapped school girls from Jangebe Government Secondary School, Governor Matawale of Zamfara state disclosed that he knew those who sponsored the abduction. Up till now, none of these shady characters allegedly behind these treasonable offences in Niger and Zamfara states, have been named and shamed, thereby making mockery of the insecurity situation.
In another light, intelligence gathering, which is people centered and therefore the backbone of anti-terrorism battle, is plagued by mistrust. People would not cooperate and provide information when they know if they do, they may not see the next day alive.
Which is partly why Boko Haram still thrives. Recall that the terrorists were able to identify and kill almost 100 migrant rice farmers Zamabari in Jeri Local Government in Borno State in December 2020, because, according to the brigands, they got to know that the victims were informing on them to soldiers.
Indeed, Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor’s disclosure last week that over 500 Boko Haram terrorists have been jailed over terrorism was greeted with public disbelief, judging by the reactions on social media. Most Nigerians had been sold the narrative by government and the former Security Chiefs that amnesty for so called repentant Boko Haram terrorist, would help to crush the war on terror.
By now it should be clear to those behind that policy, that it was, to say the least, defeatist as the terrorists became more ferocious by the day, more so when they had since internationalized their treasonable goals by linking up with ISWAP.
Lastly, the in fighting among security chiefs over who should do what or report to whom as shown by the cold war between the former Service Chiefs and the National Security Adviser, has not, obviously helped matters. That was the kernel of the recent controversial interview retired General Babagana Munguno granted the Hausa Service of the BBC, recently.
Without sounding pedantic, we wish to remind the government that in an unsecured place, neither life nor business thrives no matter promises made to the contrary. Security, Employment and Anti-corruption were the three pillars this government promised to deliver as democracy dividend to the people. It must be told it is yet to deliver them. Two years is a long time in the life of an administration. We therefore call on government to walk its talk and secure Nigeria for Nigerians to live and thrive in peace.