Musings on Nigeria’s penchant for failing its own

August 22, 2020
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As we are growing older in Nigeria, we seem to be increasingly sinking deeper into pressure and soaring higher towards losing our sanity. Even if nothing else points to the correctness of this assertion, the security situation in the country carries all possible proclivities to make this happen. Well, that is when one sits down to dissect the entire situation, looking at it from when one arrived at the age of reason.

On Wednesday, 19 August, 2020, all the stories on page 27 of the Nigerian Tribune newspaper are security-related. They all pointed to one thing: We are in a dire security situation in Nigeria. The page contains stories of security failings which have left the country at the precipice. Among the stories is the demand by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on the lingering confusion of the police on the alleged escape of a suspect in the serial killings in Akinyele Local Government Area of the state.

On Sunday, August 16, 2020, The Nation newspaper reported that 17 of the 27 local government areas of Borno State are under serious attack by insurgents. The report said in all the 17 local government areas, people have abandoned their communities and are currently seeking refuge in their various local government headquarters. It added that none of the people could engage in their natural farming activities anywhere beyond one kilometre outside their local government headquarters.

That Sunday’s report quoted an unnamed Borno elder as saying: “We have discovered that these insurgents operate from three corridors namely, Sambisa Forest, Mandara Mountains and Lake Chad fringes.” As a kind of confirmation, news broke on Wednesday that these terrorists had invaded Kukawa Local Government Area. As usual, they killed, maimed and had taken hundreds hostage from the beleaguered council area. Kukawa is unfortunately one of those that have fallen into one of the three corridors that the terrorists are said to have a strong, destructive presence.

In Kaduna State, Southern Kaduna has become a literal killing field. The dastardly murders have led the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) to label it as act of genocide. The people also disagreed with the commander of the military’s Operation Safe Heaven deployed to restore normalcy in the area, Major General Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, who described the killings as a clash between two groups. There is a backlash already as lawyers successfully protested the invitation to Governor Nasir El-Rufai by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to speak at their national conference.

Niger State is also not spared. Bandits are reigning freely in parts of the state. So also are Nasarawa, Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina states. Criminal elements also operate in the southern states too, but the scale and scope are different from what the world is witnessing in the north, particularly the north east.

The Nigerian Army has insisted that it has recorded remarkable success in the fight against insurgents. It has even called the attention of Nigerians to the quelling of insurgency and banditry in many states in the same north east where Borno is. The Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa said we should compare other states in the North East with Borno with its lingering troubles and look critically into this reality. “The question Nigerians should ask is: why is the security situation in Yobe, Bauchi, Adamawa and Gombe different from Borno State? These states are different from Borno because the basic conditions or facilities to assist in winning the war are absent.”

The Army spokesman in explaining his stand said: “There is no semblance of governance or civil authority in Borno State. No cross-country roads, no inter-state roads, no intra-local government roads. Some terrains are not easily accessible by troops because there are no road networks.” The Army and Governor Babagana Zulum thus surely have issues to iron out in Borno State.

All these are in addition to nationwide worry of another fundamentally sating disturbance: Inflation. It is a painful that only the most important things in life, which ordinary Nigerians cannot daily do without, that are actually experiencing the galloping inflation: Food, Healthcare, Basic agricultural inputs. And the impending reality is that the nation is sailing steadily towards food insufficiency.

In Oyo State, the people also have their own share of these security and sundry worries. The citizens have been in awe since the confirmation of the escape of the main suspect in the disturbing serial killings in communities in Akinyele Local Government Area of the state. The confirmation of the shameful development by the police command that Sunday Odumosu, the suspect, has actually escaped from custody, drew the ire of the generality of the people of the state. The incident particularly angered of the citizenry in Akinyele Local Government Area so much that they attacked the police division in the local government headquarters.

Following  popular discontent, the police released an announcement that it had commenced a manhunt to re-arrest Sunday Shodipo, the prime suspect in the Akinyele serial killings. Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Mr. Nwachukwu Enwonwu, told the leaders of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council, who went to his office to seek explanation of the embarrassing development, that a manhunt had been launched for the fleeing suspect, and he followed up with the announcement of a N500,000 booty on him for his re-arrest.

Perhaps, it was the marching orders of Governor Seyi Makinde that quelled the brewing agitation of the people over the contemptuous escape. And it was not lost on the people that they might have been taken for fools by the police in the matter of the suspected serial killer.

Nigerians are unhappy in the North, South, East and West. Many Nigerians are faced with all sorts of fears that would have been unnecessary if there was good governance. The people do not trust their government and its agencies.

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