The bloodshed, violence, destruction and fears that rule Nigeria today are totally underserved, unacceptable, unprecedented and unexpected under an administration headed by a retired General of the Nigeria Army, who fought in the country’s Civil War and ascended to power on the promise to tackle insecurity in a short space of time.
As President Muhammadu Buhari, with his cabinet keeps theorizing about the root causes of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and other malaises without a genuine and corresponding victory over these non-state criminal actors, the country has continued to bleed and our lives are increasingly becoming worthless because killers and destroyers engage in their evil trade unrestrained.
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Of course, available data from reported cases and accounts by victims of the current madness are harrowing, disturbing and disheartening. In this month of April 2021, over 200 Nigerians were killed by so-called bandits, terrorists and separatists. In Borno State, there is no accurate data on the number of persons killed in multiple attacks in Damasak, Kwapre village, Kumuya military base, Mainok military super-camp, and Geidam town in Yobe State, which has been annexed by terrorists who boast about their victory over the Nigeria Army. In the South-East, more than 43 policemen have been killed by persons suspected to be members of the proscribed IPOB group. They attack security formations, kill operatives and cart away arms. A highly condemnable development that should be taken very seriously by the federal and state governments.
In the last few days, there have been 43 kidnap cases, involving about 216 persons. Terrorists, bandits and criminals have a lot of space to manoeuvre across Nigeria, as if we lack leadership and complementary security agencies to deter them from their senseless and inhuman activities.
Terrorists have spread all over the country, like a devastating cancer, destroying Nigeria and tearing away confidence and cohesion among the people. This is an evidence of the lack of serious intelligence gathering mechanism or outright intelligence failure. It is totally unacceptable that Boko Haram has spread its tentacles from the North East, to the North West, and has, without a serious confrontation from our security agencies, hoisted its flag in Niger State, one of the country’s food baskets in the North Central. Why was it impossible for the Department of State Security (DSS), Department of Military Intelligence, and the Nigeria Police Force which should have operatives in all nooks and crannies to stop them? When terrorists are allowed to fester, they would divide the country into zones and expand their operational base. Boko Haram and bandits have demonstrated this tendency, and Nigerians in rural areas have complained about the infiltration of their communities by these criminals, but little has been done to restrict the terrorists.
From diverse reports, most of the terrorists are foreigners. It follows that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the police formations at the country’s land borders are corrupt and so look away when these criminals penetrate into the hinterland, or they are totally incompetent. These security agencies complain that the country’s borders are very porous, but investigative reports have shown that security operatives know these ‘porous land borders’ and place their agents there to milk and extort illegal immigrants. It follows, therefore, that they know how to police the difficult borders but have deliberately failed to do their job conscientiously.
Countries that have suffered from terrorist attacks do not throw up their arms because their borders are porous. There are ancient and contemporary examples of how nations deal with such situations. For example, Saudi Arabia is constructing a 1,000km wall to protect its country against terrorists from Yemen. Israel has constructed a 700km wall in West Bank to prevent suicide bombers from entering its territory from Palestine. In America, former President Donald Trump began to construct a wall to ward off illegal immigrants from Mexico. Even in ancient times, Kano built its city walls to prevent enemies from attacking the city. The most problematic land borders are through Niger and Chad republics. Nigeria’s border with Niger Republic is 1,497km, and that with the Republic of Chad is 87km. Government must take visible and pragmatic steps to halt unfettered entry and exit into Nigeria through our land borders by borrowing a leaf from other countries that have shown seriousness in protecting the lives of their citizens.
This newspaper has advocated the recruitment of more men into the military, and we wish to reiterate this urgent need at this crucial time. We also ask government to hold the police and military accountable to the public in the way our men and weapons are managed in the theatre of war. The country has consistently lost sophisticated weapons to terrorists and bandits, empowering them to kill Nigerians and commit more havoc daily. This is unacceptable. The leadership of security agencies must be made to account, as it is only through such measures that they would resist failures that lead to waste of men and material in the theatre of war. They must also be given targets and made to produce time lines to realize them. Their promotion should be tied to the attainment of such targets. The war against terrorists must not go on endlessly. Also, the country has lamented over lack of access to weapons. We call on government to urgently reactivate and reinvigorate the Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) for it to manufacture necessary weapons for security operatives. This organisation rose to the challenge during the Civil War when the kind of technological sophistication available today was not available; it could replicate the feat if encouraged.
Terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals have forced Nigeria to be at war with itself. The conflict has divided the country along regional, religious and ethnic lines, though everyone is of one mind about the need to end the violence. It is, therefore, imperative for government to summon a national security summit, where the issues that divide the people could be discussed in harsh honesty and solutions proffered for them. It is clear that the Buhari administration is now bereft of ideas; it needs support from traditional rulers, intellectuals, retired military officers, former heads of state and governors, retired intelligence officers, religious leaders, civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the Nigerian project to deal with the situation. As well, we must seek help from other countries that are willing to assist.
Nigeria has potential for greatness, but unless we arrest the slide into anarchy, the country’s prospects would be lost. This must not happen. Enough is Enough!