It is interesting to observe that despite the dire 2006 prediction by a U. S group which in its: ‘Mapping the Global Future report” – a project projecting global trends and likely scenarios up to 2020″ – had stated that:”Nigeria as a corporate entity was likely to splinter along tribal and sectarian lines by 2015 if some of the inherent fault lines were not properly managed and controlled”, here we still are, but with the country yet to resolve the national question, now terribly exacerbated by massive insecurity, corrosive corruption and a poor economy epitomised by a crippling, if not embarrassing, exchange rate now hovering between N379 to over N400 to the dollar and I know a bank customer who couldnt get to buy from his bank for N470.
The way things are going, especially with another recession very likely, and discounting the ethnic/ tribal distrust ravaging it, Nigeria looks like it is inexorably unsustainable and, therefore, about to unravel.
These have resulted in a flurry of activities at the seat of power with the president meeting severally with not just his military chiefs but also with state governors, on top of setting up a powerful judicial panel on corruption within the very agency set up to fight the cankerworm.
In the article: Insecurity in Nigeria – As Senator Ndume Opens a Pandora’s Box (26/7/20), I wrote inter alia that: “the President’s three campaign promises – fighting corruption, fighting insecurity and reviving the economy, have seemingly unravelled”.
As if confirming that conclusion, President Buhari has since expressed disappointment in his political appointees who he claimed betrayed his trust,
just as he urged his service chiefs to ratchet up their game in both the Northwest and the Northeast geo- political zones where insecurity has assumed indescribable proportions.
Given that a combination of totally unexpected factors have eventuated in all these – the Covid- 19 pandemic, the global slump in oil prices, as well as trusted appointees egregiously disappointing him , the President sure deserves more sympathy than excoriation.
That, however, should not stop one from drawing attention to the fact that the country – now regarded internationally as a violent country, – with many countries giving travel advise to their citizens as to where they should not venture visiting within the country, is increasingly looking like headed for Golgotha. There is too much evidence to make our mentioning them needless. They are right in our faces with every media daily reporting monumental killings, kidnappings, heart rending armed robberies etc.
It was in an effort to know more about insecurity in the North, the very epicentre of insecurity in Nigeria, which has, unfortunately, become a killing field, that I wrote as follows to my friend, Anthony N Z Sani, a very top chieftain of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) who, I believe, should know.
“…let us seriously look at another issue – this time as objectively as we best can:
Insecurity in the north
What are the underlying causes of insecurity in the North?
Why are Northerners needlessly killing themselves, this massively, and ever so often? Why is insecurity so intractable in the North and how can it be stopped?
Shouldn’t the president visit these centres of attrition and meet with the local leaders since he is hugely popular and respected in these parts?
In his reply, which is slightly edited for space, Sani wrote to the following effect:
Nigeria is like a big river being fed by tributaries and whenever one, or more, of these is poisoned, the whole river becomes contaminated with dire consequences. You asked the right questions as to why northerners revel in killing themselves either through insurgency in the North East, banditry and cattle rustling in the North West, kidnappings or through herders and farmers clashes in North Central. The North is obviously at war with itself, and it can be likened to a situation where there is a swarm of locusts but we do not seem to know the pests. We have, therefore, not been able to come up with the appropriate pesticides. Hence the groping.
All these can be attributed, he further said, to the paucity of resources needed to have enough well. trained, and adequately equipped security personnel, poor performance of the intelligence community culminating in their inability to identify the criminals for prosecution. Another factor he identified, as the fact that military might alone cannot end all the security challenges posed by non conventional conflicts.
He went on to suggest that these challenges are the result of economic factors of livelihood, aggravated by poverty and ignorance. Too much poverty and ignorance in the North, he said, have caused those affected to resolve to die, but not alone.
He suggested that to get out of all these, not only leaders , but the entire citizenry, must do everything necessary to overcome the challenges confronting the North and, ipso facto, Nigeria at large.
He agreed with my suggestion that President Buhari should personally visit the troubled communities to deploy his tremendous good will to urge communal leaders to help in the process of restoring peace without which there can be no socio-economic development.
That way, he surmised, the president may be able to break the jinx and erect a foundation for sustainable peaceful coexistence that is a sine qua non for development.
The same reasoning, he said, underpins his earlier suggestion that the president can compel compliance with wearing face masks by Nigerians, in crowded places, if he could lead the way by wearing them himself. No sacrifice, he concluded, are too much for saving lives.
I thank my friend for his seminal thoughts. Unfortunately, his views leave us no farther than we were as far as Nigeria’s corrosive corruption and axyphisiating insecurity are concerned.
As President Buhari never ceases to say, and as Lebanon has recently confirmed, corruption can absolutely destroy a country, qua country.
Corruption in Nigeria, which presents as bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, influence peddling, graft, or embezzlement, points to a glaring lack of , on the one hand, equity and fairness in public affairs, but more poignantly, to a lack of governance.
While cronyism, nepotism, parochialism and influence peddling epitomise inequity, graft and embezzlement of unbelievable amounts of money from public coffers, speak to a clear lack of governance. In no serious government, even in banana republics, should the age long corruption which has immobilized an agency like the NDDC happen. While lack of governance does not apply to the Buhari government alone, it is a crying shame that we still experience all these Jonathan-era recklessness in a government whose mantra is change. There is just too much leakage in this government given what Nigerians are also hearing about the Northeast Development commission.
There is, therefore, an urgent need to put in place, corrective measures to stem this bad trend but none would be greater than ensuring that public thieves have their day in court, in the utmost hope that the country’s equally corrupt judiciary would not merely compound the peoples’ misery.
Though fuelled by corruption, insecurity in the North is mostly religion- inspired, the reason it has become more intractable, despite the gargantuan efforts of the Buhari government.
One recalls, in this respect, President Goodluck Jonathan once confessing that there were Boko Haram sympathisers in his government as well as in the security agencies. Nothing suggests that this is not equally applicable to the present government and this has nothing to do with a recent allegation linking a Northern governor to Boko Haram. Rather, it has everything to do with the hold religion usually has on its adherents. There are some individuals who owe greater allegiance to their religion than to the country and there had been reported instances where it was believed that our military suffered reverses simply because of internal sabotage like in its intelligence being compromised. Another example is why the British attempt to help rescue the Chibok girls allegedly floundered. Also for religious purposes, many communities in the theatre of war may be more sympathetic to Boko Haram or to bandits than to our fighting men and women.
As indicated earlier, corruption is also a factor of insecurity in the North and with all Nigerians recently witnessed, nothing suggests that if $2.1B could be stolen under the nose of President Jonathan, such cannot happen now.
Regarding atrocities by murderous Fulani herders, what militates against its resolution of herders/ farmers crisis is collusion by security agents who, routinely, do not arrest the criminals, even where they kill in numbers.
Even where hundreds of them attacked, killing and burning down villages as happened in Benue state, which resulted in a mass burial and, as is presently happening in Southern Kaduna, it is always a rarity to hear that a herdsman was arrested.
This is part of what I describe as lack of governance and unless all these factors that encourage and aggravate insecurity in all parts of Nigeria are consciously, and aggressively dealt away with, Nigeria would just be going round and round, like a barber’s chair, in its effort to rein in insecurity.