Nigeria’s domestic and development crises worsen with daily issues of Boko Haram, kidnapping, banditry, menace of Fulani herdsmen and general insecurity sweeping across Africa’s most populous country
In 2002, darkness enveloped Nigeria and our common world with the creation of Boko Haram, founded by Mohammed Yusuf. One baffling thing about this group is that at inception, it emphasized its primary aim which was the establishment of an Islamic State under Sharia law in Nigeria. This lethal objective that disregarded Nigeria’s secularism as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country is at the centre of Boko Haram’s mission. Today, this Islamic sectarian movement is still fighting to realize their deadly mission even after thousands of assassinations and deaths, including deaths in armed forces and the police. This is in addition to the unimaginable acts of violence, kidnappings and forced conversion to their faith.
For a long time now, this never-ending war has ragged, compromising security and undermining government business, development, health services, education and commerce. The crisis and violence of Boko Haram eventually escalated spectacularly in 2014 in North Eastern Nigeria with the expansion of its territories and the deaths of over 10,849 people, including children. For many years now, Nigeria has remained a haunted place where everyone lives in perpetual fear despite the billions of dollars and personnel that have remained on the frontlines fighting and dying every day.
Security and peace are two essential requirements of human life. This is so because economic and social developments come to only a peaceful and secure society. No wonder the constitution of every democratic government recognizes these all-important factors because they are essential conditions for growth. The constitution also explicitly states that people in government must provide protection for everyone: young or old, rich or poor, man or woman, weak or powerful. Failure to provide these necessities signals the breakdown of law and order. A country is also regarded as a failed state in the absence of these essentials.
Today, Africa’s most populous country is in the throes of an unimaginable insecurity. Every day, Nigeria records unavoidable violent deaths of her citizens arising from the activities of armed groups of different persuasions.
Apart from the daily fatalities which are now commonplace in Nigeria, school children in the North, believed to be tomorrow’s future, are now the recurrent victims of insecurity, incompetence and state failure. The attack on schools began like a bad dream on the night of 14 April, 2014 when mostly Christian female students were abducted in Chibok, a town in Nigeria’s North East by Boko Haram. This horrendous abduction of young school girls in their teens numbering 276 opened a new page in Nigeria’s insecurity challenges. Since then, no one has rested.
The tragedy of Chibok was followed with the Dapchi abduction and the subsequent kidnappings that occurred at Kankara, Kagara and other school abductions in different parts of Northern Nigeria.
For a region that is educationally disadvantaged because it trails behind other parts of Nigeria in education, the implications of the events there are frightening and far-reaching. Naturally, school enrolment and interest in education and related issues are already on the decline in the North for obvious reasons. Apart from the official closure of schools and colleges, more people of school age are scared and uninterested about returning to school because of the frightening state of insecurity and the increasing vulnerability of schools.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a Northerner came to power in 2015 on the mantra of change and a message that centered on fighting insecurity. Nearly seven years after, there is absolutely nothing to show for the initial hope his candidacy generated in 2015. In fact, critics of the federal government say this administration has failed woefully in security, just like the in other areas like the economy and the fight against corruption.
For people living in Nigeria, insecurity is a national calamity. No one, no matter how highly placed, is free from attacks. Every day, people are either killed or kidnapped on the highways, places of work, at social gatherings, in farms, communities and even at places of worship. However, one major baggage of the Buhari-led administration is its inability to rein in the rampaging Fulani herdsmen who are attacking farmlands and destroying farm products across the country. Recently, kidnapping was added to the infamous activities of the Fulani.
For a government that came to office promising to tackle insecurity, there could not have been a better time to act and more decisively too. But the general feeling is that the federal government has not done enough in tackling this menace. Aside the obvious failure of the former service chiefs and other senior military officers, there are those who also feel in some quarters that the presidency which is headed by a Fulani man is complicit in the deteriorating security situation in Nigeria. Usually, they point at Buhari’s body language, the indifference of military and police officers to address the atrocities of pastoralists, the glaring nepotism in the appointment of security operatives and the absence of a well articulated plan to rid Nigeria of insecurity.
Now, Nigeria is reaping from the cynicism occasioned by the growing doubts especially in the South. Naturally, the situation which led to the emergence of non-state actors like Nnamdi Kanu from the East and Sunday Igboho from the West are consequences of the new reality. Apart from the duo of Kanu and Igboho, other parts of Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta are also witnessing an upsurge in militancy and agitation. This and the emergence of war lords across the country should worry any serious government but it appears those in charge of the nation’s affairs at the moment have little or no answer to the multifaceted security problems facing Nigeria.
Nonetheless, the situation today lends credence to two things. The first is that perhaps the government came to power unprepared about insecurity or it lacks the political will to take on the real issues. Whatever the situation, now is the time to act because Nigeria is on the edge. For solutions, it is now obvious that those in power must seek answers outside government circles.
Those living in denial are free to continue but it now evident that Nigeria’s insecurity problem will persist until all hands are on deck. The good news. however, is that the challenge is surmountable but the government must listen to everyone, including those with dissenting views. The attitude of branding as unpatriotic and disrespectful, any opposition opinion or view must stop.
Nigeria, once a country of great promise and hope for the black world with her human and natural resources must stand and be counted. Therefore the time to face insecurity and all the attendant issues is now.