Eminent Nigerians raise concerns about various paradigms of nation’s insecurity

Tue, Apr 2, 2024
By editor

Featured, Security

Piqued by the damaging effects of insecurity on Nigerians, their lives, properties and the entire economic space, some eminent Nigerians have decided to lend their voices to the need to tackle squarely the ravaging menace of insecurity in a country which had enjoyed peace and development for decades.       

By Goddy Ikeh

UNFORTUNATELY, after the December 24, 2023 attack, which led to the death of more than 90 persons in Plateau State, there was much grief, anger and frustration across Nigeria over ceaseless attacks on innocent citizens.

The killings by non-state and state actors, which have persisted since President Bola Tinubu came into office on May 29, 2023, have seen over 5,000 casualties.

Tinubu, who promised during his campaign to tackle insecurity as well as revive Nigeria’s economy, has struggled to keep Nigeria safe since he assumed office.

Many Nigerians believe that not much has been achieved by the current administration, especially in the area of security.

According to the data gathered by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, ACLED, a data bureau that collects real-time data on the locations, dates, actors, fatalities, and types of all reported political violence and protest events worldwide, about 5,135 people were killed between May 29 and December 31, 2023.

Before the security situation in the country became worse than it is in 2024, some eminent Nigerians had during the administration of Muhammadu Buhari (2015-2023) advised the federal government to seek foreign assistance to stabilize security in the country.

Apart from Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, and Prof. Anya O. Anya, who had called on the federal government to seek help to tackle insecurity in the country and ‘stop the blame trade’, some other eminent Nigerians have literally joined the crusade to save the lives of Nigerians who are daily killed by bandits and other non-state actors.    

Reacting previously to the daily killings across the country by bandits, terrorists and other gunmen, the Nobel laureate said that the federal government should seek help where necessary to regain peace in Nigeria and chart the way forward without using Nigerians as victims. According to Prof. Soyinka, these gunmen had sacrificed and traumatized the country’s youths beyond their capacity to cope. Warning at the time that the country was at war and that it was time to stop pretending and that the government should put in more efforts to stop the killings of youths, who are the future of the country.

In the same vein, Prof Anya O. Anya, octogenarian and former director general of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and an elder statesman also warned that most of the challenges confronting the nation in 2020 had not been tackled successfully, especially, the issues of rising insecurity across the country, poor performance of the economy with rising inflation, youth unemployment and the growing appetite for borrowing and its impact on the economy.

He, however, warned that “Nigeria as we speak is at war, but Nigeria is also in denial. There is nowhere in the world that you have so many people killed each day either by bandits, insurrectionists, or kidnappers or whatever, and you think the society is normal, no way! So we are at war, the difference is simply that we are pretending that we don’t know we are at war.”

This year, some eminent Nigerians have joined the crusade. Among them is a former Minister of Communications during the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Adebayo Shittu. According to the former minister, banditry, especially in the north of the country is a rebellion against many years of neglect of the poor people.

Shittu told Arise Television news in an interview in March that “What is happening in the Northwest and Northeast in particular is a rebellion against the neglect of the poor.

“Now that we have the issue of banditry on our hands, we have over the years been spending billions of naira in kinetic approach and it’s because people left out of education and civilization that Westernization brings about are rebelling.”

Shittu said the level of education was the reason why there is little or no records of banditry in the Southwest. For the former minister, bandits are people rebelling due to lack of education.

“Why there is no banditry in the southwest is because we chose to educate the children. When you fail to educate people, over the years they will grow up to find out that the social inequality like some people enjoying light, some driving cars, and they are left out. This makes them start rebellion against the society,” he said.

The former minister had earlier advised the federal government to give bandits a promising future through negotiation. According to him, most of the bandits are able-bodied men who the federal government should retrain and that a non-kinetic approach in dealing with banditry will bring about a lot of results.

But the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, has blamed foreign illegal miners for the spate of banditry in the country.

Alake, who stated this in one of his briefings at the State House in 2023, however, assured Nigerians that his ministry was taking steps to inject new technologies into the mining sector to tackle the challenges and enable Nigeria to have optimum benefits from the solid minerals sector.

He disclosed that the ministry is liaising with the Nigerian military and other security agencies in the country to boost security in areas where solid minerals abound in the country. He expressed optimism that solid minerals will soon become a major source of funding for the country’s budget.

In another occasion, Alake said that “powerful Nigerians” were behind illegal mining in the country. He told the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals during the defence of the ministry’s 2024 budget estimate that “One pernicious discovery that we have made is that a lot of these banditry, terrorism, and insecurity that we associate with this sector are actually sponsored by illegal miners.”

“These are not your artisanal miners. They are not the people who pick gold on the ground. These are heavy and powerful individuals in our country. And they are Nigerians. They are not foreigners.

“Yes, you can see foreigners as symptoms, but they are not the disease. Nigerians are the powers behind those foreigners that you see on the streets. We are identifying them and employing various strategies, both kinetic and non-kinetic.”

The minister said as part of his seven-point agenda, he gave an ultimatum to petty illegal miners to join cooperatives and be registered to be recognised by the government.

He said over 50 cooperative societies had been formed since the policy was announced, adding that “more people are still registering”.

And in March this year, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said that unemployment was fueling the rising spate of banditry and kidnappings in Nigeria. Obasanjo, who had been speaking of the consequences of banditry on the nation’s economy for over eight years, stated at the 9th International Trade Exhibition & Conference on Agrofood, Plastics, Printing, and Packaging in Lagos that “if we are able to achieve this, it will improve our security. Part of our insecurity are men and women who are not properly engaged.

“If we are able to give them employment, there will be less of them getting involved in banditry, in kidnapping and in doing various other criminal activities that they get involved in,” he added.

Obasanjo said that there was need to promote agribusiness for food security, nutrition security, employment, wealth creation, poverty elimination and income generation, particularly, foreign exchange.

He noted that one of the most potent means of curbing youth emigration, unemployment and insecurity is to get more young people to embrace agriculture.

But Atiku Abubakar added a different twist to the reaction to insecurity in the country when he asked President Bola Tinubu to step aside if the shoes were too big for him.

Atiku, who said this in a tweet on his X handle in January this year, recalled the various kidnapping episodes in several parts of Nigeria.  The former vice president expressed worry about the spate of insecurity under President Tinubu’s government and asked him to resign if he cannot address the problem.

Atiku, who lost to Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election, accused the President of playing fiddle while the country is drowning in insecurity.

“Tinubu is playing fiddle while Nigeria is drowning in the ocean of insecurity,” he said.

In his reaction, the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah, on Sunday, March 31, 2024, expressed concern about what he described as the “ubiquity of the military in our national life.”

He said with the presence of soldiers everywhere “it is impossible to explain how we can say we are in a civilian democracy with the military literally looking like an army of occupation with an octopussean spread across all the 36 states and Abuja.”

In his Easter message, Bishop Kukah said that a situation where soldiers had become a common, everyday item in society would breed the ‘see finish’ syndrome, alluding to a point made last week by the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, while commenting on the killing of 17 military men in Delta State.

Kukah said, “This has very serious consequences both for its professionalism, its integrity and perceived role in protecting society. No other person than the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, rightly observed recently that the military is facing the dilemma of what he called, ‘see finish’. It is now difficult to say whether the persistence of insecurity is a cause or a consequence of military ubiquity.”

While hailing the recent pronouncement by Tinubu that kidnappers would now be treated as terrorists, the bishop urged the President to go a step further by giving a specific date to rid the nation of insurgency.

He knocked Nigeria’s political leadership, likening them to a drunken man “staggering, stumbling and fumbling, slurring in speech, with blurred visions searching for the way home.”

He said, “Our leaders chose the feast rather than the fast. We are today reaping what we sowed yesterday. For over 60 years, our leaders have looked like men in a drunken stupor, staggering, stumbling and fumbling, slurring in speech, with blurred visions searching for the way home.

“The corruption of the years of a life of immoral and sordid debauchery have spread like cancer destroying all our vital organs. The result is a state of a hangover that has left our nation comatose. Notwithstanding, Easter is a time to further reflect on the road not taken. It is a time to see if this Golgotha of pain can lead us to the new dawn of the resurrection. Nigeria can and Nigeria will be great again. Let us ride this tide together in hope.”

Kukah said in spite of the gloomy outlook of the situation of things in the country, better days were around the corner.

“Even though it is not daybreak yet, all of us must agree that the night is far gone. The only reason why I am confident that daybreak may not be too far away is because of my faith in God and the power of the risen Christ.”

Calling on Tinubu to foster unity in the country, Kukah urged the President to “come up with a robust template for how it wishes to reverse and put us on a path of national healing. This must include a deliberate policy of inclusion that will drastically end the immoral culture of nepotism.”

He said, “The government must design a more comprehensive and wide-ranging method of recruitment that is transparent as a means of generating patriotism and reversing the ugly face of feudalism and prebendalism.

“There is a need for a clear communications strategy that will serve to inspire and create timelines of expectations of results from policies. There is a need for clarity over questions of who, what, when, and how national set goals are to be attained and who can be held accountable.”

On the need to bring insecurity to an end, the bishop said, “It is cheering to hear that the President has announced that kidnapping and banditry are now to be treated as acts of terrorism. If so, we need to see a relentless and implacable plan to end this menace with a definite dateline for bringing these terrorists to their knees, no matter what it will take. Without a timeline for eliminating these evils – the despicable, malevolent and execrable demons from among us.”

He also called for the rejigging of the nation’s security architecture.

“Trillions of naira continue to go into bottomless pits with little measurable benefits. Our military’s professionalism cannot be diluted by the recruitment of hunters, vigilante groups and other unprofessional and untrained groups.

“This is not sustainable because it leaves the military open to ridicule and perceptions of surrender. Fighting insecurity is now an enterprise. I believe our security men and women can defeat these criminals in a matter of months. All we hear and see are fingers pointing to the top. No, this must end.”

However, a political economist, Prof Pat Utomi, is blaming the presidential constitution for most of the ills of the country, including insecurity. According to Utomi, the parliamentary democracy will debar tyrants from becoming leaders in the country. He added that the system will also reduce cost of governance and increase accountability of public office holders.

Speaking in a recent interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, he said: “A parliamentary form of government is clearly so much more cost-effective for a democracy than presidential type of system where you have to run around the entire country.”

According to him, in parliamentary democracy, tyrants won’t become leaders, and thriving democracies in the world practice parliamentary democracy.

He said people connect more with the parliamentary system of government than “detached ministers whom somebody brings from nowhere”.

Utomi is not alone in the call for parliamentary democracy as a group of 60 lawmakers in the House of Representatives are seeking amendments to the 1999 Constitution to transit from the current presidential system to the parliamentary system of government.

The lawmakers stated that the transition has become necessary to reduce the cost of governance in the face of dwindling revenues.

Meanwhile, Tinubu has declared that there will be no ransom payments any more to bandits and vowed to rescue victims of kidnappings in the country,

Tinubu assured Nigerians, especially the parents of the recently kidnapped school children in Kaduna that the Federal Government will rescue the children and others recently kidnapped persons across the country without paying ransom to the kidnappers.

The kidnappers, operating in Gonin-Gora Area of Kaduna metropolis, Kaduna State, had demanded N40 trillion, 11 Hilux Toyota vans and 150 motorcycles for the release of their victims, while another set of bandits in Sokoto State kidnapped 15 Quranic students, and recently established contact with the families, demanding the sum of N20 million as ransom before they would be released.

Fortunately, more than 130 kidnapped school children in Kaduna state had been rescued and reunited with their parents without the payment of ransom. Reacting to the successful rescue of the schoolchildren, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, reiterated the President’s instruction to security agencies, on no-ransom-payment position and ensuring that all victims are rescued, without any excuse.

In the same vein, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, has reassured Nigerians that the service personnel are determined to eradicate terrorists, bandits, and other threats.

The Army Chief added that he was determined to bring peace to the country. According to him, Nigeria is battling security challenges ranging from terrorism, banditry, to kidnapping and that the service had recorded a lot of successes in the ongoing operations against terrorism and banditry among others.

In his Easter message on Sunday, the Army Chief said: “The Nigerian Army remains committed, determined, and focused on ensuring the total defeat of insurgents, marauding bandits, and all other forms of external and internal aggressions disturbing the peace of the country.

“Accordingly, under my leadership, the Nigerian Army has continued to record tremendous successes in various operations at home and abroad. You all can attest to our achievements so far, especially in the ongoing Operation Hadin Kai in the North-East and other internal security operations nationwide.

“While urging all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army to use the season to pray for our continued successes, I wish our Christian faithful and, indeed, all Nigerian Army personnel and their families a wonderful and Happy Easter Celebration.”

Lagbaja stated that he had provided the needed training and resources for his men to tackle the insecurity ravaging the country and assured his men that he would prioritise their welfare and training.

Lagbaja said, “As we continue to push towards the final onslaught on the adversaries troubling our nation, I assure you that the welfare of officers and soldiers, including training and provision of the needed equipment, will always be prioritised to enable us to discharge our constitutional responsibilities effectively.”

With the recent rescue of the schoolchildren in Kaduna state without the payment of ransom and the assurances of the military command, Nigerians have no reasons to doubt that the country may soon witness again a peaceful nation free from daily killings by bandits and other non-state actors for a change.


-April 02, 2024 @ 10:16 GMT|