Nigeria’s security dilemma

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Service Chiefs

The discordant tunes on the worsening security issue in the country from the government and some notable groups, associations as well as prominent Nigerians, who are perhaps voicing the position of the embattled majority, are clear indications that the battle is far from over.

By Anayo Ezugwu

ON Monday, September 14, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, narrated how he was ambushed in the northeast of the country by terrorists in 2015. He explained how his deputy,  Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun, chief of training and operations, saved his life.

While commissioning of a bridge constructed at Kuta in Osun State by the Nigerian Army Engineering Construct Regiment, Ede, Buratai said it was his deputy that mobilised troops to counter the terrorists, who attacked him in September 2015. “When I had the first ambush, he was with me in the vehicle, by my side and I could see the courage he exhibited. He was able to mobilise the troops to counter the bandits, the criminals, the terrorists out of the way,” he said.

But five years after he was saved from the ambush and untimely death, Buratai has not been able to replicate the same gesture to thousands of Nigerians, who that are being killed or kidnapped by the terrorists, bandits or herdsmen on daily bases. For instance, in the month of June 2020, Civic Media Lab reported that 395 Nigerians were killed, with 48 injured in 39 different attacks across the country.

According to the report, most of the attacks, which took place in the northern part of the country, were carried out unhindered as security agencies were not available to protect the people from the onslaught. The report highlighted how bandits and Boko Haram carried out their attacks in Borno, Katsina, Niger, Kogi, and Zamfara States.

In the breakdown of the attacks, 167 Nigerians were killed by bandits in June 2020. Also, 152 persons were killed in coordinated attacks by Boko Haram members, while unknown gunmen and herdsmen were responsible for the death of 18 and 17 people respectively.

Apart from this, Iba Gani Adams, Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, has raised alarm over the activities of armed terrorists, which he alleged are now occupying Kishi, North-west area of Oyo State as well as the vast old Oyo National Park in the state.

Adams in a statement signed by Kehinde Aderemi, his special assistant on media, said the recent development posed a great danger to the security of the entire South-west region. He disclosed that in the past few days, the armed groups engaged in kidnapping of locals apart from threatening their means of livelihood and access to forest resources, stating that children, the aged and women are the most targeted by the violent activities of the armed groups.

“I have received numerous reports from Kishi, North-west of Oyo State. The reports range from ceaseless kidnapping, rape and threat to lives of the Yoruba people in the Oke Ogun area, with Kishi as the present hub of terrorist attacks. It’s my responsibility to alert the public and also the relevant authorities,” he said.

Adams, while expressing worry that the region is gradually becoming a haven for bandits and terrorists masquerading as herdsmen, warned that the situation must be nipped in the bud to prevent the Southwest taking the ignoble part of the Northeast and the North-west areas of Nigeria where violence has taken a firm root.

He added that what appears like the gathering of armed groups in the area would affect the stability of the entire South-west region. The Yoruba leader said Oyo State has the largest land mass in Yorubaland with an area of 28,454 square kilometers and listed as the 14th by size among the 36 states of the federation, warning that the occupation of the state by terrorists will strengthen their infiltration of the entire South-west region.

Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, also raised alarm that the country is drifting to a failed state. He said the country was fast-moving to the precipice. Speaking at a consultative dialogue in Abuja on the topic “Moving Nigeria away from tipping over,” Obasanjo said economically the country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, it is firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.

He charged the federal government to deal with issues of terrorism, organised crimes, banditry, kidnapping, human trafficking, drug, money laundering, and corruption.

Likewise, Alani Akinrinade former Chief of Defence Staff, has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari to find a permanent solution to the recurring clashes between herdsmen and farmers, and killings in the country. He warned that not putting an end to the killing of farmers in the country may lead to famine.

“We are regaled everyday with blood-chilling stories of killings and pillaging of villages, sometimes towns in the north and central parts of Nigeria, and of recent talks of impending massacres and intensification of kidnapping coming our way in the Southern States and the main protagonists of the disturbance is the Fulani herdsmen.

“Sometimes, we are told that they are Fulani mercenaries from outside Nigeria being sponsored by our Nigerian brothers. The situation is so daring, that in collaboration with unexpected bad weather this year, a famine is imminent. We hear we are already borrowing grains from the ECOWAS countries, the immediate result of farmers being forced to abandon their farms.

“I suggest to him to read the riot act to the Fulani herdsmen, that it is not acceptable for any foreigner by whatever name called to enter our country illegally and molest our people. They are not welcome. We should not, by mistake of omission or commission allow our people to degenerate to self-help. It is a sure road to anarchy and perdition, which will not go away,” he said.

But the federal government has insisted that the country is not a becoming a failed state. Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said Buhari’s assumption of office in 2015 prevented Nigeria from becoming a failed state, after a long stretch of rapacious and rudderless leadership.

He said Buhari came into office at a time that a swathe of the country’s territory was under occupation, a period when many Nigerian towns and cities, including the capital city of Abuja, were a playground for insurgents and a moment that the nation’s wealth had been looted dry, with little or nothing to show for the nation’s huge earnings, especially in the area of infrastructure.

He said it was therefore a cruel irony that those who frittered away a great opportunity to put Nigeria on a sound socio-economic footing, at a time of financial buoyancy, and those who planted the seed of the insecurity in some parts of the country today, are the same ones pointing an accusing finger at a reformist government.

”Nigeria today faces a lot of challenges. But whatever situation the country has found itself in, things would have been much worse but for the deft management of resources, unprecedented fight against corruption, determined battle against insurgency and banditry as well as the abiding courage of Mr. President in piloting the ship of state.

”Nigeria today is not a failed state, but a nation that is courageously tackling its challenges and building a solid infrastructure that will serve as the basis for socio-economic development, a nation that is unrelenting in battling insecurity and working hard to ensure the greatest prosperity for the greatest number of people,” he said.

With terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and herdsmen spreading their activities across the country,

it is yet to be seen what the federal government will do to avert impending security crisis in the country.

– Sept. 18, 2020 @ 19:05 GMT |

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