Is this not worse than Iraq and Afghanistan? Is this not a war situation? Okay, we now know that nowhere is safe in Nigeria, and anyone can be abducted in broad daylight anywhere. We see that many of our big men are relocating abroad; Nigeria has become too hot apparently. The question is: Who next? Every representative of our demographic has seen trauma in the hands of the insecurity that Buhari foisted on us…
Let us stand back to look at our nation. Let us rid our minds of bias and politics. Nigeria has the world’s worst security crisis today. It’s been like that for a while. But trust us, especially the political leaders, not to acknowledge this. For them, it is about looking good for the cameras. But we should all by now feel the apocalypse thats closing in. Don’t we all feel hemmed in? Rich and poor, from any part of Nigeria; adherents of any type of religion, or none. Aren’t we cooked already? The security crisis is all-pervasive. Everyone is at risk – the big, small, rich, poor, old, young, man, woman. Everyone. And every part of Nigeria is involved. By now, elsewhere a government with a little bit of shame would have resigned. Truly. The loss of lives is beyond pardon. I started this article a week ago but was too depressed to complete it until now. Luckily, President Buhari summoned courage and landed in Imo State despite the security concerns there. Good one. But the security issues must be catalogued.
The usual tendency is to hide behind one finger, and dodge in between statistics, many of which are designed to put us in even more trouble. There will soon come a time when we will have nowhere to turn and no excuse to hide behind. By then we will find ourselves in the open; naked and shivering. Already, it is that way. The Western world whom we love to pander to, are only very diplomatic and deceptive. What they discuss about Nigeria around their kitchen tables and core strategy sessions in the highest decision-making places, is a world different from what they tell us in the open. It is left for us to tell ourselves the truth. Alas, this is not our forte. Even Lugard (hate him or love him) mentioned in his famous book about us that we hate the truth. This is playing out today. For if we understood the value of truth, we will not keep hiding behind the stats that say Nigeria has the world’s third worst security crisis, behind Iraq and Afghanistan.
Let us look at things closely. Until the Americans decided to leave Afghanistan, when last did we hear of suicide bombing there? And when these things happened in Afghanistan, they were at war with foreign invaders. We here get too carried away with clichés and repeat like parrots what we hear on CNN and elsewhere, with the current fad being to mock Afghanistan. We will still be mocking when our worse realities will become open to the limits of the world, if we are not careful. What is it about insecurity in Afghanistan that we don’t have worse here? And we have a president drawing a salary, looking fresh, sponsoring himself on our dime for treatment abroad. We have a president whose children attended expensive schools abroad and throw lavish weddings, hooking up with the children of royalty and the high and mighty. We have governors who – like the president – are lords and masters in their states and who in many ways are far more profligate than the president. We have all sorts of politicians running all over the country in byzantine gluttony, wrecking the nation in more ways than one, while the entire country is a total write-off, security-wise. How can this situation make anyone happy? Is it not all about the disconnect of governance from the people?
What about Iraq? When last, since the U.S. deescalated their involvement in that country, did we hear the usual things we heared when the country was at war? That country was targeted by the Americans, Brits, Canadians and other usual suspects, over the false pretext that she harbored weapons of mass destruction. The Westerners wanted a war, Bush got one, not minding how many women and children died. Obama repeated the same in Libya. Iraq has been largely peaceful of late. I searched on the internet and there is not much going on there lately. Nothing at all. The people are rebuilding their nation. This is the country we are hiding behind, as we usually do, while they are reorganising themselves, and nowhere is safe in our nation. It is a big, massive shame to our security services too. I will not be proud if I was in the Nigerian armed forces today, or the intelligence services. But it is a Nigerian thing, for if you consider the economic space too, all we do is hide behind the cliché that just like other developed nations of the world, we are in an economic recession, when the reality – an unacceptably high rate of unemployment, unacceptably high crime rates, untold insecurity and killings, unacceptable inflation rates alongside low growth, unacceptable poverty, disease and hunger – show that we are at least in an economic depression, if not worse. Why are we never interested in the truth, even about ourselves? We say our debts are not enough based on some metric recommended by the World Bank. We deny that we have economic issues.
I wondered what kind of life that was. I wondered how Nigeria had become such a place that distinguishes itself in the world as very unsafe, where anyone can be kidnapped or shot. Only the large cities are fairly safe, but even there are no guarantees around that. We have totally abandoned our villages and most people dare not venture out of their comfort zones. This cannot be right.
I revved myself up to write this article, and I wanted it to be jarring. I wanted to point out a truth that is just staring us in the face, while we avert our eyes, deliberately ignore the elephant in the room, and act like there is no trouble. I wish I could achieve what I intended still, somehow. I received a text message from Omoyele Sowore on the morning his junior brother was shot dead around Okada in Edo State. Jide Sowore was a mature student of Psychology at Igbinedion University. I recalled sometime in 2017 when I undertook a study tour of Edo State police stations and prisons, and we had to go to the Okada area to check their police stations, the retired Superintendent of Police that I was with, was very afraid when we had to visit Okada. He said that place was very notorious for those kinds of attacks. Everyone said cattle herders were the ones perpetuating killings in that zone. They even showed us in the police station how they arrested some of those guys, only for them to break themselves out of jail through the ceiling. We saw it all. We were told at the police station that the children of the big men who attend the university have to be escorted by a trailer load of armed policemen when they resume and when they vacate the institution. I wondered what kind of life that was. I wondered how Nigeria had become such a place that distinguishes itself in the world as very unsafe, where anyone can be kidnapped or shot. Only the large cities are fairly safe, but even there are no guarantees around that. We have totally abandoned our villages and most people dare not venture out of their comfort zones. This cannot be right.
This is an incredibly sad and abnormal situation but I think the first thing to do is for us to acknowledge exactly where we are, if we shall ever find solutions to our security quagmire.
In the last week or two, a cursory look at the newspapers revealed the following kidnappings, among several mass kidnapping of children from schools, attacks on policemen in the South-East, and other idiocies that have now been normalised in our milieu:
– Emir of Bugundu (Zamfara State) kidnapped along Abuja-Kaduna highway;
– Father of a local government chairman kidnapped in Bayelsa State;
– Gunmen kidnap 73 students of Government Secondary School, Kaya, Zamfara State;
– Sister of Deputy Speaker kidnapped in Katsina State;
– Adamawa, Katsina, Zamfara, school closures;
– Children of Katsina Secretary to the State Government (SSG) kidnapped;
– Former senator kidnapped in Akwa Ibom;
– Jigawa State – Bandits abduct monarch in Taura Local Government, set palace ablaze;
– Former Chief Justice of Abia State, Nnenna Oti, kidnapped;
– Former NBC Director kidnapped in Katsina State;
– Sowore’s brother shot dead. Reverend Sister escapes, says there are other victims in the bush;
– Deputy Provost’s three sons kidnapped in Katsina;
– Pastor’s wife and children kidnapped in Abuja;
– Pastor, 27 others kidnapped in Kwara. One dies seven days after release;
– Gunmen kill two, abduct 60 others in Sokoto;
– Anglican priest killed for inviting soldiers to stop school raid in Imo State.
Is this not worse than Iraq and Afghanistan? Is this not a war situation? Okay, we now know that nowhere is safe in Nigeria, and anyone can be abducted in broad daylight anywhere. We see that many of our big men are relocating abroad; Nigeria has become too hot apparently. The question is: Who next? Every representative of our demographic has seen trauma in the hands of the insecurity that Buhari foisted on us through his non-governance. The buck stops with him, and he can see his testimonial being written by himself so starkly. He said he was a general and will lead from the front, right? He fought tooth and nail to be president. He cursed and whipped up sentiments, and when he got in, he cocooned himself in all the security that money can buy. But look at him today. Sorry, look at us.
Yes, our security crisis can be tackled but the leadership of Nigeria must have to change. Buhari will probably suffer the stigma of such unacceptable, painful, heartbreaking levels of insecurity until he leaves. He should check himself. There is a spiritual angle to this problem, and it has to do with the compromises people make in order to get power. The tenure of leaders leaves stories, etched on the tablets of time.
Four states in Nigeria have had to totally shut down schools – and these are states with educational disadvantages. In Katsina, where Buhari is from, the entire State was overrun just about two week ago. It was in that same state that former Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal, Mamman Nasir – 90 years old and blind – and a whole traditional ruler that he was, was kidnapped and traumatised, dying shortly after he managed to escape in 2019. In Zamfara, a sitting Sharia Court Judge was recently hijacked right in court and taken away for almost two months, until his people paid the ransom. He said the kidnappers were Fulani. My friend, Sola Fagorusi, was kidnapped for 21 days in Ekiti, by people whom he said spoke Fulfulde and occasional French, and who boasted of their exploits as far as Mali and Sudan and Cameroon. When he was eventually released after a huge ransom had been collected, not a soul from DSS or the Police debriefed him or tried to obtain any intelligence from him. Just last week I read about one Mr Orisan, who was killed in Ekiti State, where he had gone to bury his mother-in-law. His daughter and someone else were kidnapped for weeks. The East of Nigeria is still a fragile place after the so-called unknown gunmen have wasted dozens of security service men. In the South-West, Ekiti is volatile for kidnappings, and Ondo, for bank robberies. The South-South seems to be the safest place in Nigeria today, but at sea a lot of pirate hijackings are going on in the Gulf of Guinea. Nowhere is actually safe.
We have become inured to violence and absurdities. I tried to write an article titled “How Does Anyone Kidnap 300 People” the other day, but just ended up abandoning it. When I did a bit of research on mass kidnappings, I found that Nigeria is the only country in the world where the mass kidnapping of children (in fact of anyone) happens. If there is anything we have given to the world, that is it. Not an invention or a discovery. Just mass kidnappings. How does anyone mount hundreds of children on bikes or stuff them in buses and drive for hundreds of kilometres without being stopped or questioned? The locals are complicit. Governments (local, state and federal) are complicit. The security services (the Police, DSS and the lot) are complicit. A lot of these kidnappings are setups to extract money and for power, and they have been overly successful so far. I also believe that the other kidnappings around the country are very organised and that former armed robbers and hardened crime kingpins have discovered that they can make a whole lot more money therefrom. Their kingpins are among us, living in mansions, hailed by society and given awards, regarded as philanthropists in our religious houses, and buffeted by governments. Evil has mainstreamed itself in Nigeria. Every tribe/nationality is involved – the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani and others in Nigeria. Even the security services cannot wash themselves clean. These are largely intelligence failures allowed to go on for so long. They can therefore be solved. In the killing of Mr Orisan in Ekiti State, his unemployed MSc-holder daughter said that the suspected Fulani guys that abducted her and someone else spoke Yoruba with an accent, but their kingpin spoke fluent Yoruba without one, and must be a Yoruba man. There is huge collaboration for business here. The guys who effect the jobs are just errand boys. Forget the silly ‘Fulanisation’ agenda; this is largely economic. We live in a heartless society – and that society mirrors the heart, soul, spirit and minds of the leaders (political, traditional, business, religious). I believe if we have a clean-spirited leader at the very top, with love for the people and a pure heart to strive his best, these things will disappear.
Yes, our security crisis can be tackled but the leadership of Nigeria must have to change. Buhari will probably suffer the stigma of such unacceptable, painful, heartbreaking levels of insecurity until he leaves. He should check himself. There is a spiritual angle to this problem, and it has to do with the compromises people make in order to get power. The tenure of leaders leaves stories, etched on the tablets of time. And the story that Buhari’s tenure will tell is already in plain sight for all to see – a damaged economy, a damaged currency, insecurity and killings all over the country, mass kidnappings like never before, sadness all over the land, a rash of misguided folks trying to split the country, corruption gone AWOL, and so much deception too. The main reasons why insecurity, corruption, thievery and wickedness have become a free-for-all in Nigeria is because the operatives who should move against all that is going on, see what the leaders are doing and have decided never to lay their own lives on the line, or they have simply positioned to make their own money from the escalated confusion. At the end, it is all about money, money, money and power. No one should envy most rich and powerful Nigerians, as most of the money and power is gotten from the blood of innocent people, directly or indirectly. When political leaders compromise budgets and throw the people under the bus, strike deals or simply pocket monies meant for the improvement of the polity, Nigeria is what you get, and everything goes downhill from there. The few patriots in the nation labour but in vain. But we shall surely turn the corner. Nothing lasts forever.
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