Addressing insecurity in Nigeria

From the very early stage, children are thought in school that the very basic human needs are food, shelter and clothing. But with current reality, with the spate of terrorism the world over, security no doubt has been included as a part of the basic human needs. The current reality is that security is central to meeting the basic human needs. Insecurity which is lack of protection or the state of being open to danger or threat is an undesirable situation for humanity. Insecurity limits human freedom, pursuit of happiness and social interaction, the essential ingredients that lubricate peace and unity in the society. Insecurity in any form is a breach to fundamental human rights of the people. Insecurity inhibits human activities and economic progress for no real investor will invest in an atmosphere of insecurity.

Security is a necessity. It is the right of the people. People are entitled to right to live. People are entitled to fundamental human right to freedom. It is the duty of every responsible government to protect lives and property of the citizenry within its domain. Any government that cannot do this has failed fundamentally.

It is on this note that I bemoan the current security situation in Nigeria. The current insecurity in Nigeria is indescribably pathetic. Boko Haram insurgents seem emboldened to unleash mayhem in the land. And the armed forces hitherto known for their bravery in peace-keeping operations appear helpless in curbing the menace of the terrorists. On daily basis our troops are losing officers and men in the protracted battle against the insurgents while the government is indirectly funding the insurgents by negotiating and paying ransom to the terrorist against international convention and rules of engagement. The problem has metastasized to every nook and cranny of the nation. The news of banditry and kidnapping of school children and the demand of ransom for their release is everyday occurrence now. Herdsmen are having a field day raping, killing, maiming and sacking villages and displacing people from their homelands. The number of those inhabiting refugee camps is increasing with each passing day. Nigeria is now ranked among pariah states because of the high incidences of terrorism and insecurity in the country.

There is palpable fear in the land. Nigeria has never been this insecure, not even in the civil war era. Nigerians cannot drive freely on our highways for fear of bandits and kidnappers. Farmers cannot go to farm because of herdsmen and the vast majority of the citizens are finding it difficult to cope with the soaring prices of food stuffs occasioned by insecurity. Nigerians are leaving the country in droves. Nigerians besiege foreign embassies everyday in search of visas to emigrate to other countries. Many youths have died in the process of taking unimaginable risks in their quest to leave the country at all costs for better lives elsewhere.

Worse still, the government of the day has not shown any commitment towards tackling the problem of insecurity ravaging the land, fueling the speculation of government complicity in the whole matter. The apparent helplessness or unwillingness of the government to tackle the country’s security challenges is threatening in no small measure the peace, stability and progress of the nation. No meaningful progress can be made in an environment fraught with fear and insecurity. The poor security situation is also a great threat to national unity. Suspicion, ethnic tension and mutual recrimination are taking the place of patriotism. Regions and states are establishing alternative security networks ostensibly to tackle the security challenges in the face of the apparent helplessness of the central government. Of course, every careful observer must not lose sight of the ominous implications of having many regional security outfits that could easily be politically high-jacked or manipulated as an instrument of operation or extortion. 

Regrettably, the deplorable state of insecurity in the country is said to be worsened by official high-handedness of the government and its agents. There are many reported cases of brutality and suppression of civil advocacy in the country. The recent #Endsars protest wherein it is reported that security forces used live bullets against unarmed youth protesters that claimed the lives of many people is a case in point. It is wrong for government to use force to suppress lawful agitation. Rather than getting fixated about suppressing what the government termed as hate speech and advocacy, the government can employ dialogue and constructive engagement as it is done in civilized democracies.

Clearly, the current regime in Nigeria has failed in providing security for the people. Every section of the country from the North to the South is affected. Some people erroneously believe that it is worse in the South but it is everywhere. Banditry and kidnapping are more in the North. Most of the refugees are from the North. In more civilized climes, when a government cannot deliver on its mandate, it is asked to resign but not so in Nigeria where people see things only from ethnic lenses. Nigerian leaders seem to be playing politics with national security..

The current situation is a lesson to all Nigerians. As the 2023 general election beckons, will Nigeria correct the present challenge with their votes? Or will Nigerians close their eyes again and allow the politicians and the press to deceive them by packaging some torn-coat politicians and ethnic jingoists as men of integrity? Will Nigerians vote for competence over tribal consideration? Will Nigerians vote for peace and stability over primordial sentiments? Will Nigerians vote for Nigeria to work again or vote for suffering and instability? Nigerians, your destiny is in your hands!

Hajia Mohammed, actress, social activist, politician, writes from London, UK via [email protected]

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