“Security is not a product, but a process”. Bruce Schneier.
Security, is one thing that virtually everyone in the world should ordinarily be concerned about, but which, sadly, isn’t the case. In fact, the vast majority of people by their very active actions frustrate the environment, such that the attainment of security is extremely difficult to achieve. Worst still, is that only a handful make the necessary contribution towards ensuring public peace and order.
Let’s come down to a specific example. If only the restive youths of Zangon Kataf, Kaura, Kauru local government areas, and other notorious flash points in Kaduna state, understand the basic fact that security is not a finished product, but a difficult process, and that the security of everyone is the business of everyone, the 193 deaths (56%) recorded between July and September 2021, in Southern Kaduna senatorial district due to reprisal attacks would have been much lower than the number reported. Reprisal killings can never conduce peace!
Put differently, the 130 deaths (38%) recorded in Birnin Gwari, Kajuru, Giwa, Chikun, and Igabi local government areas of Kaduna central denatorial district, the acknowledged epicenter of banditry, kidnapping and animal rustling by the previous reports (2020 Security Situation Report, the First and Second Quarter Reports of 2021) would definitely have been much worse than the 130 deaths, if the people of the senatorial district had resorted to reprisal attacks, like their brothers and sisters of the Southern Kaduna senatorial district.
Before the creation of the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs in 2019 by Governor Nasir El-Rufai, there was, absolutely, no accountability, a gap several non-state actors conveniently capitalised on, to push dangerous narratives, with very devastating consequences on the image of Kaduna state, particularly on the Southern part of the state. The motive was the belief that El-Rufai’s political future would be adversely affected by the wild claims, especially, the unfounded allegations of genocide.
Though El-Rufai was the main target of the demonisation campaign, the effect of the campaign of calumny, shouting wolf from the rooftops, where there was none, has done unquantifiable damage to the area. For instance, for several years, the Kaduna state government found it difficult to implement any infrastructural project in the area, because contractors declined projects in the area due to the politicisation of the security challenges.
The beauty of the security report is not just the information on the number, or the nature and pattern of the security incidents, but the credibility of the report on the unprecedented security challenge confronting the country. It’s to the credit of the Samuel Aruwan led ministry that to date no interest group has disputed any of the reports or the context of some of the security breaches, nor the pattern of the violence, or what the Kaduna state government and the security agencies are doing to contain the situation.
It’s important to stress that the increase in the number of deaths, showing the Kaduna South senatorial district with the highest casualties in the period under review, doesn’t in anyway indicate the failure of the various peace initiatives, but does suggest some partial success by opponents of the peace initiatives to sabotage the peace efforts. So, apart from painting a misleading picture on the security threats, the resort to reprisal killings in the southern part of the state is an urgent call to action by all men of goodwill, to ensure that the escalating threats to peace are frontally addressed.
It would have been the height of naivety on the part of government not to anticipate the reaction of the merchants of hate, who have for long profited from the situation with their incendiary language, because of the threat posed to their political relevance and fund-raising activities, by the reports.
The increasing attack on the person of Samuel Aruwan has to do with the activities of his ministry, especially the exposition of the deliberate manipulation of the complex security situation along ethno-religious lines, which has denied them the space that they hitherto exploited to bandy ridiculous narratives.
Highlights of the report, which should worry Nigerians, are the devastating impact of the security situation on peaceful coexistence, the looming food insecurity, the manifest threat to education, the total collapse of the rural economy and threat to social cohesion.
El-Rufai is justifiably right in his anger, that despite considerable investment by his administration, the bandits have continued to operate with impunity. “We have consistently supported the federal security agencies deployed to our state with logistics and equipment. Apart from these recurrent expenses, the Kaduna state government has undertaken capital expenditure to provide facilities that can multiply the capacity of security agencies to deter crime and conduct effective investigations of those that do occur”, he said. Many state governments in the North-west and the North-central, like Kaduna state, are also funding the various security agencies.
It continues to beat imagination how a country that swiftly crushed the Biafran insurrection has failed to decisively deal with the present threat posed to the corporate existence of the country by the terrorists and bandits.
Without doubt, the reason behind El-Rufai’s call for massive recruitment into the military, police and the amendment of the constitution to allow states establish community police is the swift manner the civil war was prosecuted. El-Rufai’s expectations are informed by history of what a determined and committed country achieved during the civil war of 1966 to 1970. He said: “There are simply not enough boots on ground to have credible deployments in most places to protect communities, deter crime and enforce law and order”, which explains the inability of the military to carry out simultaneous operations across all the seven states of North-west and Niger state.
To crush the insurgency, El-Rufai has put forward some pragmatic proposals. First is the emergency mobilisation of 1,000 youths from each of the 774 LGAs into the various security agencies, an unprecedented recruitment since the civil war. An influx of 774,000 new boots on the ground will be a game changer in the war against banditry. It will also create jobs. Second is the adoption of unconventional approach to the war, which has seen Kaduna state engage the services of hunters, to boost the numbers. It has also vigorously continued to push since 2017 that the bandits be declared insurgents and terrorists, because the declaration will allow the Nigerian military engage the bandits without any major consequences in international law.
Though the situation is not too cheering, the Kaduna state government deserves commendation for its accountability and transparency, and for its empathy towards victims who have suffered losses and untold hardship as a result of the violence unleashed by the criminal gangs. Victims will be compensated from the Riot Damage and Compensation Fund introduced in 2016 for such purposes.
The goal for El-Rufai is zero-kidnappings, and zero killings.
Musa writes from Kaduna.