This week, President Muhammadu Buhari called for vigilance and tightening of security around the nation’s borders mainly because of the increased numbers of arms, ammunition and other types of weapons that are, suspiciously, coming in as a result of the ongoing Russia and Ukraine war through the Lake Chad Basin.
The President spoke during the 16th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC).
During the event, the President chaired the Summit of Heads of State and Government, where he, to the relief of members, said that the threats posed by terrorists in the region were, however, relatively brought under control. Regrettably, the President said that the influx of weapons in the area poses fresh challenges.
“It must, however, be stated that despite the successes recorded by the gallant troops of the MNJTF and the various ongoing national operations in the region, terrorist threats still lurk in the region,” he said. “Regrettably, the situation in the Sahel and the raging war in Ukraine serve as major sources of weapons and fighters that bolster the ranks of the terrorists in the Lake Chad Region.”
According to the President, substantial proportion of the arms and ammunition meant for the execution of the war in Libya also continues to find its way to the Lake Chad region and other parts of the Sahel while some weapons, equally, meant for Ukraine and Russia war are beginning to find their way to the region.
This illegal movement of arms into the region has heightened the proliferation of small arms and light weapons with the development still left to threaten the region’s collective peace and security.
This development, with dire consequences for security in the region, calls for expedited collaborative actions by the affected countries’ border control agencies and other security services to stop the circulation of all illegal weapons in the region.
Though the President calls for praise for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) which, he said, through its various operations had brought measurable stability to the Lake Chad Basin, arms tracking in West Africa and the Sahel continues to fuel armed conflict, crime, instability and violent extremism.
Across the Sahel, states face increasing inter-communal conflict and attacks by violent extremist organisations. These groups continuously undermine the ongoing military operations in the region. Increasing conflict along Niger and Mali’s borders threatens regional stability and the efficiency of current military operations against against the terrorist groups.
Specifically, the persistent threat from Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and, more recently, trending south into northern Nigeria has created doubt in the international community that current military options will suffice to prevent further attacks and fostered fear among local communities that now seek to arm and protect themselves.
In this current confict area, legal sales and illegal traficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) become jumbled together in black and gray markets where violent actors are poised to take advantage. Recent anti-traficking initiatives have become futile in areas where the national and international stakeholders have a limited ability to document, confiscate or re-purpose illicit arms.
Niger, Mali and Nigeria face the particular challenge of addressing arms trafficking while simultaneously trying to prevent hostile attacks and high-stake kidnappings by Boko Haram.
Socio-economic factors in rural regions also pose an obstacle to implementing effective and sustainable anti-trafficking measures that do not leave communities vulnerable and unprotected. A coordinated effort by local, national and international stakeholders, including policy change, increased training of local implementers and financial support from the international community, will be essential to curbing SALW trafficking in the Sahel and West Africa regions and impacting the trajectory of violence.
No doubt, the threat of Boko Haram terrorism in the Lake Chad area has brought to the fore the imperative of enhanced collaboration among the defense forces of the region in the face of a common aggressor.
Do governors fuel poverty in Nigeria?
The federal government said that the actions and inactions of governors of the states of the federation fuel poverty in Nigeria.
The federal government spoke through the Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clement Agba, who argued that 72% of those living within the poverty bracket in Nigeria are found in the rural areas.
These people are poor, said the minister, because they are abandoned by the governors. Instead of initiating policies and programmes to reduce poverty in rural areas, the minister said, governors often prioritise construction of flyovers and airports in urban areas.
He said, and it’s largely so, that governors prefer to build skyscrapers, flyovers, airports rather and other structures that can be considered luxurious instead of roads, especially rural feeder ones, to help farmers in the rural areas to easily transport their farm produce to the cities.
Without any doubt, the failure to build roads in the rural areas and neglect of agriculture that is mainly practiced in the rural areas, through lack of granting access to farmers by the authorities in the states and local governments to loans and farm inputs lead to loss of 60% of harvests.
“I think that it’s always good for us to put things in the right perspective. Like I say to people, when you say government, we should be able to specify which government we are talking about. Is it a federal government? Is it a state government or is it a local government. “These governments have different responsibilities… we’ve always looked at monetary poverty. But poverty, like we know, has different indices, different intensity and different causes. And it is for this reason I went around the 109 senatorial districts in Nigeria to carry out those survey and to be able to say, specifically, where this hardship is.
“The result, clearly, show that 72% of poverty is in the rural areas. It also show, clearly, that Sokoto state is leading in poverty with 91%. But the surprising thing is Bayelsa being the second in terms of poverty rating in the country. So you see the issue is not about availability of money. But it has to do with the application of money,” the minister said.
Of course, it needs not be said that how government prioritises its investment of money goes a long way to determine standards of living of people under the jurisdiction of that government. Public investment shapes choices about where people live and work and affects quality of life of people. If well-managed, public investment is a potentially growth-enhancing form of public expenditure.
In contrast, poor investment choices, like the governors tend to do, waste resources, erode public trust and may hamper growth opportunities in the states.
The most important priority of government as investor is, indeed, education, but education cradle-to-grave. The first five years are particularly essential as the brain development in those years determines how well children will be able to learn and process what they learn for the rest of their lives.
However, even well-educated citizens cannot live up to their full potential as creative members of the society unless they have resources to work with.
Of course, any government that believes in talents and potential of its people should devote a large portion of its revenues to investing in its people to help them reach their potential. But government investment will have to recognise and address the changing needs of citizens over their entire lifetimes and provide avenues to help them lead useful life.
Essentially, government at all levels should understand that their main functions include providing an infrastructure of care to enable citizens to flourish socially and economically. Governments should also provide a social security that will enable citizens to create their economic security so that together we all can grow the country’s economy.