Who has Nigeria offended? The country is fretting over a strange security challenge. There is suspense. Nobody knows what will happen next minute. The apprehension cuts across.
Is Nigeria not becoming a failed nation-state? Is the tribulation also a manifestation of forced cohabitation? Is the prediction of disintegration by some foreign agencies about to come to pass? When will the giant of Africa know peace?
The country is now remarkable for bloodletting. Killings have become a pastime. Gunmen are on the prowl daily. Anybody is a target. Everybody is a victim. No geo-political zone is insulated from terror. Nowhere is safe. Lamentations fill the air.
At home, there is panic. On the road, there is fear. Many are now afraid of intra and inter-state travelling. Many people are lost. They are yet to be found by their loved ones.
Killer-herdsmen are not relenting in their trespassing. Farmers and crops are victims of their misdemeanours. They remain lawless; untamed and perhaps, they are being inadvertently aided, abeted, motivated and rewarded.
What is the difference between a terrorist and a bandit? Who is a bandit who is not a killer-herder? Who is a destructive herdsman who is not a kidnapper? Who is a kidnapper who is not a rapist?
Private residences of big shots are being torched by arsonists. Where would commoners run to? Even, sojourners in Internally Displaced Camps,(IDPs) are being slaughtered, threatened, intimidated and oppressed, in their lowly state.
Towns and villages are being ransacked. Villagers are running helter-skelter, but to uncertain locations. Socio-economic activities are disrupted. Children cannot fathom what is happening. Their grief-stricken parents cannot really explain the grim reality of unprovoked tragedy and disaster.
Schools are victims. In captivity, abducted students cry for elusive help. Their captors are demanding for millions to stock more arms and terrorise society. Few had been deliberately killed to show that the captors meant business. They went to school to become great. Now, they are agonising in an unknown forest.
Palaces are not spared. Monarchs are being abducted and killed. Their bereaved communities are bewildered. In the past, people ran to palaces, which they perceived as safe haven. Now, some members of the royal household seek refuge in hideouts.
Why assailants are burning down police stations and courts is baffling. Can the country exist or survive without the police? The police appear to have lost institutional esteem since the EndSARS protest. Policemen are being killed in the North and South. Their weapons are being carted away. The new Police Inspector General cried out that the police was empty; policemen are too few to police the country and there is shortage of weapons.
Citizens are vulnerable to a series of attacks.
Governors are in a state of despair. They are enveloped by the subsisting contradiction. They are camouflage chief security officers of their states. They are daydreaming. A governor’s private building was torched by yet to be identified criminals. What should an ordinary person not expect?
Some governors and senators cannot risk visiting their states. Highways have become death traps.
The states surrounding Abuja are gradually surrendering to terrorists, who are hoisting flags and holding prayer of mockery. Chiroro, Niger State, is a stone throw to Abuja. It is about a three hour-drive. How safe is the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)? What is the source of their strength? Who is funding the terrorists?
The cost of insecurity is taking its tolls on the beleaguered country. Gallant soldiers are falling on the battlefield, leaving behind aged parents, widows, children and other dependants.
Then, a bombshell. A top security officer was said to have, in a fit of frustration and anger, decried the disappearance of money meant for arms. It is a rare form of corruption at this moment of national grief.
Nigeria is now a laughing stock. In the Federal Government are sympathisers and supporters of terrorists. These elements are custodian of the data of every Nigerian. They confessed that they were in league. Government said it was in the realm of the past, adding that they had repented. Previous inflammatory statements were essentially damaging to religious harmony and peaceful coexistence. Yet, these lovers of terror managed to scale the multiple screening hurdles and took pre-eminent seats among core decision makers.
The crux of the matter is whether a leopard can change its skin. An armed robber was caught. He confessed. He was pardoned. But, is it wise to ask him to guard the house or the treasury. The consequence is better imagined.
Nigerians had compelled the president to sack his beloved service chiefs. The appointment of new ones has not changed the situation. Will a state of emergency on security change the tide? It is debatable. Some rights crusaders will complain about a systematic regression to militarism. If it is not declared, they will also blame the Commander-In-Chief for aloofness.
The home situation is worrisome to Nigerians abroad. Tales of woes are echoed in the western world about Nigeria. They are also exaggerated to portray the country in bad light, to the discomfort of Nigerians in the Diaspora. Also, the number of citizens nursing the intention of leaving the country, which is a theatre of war, for safer haven,has increased geometrically. There is a new wave of brain drain as professionals are leaving for Europe, America and Asia for real and imagined greener pastures.
Is a war zone also an environment that is conducive to investment? Who is that investor that will like to put his money in a chaotic and confused environment where law and order have broken down? What had previously scared investors was the power outage. Generating sets filled the void. But, does peace have duplicate?
If the trend of inexplicable war continues, will future electioneering not be in jeopardy? Can voting take place in a state of anarchy? This too has implications for democratic transfer of legitimate power.
As the Federal Government’s efforts have not sufficiently achieved the desired results, states that have some things in common went to the drawing board to strategise. The result, in the Southwest, was Amotekun. But, the outfit was nearly crippled at inception by federal authorities, which perceived it as a regional agenda for devolution through the back door. Amotekun, as conceived, would have been more effective if it is allowed to operate as a regional security outfit.
Fears are rife that the proposed Ebube Agu will not take the shape of a regional outfit. Therefore, it may, like Amotekun, become a glorified vigilance group; restricted to states and unable to draw from collective regional resources.
As the centralised police have proved grossly ineffective for local or community policing, the agitation for decentralised policing, or a multi-layer policing structure, will continue to gain prominence.
Is the government running out of ideas? The challenge has overwhelmed the authorities. May they have the will to seek the right help.
But, the help from home should be the foundation. Those elite keeping quiet should halt their silence.
Security is a collective duty. If Nigerians decide that terrorism should come to an end, it will come to an end.
Without security, there will be no peace. Without peace, there will be no development. May Nigeria triumph.