Apart from babies and those too young to know, there is hardly anyone in Nigeria today who is not aware that the security situation in the country is worsening, that the country is on the brink of a security precipice and hanging on tenterhooks.
From the north to the south to the east and west, we are confronted with one form of insecurity or the other. We are affected directly or indirectly. Road trips are becoming increasingly scary as many people have been abducted only because they chose the road as a means of transportation and their families are made to part with huge amounts of money in ransom. Those not so lucky lose their lives even after ransoms are paid.
Education is being threatened as a result of the unsafe nature of schools. Between December 2020 and March 2021, there have been about five cases of abduction of school children and in kneejerk reactions, eight northern states have shut down at least 4,034 schools in three months.
The issue of insecurity that pervades the country has dominated the media space and no one needs a prophet to spell this out to them.
This is why I find recent comments attributed to the Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, that the country is on the brink befuddling. He lamented that Nigeria was in a critical situation occasioned by terrorist attacks, banditry and kidnappings.
Nigerians have been reading from the book of lamentations for long now and the minister who should be leading the charge of defending us has joined in the lamentation.
Does the minister think Nigerians do not know that they are unsafe and survive everyday by sheer grace of God? Does the minister not know that Nigerians are aware that they are on their own?
Is it not because the security situation of the country has become dire that many Nigerians are no longer able to visit their villages for fear of being kidnapped?
Is it not the same precarious security situation that is responsible for the recent broad daylight attack on Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, by armed men on the outskirts of Makurdi, the state capital?
Is it not this same minister that told Nigerians only weeks ago to stop being cowards and defend themselves against bandits?
“We shouldn’t be cowards. I don’t know why people are running away from minor, minor, minor things like that. They should stand. Let these people know that even the villagers have the competence and capability to defend themselves,” the minster had said, in the wake of the abduction of students in Zamfara State.
Was it not the minister saying to us that “water don pass garri” and we are on our own, by implication, even though it is obvious that citizens cannot defend themselves with bare hands against bandits and terrorists wielding sophisticated arms?
The minister, at a one-day National Defence and Security summit with the theme ‘Promoting Kinetic Operations as a Major Plank for Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency in Nigeria,’ in Abuja, said the country will now use kinetic approach to stop those planning to destabilise the country.
This is the kind of reassurance Nigerians need at this time.
Nigerians need more action and less talk on the issue of security. The minister should be telling Nigerians how efforts being deployed under his leadership are translating to a safer Nigeria for all of us. This is the way I see it!
One other thing
President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide on social media, Lauretta Onochie, recently made a post on her verified twitter handle @Laurestar that “Lifestyle Audit is now legal in Nigeria. Those who flaunt lifestyles they cannot afford, can now be investigated by any of the graft agencies to produce evidence of the sources of their wealth. You can now be called upon to explain how you acquired certain properties.”
This is a good development that should ordinarily be celebrated but I have my fears. We were all in this country and witnessed how officials of the now proscribed? Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) terrorised young people who they profiled as criminals and internet fraudsters. Unless the modalities are very clear, anything that will lead to profiling of citizens must be avoided at all costs to prevent a reoccurrence of any civil action in the mould of the #endsars protest.
How be it, hopefully, when this lifestyle audit commences, those on the priority list will include politicians, political appointees and their children who use some of the most exotic cars for car racing stunts on Abuja’s roads every weekend, terrorising other road users and putting pressure on the infrastructure.
After this, we can also try to find out why Nigerians are getting poorer with 83 million people or 40 percent of the population living below the country’s poverty line of 137,430 naira ($381.75) per annum, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and the country ranked as the poverty capital of the world.