INSECURITY IN NORTHERN NIGERIA: A President’s burden
By Okofu Ubaka
If one is to rely on the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary for the meanings of banditry and insecurity, it won’t be out of place to insinuate that the present situation in the entire 19 states of northern Nigeria is that of a total breakdown of law and order. The upsurge in killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping and the general state of insecurity are unimaginable. So disturbing that Shehu Sani, a former Senator representing southern Kaduna had to call recently for an immediate convocation of a conference of northern political elites on the state of insecurity in the region. Particularly, he berated the 19 state governors for doing very little to arrest the ugly trend.
If there is anyone to be blamed on the general state of insecurity in the north, without mincing words, that person is President Muhammadu Buhari . The reason is not farfetched; the President is not only a retired General of the Nigerian army, but also hails from the north alongside all his service chiefs. The question is, if the region, and particularly the state where the President comes from are not safe, where else can be safe in Nigeria?
Regrettably that the 19 northern states have been reduced to a massive jungle where life is short and brutish. Recently, a United Nations report has it that over two million Nigerians are already displaced by the insurgency in the North-east alone. The prevalence and escalation of criminality in the north in spite of the heavy presence of security formations can only be imagined. Beside the scare of Boko Haram and Covid-19, the people, especially the vulnerable, are caught in the twigs of banditry, which also comes with degrees of terror as the former.
Banditry in northern Nigeria used to be all about cattle rustling and disposing victims of their food and provisions. With the proliferation of automatic weapons in that region, the modus operandi of bandits had taken a far more scaring and horrendous dimension. They come in group, and most times, carried out an all night raiding of villages. Long enough for rescue to have come from the police and specialized military formations in the area. But, like an helpless chick before a hawk, the people are left to be killed, or maimed and displaced .
The activities of bandits in the north have further exacerbated the turmoil and economic hardship already caused by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Borno, Kaduna, Zamfara, Plateau and Katsina remain shadows of their old selves. The activities of bandits and incessant clashes of herders and the Christian community in the above states have asphyxiated economic activities and growth in the region.
By any estimation, the state of insecurity in the 19 states of northern Nigerian is having a spiral effect on the rest of the nation as resources which could have been channeled to developmental needs are being wasted on the fight against Boko Haram and banditry. Again, over 68% of the food Nigerians consume annually comes from the region, and if the trend continues the entire nation may be faced by acute food shortage in the near future.
Shehu Sani opined that the inability of the President to sack his service chief was the reason we are still talking of insurgence in the northern region. Sani is not the only one to have knocked the president for his failure to replace the present service chiefs when it was obvious that they were bereft of any military tactic to restore normalcy to the region.
Also to have lamented the general state of insecurity in the north , was deposed Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi Lamido who chided the political elites for their greed and short sightedness. He attributed the upsurge in crime to the large number of uneducated youths, and the general state of under development in the region .
There is no doubt that the time to overhaul the security formations in the country is now. Even though a lot of damage has been done to the region already, the President can achieve a lot within a short period of time if he beats down the air of lethargy about him. He kept directing without any result. The truth remains, the service chiefs are incompetent. Something must also be done about our porous borders with Niger, Chad and Mali. Our borders must be mounted by competent security operatives to fight back bandits from neighbouring Mali, Niger and Chad. Some of these bandits sneak into Nigeria to commit heinous crimes and sneak out at the end of the day without any molestation. President Buhari must rise up to the challenge of restoring peace to the region before 2023 when he is expected to have completed his maximum two terms in office.
Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar