April 15, 2021

Either security or nothing - Sunny Ikhioya

WE can make the best budget preparation, plan the best execution and even make the best promises on earth, but all of these will not materialise unless we take care of our security.
Except for the security situation in Nigeria, today is stabilised, nothing will work. An entrepreneur wants to encourage agriculture and invests billions of naira into the project. All of a sudden, bandits and kidnappers take over the farmlands. What is his gain? Schools and hospitals of the best standards are built, like Governor Zulum is doing in Borno State, suddenly the Boko Haram sect captures such schools, kidnap teachers and students. What is the gain? As long as we allow bandits, kidnappers and insurgents to hold sway in our land, nothing else will work. We must face the security situation squarely. 
It is even an irony that we have set up the North East Development Commission, NEDC, without caring a hoot about its sustainability. If there is no peace, there can’t be development. In setting up the commission, we have put the cart before the horse. Germany, Japan and other opposition forces were already brought under submission before the government of the United States introduced the Marshall rehabilitation plan. I don’t know where we copy our ideas from as we always have a way of distorting reality. By the way, with what we have witnessed in America these past months, it is clear that we need not look outwards before we sort things out ourselves. 
We are still living in denial. For every narcissistic, authoritarian and schizophrenic leader that the world has produced, there are always people around, beating the drums: the press, academics, ethnic and religious champions, party and other bogeymen. Well educated and schooled individuals, captains of industry and top legislators all have kowtowed to a leader that has lost his bearing and this is supposed to be the bastion of world democracy. Original African tradition is rooted in cultures of integrity, bravery, fairness and distaste for things evil. This is not fiction. We experienced some of these ourselves and learnt first hand from our fathers and forefathers. At some point in time, in our history, these virtues whittled down; all we see now are mere rhetoric, talk and nothing else. We have become a nation of liars, no matter its consequences to mankind. 
That is why we have been unable to face squarely challenges of the nation’s security. If we are ready to accept the truth, the solutions are there. From what we have seen these past few years, we must revisit the statement made by elder statesman and former army chief of staff, retired General Theophilus Danjuma. At an event in the Taraba State University, Jalingo, on March 24, 2018, he told the gathering: “I ask every one of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory and defend your state. Defend yourself because you have no other place to go…” If we have been proactive people, we would have analysed his statement with the seriousness it deserves, instead, we witnessed an outpouring of resentment and criticism against the statesman. The defence minister Mansur Dan Ali responded then, that Danjuma’s statement was “highly uncalled for and an invitation to anarchy.” More than two years after the statement was made, it is now reechoing in unexpected quarters. The Borno State governor, Prof.
 Zulum has raised the alarm that there is sabotage in the system, sabotage from the politicians, the Nigerian military, and the civil servants. He recommended that those behind these people should be dealt with. We have come full circle, and have allowed the symptoms to fester and blossom into a full-blown illness. Now, everyone is in a confused state. It is a very difficult truth to accept but the solution to our problems is equity. If our armed forces are properly structured and balanced, such sabotage will be very easy to nip in the bud. With the current preponderance of an ethnic and religious group at the echelon, how do you integrate the forces and expose those colluding? 
It is one vital flaw that we must correct in our armed forces, for when the structure is defective, its span will only be temporary. My heart goes to Governor Zulum, on his effort to better the situation of his state, but I am afraid that his efforts will come to nought if we do not decisively address the security situation of the nation.He is doing his best, he cannot do it alone, what about his colleagues in the north, are they ready to tackle the security issue with the required courage? 
Are we ready to come out clean on the truth? The truth that the fight against banditry, kidnappings, insurgency and terror groups have become an uphill task for our combined armed forces? When we say the truth, it is implied that the leadership will be open and receptive to all ideas and suggestions, whether they are pleasant to the ears or not. Are we ready for this? I am afraid, if we do not tread the right path, the alternative is anarchy and anywhere anarchy reigns, it is the bandits and warlords that are in control. The insecurity in the North, which is spreading to other parts of the country now, grew to this dimension because the leadership from the region did not treat it with the seriousness it deserved, right from the Obasanjo era, through Yar’Adua, Jonathan and now Buhari.
It started as small protests here and there and people felt unconcerned; then they brought the religious dimension, people still kept quiet and now, our overall existence is threatened. It happened in a limited way in the Niger Delta, especially from the Delta State axis. When the boys were agitating and kidnapping in the name of resource control, the leadership of the region could not give them a proper direction. Today, in the Delta region, the warlords are the ones controlling the politics and when you control the politics, you are in control of the economy of the land. The right leaders are trying their best to wrest control from the boys but the challenge has become a huge task to handle. The Northern leadership kept quiet when these boys started their revolts, today the boys have become uncontrollable. 
It has got worse with the infiltration of foreign elements trooping in droves into the country with the tacit support of the establishment. They have become active partakers in banditry, looting and kidnappings. What their exact mission remains a mystery. So, what are we supposed to do? We must take our destiny into our own hands as Danjuma has advised. All traditional institutions must be activated, with proper lines of information control. There must be a grassroots collation of intelligence and with this, the fast-tracking of community policing.
The West/Yoruba nation have started with Amotekun, the Middle Belt, Eastern and South-South states must hurry up in the setting up of their security outfits. All foreign elements must be flushed out of our bushes and forests and there must be a process that will enable locals to identify dangerous foreign elements in our midst. If we do not take care of our security, it will be difficult for us to exist as a nation. The restructuring of our security architecture is imperative for a peaceful and progressive nation to be in place.
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