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Beyond the arms from the militants

By Kunle Oyatmi
I have been taking a serious look at the quantity and quality of arms said to have been given up by the so-called militants of the Niger Delta, and it keeps my heart  racing  that such arsenal of sophisticated arms could have been in the possession of those who are not in the regular security  forces of this country.

Only the uninformed would believe that this catch represents the totality of such arms hidden away in “secure” holes throughout the country. The security agencies cannot convince me that what we have seen so far represents the total “illegal” armoury outside the recognised security agencies of state. My hunches are that a lot more arms are in the wrong locations ready to be used by unknown people outside the regular forces to create insecurity and mayhem sometime in the future.

We should all worry about two things: First, how did these arms slip into the country without being detected? Secondly, where is the guarantee that illegal arms deals are not rampant in the country to pose a sustained threat to security all over the country?

A corollary to these concerns is that should more of such arms be hidden away in different locations all over the country, what guarantee is there that the security forces can cope in a situation of sudden upsurge of violence triggered by discontent that is mounting throughout the land?

The import of what we are witnessing about the arms cache that the so-called militants have voluntarily surrendered is far more than a tragic state of potential mayhem lurking around to consume all of us. It is frightening to contemplate that after 49 years as an independent country, government cannot police our boarders well enough to prevent illegal arms entering the country in such  huge quantity  as we have seen from only those militants who have accepted amnesty.

From the look of things, we have justification as a people to question the credentials of our governments on security.  How come  such magnitude of illegal arms entered the country with none of the security agencies detecting? What was the so-called intelligence service doing before such arms deal slipped their watch?

How am I to disbelieve that even as I write this many more illegal arms are not slipping through the boarders into wrong hands? All of us will be fooling ourselves to believe that as many if not more arms are not being kept by those who have no business having them in their possession in the first instance.

The potential for violence – perhaps more destructive than we have thus far experienced in the Niger Delta – which this scenario creates will be beyond us if this parlous security situation continues.

The people who trade in arms are the rich and powerful who are well connected. That they are behind this arms racket is not in dispute. And it will be silly to imagine that the security forces have no intelligence report on them.

So if we presume that they are known why are their activities so difficult to monitor? The arms racket flourish only in society that are as corrupt as Nigeria  is. The level of corruption which obtains in all sectors of governance is such that makes illegal arms trafficking undetectable. It is the only credible explanation one can proffer for the current level of security lapse that the country suffers.

Ultimately we must turn our attention on the political leadership of this country that have been in charge of governance since 1999. What quality of governance have they given this country? If there had been good governance there would have been no security lapses. It is only incompetent leadership devoid of the capacity and capability for good governance that will be at the helm of affairs for this long and not be on top of the security situation.

They must take direct and indirect responsibility for this crisis. One should draw their attention to the fact that when this “security time bomb” explodes, they will be more at the receiving end than the poor masses at least they should take a cue from the kidnapping phenomenon.

So much has been said about bad governance that these leaders should by now be thinking of doing things the right way. The parlous security situation in the country today is more dangerous than the leaders and many of us are inclined to believe. If there is any disarming of “militants” to do, we must go much further than the Niger Delta.

We must comb the forest, hills and the savana for pocket of arms. We need to even comb the desert hole for illegal arms.

If our investigation stops at the Niger Delta, then we have lost the war before it started. However, the million naira question  is, if the security forces in 49 years of intelligence work could not stop arms entering the country, where is the assurance that they would do a better job in the critical years ahead?

None, except we can guarantee good governance which so far, the political leadership has woefully failed to provide, we can guarantee nothing.


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