BY MONDAY PERI OKONNY
The most daunting challenge confronting Nigeria and threatening it’s very existence is the emergent national insecurity. It is imperative that every well-meaning Nigerian should be genuinely worried about this rather unfortunate development, especially after a successful celebration of Nigeria’s centenary. We hear on daily basis reports killings of innocent Nigerians, school children, nursing mothers in the north-east by insurgents; Fulani herdsmen fighting with farmers and leaving dozens of dead, villages razed, thousands of villagers displaced in Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa States.
Since the problem of Boko Haram heightened under the Yar’Adua Presidency in 2009, a lot of questions have been asked. There is also valid suspicion regarding this matter. What is the root cause of this problem? How do we solve it? Who and where are the capable hands qualified to help the present administration tackle the intractable threat to national security?
The leadership and political class have not provide the direction for the restoration of peace and order in the country. That is why the views that if politicians and leaders, especially from the North, agree that the insurgency should end, it can hardly be faulted. For example, Governors Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State and Musa Kwankwoso of Kano State cannot be making inciting statements and talking about peace at the same time. That is fallacious.
National security, notably, should be everybody’s concern. In developed countries, every citizen, irrespective of political, ideological, ethnic and religious differences, come together against threat to national security. But here in Nigeria, instead of reinventing our collective sense of patriotism to the country like it happened in the United States of America during the September 11 terrorist attack, our differences are highlighted during crises. Any national crisis in Nigeria is often interpreted from the myopia of ethnicity, religion, geopolitical zone, among other differences.
National security also has a direct link with socio-economic factor. For instance, as a result of failure of governance system in the country over the years, meaningful development capable of creating jobs for the youth is largely absent or too weak to make any significant impact. Job creation engages the youth and reduces the temptation to engage in anti-social activities. Although the present administration has been working very hard on this, it needs support because a lot still needs to be done to address the situation.
As a cursory reflection of our checkered history would show, the sustainability of the Nigerian federalism beats even a rationalist conclusion at every point, especially after the civil war in which more than three million lives were wasted. Unfortunately, the post civil war’s relative peace in the country was never consolidated. Between then and now, the fallout of national pogrom, military interregnum in civil government and the ineptitude of the political elite at democratic experiment seem to have permanently placed the unity of Nigeria on the edge.
As a nation, must we allow ourselves to go through horrible tragedies, bloody experiences and unquantifiable destructions to actually realize that peace and security of lives and property are priceless? From leaders to citizens who are truly committed to this country, we cannot continue to wallow in hypocrisy, mediocrity and false patriotism to one united Nigeria. Nigeria cannot overcome its national security challenges without collective efforts which can only be achieved if we all lay down the arms of ethnicity, religion, sectionalism, extremism and political ideological differences.
*Monday is a public affairs commentator