Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor
By sheer coincidence,Â our write-up on national security was published almost on the same day that an SUV, loaded with explosives, was found in TIMES SQUARE in New York.
What triggered off our write-up on the issue was the incident of a taxi cab which crashed through two security gates at the MARGARET EKPO airport in Calabar, onto the tarmac and right under the belly of a fully loaded aircraft that was getting ready to take-off.
The driver was promptly arrested and taken away, with the Police vowing to get to the bottom of the matter and that investigations were on to unmask the sponsors behind the attempt because, they were convinced that the taxi driver was quite sane and it was apparent that he had been following handed down clear instructions.Â It was a lucky thing (we have a President whose name is Goodluck) that the aircraft didnâ€™t explode, but was only badly damaged.Â There was no loss of life.
We thank God.Â Â The theory by the law enforcement agency was that the target could have been some Americans and some top politicians who had been aboard the aircraft.Â No-one knows for sure, so, we wait.
As for the discovery in TIMES SQUARE in New York, it was a member of the public who noticed smoke coming out of a parked SUV, and quickly notified a security agency.Â Â Just like the explosives in a plane which didnâ€™t go off on Christmas day in the U.S. (God certainly supports Obamaâ€™s government) this latest attempt didnâ€™t go off, so, there were no loss of lives and property.
The difference of these two incidents in Nigeria and the U.S. is that while weâ€™re waiting to know the supposed â€˜whos and whysâ€™ in the former, within 48 hours, U.S. security agencies had got their man – a thirty year old U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin.Â He was already on board a Dubai bound EMIRATESÂ plane at the airport in New York, with a final destination of Pakistan, when security operatives swooped on him and whisked him away.Â He was to appear in court some hours later.
Mayor Bloomberg came out to commend the security agencies and appeal that there should be no backlash against Pakistanis or Moslems in New York, and that there are always a few bad eggs in any setting. Later the Attorney-General and then, President Obama addressed the nation on the incident.Â How neat and responsible!
If that incident had taken place here, and someone had reported his suspicions about the smoking SUV, wouldnâ€™t he have been arrested by our security agencies as first suspect?Â His people wouldÂ then have to go look for money to â€˜bailâ€™ him out.Â Yet, Iâ€™m certain that our security agencies can be very effective in protecting the country from all angles, if motivated and equipped to do so.
The problem is that all successive governments so far havenâ€™t really taken the issue of security of our country, lives and property seriously.
All the readers who reacted to our write-up were of the opinion that thereâ€™s no security in place in this country, and itâ€™s only by Godâ€™s grace that weâ€™re all still alive and well and functioning.
â€˜Madam, I was filled with horror when I read the incident of a taxi cab driver driving unto the tarmac in Calabar unhindered, and going to ram his cab underneath an aircraft fully loaded with passengers, that was about to take off.
This is incredible!Â How did the man gain access to the private gates?Â Â Are they unmanned and in the bush?Â Â I donâ€™t think this is an incident that should be swept under the carpet.Â The security agencies should do a thorough job of investigating the matter, and letting Nigerians know the outcome.Â Thank you, ma.Â Â -Â Â Ahmed, Zaria.â€™
â€˜Aunty Helen, good day.Â With regards to your write-up â€˜National Security: Cause For Concernâ€™, Nigeria is a very porous country where anything can happen at anytime and anywhere.Â God in His infinite mercy has been very kind to Nigeria and Nigerians.Â Security in Nigeria is ZERO! From Celestine, mnse.frcâ€™.
â€˜Madam, Iâ€™m not holding brief for our security agencies, and Iâ€™m not one of them, but you canâ€™t compare them with their counterparts in the western world, because the motivation for performance is very wide apart.Â You will not find the gates leading to the tarmac of an airport left unmanned in Europe or United States of America.
There would be a properly operated roster for the guards there, so, there wonâ€™t be any issue of someone going to buy food or use the conveniences, and the gates left unmanned.Â Also the gates would be well constructed and fortified and it would be impossible for a cab to crash through successfully.Â Besides all these, the workers, whatever their category, are well-paid and looked after by the government, and they have the interests of their country at heart. – Ifeanyi, Abakaliki.â€™
Helen, national security issues are not taken seriously in this country. It has never been.Â Maybe our rulers think that Nigeria and Nigerians are not important enough to be targets of attacks, I donâ€™t know.Â Look at how porous our borders are!Â Invaders can attack us by air, sea or land, and we would all be caught napping. -Â Â Â Shade, Warri.â€™
â€˜Madam Helen, thanks for your article on national security.
I live in Lagos.Â Letâ€™s consider the roads leading to the airports which serve all categories of people.Â They are full of potholes and this causes traffic build-up.Â Has it occurred to our rulers and other VIPs that they might be caught in traffic on their way to and from these airports and their lives could be in danger?Â There should be no hindrance on such important roads. Bad roads are a security issue.â€™
â€˜Madam, your viewpoint on National Security was very remarkable but what really was the reason for the taxi cab driving under the belly of the aircraft?Â Did he lose control of his vehicle or have brake failure, or was insane.Â What did the security people do to him?â€™
â€˜Sister Helen: I took your suggestions concerning national security to my church, and prayed for their implementation by those who should act on them.Â Letâ€™s wait for the result! – Layiâ€™.
â€˜Those who want to be voted for at the next elections should tell us how they will tackle the issue of security in the country.Â Nigerians should assert their rights and not just cast their votes in favour of anyone or any political party, based on the sentiment of tribalism or religion, or who bribed the most.Â We should be concerned about our security and ask these politicians what exactly they will do to ensure safety of lives and property in the country.Â Those who donâ€™t have concrete agenda for this should not be voted for. Period.Â Funsho, Lagos.â€™