By Aigbe Joachim
The call for bullet proof cars, armoured personnel carriers, the increase in the number of security agents (mobile policemen) as escorts in convoy of our political office holders, bank executives, traditional rulers, senior police officers, Bullion vans can not be mistaken to be security rather it is a great sign of insecurity in our Nation, Nigeria.
The bomb blast at the police headquarters and lately on the United Nation building in Abuja, shows that even the chief security officer (the man, whose duty it is to secure others) and our international officials are not also safe.
Our religious leaders who strongly believe in God as their security have suddenly turned to moving about with Armed Security operatives, this indeed shows how insecure we are in this country.
Armed violence in Nigeria is not unconnected with the social injustices and economic inequality pervading the nook and crannies of our polity. The frustrations caused by lack of justice and widening economic gap between the privileged and the disadvantaged is a major impetus to Armed violence.
More than 13,500 people have been killed in communal violence since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.
The impact of Armed violence is vast and far- reaching, the negative effects of Armed violence extend well beyond human and economic cost, what we’ve had so far in the Niger Delta, Plateau Benue, Ibadan, Abuja and Maiduguri has triggered forced displacement, eroded social capital, further damaged our much taunted image internationally at a time we are calling for foreign investors to come into Nigeria.
The Geneva declaration of 2006 on Armed violence and development recognizes that armed violence is both a cause and consequence of under development and constitutes a major obstacle to the achievement of the millennium development goals.
The declaration calls on states to achieve measurable reductions of Armed violence and improvement in human security by 2015.
Nigeria is among those nations that have endorsed this declaration, yet the rate of Armed violence in Nigeria is on an alarming increase.
Arms proliferation and misuse is endemic all over Nigeria as trading in it has vast economic overture. A significant of these Arms are manufactured locally without control.
While importation of these illegal weapons brought in through our porous borders are without check. Arms are not only financed and supplied by ethnic and religious militias, politicians, wealthy individuals but also by those individuals who want to make quick money out of the sales of illegal weapons not minding the devastating effects of their actions.
The main forms of armed violence in Nigeria such as political, economic, socio-cultural and enthno-religious which has greatly been fuelled by previous government insensitivity to rights, yearnings of her citizenry, high level of poverty and unemployment is right now on the increase therefore it is imperative for government as a matter of urgency to look at these thematic areas to addressing issues of insecurity.
Nigeria government should not be ashamed of what is gainful. Development is a powerful tool against armed violence. If ‘Oshodi’ in Lagos could work, there’s nothing that cant work in Nigeria.
The welfare of the police should be looked into while the NYSC scheme should be made a feeder project to the police force and other security agencies. This will eradicate issues of mass illiteracy in the police and other agencies. Reason, the issues of security has gone past just handling weapons.
The uncontrollable importation of vehicles through our porous borders and the illegal exports of petroleum products has contributed greatly to the woes of insecurity in the country as these routes are used to import arms illegally.
Therefore effective border petrol is paramount. It is also imperative for government to establish a commission on small arms and light weapon while the report by the British newspaper that British spy chief had uncovered a plot by Al-queda to make Nigeria a terrorist haven from where they could carry out attacks on Europe should be looked into and proactive steps taken.
Recognizing the rights of victims of armed violence, giving assistance to them, rapid response and access to justice for victims of armed violence putting in place monitoring mechanisms that will lead to mopping up arms in our system.
Especially those imported before elections, and good governance remains a panacea to development and security in Nigeria. Government should stop implementing anti-people policies while pro-poor programmes should be promoted to reduce, high cost of living, for example, high cost of cement, kerosene, transportation and housing.
However, the issues of security is a collective responsibility, people running to other nations should have a rethink those who feel its none if their business should also have a rethink, why? they can be victims tomorrow.
If the people of those nations checked out of their countries they (Nigerians) wouldn’t have gotten a place to check to. It is time Nigerians wake up to their responsibility of collectively saving Nigeria from this “abattoir” of armed violence and create an enabling environment through education, advocacy and mobilizing others to say no to armed violence.
If those making money from this illicit trade on arms insist, then we through education & mobilization can also say “ You import all the arms, we’ll not use them” if the politicians that are aggrieved are busy bombing innocent Nigerians, while their children and relatives are in safe haven, we can as well say enough is enough.
*Aigbe joachim, president, Save Africa on Environment by Empowerment Initiative(SAEEMI)