By Pini Jason
ON Sunday September 11, 2011, the United States of America, and indeed, the world, marked the 10th anniversary of the dastardly terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda on New York City and Washington DC in 2001.

Today you cannot take a tube of tooth paste in your cabin bag on any flight anywhere in the world because September 11, 2001, popularly known as 9/11, changed the way we live in every corner of the earth.

In the last 10 years, because of decisive steps taken, America has succeeded in ensuring that 9/11 does not happen again! America boasts that it is safer today than 10 years ago. The killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011 heightens the sense of safety of every American.

America has succeeded in keeping America safe largely due to what US Vice President, Joe Biden, said during the memorials on Sunday September 11, 2011. “Every time we are attacked, it emboldens us to stand up and fight back”, said Joe Biden.

 In fighting back, America took steps that have prevented reoccurrence of 9/11 and has tried to stay one jump ahead of the terrorists and has not taken its eyes off the ball.

First terror attack

Nigerians are still waiting for the Federal Government to fight back since the first terror attack. The general concern is that, since the introduction of terrorism into our political lexicon, the Federal Government has been behaving as if, like the Sharia flu that greeted Obasanjo’s administration, this will simply run its course and go away.

Everyday Nigerians wake up to the ugly news of massacre of citizens in Jos and the pulverization of others with bombs, including those whose duty it is to protect us. Bombs are more readily available in Nigeria today than Christmas crackers! Those who escape the bombs are killed on the death traps called expressways or by armed robbers!

The terrorists escalate their audacity everyday in the absence of any visible will on the part of the Nigerian state to fight back. As I write, the government is yet to identify those throwing the bombs! Nigerians are enjoined to assist the government in fighting terrorism. How?

What is it that Nigerians can identify as a course of action they have to be involved in? The lackadaisical attitude of our security agencies has not changed even with the embarrassing bombing of the UN building in Abuja on August 26, 2011. In the absence of a visible will to fight back, the terrorists recently threatened to bomb 20 universities in the country.

Last week it was reported that there was panic in some universities in the country. A group of militants led by one Aso Tambo has threatened to attack NNPC pipelines (Daily Independent, Monday 5 September 2011). Another militant group, Akhwat Akwop, a self proclaimed pro-Christian group, has threatened to attack Arab embassies in Nigeria (Daily Independent, Monday 5 September 2011).

These militants may very well carry out their threats while we continue to frolic on the brink of disaster. Imagine “Christian bombs” versus “Islamic bombs”! And at a time Ghaddafi’s army is loitering close to our Northern borders!

Unfortunately our leaders seem not to know that the security of the country is more important than some of the self-serving preoccupations they are currently obsessed with!

If anybody still thinks that to make Nigeria ungovernable is a mere threat, it is not so now! Our leaders seem to be living in denial. Nigerians are under siege from all corners: terrorists, armed robbers, banks, inflation, unemployment, PHCN bills, policemen on the road, rumours etc, etc! We are living in fear!

Avoidable civil war

As the Federal Government twiddles its feet in the face of obvious challenge to the integrity of the state, many Nigerians are bothered by a sense of déjà vu.

They recall how similar excesses, like child’s play, unconsciously but inexorably led us into avoidable civil war. Nigeria is today straddling several fault lines that an already foretold omen of disintegration should spur us into action to save the country.

The Federal Government needs to give the citizens confidence and sense of security. The explosives and guns used to kill Nigerians are moved from one place to another, passing through police checkpoints. How about ensuring that anybody or company that deals in explosive and incendiary materials are known and properly registered?

How about ensuring that all materials that can be used to make bombs, including fertilizers are held in bonded, not private, warehouses and their release effected and properly documented by Customs? Why not a nationwide hunt for illegal arsenals? This is the least the Federal Government can do!

 LETTERS FROM MY MAILBOX

My dear Pini Jason,

Your article in the Vanguard newspaper of 9th August, 2011 titled “The tenure debate” makes very interesting reading and clearly leaves no one in doubt of your support or at least sympathy for the proposed term-extension for the President and Governors.

Now, since we all desire to avoid the impudence of calling Mr. President names, let us try to entertain and attempt the “intelligent debate” that you so much crave.

In the beginning we had the parliamentary system of government which we flung out of the window as recently as 1998 for the presidential system copied from the USA.

And now we seek to further tinker with the system as operated in the USA to suit our own unique ways. Does this portray Nigeria as a nation that is serious? Note, meanwhile, that Britain works under the jettisoned parliamentary system and has been doing so for so many years and the USA is still working the presidential – and this for hundreds of years like the British – which we find so unworkable that we must change.

The salient question is: “What is the fundamental difference between them and us”? Is the rational thing to do now not find this difference and face it rather than these frequent changes? It should be clear to us now my dear Pini, that the gods are not to blame in our plight!

The two main reasons we want to change the presidential system are that an incumbent on assumption of office for the first term is preoccupied with plans for the second term to the neglect of his duties and that it is too costly and that it encourages political thuggery.

Pini, the Americans have been practising this system for hundreds of years to our admiration. Why have they succeeded for so long and why can’t we study and emulate them? I think you have a perfect answer to this poser when you say: “We (Nigerians) try to change laws to suit our bad behaviours instead of enforcing the laws. Once we are inconvenienced by a law, we cry for a change”.

You are apt on that so why not insist on a strict observance of the extant laws to deal with these problems or is it that we have no such laws? Instead of wasting valuable time on this is it not easier or better for the President to insist on strict observance of the rules regulating the game and move on with the myriad problems under which the nation is groaning?

We know too well that our leaders are never tired of power no matter how long they have held it so we should stop deluding ourselves in the belief that a six-year tenure will stop them. They can simply change the law if it becomes inconvenient so we are back to where we started.

No matter how long the tenure of our leaders is, they will never budge until the ruled, having suffered total neglect for that long, agree that enough is enough and chase them out. We are only too conscious of the current “tsunami” sweeping across North Africa.

Let us spare ourselves the likelihood of having to do what we as a nation cannot do since the office of President here is a tribal slot and our warring tribes can never reach a collective agreement to give an errant President the North African treatment.

You say that our problems as a nation are attitudinal which I agree is the difference between us and both the British and the Americans. Our amiable GEJ should occupy his time sufficiently with the desired attitudinal change, being the recognised root cause of all our problems as a nation. The President should make it his principal resolve to make Nigerians obey laws instead of changing them at every noticeable inconvenience as we are trying to do now.

You want us to give the President the benefit of doubt but is this possible? There is no hiding from a discerning observer the fact that term-extension is the prime motive of the proposed constitutional amendment; all other issues are added thereon as selling gambits.

–T. V. D. Ihyuman,  Makurdi, Benue State

*Mr Ihyuman should read my article again. He will see that I did not in any place support the term extension. All I want is for us to debate it thoroughly and not foreclose debate on mere assumption or suspicion. – Pini Jason.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.