By Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa
NIGERIA is in dire straits, especially from a security perspective. Everyday that passes, it looks like things are falling apart and the centre is finding it difficult to hold. I do not know how the government and party in power view this situation. Somehow, it seems to me that they are essentially hoping that things will soon sort themselves out. But that strategy seems not to be working well so far and I am getting really worried that by the time this strategy eventually comes to work, things may have completely gone out of hand, because in the long run we would all be dead as the economists say. It is true that Nigeria has a high fertility rate, but the way Nigerians are being slaughtered everyday these days, soon we will begin to depopulate Nigeria at a rate much higher than the birth rate.
I do not think that this is a valid population control strategy. Boko Haram is bombing and killing daily and those they fail to kill, they abduct. The militant herdsmen have gone completely berserk. In the last two weeks they returned to the Plateau perhaps to teach Governor Simon Lalong that their madness has nothing to do with the anti-open grazing law. Lalong in feat of amnesia had attacked Governor Samuel Ortom and blamed the killings in the Benue on the anti-open grazing bill. So after killing ‘only’ four people previously on Saturday, they returned early in the week-Monday, March 12- and killed 25 people in Zirshe Dundu in the Kwall district of Bassa LGA, bringing the total killed to 29. These were buried on Tuesday, March 13. And virtually everyday since then, they have descended on other villages, in both Bassa and Bokkos LGAs. I have been waiting to hear from Governor Simon Lalong. I guess he has lost his voice.
Rather than take far reaching measures to stop this fast descent to anarchy, we seem to revel in adhoc and ineffective measures. After each orgy of killings, the President would direct the Police and security officers to go and arrest the perpetrators. I have often wondered why the security officers would wait to be directed by the President to carry out their normal constitutional responsibilities. Could it be why so many crimes are unresolved in this country? May be the Police are always waiting for orders from the Presidency. But then, do these orders get carried out diligently, if at all? Last week, the nation was embarrassed to hear that the IGP failed, refused or ignored the orders of Mr. President to relocate to Benue. And what was worse, the President did not even know that his order was not carried out! What a country!
In the circumstances we find ourselves, one would expect that the Presidency would seek lasting solutions to our current security challenges that seem to be defying normal military options. It is looking to me that the solution to this problem may be political, since we have defeated Boko Haram militarily and yet when our soldiers are removed,they return to abduct our school girls.
To me, it is becoming imperative that the government must look at the recommendations of the 2014 National conference especially in the sections dealing with restructuring and national cohesion. The President can not continue to hold the recommendations of that conference in contempt while it has the solution to the main problems confronting him and the nation. Alternatively he can push through the restructuring proposals we heard that APC has made through the Nasir El-Rufai committee, though not far reaching, as a minimum. This country must be saved from itself!
I also believe it will be a better, more productive, less hazardous and less physically tasking option than the new assignment we seem to have pushed on the the President. In addition to his job as commander in-chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, he has been forced to also become the condoler or consoler-in-chief of the victims of terrorism and militancy in Nigeria. The President was most reluctant to assume this responsibility for months, despite prodding from the opposition and the media, until his friend and former running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, lashed at him for refusing to go and condole with the parents of the Dapchi Girls in Yobe, preferring rather to join the party of 22 governors at the wedding of the children of Governors Ajimobi and Ganduje in Kano.
That seemed to break his resistance. Since then he had been to Taraba, Benue and Yobe to console families of those who lost their beloved ones in the attacks and counter attacks, and to condole with the parents of the Dapchi 110 respectively. According to Femi Adesina, the President is already scheduled to visit several other States where either Boko Haram or the militant Fulani herdsmen have caused mayhem and grief or to other violent hot spots.
But my real worry is that the list of States is growing by the day. After the mayhem of the last fortnite, he will have to go to Plateau to condole with the people of Bassa and Bokkos LGAs. This past week, the mayhem train arrived Kogi State where about 25 people were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen, so Kogi has to be added on the list. Does anybody know what each trip costs the Federal Government? Then what of the cost in physical exertion to the President who has to make the trips, make the speeches and try to empathize with these grieving Nigerians. Though the President is an army General, the emotional and psychological cost to his health must be enormous.
It must be a terrible feeling to repeatedly console people who lost their relations or who had their children abducted, acts for which government has the principal responsibility to prevent. I just hope and pray that nobody will request him to make another visit to Benue to console a new set of relations of the 26 people who were killed in Benue late last week, less than two weeks after his last visit.
Yes, the relations of the new victims deserve to be consoled, but he can not be going round in a cycle condoling or consoling repeatedly. The President needs time to sit down in his office and deal with other issues of governance. I feel that we may just be overburdening this President!