I just watched a heartbreaking video, released by the terrorists that kidnapped some youthful students in Kaduna. It is one of the worst horror films one should not border to look at, especially when preparing for a night bed rest; but then, how do you measure the depth into which humanity has sunk in our country? How do you drum up sounds for revival and mobilize voices for salvation in a nation under brutal boots of bestial bullies? I am writing again with the hope that Nigeria’s government will find a basis to understand the ignoble predators we are dealing with, as well as proposing some solutions we can push to end the nightmare life has become in Nigeria.
This means it must also ready to understand how repressive governance prepares the ground for starvation and consequential slaughter that has turned the country into butts of jokes. We have a national crisis that must be owned and appropriately situated as well as effectively responded to!
The peculiarity of Nigeria’s strains of terrorism is that of right-wing authoritarian extremists who are bereft of ideology but armed with tools for mindless cruelty and shameless banality, targeting mainly the poor, the hapless and helpless people and villagers that are neither related to the power equation that pushed the insurgents out of society nor with power to prevail on power holders for the accommodation of terror actors’ interest.
It is an internally conceived homegrown terrorism admittedly driven by extreme Islamism’s perspectives on modernity and civilization.
It is an anti-civilization violent campaign with fatal hatred for the educational system it considers western. Hence, it evolved sub-culture that vehemently opposes formal education or any of such outside Islamic education.
Astonishingly, most of their victims are those that have limited or no access to education as provided by Nigeria, a country with more than sixteen million children out of school, a historical trend of governance failure that arguably, ab initio birthed the like of Boko Haram.
Even though we may argue that the terrorists are themselves victims of an unjust society that have thrown them off the development radar we can however not deny their commitments and loyalty to annihilating infernal ends! They are people who have denied the relevance of conscience but with an abundance of faith in their own variant of cruel sadistic god, who himself, is averse to mercy and grace! The uncharted analytical space is that this genre of terrorism has produced innumerable widows, widowers and orphans.
It has massively destroyed not only communities but also the communitarian spirit that connects victims and affected population to humanity. We now have a congress of people bond by hurt and hate who feel failed by a state that has grossly come short of its responsibility to protect as well as its duty to defend.
It will be absolutely impossible for Nigeria to tackle the problems of violence and violent extremism without building a national community-driven by shared vision and ideology that would invariably inform her approach to national security; an ideology that recognizes human security as the bedrock of national security.
Nigeria National Security vision has not given due regard to social, economic and political matters, intelligence and management of national resources the same way we have been prioritizing military action as the alpha of our national securitization.
The militarization of security over the years has ignored constitutional stipulation that national security has to do with political, economic and political securities. That security of the state is no possible without enhancing the wellbeing of the people.
The corporate existence of Nigeria itself needs to be guaranteed in view of deep-seated differences between and among her constituents and the blocs they represent. It will be impossible to ensure security with current Nigeria’s structure that has become the harbinger of lateral and vertical social injustices.
Nigeria as presently constituted must be reconstructed; there must be genuine reform of government structure and its power mechanics as well as a sincere reform of the electoral process. While we recognize that National security is not the exclusive preserve of the military but also of other social, economic and political dimensions, we must as a short term measure intensify military actions to timely respond to an existential threat to lives, livelihoods and living in Nigeria.
To have adequate security there must be symbiotic relationships between the security agencies. Currently in Nigeria interagency relationship is found to be negative. There is interagency arrogance, the unnecessary proliferation of agencies, duplication of efforts among other things.
The threat to interagency cooperation includes lack of a programme to foster cooperation, inadequate communication, overlapping functions and poverty. The Office of the National Security Adviser must be knowledge-driven in a way that will foster cooperation, collaboration and integration of agencies.
We can no longer cling to the old and outworn security architecture that has become destructive to its objectives. There must be deliberate action to bring into existence a broad-based inclusive security architecture that is role-specific and clear tangential nodes for collaboration.
For instance, a robust Homeland Security Strategy that involves the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps in Gender-responsive Child and Women Protection, as well as School Safe Space, will free Police to face other areas of crime and criminality.
Nigeria Immigration Services’ and Nigeria Customs Service’s roles in border security, including cross-border crime risk reduction, should be further strengthened.
A specialized department could be created within the Immigration service and be dedicated to intelligence gathering corps that could fit into the new national intelligence loop of the emerged security architecture.
The new strategy must respond to the challenges of borders and borderlands including a multiplicity of service agencies along the borders that add little or no value to security.
It must be emphasised that communities, citizens and civil institutions and organisations must have clear roles in the proposed security architecture that is expected to be people-centric, particularly leveraging on addressing issues of poverty, unemployment, accountability gaps, as well as the present non- sustainable exclusive security architecture that has become a lame duck.
It must also be emphasised that these suggestions have implications for law reforms, state re-structure, ethical and cultural evolution, including the emergence of new norms, new technologies and a robust fund structure that can support well-trained professionals that can effectively drive the system and manage the structure.
We must commit to making a peaceful but painful sacrifice as people in order to build a just system that will promote a peaceful and virile nation. The time to plant the seed for this progress tree cannot be later than now!
Gbenro Olajuyigbe is the Executive Director of Emergency & Risk Alert Initiative.