By Sunny Ikhioya
The world has gone beyond conquest of smaller nations by bigger nations based on size and population; technology and intelligence have taken care of that. And that is the direction the world is moving, with reference to countries like Israel, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Finland, Sweden and some others in Europe. If it is by might and religious fundamentalism, the Arabs would have captured the small state of Israel by now. So the rhetoric by the uninformed and the encouragement of religious and tribal lords on the bandits and herdsmen activities across the country is borne out of crass ignorance.
It is even more difficult to succeed in a country like Nigeria with all of its complexities- tribe, religion and foreign affiliates. With the benefit of research and history, they would have discovered that at a point in the history of this country, a certain ethnic group virtually had dominance over government affairs and it is the same mismanagement of leadership that made them to lose power. It attracted jealousy from other ethnic groups, especially in the North and that led to persecution that ultimately led to the civil war.
Since then, the Igbo ethnic group is yet to reclaim its pre-eminence in the comity of nations called Nigeria. The dog that will go missing will never listen to its master’s whistle; such is the situation that some people are arrogantly claiming ownership of other peoples’ ancestral lands. How they came about such thinking beats the imagination; but it is pertinent to point out that land ownership based on ancestral transfers have been in existence right from creation; it is only possible when the owner willingly cedes his property to another based on certain agreed conditions.
In Nigeria, people of a particular tribe are trying to throw that age-old tradition into the trash bin and in the process making the whole nation ungovernable. Unfortunately, this group seem to be encouraged by the body language of those in position of authority, having succeeded in appropriating the whole security architecture of the country to one ethnic group. And the terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, herdsmen and Boko Haram appear to be encouraged this.
So, they have left the North East, North West, North Central and now actively operating in the South, with official security organisations displaying incapacity to rein them in. It is no longer a matter of rumours: terror is now knocking on our doors and the people we have placed there to bring succour to the people are incapable of doing anything. State governors are now openly crying out over the situation and our almighty Federal Government is incapacitated.
So, what is to be done? In searching for a solution, we must examine the root causes of the crises in the North and where they have failed. How did the situation get to this level? The North failed because its elites and leaders were passive and indifferent when the insurgency started. Some of them saw it as a religious thing and never spoke out in condemnation when churches were being targeted for destruction. Even when the UN building and Police headquarters in Abuja were attacked, nothing significant came out of the attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Also, the then opposition party, which had strong grassroots support in the North saw it as an opportunity to campaign against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and became cogs in the wheel of progress. Imagine the statement credited to then opposition candidate General Muhammadu Buhari: “Any attack on the Boko Haram is an attack on the North “. A statement like this can only but embolden the insurgents; indeed, not a few Northern elites silently endorsed this thinking. So, under ethnic, religious and political cover we started having saboteurs amongst our military; saboteurs that we have not been able to expunge from the system until today.
We also did not know the limits of the game of politics as it affects national interests; we practise the zero sum game approach. The opposition was all out to discredit the government of the day by the manner they approached the insurgency issues. Incidentally, they are in government today and are experiencing the obverse side of the coin. Imagine a member of the ruling party admitting that they imported foreigners into the country to help prosecute the 2015 elections; where in the world does such a thing happen? And until today, these foreign elements have refused to go back to where they came from; they have become herdsmen terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram.
The authorities are finding it difficult to flush them out because they speak the same language. The tiny mustard seed has grown to become a giant tree; the brotherly herdsmen and insurgents have become terror groups, far above the control of those who brought them in and things are no longer the same; brothers of the same faith are no longer spared and the presidency is now looking out for foreign support. It is not a matter of foreign support, it is something that sprang up from the locals and it will require a local solution.
Someone once said that our security agencies know where the terrorists and bandits are located, that if they are really serious about it, they know how to apprehend them. So far, as we can see, we have learnt nothing. Our leaders are following the North by the tail like zombies, in the name of loyalty to political party or promise of a top political position in the next government, while the country burns and their people suffer.
It will be recorded in history that while this nation is being brought into destruction, the leaders and elders of this present disposition sat and watched like Emperor Nero. According to the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo: “Those who desire to reach and keep their places at the top in any calling, must be prepared to do so the hard way “. The solution for the South is simple: Southern leaders must come out in unity, with one voice to condemn the situation of things in the country.
The Nigerian military will never be successful in these multi-pronged battles until there is equity in the distribution of military personnel across the country. Our leaders must cry out for equity at the top military echelon of the country. It is in our Constitution and the way it is presently, the Constitution is being seriously violated and no one is challenging this. With all of the ‘over sabi’ men from the South, it is a big surprise that such aberration is left unchallenged.
When General T.Y. Danjuma asked everyone to secure himself, we all thought that he was flying a kite; now the whole country has come to realise that the situation was actually more grim than he presented it. It has become a must for every ethnic group to form their own security network to flush out criminals from their midst.
The leadership must set example by providing resources, both in cash and kind, according to everyone’s ability. It is a matter of survival and everyone must key into it. Our military forces are finding it difficult to contend with the challenges from every part of the country, we must give them our support. Our policing institutions must be restructured. The people must speak with one voice, irrespective of ethnicity, religion and political party; the destiny of the nation is under threat and it is the responsibility of everyone to salvage it.
Furthermore, indigeneship policing should become the norm, allow DPOS (divisional police officers) to come from areas of their origin, that way, information from the locality can be locally sourced. The way it is now in some places, it is like the people are being governed by occupied forces, which is not local to the people and that cannot breed full cooperation. Our policing institutions must begin to be restructured along that line. The people must speak with one voice, irrespective of ethnicity, religion and political party, the destiny of the nation is under threat and it is the responsibility of everyone to salvage it.
*Ikhioya wrote via: southsouthecho.com