March 16, 2024

Insecurity in the North and conspiracy theories, by Muyiwa Adetiba

Insecurity in the North and conspiracy theories, by Muyiwa Adetiba

Muyiwa Adetiba

I am neither an intelligence person nor a security expert. So analyzing intelligence reports is not my forte. I do not also know whether there is a dearth of intelligence in the country or a deliberate refusal to act on available intelligence. But clearly what is happening in the northern part of our beleaguered country suggests a default in either intelligence gathering or a deliberate stance to allow gathered intelligence to gather dust – forgive the play on words. The former suggests incompetence while the latter suggests sabotage.

I find the former difficult to believe because in my active years as Editor and Publisher, I had found – sometimes to my chagrin and discomfiture- that our Intelligence Agencies knew a lot about happenings within Nigeria and even the West African sub-region. Things might have changed now but our Intelligence Agencies were certainly not incompetent in days of yore. Neither was our military with their exploits at ECOMOG and Chad. So, what changed? That leads us to these questions. Are efforts to maintain a stable polity being deliberately sabotaged? In fact, is Nigeria being sabotaged by people of vested interests? Former President Goodluck Jonathan alluded to this when he admitted to having moles and fifth columnists in even the highest strata of his government.

One does not have to be a security expert to raise uncomfortable eye brows at the recent kidnap in Kaduna State where about 300 students were taken in broad daylight for example. Kaduna State is a landlocked State so the issue of kidnappers escaping through the sea or ocean is ruled out. It is right in the middle of the country and surrounded by other Nigerian States so again the issue of bandits sneaking in through a porous border and escaping through same is ruled out. It is also a State that has witnessed a lot of agitations, clashes and general restiveness over the years, so ideally, it should be a State under a Red Alert and therefore, a 24hour surveillance.

With all these at the back of one’s mind, it is therefore difficult to grasp how it was possible that 300 students were taken so effortlessly in one sweep. An eye witness said he got to the school in the morning and was in the Principal’s office when he found the whole school had been surrounded. This suggests a large number of armed people. The timeof the attack – about 8am -suggests that the bandits were either resident in Kaduna State or came from neighboring States. How such a movement of large, armed bandits was not picked up in an area that should be crawling with Intelligence Officers beats one. Then think of the logistics of moving 300 unwilling, uncooperative and uncoordinated students in the bush and hiding them.

Yet they were not spotted in these days of drones and other high-tech surveillance gadgets let alone apprehended. It is safe to assume that these kidnappers came from somewhere nearby and have returned to base. It is safe to assume that the base is big enough to accommodate and feed at least 300 people. It is safe to assume that they have been at the base long enough to familiarize themselves with escape routes and other vital logistics as food and drug supplies. It is therefore safe to assume that more than enough people know where this base is. Finally, is it also safe to assume that some people who should know, or who actually do know, are playing deaf and dumb? A hefty sum of 40 trillion Naira has just been muted as ransom. Is the sabotage political or financial? Or both?

Conspiracy theories are nothing but deductions from facts and borderline fiction. They abound in areas that defy logic and transparency. Conspiracy theories seek clarifications where none exists. This is the situation with the insecurity in the north where we seek to understand the seeming failure of its leaders. It is difficult for example, to assimilate why regional leaders can watch as their people are first educationally disadvantaged, then economically strangulated before being decimated in numbers. 

Conspiracy theories have it that sharia which predated the current insecurity, sprouted in the deep north mainly to spite President Obasanjo who is a southern Christian. That Boko Haram took root to create fear and instability for Jonathan who is also a southern Christian. That making the north ungovernable was an agenda for Jonathan’s planned second, or is it third term? An agenda that was to haunt President Buhari because it is easier to create a monster than to tame it.

Conspiracy theories are buzzing again claiming that the recent surge in banditry and sundry crimes is to serve as a message to President Tinubu whose policies some claim to be anti-north. The theorists claim in other words, that the country cannot be at peace unless political power resides in the north or with whom the north bestows it to do its bidding. It makes one to wonder if some leaders can be so self-centered, so lustful, so crazy for power that they can cut their noses to spite other people’s faces.

Political power as we play it has been so divisive that it has become anti nationhood. It has also created an entitlement and nepotistic culture that is self-defeating. The south-east zone has not had the presidency in Nigeria in decades yet it is holding its own educationally, economically and financially while some zones which have long enjoyed this so called ultimate political power are mired in economic backwardness and insecurity.

That should tell us something about the self-serving and self-defeating nature of power in Nigeria. Professor Wole Soyinka said at the ‘Punch at 50’ lecture that people should negotiate their union but be prepared to walk away from a union that is chocking or untenable because it is, according to him, ‘better for a nation to die so that humanity may live’. So in our quest for nation building and an equitable society, we must not lose sight of the need to preserve humanity. In fact, that should be our main goal.  It seems to me however, if political theories are to be believed, that from east to west, from north to south, we are trampling on humanity in our fight for fleeting political advantages.

Finally, although conspiracy theories are sometimes uncomfortably close to the truth, their conclusions can be wrong. I hope this is the case regarding the northern elites and the current insecurity in their region. Otherwise the suffering talakawas, who have become collateral damages, might rise up to fight for their own interests.