Insecurity: a sleepwalking nation in peril

“You cannot imagine what is happening in Abuja. I went through the DSS report. 44 reports were given (to the authorities) before the attack on Kuje prison.
– Hon Idris Wase, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives published in Nigerian Tribune, Wednesday July 27, 2022

As shocking as the revelation cited in the opening paragraph is, this is not the first time the intelligence community has sent distress messages to authorities, and they would either be pointedly ignored or avoided until the tragedy mentioned actually occurs. Intelligence is not just what the Department of State Services writes in its reports, it includes alerts such as those raised by Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello two or two years ago. years, that Boko Haram had gained a foothold in his state and had even raised their flag. As far as this columnist remembers, there was no official response to this information, except in the Senate where some senators even wept, crying their heads hoarsely, that the country was rapidly losing the battle to to terrorists. One of the concerns at the time was that Niger State is extremely close to Abuja and that meant Abuja was within striking distance of Boko Haram. In a similar vein, Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El Rufai had serially warned that Kaduna was slowly being overrun by terrorists belonging to the Islamic State in the East Africa Province. West and other Islamic militant groups. I don’t recall any decisive action being taken regarding El Rufai’s heads-up.

Go back further in time and remember that during the tenure of a former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, the government secretary, a professor, lamented that they sent tomes upon tomes of the bandit activities in Abuja but had received little or no response. There are other examples, but the point to be made is that there is nothing new in the successive non-responses of our security bureaucracies to intelligence reports as Wase mentioned. As we say in public administration, non-decisions are also decisions. So those who claim to be surprised by this scary trend can only shed crocodile tears, especially now that Abuja is under increasing siege. To make it clearer, schools are closed. The recent graduation ceremony at the Nigerian Law School had to be moved to another venue, and a media outlet recently reported that parents were asked not to come. It’s not alone. The recent ambush by terrorists against soldiers belonging to the Nigerian Army’s Presidential Guard Brigade, which followed the attack on the President’s vanguard, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret’d) , is indeed a worrying sign of the uncertainty of things. became. But do we just know that insurgency and terrorism escalate and go from bad to worse if not fought with determination? If terrorists attacked the Kuje Custodian Center and there were shots fired for several hours with little or no resistance, aren’t these terrorists sending the message that they are increasingly control ?

In several articles in this column, I had drawn attention to various aspects of terrorism in the hope that those with the mandate to respond would do so. For several years, these strange invaders, including the Ansaru who have cleverly integrated themselves into communities acting as friends and patriots, only recently showed their hands when they issued an order to stop the election campaign. in Kaduna State. Stranger than fiction, we might say, but those who have the responsibility to have acted before may know and may need to tell the nation why they did not. Likewise, I have often lamented that the political class is obsessed with elections without first guaranteeing the minimum conditions for holding elections in a perilous season like the one the country is currently going through. Much of the political class may be conveniently chloroformed or have chosen to be self-chloroformed, but citizens, thankfully, are not. We note that in their reactions to the ultimatum given Wednesday by the leaders of minorities in the Senate to Buhari, as well as to the threats of sanction, the presidential spokesmen took turns to castigate the senators. I hope they enjoyed writing these articles, but for God’s sake, is scoring talking points the overriding problem facing Nigeria right now?

Speaking on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television on Wednesday, security expert Ladi Thompson warned that the terrorists Nigeria is currently facing are extremely sophisticated and cunning, and that we need to be smart in dealing with them. Their sophistication, he says, can be to stir up trouble, to operate in the interests of a corrupt and compromised country in order to gain room for manoeuvre. Was anyone listening to Thompson’s warnings and admonitions? If our leaders were listening, they have yet to show the kind of insight needed to gather the facts and respond appropriately. Especially since no punitive measures were taken regarding the ease with which the terrorists gained access to Kuje, spent at least 15 minutes giving Quranic lectures and sharing money with the detainees (See Daily TrustFriday 8 2022).

In many other climates, heads would have rolled the day after the tragedy. However, in today’s Nigeria, authorities are apparently still investigating what went wrong. Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of politicians see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. They are too concerned about governing Nigeria, not caring what will happen. Have we all been reduced to morons watching these unsightly dramas go from scene to scene with only a few people crying foul? We remember that during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, who incidentally was notoriously described as “ignorant”, the former president had the courage to tell the nation that there were sponsors of Boko Haram in his office at the time. These days we don’t hear anyone say such things, but we do remember that the current government’s assurance that they had names of sponsors of terrorism was not acted upon but seemingly unceremoniously buried.

I write with passion on this subject because if things go wrong, I would hate for my children to ask me a question like, “Dad, as a columnist, what exactly did you do or say when the nation has stood on these hot coals?” If this question makes me uncomfortable, it should be extremely uncomfortable for those we have elected to lead us. Interestingly, most of the talk and happenings regarding official responses to insecurity seem to come from the legislature. Admittedly, security is not necessarily discussed in the media, but if the president, as he did in June, ordered that the victims of the attack on the train bound for Kaduna be freed by force, then we can at least measure its efforts in results. Needless to say that the victims are still vegetating under the influence of the terrorists.

My prayer and plea is that all who have the means to liberate Nigeria from the current straits will rise up with new determination to consider what the verdict of history will be. If things escalate further, more promises won’t be enough. It is time for decisive action.

Professor Ayo Olukotun is Director of the Oba (Dr.) SK Adetona Institute for Governance Studies, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye.

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