Nigeria: National Security - Unanswered Questions and Doing the Necessary

Nigerian snipers conduct a demonstration during the African Land Forces Summit in Abuja, Nigeria on April 17, 2018.
28 January 2020

The uproar by some Northern Elders over the creation of the Amotekun security outfit by the Governors of the South-West Region was totally inappropriate. Within a week of its formation they raged on about Amotekun more than they have ever raged against the banditry and routine Boko Haram or herdsmen killings in the region! They alleged everything from Amotekun being the beginning of a "Christian Armed Force", to being a "Regional Army" to being "a preparatory move for an eventual breakaway and secession". Fortunately, wiser and calmer heads prevailed and accepted it for what it is, self-defense North-Western Sates Governors say they too are ready to checkmate the burgeoning insecurity in their region by copying their south-western counterparts and launching their own joint security operation. Chairman of the Governors of the Region Aminu Maisari Governor of Katsina State said "we have a lot to learn from them.

I will call a meeting of the States affected by insecurity to see what they are doing and how we can borrow from them". It isn't about regional politics nor is it about religion. It's about the federal government's inability to secure lives and property. There can be no denying that something urgent has to be done in face of the breakdown of the centrally controlled internal security system which is characterized by inefficient operations and inappropriate objectives and performance outcomes. Action by State Governments is even more imperative when considering the federal government's response to complaints about insecurity. Nigeria is a democracy and citizens have a right to expect reasonable responses from those who govern them, but these appear not to be forthcoming. Spokesperson for the Presidency Femi Adesina lamentably said that Nigerian Christians should appreciate government's efforts because Boko haram no longer uses bombs and have been "reduced" to just beheading! This preposterous statement makes it appears as if federal government is satisfied with the overall security situation, and dismiss the taking of lives in the most horrible way simply because it's become a regular occurrence. Professor Charles Adisa President of the Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship said Adesina's statement was a "puerile defense which highlights the tragedy of a man hired to market a bad product".

On the claim that government sympathizes with bereaved families Adisa asked "should it not be a worry that this has become a government of condolences?" He also asked why government refuses to listen to public opinion and review the security architecture bearing in mind that the number of Nigerians killed by Boko Haram and herdsmen between 2018 - 2019 is reportedly far greater than between 2009 - 2914? Other Nigerians are also asking questions which are yet to receive reasonable explanations from government. Following the recent killing of Reverend Lawan Andimi by Boko Haram, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) asked what is the essence of SIM card registration if authorities cannot use it to track down people who openly use phones to communicate their criminal activities, what has happened to the intelligence gathering capabilities of our security agencies, why is government still claiming that the war on terror has been won despite all these killings, and why if these terrorists are operating from outside the country is it possible for them to do so when borders are supposed to be closed? There is no doubt that ordinary policing in Nigeria has failed. A Report released by the International Police Science Association and the Institute for Economics and Peace the World Internal Security and Police Index, based upon an assessment of 127 countries, rated the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) as the worst police in the world! This in spite of their commendable performances in multi-national peacekeeping operations overseas! The assessment was based upon indices of capacity, processes, legitimacy and outcomes. Nigeria's bottom ranking is a measure of the NPF's ability to respond to internal security challenges now and in the future. Unsurprisingly NPF spokespersons have dismissed the report describing it as "misleading" because it doesn't take into consideration "significant improvements in the areas of capacity building, training, and re-training of personnel:" Be that as it may, Amotekun and other regional security forces are urgently needed because State Governments cannot fold their hands and watch everything go wrong until it becomes too late to do anything about it. It's difficult for law abiding citizens to understand the rationale behind federal government's security policy. The internet is replete with pictures of" "rehabilitated" Boko Haram fighters celebrating their release from incarceration and being hosted to food and drinks. These pictures contrast sharply with photographs of dead gallant Nigerian soldiers with their heads blown off, or captured soldiers with hands tied behind their backs awaiting execution. It's pertinent to ask whether government's job is to protect citizens from terrorists, or to protect terrorists. Even though the Federal Government appears to be living in a state of denial, State Governments know that Nigerians are fed up with insecurity. Most Nigerians want to live a good simple life. They will, probably won't be famous, and not win any awards. They won't be rich but will just marry, work at their jobs, raise their families and obey the law.

These are the majority, yet the minority of violent criminals and corrupt professional political office holders are holding sway. Those currently in office should realize that while power and privilege does indeed allow them to live in a protective bubble, one day the bubble will burst. There are only three years left of this administration. Before it is too late they should begin to think and act in such a way that they will have no regrets tomorrow. The worst thing that can happen to any political office holder once out of office is to say "if I knew back then what I know now, and I had really understood the what, when, why and how, it would have been clear to me what I should have done".

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