By Sunmola Oloowokere
The spate of insecurity in Nigeria has become so alarming that even school children are aware that Nigeria is in a precarious situation security wise. They read news of their counterparts being whisked away in theIr hundreds from schools by daredevil kidnappers.
Strangely, their attempt would not be foiled and they would be successful in carting away these children to their hideouts.
Several schools especially in the north have come under this attack. Some children are still missing till date. The case of Leah Sharibu is a sad reference point.
From the masses to the elites, no one is safe. All of us are under threat. Wanton looting, senseless killings, sporadic kidnappings and other acts of terrorism permeates the Nigerian space.
Just recently, late Dora Akunyili’s husband along with some people were gruesomely murdered. As at the time of putting together this piece, security agents have not been able to unravel the mystery behind his killing.
Groups and individuals have no useful information that would expose his killers to share. They kept bandying insults and heated arguments like ping pong balls.
Sadly, it is likely that his killing like so many others before him such as Bola Ige would go in the record as unsolved. Apart from these known statesmen, Nigerian masses are being massacred almost on a daily basis. We only get the figures and statistics. It is as if they are not human as the authorities reel out figures of casualties.
But they are human. They have loved ones that would grieve and mourn their passing. The situation is such that no one is safe.
When we studied African poetry during our school days, a stanza from a poem “Nightfall in soweto”
written by Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali during the apartheid in South Africa haunted me for years after as I wondered how they lived.
“i am the prey, i am the quarry
to be run down by the marauding beast
let loose by the cruel Nightfall
from his cage of death”
However, now it has become clear how things were then as Nigeria is facing a similar albeit deadlier situation.
While the people of soweto knew that it was only the night that bodes ill for them, Nigerians especially those living in identified Flashpoints cannot tell when Ak47 touting angels of death will appear. They live under the awareness that their lives are in danger.
People might be going about their normal business activities one moment, and in the next, there could be sporadic gunshots leaving so many defenceless citizens sprawled on the ground, dead in its wake.
Kidnappers no longer kidnap only the rich. They could kidnap anybody and they will ask the poor family members for ransom. After much haggling, the ransom would be paid and the poor abductees would regain their freedom. Many people have lost their lives and loved ones in the kidnappers’ den.
A foremost journalist and a senator in the house of Senate, Smart Adeyemi had recently made a shocking observation and submission on Nigeria’s security which had shook the hallowed chambers and made other complacent senators to squirm in the seats.
Smart Adeyemi was elected Senator for the Kogi West constituency of Kogi State, Nigeria, taking office on 29 May, 2007. He is a member of the APC and reelected as senator for the third time on the 30th of November, 2019.
Adeyemi had addressed the precarious situation of our security on the floor of the house.
In an emotion laden voice, he decried spate of crime which was heating up the polity. He called on the presidency to get off its high horse and seek help from neighbouring developed countries in order to arrest the situation.
In his words “this is the worst instability that we are facing. In fact, this is worse than a civil war. We cannot pretend that we are capable of confronting the situation in our hands. We should not pretend. We need foreign support now. A lot of billions of naira have been voted for security services, yet nothing is coming from it. We need to call on foreign support. The nation is on fire and the president must rise to the occasion “.
Now to the crux of the matter, does Nigeria need foreign support to quell the insurgency and terrorism in its domain?
The Nigeria Police have been going on peace keeping missions to other troubled nations since 1960 and have recorded success in most of their endeavours.
Our peacekeepers have participated in operations in Congo, Namibia, Angola, Western Sahara, Cambodia, Mozambique, Somalia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Afghanistan, Cote D’Ivoire, Burundi, Haiti, Sudan, South Sudan and Guinea Bissau to mention but a few.
Recently, Catherine Ugorji of the Nigerian Police and serving with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has been selected by the UN as one of two runners-up for the prestigious UN Woman Police Officer of the Year award for 2020.
Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, in a statement by Oluseyi Soremekun, the National Information Officer of the UN System in Nigeria, said through both her words and actions, UN Police Officer Ugorji exemplifies the best of UN policing.
Of the 1,300 UN policewomen deployed in UN peacekeeping operations, 21 were nominated for the award.
If our police force could achieve these feats in other countries, not to mention even the DSS, the Military and a host of others; why is ours difficult? Why has insecurity become a hydra headed monster which has refused to die?
We need political will and deep commitment to make things work.
As a starting point, the government should consider putting in place community policing. With such in place, there will be no hiding place for criminal elements. They will be smoked out of their holes.
We have the resources to tackle our problem no matter how far reaching the rot in our system is. We only need the political will and commitment to make the system work for us.
When all these are put in place, bad leaders formenting trouble in our midst will quickly straighten out their act as they will be aware that it would no longer be business as usual.