The state of insecurity in the country is so high that it is difficult for Nigerians not to think of jumping ship and going somewhere safer. Nigeria’s governing class, the source of all our problems, have made their arrangements; they have bought houses abroad, transferred money out of the country and are ready to leave the country within minutes. That is why we have a large fleet of private jets at our airports ready to take out those who have ruled and ruined Nigeria outside the country at short notice. For the poor, and even the middle class, the only possibility of exit is to neighbouring countries, and on that score, our backs are on the wall; there is nowhere to run to. Cameroon is facing the Boko Haram insurgency in the North and the Ambazonian civil war in the South. Niger and Chad are both suffering from insurgency by jihadist movements and warlordism, while Benin Republic has just become a target of jihadist attacks. So for us, we just have to sing with Wole Soyinka:
“I love my country,
I no go lie,
Na inside am I go live and die
When e turn me so, I twist am so
E push me, I push am
I no go go.”
We are just in mid-April, and already, over 3,000 Nigerians have been killed by bandits and terrorists this year. Thousands have been kidnapped for ransom and tens of thousands have had to flee their homes and livelihoods just this year. The macabre daily count is sickening. A couple of days ago, 92 persons were killed by terrorists in Kanam Local Government Area (LGA)of Plateau State. The assailants were said to have come from Taraba State. The lawmaker representing Pankshin/Kanam/Kanke Federal Constituency of Plateau State, Yusuf Gagdi, reported that 3,413 persons were displaced following the attack. Benue State has a similar story to tell.
In the South East, the most dangerous profession is to serve the nation as police personnel. Every week, there are reports of attacks on police stations – arson and the killing of personnel. This past week, already five have been killed. The Nteje Divisional Police Headquarters in Oyi LGA of Anambra State was attacked on Thursday and one officer killed. The attack occurred barely 24 hours after four police officers were killed by gunmen at another police facility in the state – Atani Divisional Police Divisional Headquarters. These are simply illustrations of the daily macabre count of death and destruction we are all making.
According to data released by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) this week, at least, 2,968 people were killed, while 1,484 were abducted in Nigeria from January to March, 2022. The data show that more people were killed in the North West than in other regions. At least 1,103 people were killed within the period in the region. The North Central recorded the second highest number of murders, with 984 killed during the period, while in the North East 488 were killed. In the South East, 181 were killed during the period under review, while in the South West and South South, 127 and 85 people were killed respectively, says a report on the story by Premium Times.
Bandits and terrorists have been attacking and killing thousands of people in the country’s North West over the past seven years. They are now the new sheriffs in Zamfara, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna states, where they make and apply the law while moving about freely on raids composed of hundreds of gunmen on motorcycles and attack, kill, pillage, rob, rape, burn down houses and abduct citizens for ransom at will. Although it started as a rural phenomenon, they are now attacking the symbols of ruling class freedom of movement by taking over the Abuja-Kaduna highway, among several others, and have recently attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train and the Kaduna airport. Now, they are closing in on the cities where they are killing and abducting people from their homes.
In the North East, the Islamist group, Boko Haram, has waged a bloody insurgency against the country for the past 13 years and an estimated 35,000 people have been killed and over three million people displaced by the conflict. In the South East, the key actors are said to be “unknown gunmen” carrying out orders of the separatist organisation, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its militia wing, Eastern Security Network (ESN). They have targeted government buildings and security personnel. They have also imposed a stay-at-home order that has been crippling the economy of the zone, and those who break the order are regularly attacked and killed.
The reality is that no one is safe in Nigeria presently, and our 200 million compatriots have nowhere to run to. The irony is that the armed forces have been deployed to almost all states in the country, but with each passing day, the security situation in the country is deteriorating.
The first lesson we have to understand, therefore, is that they have no will or intention of saving us. The explanation is straightforward. With the rising insecurity, security budgets have expanded considerably and many officers and commanders have become rich. Fighting armed combatants always carries the risk of death to both combatants and the armed forces. The combatants, most of them kids, are on drugs and have no fear of death. The rich commanders of our armed forces appear to have taken the decision to avoid direct combat as much as possible so that they can live to enjoy their wealth. It is in this context that these drugs-crazy boys have made new laws based on the power of the Kalashnikov (AK-47) and become the new sheriffs in our towns and villages, and they are today imposing taxes on citizens; the payment of which determines whether you live or die.
The approach of the military is to rely on bombing the armed combatants from the air without sufficient troops to mop them up as they run. As the combatants are widely spread, bombs can only get a tiny fraction of them, so there is no real strategy to finish them off. In any case, the armed forces have not expanded considerably, and those on active duty are exhausted and frustrated due to lack of rotation. Careful trend analysis shows that the insecurity has been increasing and will continue to increase.
Compatriots, our backs are on the wall, we have nowhere to run to and there is no one to defend us, so we need to open a conversation on how we can defend ourselves and save our families and indeed the nation. Any idea?