Tensions, insecurity and Presidency’s nonchalance
Nigeria sits on the precipice of a major crises. The disturbing reality of descending into chaos is palpable. Series of events within the country point to a tipping point, disappearing hopes and a gradual relapse into uncertainty. Like a thin crust over a blistering volcano, the country's peace hangs precariously over simmering ethnic, religious and regional tensions.
Since its emergence from a brutal civil war which claimed over a million lives between 1967 and 1970, the country has not reached this crescendo of socio political and ethnic disconnect, and wild propagation of divisiveness where regional powers hold sway and openly beat the drums of war, bandits wantonly display their arsenal without batting an eye, kidnappers breach perimeters of the Federal Capital Territory and abduct residents from the comfort of their homes without consequences; and robbers man highways unchallenged by those whose mandate is to fend them off.
Divisive rhetoric, hate speeches, misinformation, social dishonesty and group thinking fuelled by regional bias and ethno religious sentiments have stoked and are continuing to stoke widespread angst, so much it has become a maxim that "Nigeria is now more divided than it ever has."
Besides the ethno-religious debacle, the rise of armed herders and their widespread atrocities –kidnapping for ransom, rape, pillaging and wide scale ransacking of villages – without as much being challenged by the Nigerian military gives fuel to the belief in certain quarters that the Presidency is comfortable with it because they are kith and kin of the president.
Already, the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, has indicated that the armed bandits have the backing of the president, hence the uncomfortable dithering.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, while featuring on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ said, “People are painting the reality that is on the ground. If what is happening in the South-West today, let’s say some Yoruba boys had gone to do one per cent of that in the north, there would have been a war in this country by now.
“So, when Professor Wole Soyinka is warning President Buhari now that if you don’t speak up now, what is going on will lead to civil war, he is not just talking in vain.”
The Afenifere’s position is also shared by the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Middle Belt Forum, MBF, and Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, yet the Presidency remains mum.
As ethnic alignments continue to gain traction, one of the socially-disconnecting factors is the failure of the country's leadership to show by example that it exists for every Nigerian. So far, no categorical statement has been issued by the presidency denouncing the threats to the nation with the intention of de-escalating the tensions and mandating security agencies to take decisive steps to forestall further breakdown of law and order; at least, not to public knowledge. This administration cannot afford to be blinking in the dark with tales of "backdoor channels" to resolve daring national security challenges while citizens continue to suffer the ruthless onslaught of criminal elements against them.
It is common knowledge that herders/farmers crisis in Nigeria is time worn, but the dimension the crisis has assumed suggests that killer herdsmen became more emboldened and unhinged under the current administration, which has failed to comprehensively provide an unbiased and just solution to the problem.
Besides, the failure of the country's security network to decisively confront the evils of terrorism, kidnaping, banditry armed robbery, killer herdsmen and the growing list of violent crimes spread across the country, leaves many Nigerians with no choice than to resort to self-help. When groups are viciously attacked without any intervention from security agencies, it is a recipe for reprisals or retaliatory actions, which could brew a circle of violence. For anyone residing along the corridors of these happenings, peace has slowly evaporated like dews caught in the heat of the sweltering sun.
We therefore enjoin the Federal Government to implement the varying recommendations of the 2014 national conference, which include the establishment of state police and the devolution of powers to ensure effective administration of the country. While awaiting government’s action, citizens must remain calm, law-abiding and joint in efforts with the government to rid the nation of criminal elements.