The government has responded to the deepening security crisis by replacing Azazi with Dasuki. Can this arrest the prevailing gloom?
Following last Sunday’s triple bomb explosions in churches in Kaduna and Zaria and the immediate reprisal attacks they sparked, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah warned that Nigeria may be heading for a religious war unless the current drift was arrested.
When a reflective and respected man like Bishop Kukah, one of the few voices of moderation in our country issues such a grim warning, the government and all other critical stakeholders need to pay serious attention. Unfortunately, the entrepreneurs of violence seem to be winning because our security infrastructure has proved incapable of standing up to the current challenge.
It is instructive that following the Christmas day bombing of last year, President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to restructure the security agencies “and make sure that we get a team that will meet this challenge that we are facing today.” He finally made good that pledge on Friday evening when he appointed Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) to replace Lt. General Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd), as his National Security Adviser (NSA).
As we have repeatedly stated, the targeting of Christian worship centres explains a clear motive by those behind the bloodletting: to instigate a conflagration by setting adherents of the two principal religions against one another. That is why it is important for critical stakeholders not to succumb to the obvious cold calculations which have in the last one week accounted for the death of several people. Rather, we must join hands to fight what is clearly a crime against our common humanity while we reiterate the call for the government to be more alive to its responsibilities. We also plead with religious and community leaders to show restraints at this most difficult period so that we do not unduly inflame passion and further exacerbate the problem.
In all these, what has been glaring is government failure. The rate at which terrorists carry out their heinous activities in the country by striking wherever and whenever they want, almost on a daily basis, has been nothing but a very serious indictment on those who manage the nation’s security. In this month alone, there have been terror attacks in about six different locations in the North and in each of this mindless violence, they exacted maximum casualty.
In every society where government exists, securing lives and property is its most important responsibility. Citizens may help by providing tips and by organising neighbourhood watch and vigilante groups, but they cannot replace government in this particularly critical role. Unfortunately in Nigeria today, the rich and members of the ruling political class can afford to hire private armies while government leaders expropriate the security outfits maintained with tax payers’ money. Meanwhile, most Nigerians are left to their own devices, at the mercy of a growing army of sundry criminals, including suicide bombers who strike in places of worship, sacred spaces that are ordinarily considered to be the safest anyone can go for solace and security.
It stands to reason therefore that when the relevant authorities are failing in the basic expectation of providing security for the citizenry, everyone is at risk and the rationale for instituting government in society could be openly called to question. And when such happens, state failure is only some distance away. To halt this disturbing march to anarchy in our country, we insist on holding to account those entrusted with the task of keeping us safe and secure. The new NSA therefore has his job cut out for him. With his wealth of experience and exposure, Dasuki comes to his new assignment with impeccable credentials. We wish him goodluck.