Government must go beyond the usual blame game to halt the widespread chaos and killings in the land
When gunmen invade areas, kill people on an industrial scale, torch whole villages and disappear without trace or enter a school premises and cart away more than a hundred female children, the federal government needs to do more than setting up committees or drafting in contingents of soldiers after the damage had been done. The authorities must recognise that the kidnap of innocent school children in Dapchi, Yobe State as well as frequent massacres like the recent one in Adamawa State and the orgy of bloodletting in Zamfara State belong in a category that may not fit into the conventional law and order mould. That also means that responses to such tragedies must be different.
From Benue to Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna and Zamfara States, it would seem that we may be witnessing the deliberate exploitation and resurgence of buried ancient animosities and ethno-religious rivalries for unstated causes. But the challenge of insecurity becomes more perplexing when parents can no longer send their children or wards to school without the fear that they could be abducted by some perverts masquerading as Jihadists. The pertinent question to ask therefore is: What have the security agencies done to understand the nature of the sundry forms of criminality that now engulf a section of the country and what are the strategies for countering them?
With a growing pattern of roving genocidal gangs and some perverts in the name of Boko Haram on the loose, we must challenge the federal government and the authorities in many of the states concerned to do a little more than the usual display of incompetence and blame game that have deepened our insecurity. But it is also important that we isolate the Dapchi mass kidnap as a separate outrage which has its own complexity and multiple implications. It contains elements of terrorism, mass slavery, abuse of the rights of the girl child to education and decency. Add to that the multitude of security related lapses, oversights and embarrassments: inter agency squabbles and blame tossing, failure of basic reconnaissance and surveillance, force immobility, failure of theatre communication, etc.
The tragedy at Dapchi is a serious indictment of the current administration in several respects; especially given the experience of Chibok from which useful lessons ought to have been learnt. A convoy with 110 girls is not exactly a needle in a haystack! Nor would it travel at supersonic speed! There was abundant human intelligence around the incident as several locals have reported making numerous cellphone calls to security formations soon after the incident. Who acted on these alerts?
To worsen matters, the response of the federal government has been a mixture of panic and confusion sprinkled with bureaucratic correctness. While the president’s assurances are in line with standard political behaviour: reassure the people in times of tragedy and give hope even when the situation may seem hopeless, the dispatch of multiple presidential delegations of ministers and other bland emissaries with no specific mission is somewhat curious. It is also too early to activate an inquiry as has been done, especially when such committees established in the past were merely to buy time.
While the propaganda arm of the Buhari administration continues with its usual hollow excuses, silly comparison with the past and tales of recovery efforts by a hundred aircraft that have turned out to be a lie, what the parents of the girls, the nation and the international community are waiting for is the quick recovery of the Dapchi students, not a gamut of bureaucratic indulgences. That then explains why this challenge belongs squarely in the realm of the security forces and they must be held accountable.
But there is a more urgent issue: To the extent that Nigeria is a vast canvas of misdeeds, sometimes painted with impunity, some of the security challenges that now define several areas of our country are a reflection of our inability to accept that we are not yet a “normal” nation. Sadly, the greater problem of our nation remains that of credible leadership, at all levels!
With a growing pattern of roving genocidal gangs and some perverts in the name of Boko Haram on the loose, we must challenge the federal government and the authorities in many of the states concerned to do a little more than the usual display of incompetence and blame game that have deepened our insecurity