Lack of leadership is endangering lives and harming the country’s economic interests

The spate of violence across the country has prompted several critical stakeholders, including the Nigeria’s Governors Forum (NGF) and the National Assembly, to call for an urgent review of the national security architecture. From north to south, there is a consensus that the Nigerian state has lost the capacity to safeguard the lives and property of citizens. Unfortunately, those whose primary responsibility it is to keep the nation safe are preoccupied with regime protection and no one is calling them to order even as the inability of the federal government to have a grip on the situation by bringing perpetrators to justice remains a major cause for concern.

The security challenge in Nigeria is such that only recently, members of the British House of Lords debated the issue while expressing concerns that the killings pose a grave danger to the corporate existence of the country. On 28th June this year, parliamentarian Denis Tunnicliffe made damaging accusations against the federal government on the killings. Another lawmaker, Elizabeth Berridge disputed the continuous portrayal of the violence as farmers-pastoralists feud, using the pattern of killings to reject the narrative. There has been no official reaction to the stinging indictment by the British parliament.

This crisis is pronounced in the northern half of the country over rights for grazing land between subsistent farmers and roving pastoralists and has led to the death of hundreds of citizens, particularly women, children and the aged. This is aside the escalating banditry in Zamfara which recently prompted the state governor Abdulazi Yari to abdicate his position as the chief security officer of the state. “This is Nigeria’s forgotten conflict. The authorities’ failure to act has left villagers in Zamfara at the mercy of armed bandits, who have killed hundreds of people,” lamented Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the same bunch of marauders let off the reign of terror when they gruesomely murdered no fewer than 50 villagers in Rabah local government of Sokoto State. Yet, the pervasive nature of the security challenge is in part due to failure of intelligence gathering and sharing among security chiefs who have not only overstayed their welcome but are generally known to be working at cross-purposes.

There are several questions that we have posed in the past yet remain unanswered: How do you put a price on the thousands of people dislodged from the jobs and their homes? Or on children, men and women whose lives had been cut short? Or of more people slipping into the poverty net or indeed, on nervous investors? Or the cost of mobilising and deploying military troops in practically all the 36 states of a country that is not at war with any country but itself? How can the deepening insecurity crisis be tamed? How can we reverse the shrinking investments and restore confidence in the economy?

Evidently the present strategy of drafting the military to every crisis location is no longer effective, as the criminal gangs that now spring up all over the country have also learnt how to engage them. Sadly, there has been no new framework that will enable the country to effectively respond to any crisis and safeguard lives and property without which there can be no development.

.That those who superintend the security apparatus of state have lost ideas about how to tackle the challenges that grow by the day is no longer in doubt. But the ultimate responsibility lies with the president whose agents have promised at different times that he would make the requisite changes. That he has not done anything to redress the situation indicates either that he cannot appreciate the gravity of the problem or that he feels incapacitated from taking decisions, especially given that he once sensationally declared that his Inspector-General of Police defied his order and to date, there have been no consequences.

President Muhammadu Buhari must understand that he has a constitutional responsibility to restore peace and order to the country and the earlier he does that the better.

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The pervasive nature of the security challenge is in part due to failure of intelligence gathering and sharing among security chiefs who have not only overstayed their welcome but are generally known to be working at cross-purposes