Deepening Insecurity in Nigeria and Chinese Service Stations: One Truth about Untruths
Bola A. Akinterinwa
The nexus between truth and untruth is very thin. The nexus is either belief or disbelief. When it is disbelief, people can talk about fake news and when it is belief, even if there are no doubts about the truth, there is no disputing the fact that it can still be later controversial simply because there can be many versions of a truth. Truth can be valid at a given point in time depending on the source. Truth can be constant for as long as it is not subject to any query. Consequently, in dealing with the truth, especially in the Social Sciences, there cannot but be need to always seek a general understanding of all the dimensions of any issue before arriving at a general conclusion, especially that diplomacy does not always allow the truth to be publicly told and because truth can be presented as an untruth until archival records are opened.
In this regard, on 18 October, 2022, media reports had it that China had opened police service station in Nigeria. On 19th October, the Chinese dispelled the report of running any police station in Nigeria. The report was predicated on a special report, titled ‘110 Overseas Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild,’ done by a rights organisation, Safeguard Defenders. In the eyes of the Chinese, this investigative finding is fake and that the truth is that state practice does not allow for foreign policing in another sovereign state.
As explained by an anonymous Chinese who spoke with the Vanguard Newspapers, ‘there is no such station in Nigeria or everywhere (sic). This is because no sovereign country may allow other countries to establish their own (police) stations on their territory.’ The Chinese do not have any police station in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. However, ‘there is only one category of outreach services for Chinese communities,’ and therefore, ‘China has no intention or spare energy to run police stations outside its borders,’ The Vanguard of 19 October further revealed. If China does not currently have any police station in Nigeria or anywhere and also does not have the intention to establish anyone in the future, this can be considered one version of the truth. Another dimension of this truth is that there is nothing to suggest meanwhile that China cannot and will not establish one in the future.
A further dimension is also that, like many sovereign countries cooperate in various aspects of national security, by even allowing foreign military bases on their sovereign territory, bilateral ties can always be promoted to allow for the establishment of a police station for mutual benefits. The mere fact that the establishment of a police station abroad is hardly done does not imply that it can never be done if the situational reality so requires. A deepening situation of insecurity can always warrant the establishment of a police station.
Deepening Insecurity and Leeway
As there are many attacks on the Chinese in Africa, so are there many cases of Chinese attacks on their host citizens in Africa. As far back as 21 June 2013, the Agence France Presse (AFP) had it that anti-Chinese attacks were on the increase in Africa. And true enough, at least four Chinese were killed during a heavily armed attack on a mine in central Nigeria, the Africa News reported on 30 June, 2022. Again, earlier on 24 May, 2022, Kate Bartlett of the Voice of America warned in a report that the Chinese people working in Africa faced threats of kidnapping. Indeed, in Nigeria, one Chinese expatriate was shot dead at a mining site at Iboko, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. The killing is more serious than an act of kidnapping. Many Chinese have been kidnapped in Nigeria. Consequently, there is every reason for the Chinese government to be much concerned about developments in Nigeria.
In the same vein, on the side of the Chinese, there was the reported vicious attack by one Chinese official of a Sierra Leonean staff on 14 June 2021 in Sierra Leone. Many are also the cases of mistreatment of Nigerians working with Chinese companies in Nigeria. These cases also fall within the competence of the Nigerian media houses, which are required to oversee and report to Nigerians all governmental activities in Nigeria. Section 22 of Chapter 2 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as amended stipulates that ‘the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in the Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.’
Consequently, the controversial investigative report on the Chinese having a service outreach or running a police station in Nigeria is not out of place and should always be understood in its appropriate context. True, research finding, driven by valid methodological framework, can be wrong if the elements of analysis, even if it is only one of them, are or is faulty. But that cannot imply that there cannot be elements of established truth because the Nigerian environment is, indeed, very difficult to predict correctly. Nigeria is a terra cognita of the ‘unbelievable’ but which in any case is still true.
Nigeria is a country of excessiveness and political recklessness as clearly shown in a Daily Sunrise monitored on one Saturday on Channels Television: when elected governors leave office, and because they were elected, they are paid full salaries for life. Their state governments are required to build a befitting five-bedroom mansion in their state capital and also either in Lagos or in Abuja. This is the minimum recommended for any of the governors. The mansion is to be equipped with a befitting furniture that should be changed every three to four years. Besides, they are entitled to one hundred million naira as gratuity, 100% of current basic salary of the incumbent governor and deputy governor for life, a new jeep and Hiluxes, 300% of basic salary for maintenance of cars which are also replaceable every three years and 300% of basic salary for utilities (electricity, etc.), a monthly payment of five million for dependants (stewards, cooks, drivers, personal assistants and security), 100% of basic salary for entertainment, 100% for medical treatment in Nigeria or abroad for unspecified number of relations of the governor for life. This medical treatment covers polygamous governors. Spouses of governors are also entitled to female security protection.
Without any jot of doubt, for an individual person to be elected governor and serve for a gubernatorial term of four years and to be given 100% life enjoyment and protection by government cannot but raise eyes brows, grievance and insecurity. In fact, this cannot but be a major dynamic of permanent struggle to always seek to win election by all means, including engagement in crooked and criminal methods. It is also a major rationale for institutional corruption in the whole country. In fact, one major reason for the little interest in accepting to restructure is not simply because of hegemonic considerations, but particularly because of fears of losing access to easy money-making in various ramifications.
Another major dynamic of national insecurity is the make-believe that the Fulani ethnic stock own Nigeria and therefore, every policy of government is seen as an attempt to solidify the foundation for Fulani hegemony in Nigeria. Without any scintilla of doubt, this is one important factor explaining the struggle for self-determination by the Yoruba nation and the Ibo nation as well. When talking about Chinese police station or that of any foreign country for that matter cannot be completely missing the problem.
It is true that a considerable percentage of the Yoruba prefer to take up arms, if necessary, to fight for political separation as of today because of the feeling of indignity perceptibly felt by them. It is not surprising that there is constant reference to the ‘wickedness’ of the colonial master who refused to include the clause on secession or withdrawal from the Nigerian nation in the 1950s. The Yoruba wanted the inclusion of the withdrawal clause but the British over ruled it. If the country has been governed in such a way that feelings of injustice are not existent, there would not have been any good basis for the politics of separation to have aVpowder. This is most unfortunate for a country that should be providing leadership for black race in international relations.
Very few people believe that elections can be won without rigging, regardless of the purports of the INEC and the political parties. Indeed, Nigeria does not have any credible population figures. The Federal Government is actually importing the Fulani in West and Central Africa to Nigeria as revealed by the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed. Without doubt, we do not see anything wrong in Governor Bala Mohammed in promoting continental unity through regional integration. There may not be anything wrong in also encouraging the Brother Fulanis in other parts of Africa to reunite with their families in Nigeria. Such encouragement is quite consistent with the regional integration as a potent tool for promoting continental unity. One cannot be talking about regional integration, on the one hand, and still be underscoring international boundaries, on the other hand.
The problem of concern, however, is on why the choice of the Fulani and not another ethnic group? Why that type of statement when Nigerians are already strongly suspecting Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda in Nigeria? Indeed, Governor Bala Mohammed’s television interview unnecessarily incited much anger and the determination of any ethnic groups in the South to resist any Fulanisation agenda.
From the foregoing, the situation of insecurity in Nigeria is critical. But how can the situation be addressed? Can there be any constructive approach beyond accepting to tackle the truth? Only the truth can set Nigeria free and prevent national disintegration. This is in spite of the many suggestions considered as capable of nipping the self-made political errors in the bud.
One important suggestion on how to solve the problem of insecurity, beginning from the South West, was given by Gani Adams, the Are Ona Kakanfoo (Generalissimo) of Yoruba land, who noted that the situation of insecurity is getting out of hand and that ‘it is now time for the three Governors of Oyo, Ogun and Lagos to allow us (Gani Adams) flush the bandits out of their hiding place.’ And perhaps more significantly, Gani Adams assured the governors that he would ‘flush out the terrorists from their hideouts within three weeks’ in the South West. ‘The Lagos-Ibadan Express Way is not Kano-Kaduna or Abuja road that have become havens for terrorists. So, the governors should allow us to chase them away from this road.’
Three quick issues are interesting in the Gani Adams’ agenda. The first is that terrorism will be nipped in the bud in the South-West of Nigeria if he succeeds, but not necessarily stopping terrorism in the whole of Nigeria. Secondly, the agenda may be helpful in containing the spread of terror beyond the Yoruba land in the whole of the South. And thirdly, Gani Adams’ request critically raises the issue of the need for true federalism in Nigeria. The truth in this matter is not simply asking the Governors of Oyo, Ogun and Lagos for authorisation but whether the Federal Government will be prepared to also accept the development.
It is useful to note here that the Federal Government of Nigeria has not only been variously accused of aiding and abetting terrorists, but also particularly supporting the Fulani herdsmen who have been identified to be the illegal occupants of the South-western forests. The Federal Government and the Fulani herdsmen wrongly believe that there is nothing like any land belonging to any specific community of people. In other words, the Federal Government does not reckon with the 1978 Land Use Act which vested the ownership of community land on the Governors in thrust for the people of that given community.
More disturbingly is the perceived issue of Fulanisation and Islamic agenda. Many Nigerians particularly the elite believe that, truly, President Muhammadu Buhari, not only has a Fulanisation agenda but also an Islamisation plan, both of which have sharply divided the polity and prompted the deepening of insecurity in the country. The problem becomes complicated when it is the former army generals, very top statesmen that are publicly raising the issue and to which the Federal Government has not been able to meaningfully respond to.
Put differently, if Gani Adams can flush out armed bandits and terrorists within three weeks, why should there be any difficulty in granting approvals? Again, the Amotekun, the regional security outfit put in place by all the South-Western governors to fight insecurity, needs to carry arm but which the Federal Government is also opposed to, even though such approval has been given to some groups in the North. This is double standard. In fact, the Federal Government has not been able to win the terrorists and the armed bandits and yet, it does not want to allow those claiming to have the capacity wrest power from the terrorists to do so. This also raises the question of State Police in Nigeria.
The Southwest has been asking for restructuring under which the current police structure will give way to the establishment of State Police. The problematic in this case, however, is that the governors are constitutionally considered the Chief Security Officers of their States but in practice, the State Commissioners actually report directly to the Inspector General of Police in Abuja. The conduct and management of security issues is therefore done at the federal, and not at the state level. What is again noteworthy about Gani Adams’ approach is that if there is security in the South West, then the region can become a stronger theatre for launching fresh attacks on terrorists in other parts of the South from where there can be a re-direction of the struggle towards the North east and the Northwest. The current situation of insecurity shows that every nook and cranny of the country has been infested by terrorist virus, and therefore, it is not safe for any election to hold in 2023.
A second prescription for an enduring peace in Nigeria is that of Muammar Gaddafi which I have regularly been drawing attention to. Gaddafi, before he was killed, strongly believed that there would never be any enduring peace in Nigeria until the country is partitioned into Muslim North and Christian South. This prescription directly conflicts with the spirit of the Nigerian Constitution which provides for forceful unity or national unity by manu militari and territorial indissolubility. If the suggestion of Muammar Gaddafi were to be actionable, Nigeria’s Constitution must first of all be amended. In the absence of this, it is only the use of force that can bring about a Christian South and a Muslim North. Whatever is the case, the prescription, as good or as bad as it may be, the approach to an enduring solution is to constructively investigate why Muammar Gaddafi made that suggestion, as well as further find out the extent to which the partitioning can ensure enduring security in the new sub-region.
A third approach to the quest for national peace and security is the option of self-determination through a plebiscite. This is the option embarked upon by the proponents of Oduduwa Republic in the Yoruba Southwest. Professor Stephen Adebanji Akintoye, an erudite Professor of History and leader of the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement, called Ilana Omo Oodua, wrote a letter to PMB, on behalf of the Yoruba Self-Determined (YSDM), asking for a peaceful break away of the Yoruba nation. He requested for direct negotiations on Yoruba nation’s self-determination and making of an Oduduwa Republic without the use of force. In fact, Professor Akintoye has facilitated the membership of the Yoruba of the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organisation (UNPO), which was established on 11 February, 1991 in The Hague, Netherlands.
As noted in the letter to PMB, ‘the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement now serves you notice of the decision of the Yoruba people to assert their right to self-determination, which right of self-determination is inalienable and unquestionable right of every indigenous nation in the world.’ Additionally, the YSDM noted, ‘upon asserting this right of self-determination, we Yoruba nation shall be free to determine our political status, pursue our economic, social and cultural development according to policies chosen independently by us, and to live under the government independently chosen and ordered by us.’
A fourth option of having an enduring peace is that of Von Clausewitz. He argued that if you want peace, you prepare for war. This has been the option adopted by the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB). Indeed, the idea of a possible breakaway of the Igbo people was first mooted in 1962. When the issue of Colonel Yakubu Gowon having to give instructions in 1967 to Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Governor of the Eastern region and a senior military officer to Yakubu Gowon who became the Head of State, Emeka Ojukwu contested the superiority of Gowon. He opted to take up arms to defend the separation of Ibo people from the rest of Nigeria. If the MASSOB and the Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB are therefore currently struggling for separation, that is to underscore the extent of political instability and insecurity in Nigeria.
It is from this perspective that we consider PMB as Nigeria’s main problem and also the main possible solution to Nigeria’s problem. Under PMB, institutional corruption has reached its crescendo. PMB’s first term, 2015-2019, was meant to be a change of foundation from the abnormal environment of political chicanery and recklessness in the country. The second term, 2019-2023 was designed to be a next level of normalcy-building, building a new Nigeria free from societal indiscipline. Most unfortunately, security, economic vibrancy and corruption which are the tripod on which the policy of the ‘next level’ is built, has been seriously tainted and bent, and therefore making a nonsense of the whole APC manifesto from 2015 to date. Educational development has also suffered most under PMB. Inter-ethnic hostility became terribly bad under him. Even the 2023 political campaigns have been so ethnicised to the extent that ethnic balancing has been jettisoned and standard bearers are even calling for ethnic voting. Atiku Abubakar of the PDP has asked Northerners not to vote for southerners. The Yoruba South West has become sharply divided over their own son, Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi, an Ibo who has not presented himself as an ethnicist but as a nationalist. The epicentre of all the problems is that most political observers now believe that, regardless of whoever wins the election in 2023, it is still the Hausa-Fulani cabal that will still continue to rule Nigeria and not whoever is to be elected. This is one truth about untruths. Chinese police station in Nigeria is at best insignificant even in terms of national sovereignty.