It’s time to heed Zulum’s warning, contends


At a programme in honour of the reconstituted North-East Development Commission (NEDC) recently, Borno State Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, warned that Nigeria risked being wiped off the map in the near future if no proactive steps were taken to stop young people and children from being recruited by Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists.

Zulum’s warning came at a time no fewer than 13 farmers were beheaded on their farmlands in the state by Boko Haram terrorists, with some unspecified number of farmers also kidnapped. This is also amidst reports of harvest tax by farmers to terrorists.

Well, Governor Zulum was only being patriotic to have warned Nigeria of an imminent disaster, and for Nigeria to wake up and do something so that Nigerians would not be living in outright fear. Before the governor’s damning warning, it’s a known fact that any security challenges might have caught the people napping. The truth of the case is that Nigeria is not prepared at all for any security emergencies. That Nigeria doesn’t have the orientation even as security apparatuses are neither sensitized nor equipped is no longer news. So, to debate whether we should heed the governor’s warning is a sign of spinelessness and planlessness on the part of the country. It needs no debate but a total absorption of the plan and retrigger for the people to begin to think.

Back in those days, the Yorubas would always say: ‘A kii gbe inu ile gba ofa lai re ogun’. Translated literally, it means: ‘One cannot be in the house and receive an arrow’s attack without going to the warfront.’ Current events in the land seem to have paled the adage into insignificance. Before our very eyes, the house is no longer safe and the farm is a no-go area. Police and Army Barracks have become a basket case of ‘if gold could rust…’ Some crimes are even annoying! Only last week, a neighbour gave a distress call, asking yours sincerely to assist with a specific amount of money so that he could use it to appease some hoodlums who were “threatening to kill” him if he’d not “find something for” them. The neighbour in question had no choice!

There have been times and periods when notorious bandits or gangsters have ruled and ‘commanded’ respect from the society in some specific areas of Nigeria. There was a time when Edo was a no-go area. Ibadan of the Southwest had its time. At a time in Ijebu of Ogun State, peace could not be taken for granted. Lagos State, for a long time, was the dread of everybody in Nigeria. We need not forget that it was then the nation’s seat of power, yet it was what it was! Even the remote and hitherto peaceful areas were not excluded. Ondo and Taraba States, which were never known for violence, came into the mix. So was the rest of the country. But all that has changed. Now, we all seem to be living with the fear of the unknown!

Once upon a time in Nigeria, whenever the Nigeria Police came into a discussion, the first thing that’d readily come to mind was the horrible ‘Mark 4’ rifle.  At that time, that was all the Nigeria Police got; and it was when the entire policemen were almost totally decimated by local armed robbers that Nigeria reluctantly opted to buy some functional weapons; but they were neither adequate nor sufficiently able to address the security needs of Nigeria as at then. Entered the question of superiority between the police and the military and the situation relapsed to the Stone Age. Unfortunately, the gullible public kept quiet and … here we are!

Through the distant to the recent past, Nigeria’s history of security challenges and the fight against the ugly trend has been that of insincerity and instability. Getting criminals arrested is one big battle. Establishing prosecutable cases is another big and arduous task while facing the courts and lawyers are also huge problems. Have we forgotten how Benue State was shaken to its foundation, when a high profile Bank robbery took the lives of several innocent Nigerians, including that of a Divisional Police Officer and some of his men? The Offa, Kwara State robbery incident is still fresh in our minds. Nearly on a daily basis, people are being kidnapped, even in Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power. Are we going to wait until the Central Bank headquarters in Abuja gets robbed, or until a sitting governor, even our president gets kidnapped before we take it seriously?

Nigeria is in dire straits. The fear in society is not only palpable but also ubiquitous. Nigerians are thinking of economic problems without taking into consideration that social problems will make mincemeat of economic growth and development and that social problems will end up making a nullity of any administration’s efforts, if not challenged and defeated. So, one can only ask the state to reinvent itself because the sense of the state is no longer here. And it started with the coming of elected governors. For example, Governor Ademola Adeleke is prominent in Osun State only by virtue of his long cap. He keeps shouting ‘Imole Osun’, forgetting that development is a thing of the mind, not fanciful themes. It is unfortunate but that’s the truth! But then, who do we blame? After all, symbolic interactionism is a serious problem with human beings. Anyway, that’s a matter for another day!

It’s time the Bola Tinubu-led government took some proactive steps that’d send the right messages to extant terror groups and those who’re still imagining theirs for Nigeria to have peace. If Tinubu wants to act presidential, he should just wake up and give certain, strange but necessary directives and let the terror gangs feel small. That will definitely go a long way in sending the right signals to the terrorists and their sponsors.

For Nigeria to get out of the woods, those in Tinubu’s government who see governance as business as usual must become very serious; otherwise, the president owes Nigerians a duty to show them the way out. And let not the politicians treat this with levity because you must have a society before you can play your politics. If the society is fractured, politics becomes non-existent. Or where do we play politics if society is in trouble, under terror attack? You must have a society before thinking of a political system or contemplating the economy. You can only run an economy in a stable political society. In a disorganized society, nobody wears a ‘Babanriga’ and says ‘I’m a Senator’. It doesn’t work that way! You’re a Senator because you have a state. You are a governor because you have settled society. So, let all politicians drop their political ambitions and face the fixing of the society. Those who are running the system had better take note! Let them be warned!

Nobody is saying that the government is not doing anything, but the truth is that its efforts, currently, are not enough. Or how on earth could some bastards hold a whole town to ransom for close to three hours in broad daylight, and still escape with their loot? Could that happen in South Africa, or Egypt? Can Boko Haram or ISWAP thrive in a country like Israel?

For God’s sake, if we have to seek external help, the time is now! Nigeria is bleeding!

Komolafe writes from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State

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