NIGERIA is about going through three socially intense programs in less than half a year. Most curious factor in these events is that all of them have distinctive capacity to exert shock on the country’s socio-economic and political system. From the planned naira redesigning commencing December 15 to 2023 general elections beginning February 26 and the national census coming quickly afterwards in May, 2023, the stakes cannot be higher for possible tension stokers. Hence, with the approach of the three national milestones, not a few Nigerians express serious concerns over the spate of tension, fear and bad blood being generated in the polity already.
PERHAPS, these worries are not unfounded if interfaced with Nigeria’s eerie experiences from previous national census and vexed general elections not to talk of currency change, because only poor students of history like those suffering from historical amnesia would forget the country’s first shove with two military coup-de-tats in barely six months in 1966, leading to a devastating civil war spanning over three years. The crisis was kicked off directly from recriminations over the 1964 census and general election results. Since then, beginning from 1983, though post-electoral trauma was better managed in some cases, there has never been any election that did not test Nigeria’s resilience with serious shockwaves on the country’s body politic.
NO PERIOD shows that the country requires a temperate political climate and clement social environment to go about potentially edgy national timetables in order to ensure that things do not go wrong, once again, than now that recent insecurity spate is worsening nationwide. From North East, where Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgents are almost daily launching terrorist attacks, for instance, to North West and South West where banditry and abductions have become a lucrative industry – not to talk of North Central where herder-farmer killings have dealt crushing casualty toll on each side – or South East where wanton rascality of non-state actors through killing sprees and kidnapping of innocent citizens for monetary ransom as well as provocative destruction of public properties have become norm, a cloud of terror has wrapped the nation in all the geopolitical zones. In the South South, oil theft and bunkering by bandits and their sponsors has not only sabotaged national business but made life unsafe for residents and visitors alike.
ANYONE still living in fools’ paradise over the ‘fire’ tearing down the mountain should rewind back to strings of security alerts recently issued by diplomatic corps, particularly United States and United Kingdom, to their nationals against travelling within or coming to Nigeria.
WITH the foregoing scenario, it becomes crystal clear that Nigeria’s security challenge is really getting out of hand.
THAT’s why concerns being shown by well-meaning stakeholders at different fora should not be dismissed with a wave of the hand, because anybody doing this is doing so at everybody’s peril. Perhaps, Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State’s recent warning should not only be a reminder but a sort of figurative call to arms. Despite limiting his succinct concern to the growing insecurity in the North West, his clarion call is germane even in the creeks of Niger Delta, bush paths and forests of all the South of Nigeria and even highways and railways in other parts of the country. It seems everywhere is turning into a killing field.
FROM all these dynamics, it becomes crucial for stakeholders to close ranks and as a matter of urgency, come up with concrete and lasting solutions that will effectively address Nigeria’s deteriorating security conundrum. While governments at all tiers, particularly federal government, owns the bulk of these responsibilities, quick-fix smart steps can come from any tier: Private security experts should also contribute their quotas by partnering specialised innovations of relevant agencies such as the Anambra’s Security Trust Fund (ASTF) initiatives with expertise and resources because security is everyone’s business.
GOVERNMENTS should not spare any means or anyone in ensuring that none of the three national engagements is scuttled by those foisting insecurity on the country’s socio-economic and political space. Even if it means rejigging the nation’s security architecture from top to down, including effecting radical changes at the highest echelons of command points in both Armed Forces, Police and other elite security organisations, federal government should leave no stone unturned, if that is what may be required to get its acts right.
NATIONAL Light also calls for massive mobilisation of locals into community vigilante groups and volunteers to assist security agents in specific operations within their immediate environment. There is equally a need to caution against insensitive rhetoric heating up the polity. Government should also deploy artificial intelligence (AI) in the war against insecurity. If AI is working for other nations in tracking activities of terrorist elements, it will work for Nigeria. A stitch in time saves nine.