Nigeria: The Security Challenge
(Conscience Triumph LEAD STORY of September edition, 2014).
Security challenge in the most populous black nation in the world occasioned by Boko Haram terrorists’ Islamic group has assumed a worrisome proportion – defying solution and every move made to checkmate it, especially since Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan assumed office as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The declaration of the state of emergency in the worst hit North East states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa has not abated the Islamists’ escapades. Rather than abate, Boko Haram is seen to be spreading its claws of death and tentacles to defenceless school children whose dormitories it over ran at past midnight like marauding beasts, carting away female students as hostages and leaving behind pools of blood and arson of grave proportion in its trail.
Concerned and perturbed by the spate of bomb blasts, killings, maimings, kidnappings and general threat to the security of life and property, President Goodluck Jonathan, in his address at the country’s centenary celebration had noted, “Like every country of the world, we have had our troubles. And we still do. We have fought a civil war. We have seen civil authorities unseated by the military. We have suffered sectarian violence. And as I speak, a part of our country is still suffering from the brutal assault of terrorists and insurgents.”
In making a general overview of the security situation in the country and making frantic effort at ensuring that the monster is crushed, The Tide newspaper sought the views of some Nigerians in the nation’s capital, Abuja, on the issue. These include the representative of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) at the National Conference, Engr. (Senator) Adefemi Kila; a security expert and former boss of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Chief A.K. Horsefall; Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange – a delegate to the National Confab; a Youth Corper serving in Abuja, Miss Victoria Abam and a civil servant, Mallam Jinadh Idris who works at the Old Federal Secretariat.
Engr Kila believed that though the security problem seems intractable, Nigeria will overcome it soon by overrunning the insurgents.
The arrow-head of Society of Engineers at the confab, Engr. Kila, like most delegates at the confab, who observed a minute silence in honour of victims of the bomb blast at Nyanya in the outskirts of Abuji, saw the security challenge through the eyes of Confab Deputy Chairman, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, who was a member of the Dr. Taminu Turaki-led Boko Haram dialogue committee that has since wound up its assignment.
Akinyemi had told the delegates that the Turaki committee was an eye-opener to him and others on the security challenge confronting the nation, and assured them that the Jonathan administration was leaving no stone unturned in nipping the menace in the bud. Engr. Killa recalled this vividly when he spoke with The Tide.
“They (terrorists) have to calm down. To the best of our information, the Deputy Chairman (of the confab, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi) said, he was in the Boko Haram committee and he knew what happened for the period when he was there, so he gave us (delegates) high hopes – that this country should be hopeful that the Federal Government will definitely stand the challenge – and I believe it’s so.
He, however, expressed deep concern, saying “But, my concern is that this Boko Haram people – they are not mystics, they’re not spirits, they are human beings; they live within us, so I can’t understand how a convoy of vehicles will be moving and a whole lot of Nigerian children taken captive from their school in the middle of the night. Yet, there is security (state of emergency). This is where I have my concern but I hope, by and large, we’ll get over it.”
Horsefall told The Tide that security is a very difficult and complex issue, especially when it is ideology-based. To him, this explains why the Boko Haram insurgents still persist in wrecking havoc on the populace, especially on defenceless civilians – a situation, he said, is aggravated by infiltration of foreign terrorists groups in the Boko Haram rank-and-file; but he is hopeful that, like the proverbial saying, “many days for the thief, one…day for the owner of the house,” the nation will overcome it shortly!
His words: “… The current one (Boko Haram) is ideologically-based to some extent and it’s being infiltrated by foreign elements who want to cause trouble all over the world, and they migrate to all zones and all that.. Those who are the practitioners of terrorism must move from place to place, just to ferment trouble.
“… It has reached a stage when (terrorist groups) like AI-Queda and other militant elements all over the world, having acquired so much arms and ammunition and trainings, are looking for troubled spots; and wherever they can find these troubled spots, they just join. I hope Nigeria will do something, not to further degenerate the situation … To stop security threats, especially when they’re ideologically-based, is a very difficult challenge,” adding that, “luckily, the security committee (of the confab, which he was a member) will give it our best shot in ensuring that we surmount it as a nation.”
For Senator Amange, the security problem in the country is traceable to the present system of government being operated in the country, which triggers indolence and parasitism on the part of federating units wherein they depend on the centre for survival and sustenance. To him, the security problem can be successfully tackled if the nation is re-structured.
Amange believed that Jonathan is on the right-track in solving the security problem by inaugurating the National Confab that is charged with the responsibility of discussing Nigeria’s problems, including security, and proffer lasting solution. It, therefore, behoves on the 492 delegates to rise to the occasion.
He thus charged, “Let us settle down and work. Most of these killings (Boko Haram and others) as we notice in motions and counter-motions … if we sit down and work and streamline the activities of Nigeria – restructure Nigeria in a way that the federating units have legal power to work to generate their funds and they, if possible, pay tax to the centre, there will be a lot of autonomy given to the federating units,” which means, being closer to the people, they’ll be able to attend better to their needs and largely prevent insurgency.
Amange regretted, “Today, all the federating units in terms of local governments and states are all beggers. They cannot do anything without coming to the centre to beg for funds; that’s not federation. That’s why we’re calling for strengthening of federating units. And power must devolve, too, to the federating units; the centre must be weakened and the federating units must be strengthened. That’s the way out for Nigeria’s problems, including security.”
In her contribution, Youth Corper Abam condemned the state of insecurity in the country as manifested by the spate of bomb blasts, particularly the Nyanya bomb blast that killed no fewer than 100 persons and inflicted varying degrees of injuries on surviving victims. She told The Tide that President Jonathan was doing his best in the circumstance but would want the security operatives to sit up by doing more than they’re seen to be doing in containing the insurgency. Mallam Idris spoke in the same vein as Miss Abam.