FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, May 16, 2022
okerekeoc@gmail.com

SECURITY AND EGALITARIANISM ARE CRUCIAL INEXTRICABLE FACTORS FOR SURVIVAL OF OUR COUNTRY NIGERIA

ith killings and kidnappings happening every day in different parts of our country, they now appear to become a normal feature of our daily living. Human life seems no longer sacrosanct. Please, permit me to refer to the recent case of Deborah Samuel. Yes, a young lady who was killed in cold blood as organised by her school mates on May 11 at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto. Her killing epitomises the level of depravity to which we have descended as a nation in our value of human life. It is a big shame to us all that we have allowed our country to fall to such a level of evil and savagery.

Mutual respect, equal treatment of every Nigerian irrespective of "tribe and tongue," religion, economic status and political leaning are critical in sustenance of human life and values. This is why the concept of egalitarianism should be one of the bedrocks of national and individual practices which we should also teach our youths and children for our survival as a country.

Therefore, in this paper, the objectives are two folds. Firstly, to review some events that underline our failures in security, fairness and equity. Secondly, to submit that we have to work for security and egalitarianism in our country for our survival.

We seem to be compelled to be living with the various destructive and deadly aspects of insecurity. They worsen in intensity every day, and their perpetrators, get bolder, and seem to get away with whatever they do as shown in the following recent examples which are but the tip of the iceberg:

  • Priest died in the hands of his kidnappers: On May 11, a Catholic Priest, Rev Fr. Joseph Aketeh Bako, died in the hands of his kidnappers after eight weeks that he was kidnapped from his residence in Kudenda community of Chikun local government area of Kaduna State on March 8, 2022.

  • Two soldiers killed and beheaded: On May 3, it was reported that unknown gunmen killed two soldiers at an unknown location in Imo State, a policeman, two brothers and two others in Anambra State. The soldiers were beheaded and dismembered. An Army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed that military authorities received information about the killing of two of their personnel who were travelling for their "traditional marriage formalities" in Imo State when they were attacked by the gunmen.

  • 31 persons killed in a raid: On April 14, it was reported that unknown gunmen killed 31 persons in Ebonyi and Anambra States within 72hours. In case of Ebonyi State, the attack was supposed to have been perpetrated by the "Effium warlords" in the state.

  • 80 persons killed and buried in a mass grave: On April 12, it was reported that on the day before, more than eighty persons were given mass burial and seventy persons kidnapped on Sunday, April 10th, by unknown gunmen in their villages which included Kukawa, Gyambawu, Dungur, Kyaram, Yelwa, Dadda, Wanka, Shuwaka, Gwammadaji, and Dadin Kowa in Plateau State. This information was confirmed by Jonathan Ishaku, spokesman for Plateau Elders Forum.

  • Fulani herders annex people's ancestral land: As published on the Headline of Thursday, May 12, 2022, the Tor Tiv, Professor James Ortese Iorzua Ayatse, alleges herders' plot to seize indigenes' ancestral land.

He said: "There is a change in strategy of the herders. In the olden days, they only moved about with sticks, and if they destroyed any crop, they were very apologetic about it. They would meet with the elders to reconcile, make any necessary payment and everyone moves on. But now, they don't bring sticks; they bring guns and modern ammunitions to terrorise unarmed farmers."

"The killing is still going on, especially the northern flank of Benue border. Herders steal, kill, destroy and rape. They come at night to attack the farmers."

"If they are really grazing, they won't come in the night to attack people in their sleep. It is like they are not just looking for the grass; they also want to take over the land. I think the strategy has changed to violence, confrontation and annexation of the people's land."

Observations

This sad list of killings can be continued for pages on end. The common thread in the list is that the abductors and killers are still at large. They continue with their deadly activities. After each report of killings, there is a footnote that follows. It is : "that the security forces are working hard to apprehend the killers". Sadly, they are neither apprehended nor deterred. They are so bold that in case of the criminals in Ebonyi State, they are described as "war loads", which underlines their notoriety and near state of permanence. They are not just a passing phenomenon.

Attitude of the Government and their security forces and impact on the nation:

The following descriptions, as supported by respective events, seem appropriate:

Insecurity as a business and source of wealth in Nigeria: As posted on Saturday, April 23, 2022, "Attention Military: Over 100 terrorists' hideouts identified in Nigeria" the Retired Army, Navy and Air Force Officers (RANAO) Associations of Nigeria, lamented the Federal Government's inability to solve this unnecessarily prolonged deadly situation of killings and kidnappings. Its National President, Major General Alexander Mshelbwala (rtd.), explained that Nigerians were turning insecurity into a business. He stated that "the Boko Haram terrorists cannot spend more than five days in the bush without food and wondered why the military should allow supply to the terrorists.

Dubious Response of the Government: Similarly, the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El Rufai reportedly insisted that the security forces should storm the forests and kill all the bandits. He admitted that the Nigerian authorities know the camps of the bandits, their identities and listen to the conversations of the terrorists that are terrorising large swaths of the North-west region.

"We know what they (terrorists) are planning. We get the reports. The problem is for the agencies to take action. We should not wait until the terrorists attack before we respond. The Army should go after their enclaves to wipe them out, let the Air Force bomb them," he said. El Rufai lamented that the SSS has informants all over the place sourcing information for the service, but such attacks still happen.

Criminals live in forests: Renewing his call that security forces should bomb bandits out of existence, El-Rufai said he does not believe any innocent person could be in the forests, hence his call for air and ground bombing of the forests, as well as standby ground troops to kill anyone who escapes from the bush.

Nigeria - Tending to a Failed State: One of the certain occurrence in Nigeria is that people are killed every day by unknown gunmen, Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, and other unidentified gunmen. It is the function of a government to protect its citizens. The government of a failed state cannot provide such security for its citizens.

Restructuring: People are being killed and abducted daily, yet it would appear that the focus of the Government is working towards the 2023 elections. It amounts to an abdication of its responsibilities to the nation if the government fails to get rid of the deadly criminals wherever they are in the country.

Restructuring the country such that each geographical zone can restore peace and security in its geopolitical zone. Each zone will maintain law and order in its area. While every zone of the country is affected by the killings and kidnappings, it may be correct to suggest that the Southwest is the area least affected, probably because of the Amotekun forces who try to engage the killers kidnappers wherever they are found. From this, we could infer that peace should be experienced all over the country when and if each zone raised and controlled its security forces. For now, it is clear that the Federal Government is doing a poor job of maintaining peace and security such that our country is drifting to a failed state where the safety of citizens is not guaranteed.

The 2023 Election and Egalitarianism

It has been suggested that restructuring will give every zone in the country the free hand to develop at their pace. The relevance of egalitarianism is the desirability that all Nigerians are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. A major glaring case of inequity is that people from the South East have not produced a President of the country in the recent political dispensation since 1999. It is relevant to examine the following comments by top Nigerian politicians:

South-East for Presidency: On Thursday, May 5th, it was published that Igbo Elders Consultative Forum (IECF), also known as Ime-obi Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, yesterday, warned against the idea of another northerner succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it is a direct invitation to violence across the country. A former Anambra State Governor, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, warned on behalf of the Forum that any attempt by All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to deny the South East region their 2023 presidential tickets would spell doom for Nigeria's corporate existence.

On Wednesday, May 11, 2022, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, reportedly warned again that the South-East should be allowed to produce Nigeria's President in 2023, insisting that it would make for peace, justice, fairness and sustainable national development in the country.

He said: "Federal character, rotation of power and such other measures are meant to help our nation-building process and more sure-footedly, move Nigeria forward" and warned that "riding over these measures rudely, shoddily and roughly cannot augur well for our nation-building process and progress."

A former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, also stated that the South-East is yet to produce the president in the new political dispensation in the country. He stated that for national unity, peace, it's turn of S-East For national unity, peace, it's turn of the South-East

On Wednesday, May 4, Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, condemned unfair treatment meted to the South East through concentration of power in the northern region. He stressed the need for the region to be treated with a sense of belonging and called for political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to zone their presidential tickets to the South East. He said there was no moral justification for keeping people who are not being treated fairly, stressing that the region must be accorded sense of belonging. Clark said it was unacceptable for a region to have a domineering spirit because of its population, adding that those opposed to a South East presidency in 2023 are ready to see the end of Nigeria.

On May 12, Orji Uzor Kalu, said it would be difficult for Nigeria's to have a president of South East extraction under current arrangement. Kalu was justifying his open support for the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who is vying for the presidency in 2023.

Power Will Not Leave The North In The Next Three Decades By Muhammad Lamido Sanusi

Quote:

Bola Tinubu made political miscalculation in 2015 to support Buhari. As it concerns the 2023 presidency, it should be clear to anyone with a functioning brain that President Buhari's North has no intention of relinquishing power to the South-West or any zone for that matter. What many may not have realised, however, is that for the next three decades at least, if ever, and should Nigeria remain one, power will not leave the North. But in projecting, one must always leave space for the law of unintended consequences and the God factor. "

The godfather of Lagos politics, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in 2015 led the South-West into an alliance with the North to birth the All Progressive Alliance (APC). His decision, evidently, was informed by the expectation that the two geopolitical regions will share power, invariably to the exclusion of the Eastern bloc. And ultimately that he, or the South-West, will take power by the time the North completes two terms in 2023. But it has proved to be a miscalculation.

Certainly, power play is about conspiracies and alliances. Tinubu is well within his right to do what he thought would best advance his political interest and that of his region. However, in backing President Muhammadu Buhari, he cut his nose to spite his face. .

Unquote

Reference: Power Will Not Leave The North In The Next Three Decades By Muhammad Lamido Sanusi - Portfolio Media Activities, April 22, 2022

It is unpleasant and indeed scary to read and quote this piece from the main article, but it appears necessary to place all the cards on the table so that we work with our realities as a nation. It certainly would be helpful if there is a correction that Malam Sanusi is reported as being misquoted.

"2023: North now a human abattoir, power should go the Southeast -Arewa groups, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF)"

Quote:

  • It is noteworthy to restate here, that the position of our group, the Arewa Concerned Civil Society Organizations of Nigeria (ACCSON) calling for the rotational presidency among the six geo political zones of the country was as a result of our peculiar regional experiences. Both past and present crop of elected and appointed leaders from within our region have failed us completely. They have failed to meet up with the expectations of our people, and have continued to betray our trust, confidence, and respect for them.

  • For instance, from 1999 to date (which is 22 years now), the North West and North East Zones have produced president, Vice president, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senate Presidents, and Speakers of the House of Representatives. The North Central Zone alone has produced two Senate Presidents in 12 years; a Deputy Senate president and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. Our three zones of the northern region, in total, have produced more Ministers, Services Chiefs and Heads of Governments Agencies more than any other region, yet there is nothing on ground to show for it.

  • Our northern region today has been reduced to a human abattoir, to say the least, where all our communities have been converted to a mass grave due to the failure of government at all levels. For instance, between October 2021 till date, over 150 citizens of northern extraction have been murdered by terrorists in Sokoto state alone, not to talk of Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Benue, Borno and Yobe States. Despite the claims by government that terrorism and violent insurgency is aggressively being fought, the north has remained a killing field.

  • Our country is about the highest importer of arms and ammunition in Africa and our region is seemingly the poverty capital of Nigeria, yet our people occupied and are still occupying the most sensitive positions in government from 1999 till Date.

  • It is therefore the position of our northern umbrella youths coalition, the Arewa Concerned Civil Society Organizations of Nigeria (ACCSON), that since our people in leadership positions in Nigeria cannot bring development, peace, progress, and prosperity to our region, let us try people of other regions, particularly the region or geo-political zone that has not produced a President or Vice president of Nigeria in other to further promote fairness, equity, unity or oneness of the country. Long Live, Nigeria!"

Reference: "2023: North now a human abattoir, power should go the Southeast -Arewa groups, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF)" By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo, Vanguard, Saturday, December 11, 2021

Concluding Remarks

The following concluding remarks appear relevant:

  • The laggard and lackadaisical approach by the Federal Government to fighting the criminals who kill, kidnap and then hide in the forests betrays apparent reluctance to stop and destroy the network of criminals. The Tor Tiv stated clearly that the Fulani herdsmen attack people in the midnight, kill, rape and burn their houses because they want to take over their ancestral land. These atrocities are not compatible with the peace-loving herdsmen of yesteryears who go about with staff and relate peacefully with people they cross their areas.

  • Congratulations to the South-West on the achievements of their Amotekun security outfit. The South-East and other zones should realise that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. They should organise their security teams for their own protection. A situation in which the Government is lukewarm in rounding up and flushing out the beastly killers all over the country should alert each zone to the necessity of taking the responsibility of protecting its people.

  • On the elections, currently, many politicians are paying millions of naira to register for the party primaries as its presidential candidates. It is surprising that so many people can make the payments for sums which should be in multiples of their salaries. Most of these are working with the current government which flaunts anti-corruption claims. Moreover, the government has been hunting down former politicians on charges of embezzlement and misuse of public fund. Their actions beg the question; from where did these current ministers find the millions of Naira for their registrations?

  • Moreover, will there be any election or are these present activities just a window-dressing exercise while the North has made up its mind on how to retain the power so that it will not go South for many "decades if ever"?

  • Still more relevantly, for fairness and equity as required in an egalitarian society, the South-East should be given the opportunity to produce the President in 2023. Thankfully, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Falae, Chief Edwin Clark, all have joined the Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, to make the point. Any Igbo politician making a contrary statement is speaking for himself and not for the Igbos. The leaders, referred to earlier, have warned that deliberate marginalisation of any group or tribe will perpetuate the current insecurity. For peace and survival, we need a country where no group is marginalised and oppressed; that is an egalitarian society where brotherly love is encouraged.

  • If we wish to make progress, we should stop maintaining the status quo. The current situation, in which politicians, and other industry and business leaders, etc., have their wealth in billions of Naira while millions of our countrymen go hungry is not safe, fair and secure. On poverty in Nigeria in 2022, according to Doris Dokua Sasu, a research expert for Statista; it is estimated that 88.4 million people in Nigeria live in extreme poverty. The number of men living on less than 1.90 U.S. dollars a day in the country reached around 44.7 million, while the count was at 43.7 million for women. Overall, 12.9 percent of the global population in extreme poverty were found in Nigeria as of 2022. Reference: Nigeria: people in extreme poverty by gender 2016-2022 | Statista

  • In view of the foregoing, where some people are living in their billions of Naira while a large percentage of men and women are living in abject poverty. Should we continue the way we are going for "decades" and expect to survive and make progress as a country? It does not stand to reason. Millions of country men are starving and going hungry. It does not matter from which tribe they come from; our country men should not be starving. We should have employment for graduates and youths whether they are Igbos, Ibibio, Yorubas, Fulani, Hausa, etc. .

  • We have a country that is in urgent need of restructuring in every aspect, including technically and industrially. There was a clip of a train stuck on the tracks because of lack of fuel. A drum of fuel was being rolled to the stationary train to fuel it. There was another clip of an aeroplane with its engine on, and it was being pushed by over eight persons on its wheels to move it, on the runway. These two surprising and most unexpected events were never designed to happen. They are clearly symptomatic and pointers to the absence of a working engineering management system in our national industrial system.

  • Buhari's presidency introduced the Fulanisation of top offices in the Armed Forces and Federal public services. Other tribes protested and demanded equity and the practice of federal character as enshrined in the country's constitution. There has been disunity. There has also been the invasion of various states of the country by Fulani herdsmen. The country's forests have been invaded by the herdsmen, bandits, unknown gunmen. The country has known no peace with the killings, kidnappings, burning of houses, etc. It is clear that no one profits from this situation.

  • No Nigerian should be killed, irrespective of their tribe, religion and tongue. Our youths should be trained and educated to be productively engaged and not live in the forests where they are taught kidnapping and banditry as a business. Equality and mutual respect of every Nigerian should yield peace. Our country is in desperate need of political, social, technical and economic restructuring because we are failing in all aspects.

  • With the 2023 election taking centre stage in our country's affairs, how will our country be rescued? Shall we continue with the status quo of killings, marginalisation and failed social, technical and economic systems while our country is bleeding for restructuring.

For egalitarianism, which is equality of opportunities, the South-East should be given the chance to provide the President and work to restructure this country. Nigerians of this and the future generations, irrespective of tribes, religion, etc., deserve a country that is safe and working where everyone is equal and treated with equity.

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