Recent goings-on in the country has only further shown why Nigeria is struggling to get a grip with the rising rate of insecurity that has pervaded the length and breadth of the nation. Unfortunately, the situation may not drastically improve despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to finally change his security chiefs during the week, because of some of the factors enumerated below. In the first instance, a couple of weeks ago a Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo went public with his demand that Fulani herdsmen must leave Oyo State.
Speaking on a Yoruba programme of an Ibadan-based radio station on January 19, Adeyemo, who is also called ‘Igboho’, said: “One Jabele called my attention to how herdsmen are killing, kidnapping Yoruba people in the area and how their Seriki collects ransom from their victims. I intervened after the leaders called me to do so.” Speaking further he said: “I went to the Seriki and I insisted that those who killed Doctor Aborode, Alhaja and others must be fished out.
“What surprised us is that they said the President was one of them. They boasted that only President Muhammadu Buhari can order them out, but I insisted that if that was the case, all of them should leave if they cannot produce the killers and abductors of Yoruba people.”
These utterances, not made in private but on the radio should have been enough to get the attention of security agencies. They then ought to have had a quiet word with him and if need be put him under surveillance. And if they felt that he was not ready to back down, could have invited him for a formal chat where they would explain to him why they want him to tone down his rhetoric and not overheat an already dicey situation.
Instead, nothing appears to have been done and last week Friday Adeyemo was at Igangan in Ibarapa area of Oyo State to make good his threat and ejected Seriki Fulani, Sa-lihu Abdukadir and other Fulani. Of course, his action naturally further stoked tensions across the already fragile South West/North fault line, but even though he was wrong to have taken the law into his hands, to a large extent, one will not be wrong in arguing that the Federal Government allowed this to happen by their apparent inaction towards the actions of the herdsmen.
For long, many, especially farmers, had been crying out over the antics of these ‘killer herdsmen’ who had been dubbed as one of the ‘deadliest groups’ in the world by the Global Terrorism Index, and despite this, the government had not taken any firm action to checkmate them.
The fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is of Fulani origin has further coloured the already ethnic melody of the country that the government is pussyfooting because of this fact. Rather, it was the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which has been in the forefront of pushing for the creation of ‘Biafra’, which was the Independent Republic declared by Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu for three years, 1967 through 1970 during the Civil War and which had been largely peaceful in this agitation, that was proscribed after the Federal High Court in Abuja labelled the IPOB a terrorist organisation on September 18, 2017.
Which brings me to the second reason why we are lagging seriously in trying to battle the scourge of terrorism, banditry and other anti-social vices bedevilling the nation, and that is Nnamdi Kanu. Kanu formally founded the group in 2012 but had been drumming up support for his cause when he began to make broadcasts on Radio Biafra, which was established in 2009.
This was a radio station from London that broadcast messages that called for “freedom of Biafrans” and criticised corruption in the government of Nigeria. Kanu was finally arrested by Nigerian security forces on October 19, 2015, on charges of “sedition, ethnic incitement and treasonable felony.” And after previously being detained without trial for over a year, was finally arraigned on November 8, 2016 for charges of criminal conspiracy, membership of an illegal organisation and intimidation.
He was granted bail after several public agitations including World Igbo Summit Group in April 2017 because of health concerns that the judge said needed better medical attention that could not be provided by the prison. Kanu then disappeared after September 2017 after an attack on his home village, Umuahia by security agencies. And yet, despite being one of the most wanted people in Nigeria, he was not put under surveillance, which meant the IPOB leader was able to slip out of the country to continue his agitation abroad.
How he was able to evade the security dragnet is still shrouded in mystery but it only further exposed the lapses in the nation’s security and intelligence architecture. If they were unable to keep a tab on just one man how can they keep tabs on the myriad of people and groups fermenting trouble across the land? Like I have noted in some previous writeups, without proper intelligence, there is no way decisive action can be taken against the bad guys, who are aware of this which is why they operate with such impunity.
Finally, another glaring reason for why our security situation is where it is now is the failure of high ranking government officials to acknowledge that the situation is dire. On Monday the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed insisted that Nigeria’s security situation under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was better than 2015. He said: “I can say without hesitation that, though Nigeria is facing security challenges, the situation is far better than what we met in 2015.” But in all honesty, I do not know how many Nigerians share this view, considering that virtually no part of the nation is safe anymore.
Six years ago, the lawlessness was mainly confirmed to the North-Eastern part of the country, but now even the relative peaceful South West is now caught up in the scourge as was the case last weekend of Alhaja Morenikeji Salami, who was shot around Idofe, Oru-Awa area of Ijebu North Local Government Area of Ogun State, while trying to reverse after running into a herd of cattle, while at her new work-site. The woman who lost her thumb and had her jaw shattered by bullets was even lucky to be alive to tell her tale because she had to play dead, if not they were ready to finish her off!
Thus, though Alhaji Mohammed’s claims are highly debatable, what is not is that something fast has to be done to stop the slide so that people can finally sleep with their two eyes closed, move around the country without fear of being abducted and what happened Alhaja Salami will no longer be the norm but a rare occurrence!