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Nigeria: Stopping the slide

Without any iota of doubt, the current spiraling level of impunity, brigandage, disregard for law and order, systematic erosion of confidence in the state are indicative of a gradual descent into anarchy. These, invariably, are huge features of state failure.

It is more comprehensible when viewed from the prism that state failure occurs when a nation cannot protect itself from internal and external aggression. The second being when a state fails to fulfill its basic obligations of ensuring the welfare of its people, thereby losing their confidence, its own legitimacy thereby hanging its existence precariously on the precipice.

The recent attacks on the Nigeria Correctional Centre, Owerri and arson committed on the country home of the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, the incineration of the Police Headquarters in Anambra State, the brazen killing of 12 soldiers in Benue State, concertedly underscore the level of barefaced return to a state of anomie. Indeed, watching the burial ceremony of the 12 soldiers, with their coffins draped in the country’s national colours not to long ago, evoked a spirit of betrayal and despondency on the part of Nigerian troops, especially when the civil population these soldiers swore to defend with their blood were the ones who inflicted fatal injuries on them.

With the benefit of hindsight, the attack on the soldiers also underscored the civilian population, especially the perpetrators of these heinous crimes had forgotten so soon or feigned ignorance of soldiers’ abhorrence of such audacious attacks from civilians.

For instance, following the murder of some soldiers in Katsina Ala and Zak Biam in the same Benue State in 2005, the soldiers, in glaring penchant for vengeance fell short of erasing the latter community, killing hundreds of civilians. The same was replicated in Odi, in Bayelsa State. Similarly, if the attack on and incineration of the Anambra State Police Command by the dozens of heavily armed gunmen was daring, the havoc wrecked on the National Custodial Centre, Owerri, was more puzzling. The incident, described as act of terrorism also led to the forceful release of over 1,800 convicts and awaiting trail inmates into the streets.

Equally frightening was the fact that the attackers wielded machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives devices used for blasting their way through the administrative block to gain entrance to the correctional centre. While the country attempted to process the dastardly act in the Imo attack, it was confronted by another bloody incident in the killing of some soldiers, policemen and customs officers at the boundary between Imo and Rivers states. The entire scenario spews of aversion for the state and its agents.

Sad as the nation grapples with the current terrorists’ attacks and recurrent cases of kidnap for ransom in many parts of the country, the introduction of unashamedly and unprovoked attacks on state agents by civilians and various groups in other parts of the country are most condemnable.

Equally perplexing is the attacks on policemen at checkpoints, as observed from a video which trended on the social media recently; brazen confrontation or wrestling with traffic officers like the operatives of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, (LASTMA).

This development has compelled the Lagos State government to install body cameras on its operatives for their personal safety and provision of undeniable audiovisual evidence to address consequences of any interaction with the public.

It goes without saying that these intolerable acts negate the philosophy behind the principle and practice of statehood, whereby the public granted legitimacy to the government through the submission of their individual powers to the former.

The resort to reversing such powers outside democratic process only returns man to the Hobbesian state of nature, and the incalculable consequences of resorting to self-help or selfgovernment are anarchy and brutality, as life would become brutish, poor and short, and development would be elusive.

Continuous intimidation and killing of state agents, especially those enforcing the law reminiscent of the case during the #EndSARS protests which culminated in the killing of 73 persons, including 22 policemen, and destruction of over 205 critical national security assets, can cause more setbacks to the country.

The gradual return to lawlessness has the propensity to drive foreign direct investments, kill existing ones by forcing them to close down and retrench their staff as witnessed currently in Borno State, the theatre of terrorists attack, and could lead to another civil war. We therefore, call for immediate ceasefire and return to civil and legal means of resolving whatever conflict and agitations which must have provoked these attacks. No amount of rationalization, including claims of marginalization, politicians’ insensitivity to the people’s aspirations and nepotism can justify these attacks.

The government should stop living in denial by merely pointing accusing fingers, instead of showing leadership, building its political, economic and social institutions. Government must address legitimate needs of the people and the regions, most of whom are frustrated by the Nigerian state. The public and private sectors should spare no efforts to rescue the Nigerian state, educate and reassure the people, ensure justice and equity because Nigeria cannot afford to be on the road to Rwanda.




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