By GODSON O. MONEKE
THE primary purpose of government is to ensure the security of lives and property for citizens and those who come into the country’s geographical space, either as residents or tourists. Any government that cannot guarantee this purpose calls into question its very essence and legitimacy.
The current commander in chief came into office with tremendous goodwill owing to what was perceived as his experience as a tested army general. As a result, high hopes were placed on his ability to guarantee the security of lives and property for Nigerians and their guests. Prior to his emergence, security was a problem for the sitting government owing to activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram.
But then, insecurity was largely restricted to the North-East geopolitical zone, unlike now when it affects all parts of the country. I spent a lot of my hard-earned money selflessly printing and distributing campaign posters for the current president because I believed him to be a no-nonsense frugal army general imbued with an incorruptibility mien at the time.
Mercifully, in 2015, he was elected president, and I rejoiced that our security problems and the cankerworm of corruption would go away with him on the saddle. Alas, our hopes were dashed. The security problem has assumed a hydra-headed dimension: no part of this country is safe; even the seat of the Federal Government is under the continuous threat of terrorists.
Apart from the threat posed by terrorists, there have been all manner of clashes and bloodletting of dimensions unknown in the history of this country. A security emergency that was apparently restricted to some local governments in the North-East geopolitical zone of the country has now spread to the North-West, North-Central, South-West, South-South and South-East geopolitical zones.
When the current government came into office in 2015, there was tremendous hope that the release of the Chibok girls, whose abduction and kidnapping were blamed on the ineptitude of the former administration, was going to be secured by the new government. We are now in 2023, and most of the girls are still in the captivity of the terrorists and unaccounted for.
In fact, another kidnapping even happened in nearby Dapchi during the reign of the current government, with one of the victims, Miss Leah Sharibu, yet to be released by the terrorists because of her Christian faith.
Even more intriguing and curious is that the governor of Borno State at the time, who was accused of ineptitude while the Boko Haram and other terrorist groups ravaged the state, is today the vice presidential candidate of the ruling party.
He has not even bothered to exonerate himself of the accusations against him. This is the pinnacle of insensitivity in my opinion. The menace of the armed bandits has proven intractable in the North-West geopolitical zone, and many lives and property have been lost as a result.
We are regularly told that bandits now levy taxes on Nigerian citizens who are constantly forced to pay protection fees to them. The other day, the governor of Zamfara State, in frustration, threatened to allow citizens of the state to bear arms in self-defence, but our law enforcement agencies were quick to condemn such a possibility; yet they are not doing much to protect the people who are left vulnerable before the armed bandits.
In the same Zamfara State, the leader of one of the bandit groups was turbaned with a chieftaincy title by the traditional ruler of one of the communities, and in the public glare and the security agencies. After escaping back to his enclave and habitat, the security agencies declared the bandit leader wanted. The community leader may have given the bandit leader the chieftaincy title out of desperation to buy the protection for his community.
The other day, the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, publicly complained that part of his state had been taken over by armed bandits. In fact, all the governors in the North-West geopolitical zone are made to look helpless in the face of the many security threats in their domains. Rather than solve the security challenges, the security agencies would choose to engage him in a war of words.
Yet we have security agencies that are tested, well trained and one of the best in Africa. The terrorists were audacious enough to attack an Abuja-bound train, killing some passengers and kidnapping others. How heartless and pathetic can those in authority be?
A government that can behave this way in its own affairs would not bother to even ask any questions in the numerous cases of kidnaps and killings of passengers in privately owned commercial and noncommercial vehicles all over country, where kidnappings, murders and extortions are rampant. The question to ask now is: Is security of lives and property still the primary purpose of government in Nigeria, or are the terrorists steadily overwhelming the security operatives?
What I expected the president to do in the circumstance was to give a firm order for the security agencies to wipe out the terrorists in their marked hideouts and locations. But I have not seen any preemptive action by the Federal Government, probably because they are still treating it as a joke.
The other day, there was a bombing at a Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, in which many lives were lost and property destroyed. This was followed in succession by the invasion and sporadic shootings at a construction site, leading to extensive destruction of property and injuries to human beings in the same Owo.
Although the security agencies apprehended some of the culprits, others are still on the run. How much is the life of a Nigerian worth? Who does this government want to be killed before it can sit up and act to show that this is getting out of hand. Nobody expected that things would be like this when we were campaigning for democratic regime change in 2015.
Despite these flaws, it is on record that this government has not presided over a series of unexplained political killings and assassinations, as was common in some previous regimes. Neither has it tolerated ridiculous unconstitutional impeachments where the Federal Government encouraged minority legislators to override the majority and unconstitutionally impeach elected governors as happened in Oyo, Bayelsa, Plateau and Ekiti states.
This Federal Government never encouraged some boastful and federally-connected individuals to abduct an elected governor with all his constitutional immunity, as happened in Anambra State. However, this government is notorious for the emasculation of democratic institutions and has done serious harm to our democratic evolution and development as a country.s
Moneke, a quantity surveyor, socio-political analyst, commentator and critic wrote from Lagos.