I once told a friend, Sylvester Asoya, a journalist and writer, that if something was not urgently done, the Nigerian state would degenerate to a point where gangs, would be carving out territories to control within the country. We do not need anyone to tell us, we are almost there. The story is rife and the ugly daily incidents in many parts of the country are a clear testament. Nobody wants to count the daily figures as regards deaths from criminal gangs, who have smartly devised ways of getting their own cut of the national cake. Akin to what was happening at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we all sit by and wait for the daily figures of casualties. We know it would happen, the only thing we do not know is where.
I do not believe the government does not have the capacity to contain this. It is just the political will. And that is what has been fuelling the speculations that there is ‘agenda’. This speculations gained wings recently with the developments in Afghanistan, a country (can it really be called one?) that has been closely ranked with ‘our lovely Nigeria’ on many ugly indices: terrorism, poverty, corruption, abuse of human rights, misery index etc. With the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, many Nigerians believe, those fighting to foist their religious intentions on Nigeria, would be emboldened to continue. The matter is however being complicated with the apparent lack of will to police our northern borders very well.
One may argue that Nigeria is vast, but it appears there is no country in the world where foreigners have a free-entry-free-exit jamboree like it happens in Nigeria. These uncontrolled movements have been blamed for the rising criminal activities in the country, where ugly actions of armed herders are blamed on the foreign Fulani herders. But how did they come into the country with all the Immigration personnel out there? Who has been punished for that infraction? As close as Mexicans are to US, their borders are water-tight. What we see here is a huge contrast, especially in the north, where these movements have remained rampant in spite of the huge risks they constitute to the larger part of the country.
Senator Saidu Dansadau, has raised the alarm about a new armed group similar to Boko Hram, that has infiltrated the local gangs in one of the afflicted towns in Zamfara State. A national newspaper quoted the senator thus: “Later, the armed group said the forest is not comfortable for them. They relocated to Kumyambana forest in Dansadau Emirate and began to carry out their activities there. We believe the group consists of Nigerians and other foreign nationals and are making the bandits hibernating in the forest very scared and uncomfortable because bandits run away at the sight of the members of the armed group. It is really very frightening because they want to have a base there, forget about what they are preaching that bandits should stop attacking communities or farmers. They want get a credit of bringing back peace to the area so that they win the hearts of the highly traumatised locals there. In this situation, whoever is coming with a promise to stop attacks on communities will win the favour of people. Our fear is that at the end they will start carving a territory from that area.”
As much as Nigerians are lumped under one nation, it is pertinent that we understand where our differences lie and respect same! Some parts of the country may love the command-and-rule approach the gangs encroaching from the northern hemispheres are foisting on the people, others abhor such and would resist it squarely. They may not want roles for women in their midst, others not only want their women to be elevated, but also dress appealingly for the men. The only thing you may like about alcohol, could be the tax from it, other cultures consume it. You may like to be called the Sultan of Shuwa Arab Emirate, do well and keep it in your home town, not in Edo State. You do not have to bring your cows to my farm to feed when my fowls and goats are caged in my house and are fed by me.
Reviewing the security architecture is paramount. With the reality of today’s world, it will not hurt if all the 6 regions in Nigeria, have their separate armed forces, controlled by a national military, whose actions will be determined by the decision of at least 4 of the 6 regional forces. Extreme remedies are appropriate for extreme situations.
I heard President Buhari insisting that he would not leave office a failure even as his administration is at its twilight, well it is possible, if he would have the political will to give Nigeria what it most deserves now which is a future. He must make cautious efforts to redeem the future of Nigeria by putting in place structures that would ensure that. The clamour for restructuring should not just be political rhetoric, he must make it real. PMB must know that laying a foundation on which the country would grow henceforth is more important than conducting a Presidential Election in 2023, which is programmed to be a flop anyway.
If he must not fail, let him put action to words and bring all Nigerians to talk about how they would live. That is what Nigeria needs now.