LAST week, I discussed the call by some Governors for the citizens of their state to take up arms against their invaders. As I noted, not only is such a call impracticable in view of the nature of sophisticated weapons utilized by the said invaders, it also amounts to a betrayal of the government’s inability to fulfill its primary constitutional mandate to ensure the security and welfare of the citizenry – and a breach of the social contract by which the people surrender their individual rights in exchange for the government’s mandate to maintain social order.
Recently, the news of the attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) inundated the print and digital media space, an attack viewed by many as a mockery of the nation’s entire defence and security apparatus and architecture. It conveyed a sad, unsettling, and undeniable message – that nowhere, no parastatal, no government institution or agency is impenetrable, unreachable, or secure. The attack which reportedly led to the death of two senior officers, and the kidnap and eventually murder of an army Major, was, according to The Sun, a strike on the soul of the nation. The NDA is not an ordinary institution. It is not an amusement park. It is not a tourist centre. It is an elite military academy that represents the centrepiece of our national defence, security, policy, planning, training, and management. The NDA ought to have been fortified against foreseen and unforeseeable attacks of any kind. Sadly, it was not. If criminals, bandits, and terror groups can kidnap schoolchildren easily, ransack and loot school property regularly, indiscriminately bomb places of worship, motor parks, and places where people gather, the NDA should have been extremely difficult for terror groups to infiltrate.
Not long thereafter, another report hit the news media of the killing of Senator Na’Allah’s son, one Captain Abdulkarim ibn Na’Allah who was a trained pilot, by bandits who strangled him to death. To date, there has been no fruitful investigation to unravel the mystery behind his death, or to reveal who the actual culprits are. The state of security in Nigeria has called for a major effort to be carried out by the government, and certainly not merely calling for the people to rise up and defend themselves. It reminds me of a popular quotation from Geofrey Chaucer’s ‘The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales’ that if gold rusts, what will the iron do? If the Nigerian Defence Army, an elite military academy with well-armed and properly trained soldiers, is not immune to being attacked, what then is the fate of the common people who are otherwise unarmed or poorly armed in the hands of these bandits who run roughshod of the nation’s security apparatus?
The answer certainly lies in the government doing more to curb the incidences of insecurity in Nigeria. According to the UNDP, there are seven factors of security deemed as constituting the concept of human security. This includes food security, health security, political security, community security, personal security, economic security and environmental security. The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) recognises four major steps to tackle insecurity in Nigeria. First, for security to be maintained, the Nigerian government should seek necessary assistance in reviewing the current security policies, to ensure continuous peace and stability. This means that the country should take on long term policies designed to handle micro security and counterterrorism. These policies should include the involvement of the different sectors with a sense of accountability in the security process. Second, as part of the cause of contemporary security issues revolves around religious activities, funding should be made available to independent bodies to intercede during religious unrest, and also create platforms to foster peaceful coexistence among the religious groups. Third, vital to security of any country is transparency of the government in power; this is pertinent to the Nigerian government particularly in the management of the oil sector and distribution of wealth; and fourth, the need to set up a functional Human Rights commission to handle cases of injustice and mistreatment.
Corruption and Insecurity
It has equally been recognised that the cause of security issues is due to the misplaced priorities and corruption practices of the serving government, including the legislative and judicial arms of government. There is certainly a directly linkage between corruption and insecurity. According to the 2020 report of Transparency International, Nigeria ranks 149th on a list of 180 countries. No doubt, corruption is endemic in the Nigerian social apparatus and the governance, without exception. Every year, Nigeria is continually listed amongst the most corrupt and crime-ridden countries. Many businesses cannot hope to survive or thrive without having to resort to corrupt practices. Sometimes ago, a foreign investor who left Nigeria attributed its decision to the prevalence of corruption.
Things have become so bad that one cannot but see comparisons between our present state and the words of Ayn Rand in her novel “Atlas Shrugged”, published in 1957, where she wrote the following: “When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing. When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours. When you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you, when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice, you may know that your society is doomed.”
The Global Journal of Human-Social Science: Political Science reports that corruption remains one of the greatest challenges to security in the country. The connection between corruption and insecurity is not far-fetched. Corruption fans the embers of poverty, crimes and by extension insecurity. For instance, armed robbery, cultism, terrorism, disease, unemployment and other factors which lead to insecurity are directly or indirectly related to corruption. The advent of militancy, kidnapping and terrorism in Nigeria can be traced to corruption. In the Niger Delta region where militancy first occurred, it was championed by political thugs who were initially recruited by corrupt politicians prior to elections in the region. These thugs who became idle after the elections had no other job but found one in the form of militancy which eventually metamorphosed into bombing of oil installations and kidnapping of foreign oil workers for ransom. Despite amnesty granted to the militants leading to the sheathing of sword, kidnapping for ransom or rituals spread across the country and to date, many find it a ‘lucrative’ business. The same is also true of the North-East where the Boko Haram sect continues to make life insecure for citizens, extending their frontiers down South. Like their predecessors, Niger Delta militants, many of the sect members were once political thugs. The Nigerian security apparatus has never been immune from the incidence of corruption, and this has made it difficult for security workers to effectively perform their duties or for policies to work effectively.
Corruption characterised the various military regimes in Nigeria, especially the regimes of Ibrahim Babangida and SaniAbacha who looted public treasury for personal gains. To date, the recipient foreign countries of the Abacha lootings have been repatriating the funds back to the country.
Though this series commenced from an insight into the call by the certain governors for their citizens to rise up the security challenges bedevilling their communities, one cannot but further explore the root cause of the current security situation in Nigeria which is largely attributable to corruption which is rocking the very essence of the nation’s socio-economic and security apparatuses. There is more to be done by both the citizenry and the government in curbing corruption which will have an attendant ripple effect in bolstering the security situation in the nation. I encourage the convenance of a Sovereign National Conference towards revisiting the institutional, security, socio-economic, and political structure of Nigeria. By its very design, a Sovereign National Conference is convened to carry out political transformation. As I once noted in an editorial, it is appropriate where the economic, political and social structures seem incapable of solving the problems of the country as it is in Nigeria today so that instead of resorting to arms, a peaceful and orderly change can take place. The operative word, “sovereign” in a Sovereign National Conference connotes that the body is not merely advisory or consultative. Rather, it will be an assembly of elected representatives of the Nigerian people, backed by an enabling law, with the mandate and power to fundamentally restructure the political, economic, social, and constitutional future of the country.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, SAN, OFR, CON, FNIALS, FCIArb., LLD.
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