INSECURITY in Nigeria is a toxic rain pouring down like rubber bullets on innocent citizens. And when you expect it to subside, it keeps pouring down again and again. The residents of the northeastern part of the country have asked, how can we stop it? The governor of Katsina, Aminu Masari, has said the armed bandits are betrayers following a peace agreement earlier negotiated with them. On 9th June, not less than 69 people were killed by suspected members of Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group. Sources told Reuters that armed men arrived on motorcycles and in vehicles, shooting with assault rifles, razing the village and stealing 1,200 cattle and camels. Not too long ago, precisely in February, Boko Haram killed at least 30 people burning alive and shooting people sleeping in their cars and trucks outside the Nigerian town of Auno. Men of calibre from the region have asked, who have we offended? Residents in Borno are asking where do we go from here? Their villages have been massacred, their towns burnt, their schools besieged and kids kidnapped. Young guys have been captured and killed like animals the blood of innocent citizens have continued to be spilled like that of animals.
So many unimaginable abnormalities have been committed, yet our security agencies have consistently failed to end the carnage. In a certain village in Zamfara State, they were tired of the siege from the cattle rustlers and kidnapping gangs who had raided, killed and looted their homes and as such they fetched water with vat, organised and armed themselves with locally made single-shot muskets against the almighty AK 47: what happened was a gory attack on the villages and its environs. Common sense shows that without external backings, sustainable funding, weapons supplies and intelligence support, they would have been defeated by our military. Rather than withdrawing to their shell, they have continued to expand their influence in the northern part of the country, launching incessant terrorist attacks and killing thousands of innocent civilians.
Generally in these sections, persisting insecurity has continued to be the main obstacle to education and development with bandits assuming increasingly violent tactics now and then. Conflicts are spiraling out of control, the clashes between herdsmen and farmers have spread into the South: Ondo, Ekiti, Enugu, Kogi, Kwara , Anambra, among others. The way we graze cattle in the 21st century is to say the least antiquated. The emphasis should be on modernisation of cattle rearing which will maximise the benefits therein in terms of job creation, food security and ultimately end the farmers and herdsmen conflicts in Nigeria. Countries like India, China, USA and Pakistan with large populations depend on milk and dairy products to fight hunger, malnutrition, unemployment and promote social harmony. India for instance, has an annual production of 163 million metric tonnes of milk which is about 10 per cent of the world’s output. The milk produced in these farms are collected, pasteurized and packed in local dairy plants for local and worldwide consumption as infant foods, cheese, yoghurt, butter and other dairy products. With vast lands available in the north, Nigeria can make huge revenue that will dwarf other known export items. Why can’t we borrow a leaf? Or perhaps even giraffes for solutions?
The Federal Government had on several occasions engaged constructively with neighboring countries like Cameroon, Niger, Chad, to curb terrorism but this has not yielded the expected results. Rather, the threat is spreading and destabilizing the entire regions. Although early in the year, Chadian army officials report military forces have killed about 1,000 Boko Haram extremists in an operation on the islands of Lake Chad. However, about 52 Chadian army soldiers were killed and nearly 200 others wounded during the operation. And when the people expect that a joint effort will exterminate Boko Haram, they are mistaken. In Mali, terrorist groups have launched regular attacks against local and international security forces, including the Blue Helmets serving in MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali]. The reaction of the Chadian authorities has been primarily military, both in the Lake region and through interventions in neighbouring countries. A state of emergency was imposed in November 2015 and has been renewed several times. Violence has spilled over into Burkina Faso and Niger with an alarming number of recent attacks.
With insecurity reaching alarming proportions, tension has spiraled into the South, making other regions to take steps to their regions. Consider the creation of Amotekun in the South West. The East is planning to follow suit and other regions are coming together to prevent a situation like that of the North-East. Where do we go from here? Who have we offended? What do the bandits want from us? So many unanswered questions. The nefarious activities of the bandits have reached alarming proportions, crippling the North-East with meagre basic services available for the people to enjoy. It was in January 2019 when the former Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima broke down in tears as he appealed for help for his state during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
As the trauma of terrorism continues to do lasting damage to individuals, families and communities, I dream of living in a society where citizens would sleep with two eyes closed without apprehension. I dream of a region where children won’t have to roam the streets convulsing from hunger and hopelessness, and in search of crumbs. I appeal to the international community to give us more support to strengthen national capacity and resilience against terrorism in Nigeria.
- Anjorin, an inspirational speaker and entrepreneur, writes in from Lagos.
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