Terrorism, corruption impair national development ― Oladele

• No nation is isolated from terrorism

The immediate past Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes in the House of Representatives, Hon. Kayode Oladele has tasked government at all levels in the country on the need to take proactive steps towards tackling the endemic corruption and terrorism in the country lack of which he described as inimical to national development.

Hon. Oladele who stated this in Lagos at the weekend, while presenting the keynote address on the ‘Impact of Terrorism on national development in Nigeria and the way forward’, at the National Crime Watch Award 2019, held in Lagos, argued that “terrorism is a contemporary national and international reality. No country is immune.

“Terrorist or insurgency groups use violent tactics and propaganda to actualise their goals. This necessarily entails several attacks on soft targets like schools, religious organisations, news media, etc. Terrorist groups also attack hard targets such as military installations.

“United States Army has the nuclear capacity to destroy the whole world. Yes, that may be true but it is also the same country that witnessed the unfortunate September 11, 2000, terrorist attacks where almost 3000 deaths and over 25,000 injured were recorded. The 2005 London attacks killed 52 people and injured more than 700 people; the 2004 Madrid bombing killed nearly 200 people and injured about 2000 others.

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“According to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), from June 2011 through June 2018, 2,021 incidents involving Boko Haram were documented in which 37,530 people were killed even though, the figure represented deaths of alleged Boko Haram fighters,” Hon. Oladele noted.

While expressing concern over the impacts of terrorist activities on Nigeria, Hon. Oladele observed that “Nigeria is losing some attractions, sometimes owing to ignorance or other reasons. For instance, some foreigners strongly believe that Boko Haram is everywhere in Nigeria”.

“To them, every state in Nigeria is affected by the Boko Haram conflict or terrorism. By this token, they don’t see Nigeria and Nigerians beyond the oddities of Boko Haram and terrorism,” he lamented”.

Hon. Oladele who tasked politicians and other public office holders on the need to prioritize human-centred and infrastructural development as well underscored the need to prioritize the welfare of security agencies.

To this end, Hon. Oladele stressed the need for government to put in place necessary facilities for intelligence gathering of suspected terrorists and other criminal elements with a view to rooting them out before perpetrating their heinous crime.

“We must have governments that prioritise development and take it from the lips to actions and visibly measurable positive changes.

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“First is that the Nigerian government must put measures in motion to boost the morale of its patriotic military and other security agencies fighting the insurgents; government must compensate the families of men and officers that die on the frontline. The government must prioritise the lives of those that fight for the country to make anybody wants to die for the country. These men and women deserve our gratitude and appreciation for their willingness to serve this country and help protect our territorial integrity, rights and our freedoms.

“Second, intelligence is of crucial importance. The security operatives already know this but there must be conscious efforts on the part of the government to know who is a Nigerian. We must know the background of our attackers to be able to begin to understand their idiosyncrasies and actions and to guide the implementation of the government’s strategies holistically.

“Sadly, in Nigeria, we just hear about suicide bombers but the identification of their true nationality, citizenship and socialisation of many of them hardly follows. One then begins to wonder where these people come from.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the intelligence system to know that, hence it is difficult to trace their background. A first step is to support the government’s effort to build an information database for all of all Nigerians. We must build the infrastructure to know ourselves more.

“Third and this takes me to my base, we must take the fight against corruption extremely serious. Do you know that corruption can take the money that was originally meant to educate thousands of people and place it in the hands of a single-family or small group of people?

“Experts have informed us that poverty and deprivation are elemental to many of the unconventional warfare in history. Sadly, it is easier to radicalise a poor and ignorant person than a rich and educated fellow. As you know, on a lighter mood, the rich don’t want to die except that death is a natural thing. We live to die. So, my point is that corruption ultimately impoverishes and dehumanise the weakest of our society.

“It is even more disheartening that corruption can also deprive the military of the needed weapons and allow our soldiers to die needlessly. I need not say too much on this but to re-echo what I have been saying for a good part of my career that corruption is evil both to the rich and the poor in our society.

“Fourth is communalism. Recall that I have mentioned the need for building intelligence by developing the necessary information database, now I am turning to the role of the ordinary Nigerians. We must go back to our communal practice when we used to be our brothers and of course our sisters’ keepers.

“Why should a terrorist or an armed robber live in our vicinity and we don’t even know? Why should a ritualist and kidnapper live in our community and we have no knowledge of it? The simple answer to this is that we are losing our sense of commonality. Nigerians find it difficult to even go and make reports to the security agencies because we don’t see it as being useful.

“As a society, we are not even interested in the source of people’s sudden wealth. We have heard of situations where traditional chieftaincy titles have been given to people of questionable characters in society because our traditional rulers do not care to confirm the source of their sudden wealth. The bottom line is that many of those that are today’s terrorist live amongst us as our neighbours or co-tenants or even friends but we are too busy to know the profiles of people we relate or co-habit with,” Hon. Oladele noted.

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