Women and growing insecurity in Nigeria

I have just watched the video of the interview that Edmund Obilo had with Modupe Oyetoso, the inspiring female-farmer in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State who was recently the victim of kidnapping that resulted in the untimely death of her fiancee through gunshot during the encounter. I was so emotionally affected listening to her retelling the harrowing experience she had with the kidnappers that I didn’t know when I gave in to tears. Here was a living example of the strength, vision, dreams and promise that women and girls hold for the entire society being subjected to untold suffering just because she was pursuing a dream she would use to help lift the country and humanity through the provision of employment to so many people while also producing sorely needed food items in her farm.  And to believe that after all the near death experience for Modupe, she just could not do away with her dream of getting her farm to the height she wants even while lamenting the truncating of the dreams of her fiancee. She has the inner strength to not be dissuaded from her dreams as she is back on the farm with faith in God.

The faith she does not have, of course, is that in the government of Nigeria and Oyo State as she couldn’t believe that the Oyo State Government would have heard of all the killings and raping of women and girls in Ibarapa by the herdsmen all these days and months without doing anything about them.  She could only think of that reality and then decided to help by coming out with her own harrowing story if only that would help to spur the Oyo State Government into action on the issue of the growing insecurity in Ibarapa and the whole of Oyo State and indeed the country arising from the actions of herdsmen on the roads and on the various farms scattered across the country. Unfortunately, Modupe here is simply living on the usual hope of women and their capacity to believe that things have not gone beyond reasonability and that we have to put hope in government being alive to its responsibility always. This in spite of being repeatedly disappointed many times over by succeeding governments in Nigeria.

The truth, however, despite the hopeful outlook from Modupe Oyetoso is that governments here are not only irresponsible, but have proven to be very incompetent and grossly unable to act as government or perform the basic responsibility of government in providing protection and security to citizens. If not, why should citizens be made sitting ducks for abberant itinerant herdsmen to pluck out for kidnapping and rape and killing without government caring a hoot?

We have all these liliputians in government who simply do not know what governance is all about beyond scaring people on the roads and streets with the outlandish sirens of their crazy and unconscionable convoys. It is said that because more than 80 percent of health and care workers in Africa are women, women have borne the greater burden of covid-19 infection and death and they are also bearing the burden of catering to their families when they lose their husbands to death through the virus. The same way it is reported that women suffer more sexual and domestic violence under the coronavirus pandemic just as they bear the burden of insecurity more through not just killings like men, but the typical women burden of sexual violence like rape and other assaults. The implication is that women must see the growing insecurity in Nigeria as a direct problem for women with this requiring their concerted action since they are bearing most of the burden and impact.

We would expect that women should not just listen to the harrowing tales from Modupe Oyetoso and other women victims and then wring their hands in resignation and surrender after crying for the suffering of the victims, they must respond to these tales as a call to action for them to unitedly rise up to request firm and responsible and responsive actions from all those who have responsibilities to provide security and protection for the people. Women must take the gauntlet and organise themselves through their various organisations and cooperative societies to show that they would no more accept excuses for the continuing insecurity in the country through which women are made to suffer untold hardship. The growing insecurity in Nigeria does not just call for action by activists and freedom-loving groups and individuals, women must also seriously stand up to be counted on the issue in order to show that they are tired of the ineffectual responses of governments to date.

 

  • Yakubu is of the Department of Mass Communication, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Nigeria.

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