Nigeria: A shadow of itself by Duruibe Stanley Chigozie

“If an insurgency lasts for more than 24 hours, then, know that the government has a hand in it”

The late military Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

There are certain minor issues which basic governance ought to handily fix. For instance, a government that cannot deal with a rudimentary issue like keeping the environment clean and healthy by merely providing waste disposal bins at every strategic point in the streets and also setting up refuge disposal and recycling mechanisms should not be expected to deliver on thorny issues such as the protection of lives and property, provision of modern infrastructural facilities. Also, a government that cannot keep its environment clean cannot be trusted to provide valuable leadership, period! Sadly, this scenario is the kind of quagmire we have found ourselves in Nigeria today where the government cannot even perform the simplest task of ensuring a clean and healthy environment for its citizens.

Most African cultures nurture the notion that whatever attitude a woman exhibits in her matrimonial, her mother should be in the know. A mother, it is believed, should have the capacity to caution an unruly child. In actual fact, studies have authenticated this assertion. Thus, the opening quote by the late General Sani Abacha must have been based on the preceding assertion or probably borne by his age-long experience in governance – having been an active player in Nigeria’s chequered political history for more than three decades.

Today, northern Nigeria has been hobbled by the reign of terror, banditry and large scale kidnapping of schoolchildren, supposedly, for ransom, by criminal elements, with some of the elites and pundits defending these heinous crimes perpetrated by criminal elements. The claims by a prominent northern Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, that the bandits and criminals have legitimate concerns as well as the Bauchi State Governor’s brazen and controversial vindication of the arms-wielding Fulani herders, just to mention a few, are indeed mind-boggling. Likewise, some have proposed an amnesty scheme for the criminals, citing a similar gesture granted to the Niger Delta militants that formerly agitated against the degradation of their environment by the multinational oil firms operating in their communities – as a precedent that justified their wild proposal.

If that is the case, then these individuals should as well proffer a legitimate reason why bandits, kidnappers and Fulani herders have been tormenting the North and some parts of the South.

All the more, the double standards usually adopted by the government of the day and its security agencies – both of which are predominated by individuals from northern extraction – in tackling insecurity in the country seem to corroborate the Abacha’s contention. Perhaps, when you juxtapose the military clampdown on the members of the Eastern Security Network, a volunteer group formed by the members of the separatist Independent People of Biafra to guard forests and bushes in Igbo land against the criminal and terrorist activities of Fulani herdsmen, at  Orlu in Imo State with the kid gloves used in handling the deadly bandits, kidnappers, and murderous Fulani herders in the North, one may be inclined to deduce that the government has a hand in the prolonged insurgency in the North.

Recall that during the unprecedented rise in crime rate in Onitsha, Anambra State, in 1999 and the upsurge in kidnapping activities in Aba, Abia State, in 2010, the political leaders and elites of Igbo extraction rose to the occasion and vehemently condemned these criminal acts. Subsequently, a group of youth vigilantes known as “Bakassi Boys” and the Nigerian military were invited to deal with the situation. Hence, I am of the view that if the northern elites had in the same manner condemned these criminal acts in their region like their Igbo counterparts did, this menace would have definitely come to an abrupt end.

It should be clearly noted that any act done to placate criminals by way of granting them amnesty will most likely lead to the commercialisation of crime in Nigeria. The country cannot afford to utterly descend into the Hobbesian state of nature where life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

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