NEWS DIGEST – I was once told there was a time you could sleep with your two eyes closed without thinking of the unknown to happen. Those were the days Nigeria stood tall among African nations with the reference title ‘Giant of Africa’, owing to its large population and economy. The security strength was high as positioned by those who saw those days as the ‘days of light in Nigeria’, some argued that you could place your goods in an open store without the fear of bandits or any threat to security. Those were the tales which one would have wished to witness, I would have love to see armed robbers sweeping my father’s compound at dawn while we all gather to chant him to shame for coming to steal from us, those were the days of being protected with the local charms. Currently, Insecurity is the greatest fear of Nigerians and most discussed topic in the media space from time to time.
The today’s security tension in Nigeria is associated with Nigerian historical development. Nigeria originated from British colonial rule and took it with the merging of Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914. It experienced its first threat to peace after independence from 1966 to 1970, the beginning of the struggle for peace. Nigeria experienced numerous coups and long periods of autocratic military rule from 1966 until 1999 when a democratic civilian government was established.
Chidi Anselm Odinkalu asserted in his piece ‘Banditry in Nigeria- brief history of long war’ that Stephen Ellis’s in his book ‘This Present Darkness’, traces post-independence banditry in Nigeria to “shortly before the civil war, when government broke down in some parts of the Western Region and there was a blurred line between political violence, crime, and organised insurgency.” It cannot be overemphasized that after independence, the Nigerian government has been in the fight against religious, regional, ethnic and seccionist violence.
The scary story of Ishola Oyenusi is one of the many insecurity stories which shows how government has been in a long time struggle with terrorists. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu in his piece narrated how a high-school dropout, Ishola Oyenusi who chose to be called “the Doctor” terrorised Lagos at the end of the Civil War. To curb further threat to peace, the military government introduced compulsory death by firing squad for convicted armed robbers. On April 26, 1971, The first set of public executions took place in front of Bar Beach, in Victoria Island, Lagos. Less than four and a half months later, on September 8,1971, Oyenusi was executed at the same location.
The immediate response by then millitay government to the threat to peace cannot be undermined, terrorism is a big challenge for any government because it exposes the strength of government. It took almost six years for government to destroy Lawrence Anini and his gang. Anini orchestrated his team in 1980 and was arrested by the Nigerian police in December 1986 and in March 1987 they were executed.
On the same vein, in 1990 Shina Rambo terrorised the parts of South West of Nigeria. It appeared that each succeeding decade gave birth to new set of deadly group. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu further posited that in early 2000, commercial kidnapping, political violence and assassinations emerged as dominant forms of outlawry . The hard voice behind the threat was Osisikankwu (Obioma Nwankwo) in Abia State and resource militants in the Niger Delta.
The seed of terrorism, which was planted a long time ago, has grown to the stage of a tree. A similar account of terrorism in Nigeria is the Boko Haram insurgents who began in 2009. The jihadist group Boko Haram started an armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria. The group has been tagged the world’s deadliest terrorist group, in terms of the number of people it has killed. Boko Haram is one of the main terrorist organizations that cause the most damage to Nigeria. The group does not wish to surrender to the government. The group is only concerned about unleashing terror. Shootings, bombings, kidnappings, arson, car and suicide bombing in various parts of the country are said to be the handiwork of the ‘insurgence’
Similarly, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) is a militant group in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. As stated by Wikipedia ‘the group publicly announced it existence in March 2016. The group has attacked oil producing facilities in the delta, causing the shutdown of oil terminals and a fall in Nigeria’s oil production to its lowest level in twenty years’. According to BBC online ‘the attacks caused Nigeria to fall behind Angola as Africa’s largest oil producer’. The reduced oil output has affected the Nigerian economy and destroyed it strength, since Nigeria depends on the oil industry.
The Federal Government of Nigeria keeps fighting with terrorists. Nigerian soldiers die every day for their country. The government of the day is trying everything to shape the situation but it appears like a monkey working rigorously without sweat as many other terrorist groups seem to be growing while some are going down the lane.
Recently, Emma Nnadozie reported that one of the Nigerian soldiers in Sambisa lemented that the Nigerian troop are ill-equipped, highly demoralized and poorly paid to face insurgence.
Another violence structured in terrorism style is the herder-farmer conflict in Nigeria. It usually involves disputes over land and cattle between herder and farmers. According to Wikipedia, over 3,641 people have died in clashes from 2015 to 2018.
Ritual Killing and kidnapping are collocation of insecurity. According to Prof. Udoh Emmanuel, ‘the perpetrators of this crime do not spare any one in this new wave of crime that seems to have supplanted armed robbery and other non-contact crimes. Since this act began in Nigeria, aged, children, male and female have been kidnapped for ransom. This has made life unbearable to the citizens. People now live in fear of falling victims to these criminals’.
However, the causes of insecurity in Nigeria include porous border, illegal armed group, oil bunkering, unemployment, religion extremism, ethnic violence, political violence, proliferation of arms and ammunitions.
Insecurity has badly affected many businesses, chased away foreign investors and dropped the growth of the economy.When a nation is faced with the problem of insecurity every other plans are stalled. Insecurity has derailed the political and economic development of the country.
Therefore, there is a dare need for government to take the fight against terrorism more serious than ever before. Government needs to tackle the issue of unemployment and create job to arrest youth restiveness.
Good governance is a penacea for insecurity. The government should focus on the welfare of the people by providing infrastructure like good roads, water, electricity and housing and tackle the problem of falling standard of education and medical care. The welfare of people are not negotiable, irrespective of who wins or loses in election.
There should be a stiff fight against corruption. Officials as well as political and religion leaders in the circle of corruption should be made to face the full consequences of rule of law without any prejudice.
Finally, the government should provide sophisticated arms and ammunition for the security forces in order to fight terrorism. However, there may be need for a collaborative effort in solving the insecurity problem in Nigeria.
By: Iyiola Oluwatosin Damilare, a social commentor.