National security challenges dig deep as our backs are against the wall

The state of insecurity in the country is so high that it is hard for Nigerians not to think about jumping ship and moving to a safer place. The ruling class of Nigeria, the source of all our problems, has made up its mind; they have bought houses abroad, transferred money out of the country and are ready to leave the country in minutes. This is why we have a large fleet of private jets at our airports ready to take out those who have ruled and ruined Nigeria in the short term. For the poor, and even the middle class, the only way out is to neighboring countries, and as such, we have our backs to the wall; there is nowhere to run. Cameroon faces the Boko Haram insurgency in the North and the Ambazonian civil war in the South. Niger and Chad are both suffering from the insurgency of jihadist movements and warlords, while the Republic of Benin has just become the target of jihadist attacks. So for us, it’s enough to sing with Wole Soyinka:

“I love my country,

I won’t lie,

Na inside I will live and die

When I turn so much, I twist so much

E push me, I push am

I won’t go there.

It is only mid-April, and already more than 3,000 Nigerians have been killed by bandits and terrorists this year. Thousands of people have been kidnapped for ransom and tens of thousands have had to flee their homes and livelihoods this year alone. The gruesome daily tally is sickening. A few days ago, 92 people were killed by terrorists in the Kanam Local Government Area (LGA) of Plateau State. The attackers reportedly came from Taraba State. Legislator representing Pankshin/Kanam/Kanke Federal Constituency of Plateau State, Yusuf Gagdi, reported that 3,413 people had been displaced as a result of the attack. Benue State has a similar story to tell.

In the Southeast, the most dangerous job is serving the nation as police personnel. Every week there are reports of attacks on police stations – arson attacks and killings of staff. Last week, already five were killed. Nteje Divisional Police Headquarters in Oyi LGA of Anambra State came under attack on Thursday and one officer was killed. The attack came just 24 hours after four police officers were killed by gunmen at another state police station, the Atani Police Division Headquarters. These are just illustrations of the gruesome daily tally of death and destruction that we all do.

According to data released by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) this week, at least 2,968 people were killed, while 1,484 were abducted in Nigeria from January to March 2022. The data shows that more people were killed in the North-West than in other regions. At least 1,103 people were killed during the period in the region. The north-central recorded the second highest number of murders, with 984 killed during the period, while in the northeast 488 were killed. In the South-East, 181 people were killed during the period under review, while in the South-West and South-South, 127 and 85 people were killed respectively, says a report on the history of Bonus time.

Bandits and terrorists have attacked and killed thousands of people in the northwest of the country over the past seven years. They are now the new sheriffs of the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna, where they make and enforce the law while moving freely in raids consisting of hundreds of armed men on motorcycles and attack, kill, loot, rob, violent, set houses on fire. and kidnap citizens for ransom at will. Although it started out as a rural phenomenon, they are now attacking symbols of the ruling class’ freedom of movement by taking control of the Abuja-Kaduna highway, among others, and recently attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train and the Kaduna airport. Now they are getting closer to towns where they are killing and kidnapping people from their homes.

In the northeast, the Islamist group Boko Haram has waged a bloody insurgency against the country for the past 13 years and around 35,000 people have been killed and more than three million people displaced by the conflict. In the southeast, the key players are said to be “unknown gunmen” carrying out orders from the separatist organization, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and its militia arm, Eastern Security Network (ESN). They targeted government buildings and security personnel. They also imposed a lockdown order that crippled the area’s economy, and those who break the order are routinely attacked and killed.

The reality is that no one is currently safe in Nigeria, and our 200 million compatriots have nowhere to go. The irony is that the armed forces have been deployed in almost every state in the country, but with each passing day, the security situation in the country is deteriorating.

The first lesson we must understand, therefore, is that they have no will or intention to save us. The explanation is simple. With the rise in insecurity, security budgets have increased dramatically and many officers and commanders have become wealthy. Fighting armed fighters always carries a risk of death for both the fighters and the armed forces. The fighters, mostly children, take drugs and are not afraid of death. Wealthy commanders in our armed forces seem to have made a decision to avoid direct combat as much as possible so that they can live to enjoy their wealth. It is in this context that these drugged boys made new laws based on the power of the Kalashnikov (AK-47) and became the new sheriffs of our cities and towns, and they now impose taxes on the citizens; the payment of which determines whether you live or die.

The army’s approach is to bomb armed fighters from the air without enough troops to mop them up as they run. As the fighters are widely scattered, the bombs can only hit a tiny fraction of them, so there is no real strategy to finish them off. In any event, the armed forces have not grown significantly, and those on active duty are exhausted and frustrated from lack of rotation. Careful trend analysis shows that insecurity has increased and will continue to increase.

Countrymen, we have our backs against the wall, we have nowhere to go and there is no one to defend us, so we need to open a conversation about how we can defend ourselves and save our families and even the nation. An idea?

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