Nigeria is facing a torrent of bad news, unfortunate events and developments that only go to show that we are very poorly rated in the comity of nations. These developments are external validations of our internal dynamics and failures of economic, political and social governance. Most Nigerians already know and continually groan under these inhuman experiences but their cries are waved aside by our leaders who have turned to rulers. The first part was the country’s poor performance on the Corruption Perceptions Index, the second being the Global Terrorism Index and now the immigrant visa ban by the United States of America.
The Global Terrorism Index and the immigrant visa ban are all hinged on security. Security was one of the key issues the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), promised to tackle both in the 2015 and 2019 election campaigns. However, instead of the security situation improving, it has deteriorated under the watch of the President. Instead of the number of victims who have either died, wounded or rendered homeless decreasing, it has been on the increase. The number of terrorist groups increased from the Boko Haram we knew to mutations within the group. Also, the Fulani militia joined the fray under the cover of herdsmen-farmers’ crisis. According to the Global Terrorism Index: “The increase in deaths across the country in 2018 was a result of extremist Fulani groups who have become more active and were responsible for 1,158 deaths last year (compared to 589 for Boko Haram). Between them, Boko Haram and the various Fulani groups accounted for 78% of attacks and 86% of terrorist deaths last year”. We also have all sorts of sundry criminal groups operating mainly in the North-West of Nigeria who have sacked so many towns and villages and committed several murders. Criminal gangs have now taken over so many parts of the country and these parts, in all honesty, can be described as ungoverned spaces of Nigeria. Today, very few ply the Abuja-Kaduna expressway for fear of being kidnapped. Commuters on other highways have also come under severe attack by bandits. And it is common knowledge that those kidnapped either pay millions of naira in ransom to be set free or are killed while the criminals are hardly arrested and prosecuted.
In the last one week, the President publicly feigned ignorance of the level of insecurity in the land and stated that he was surprised at the increasing security challenge. Pray, the President no longer lives in Nigeria or does not get accurate security briefings from his service chiefs or he is shielded and has lost touch with the reality that Nigerians live through on a daily basis? When a President is not fully aware of the level of the rot in the security sector, how then can he as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces address the security challenge?
Within the outgone week, the National Assembly unanimously and on a bi-partisan basis voted for a resolution calling on the President to remove all the service chiefs. This resolution is not about the opposition Peoples Democratic Party or some activists who allegedly see nothing good in the actions of the President. And the President has somehow kept quiet and pretends that the resolution was not made by the legislature. Even though resolutions are not usually binding on the executive, this particular resolution resonates with the feelings of the overwhelming majority of Nigerians. As an aside, the legislature should in future constitution amendments consider making binding, resolutions supported by a super majority of the legislature.
Most of the service chiefs have been long due for retirement but simply told to continue their stay. But on what basis have they been asked to continue? Being asked to continue would have made eminent sense if they are performing their duties in an excellent manner which would mean enhanced security of lives and property and fighting insurgents and criminals to a standstill. But the situation is deteriorating under their watch. So, the President is rewarding failure and very poor performance at the expense of the lives and property of Nigerians. The President’s oath of office binds him to place the security and interest of Nigerians above every other personal or primordial consideration. Thus, trying new hands where the old have failed is a task that must be accomplished if Nigeria hopes to rise from the current ashes of insecurity.
Some days ago, the United States placed a ban on immigrant visa for Nigerians and nationals from six other countries for failing to comply with identity management and information sharing criteria. But the news had been out for so many months that the US was planning this ban. What did the Nigerian authorities do to prevent this ban? Nothing! We waited until the hammer fell. And now a committee has been set up to do what should have been done so many years and months ago.
Security of lives and property is fundamental to economic growth, development and good governance. No nation progresses in an environment where killers, kidnappers, armed robbers, ritualists and all sorts hold sway. Such a country can never be respected in the comity of nations. Local and foreign investors will be afraid to commit their resources leading to unemployment. Agricultural produce is threatened by the herdsmen- farmers’ crisis, the insurgency in the North-East and the banditry in the North-West. The common people are unable to feed themselves. And society is worse off due to these developments
Therefore, in the final analysis, this is beyond politics and the National Assembly’s resolution underscores this. Buhari should do the needful by securing the people and if he finds himself unable or incapacitated, either by infirmity of mind or body or by any circumstances beyond his control, throwing in the towel should be the most honourable option left for him. The lives of millions of Nigerians cannot be sacrificed on the altar of your failure, neglect or refusal to perform the most basic duties of your office. Sack the service chiefs, ensure the rule of law and pander only to the interests of the majority of Nigerians.