We can no longer pretend that all is well with our nation. Nigeria, famously known as the giant of Africa, is a country with fast-deteriorating security situation. Plagued by multiple conflicts, from the jihadist insurgency in the northeast to attacks by criminal gangs carrying out mass kidnappings in the northwest and criminals targeting security forces in the southeast. The list is endless.
The growing public anger over the violence was what prompted the President to replace his military high command in late January, but even that hasn’t curbed insecurity.
Can we claim that the military is undermanned – stretched by the conflict in the northeast? Or that its members are not trained for a policing role? That means they are all too frequently shooting to kill, and with almost complete impunity.
According to Amnesty International, since President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015, hundreds of Nigerians have been killed and many maimed with countless Nigerians rendered homeless.
Just last month, gunmen stormed the Imo State police command in Owerri, using explosives to get in. They then looted the armoury, torched the building, and headed to the nearby Owerri Correctional Centre, where they freed over 1,800 prisoners.
After the incidence of October 2020, Nigerians can no longer freely demand answers from the govt. What began as largely peaceful protests against police brutality turned violent after security forces fired on demonstrators at Lekki, Lagos. Although, the army and police denied shooting protesters. In the days that followed, rioting, looting and lawlessness broke out across the country. It was the worst unrest in Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999.
Not a day goes by without the press reporting a deadly attack or a kidnapping making some to compare Nigeria present security situation with civil war period.
Even with the state of the nation and heavy criticism received from the people, civil societies and the opposition parties, the govt of the day seems unperturbed by the chaos everywhere.. While some of these criticisms are seen as opportunistic in the run-up to the 2023 general elections.
An APC Senator, Smart Adeyemi was under fire for openly ‘criticisng’ the Federal Govt. stand on security. “We are facing the worst instability in the history of our nation. This is worse than a civil war,” he said.
Worse, foreign direct investment in Nigeria fell by 29% or $1.2bn in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The Federal Govt. need to ask authorities of University of Maiduguri and other tertiary institutions in North Eastern Nigeria what is left of their dons, professors and students enrolment in recent times. Apparently, the current insecurity will drive away investors from Nigeria’s financial markets. The Financial Times has recently reached the same conclusion that the Nigeria is failing as it seems the army are already losing the battle against the enemies.
What the govt. needs to do urgently is to employ the right people that can deliver, not based on ethnic background. Because poverty and lack of economic opportunities breeds insecurity, strategies needs to be put in place to improve access to education opportunities for young people, especially those in northern Nigeria. A lot more needs to be done to build the trust of citizens and stakeholders.