Problems of our society have remained the same since independence in 1960. Rather than vanishing, they are becoming intractable, not for want of solutions but more about the behavior of the human element. I don›t know how true this is but it has been said that late General Sani Abacha, our onetime military Head of State once stated that if a particular challenge of nationhood lingered for very long time, know that the hands of system manipulators are involved. I tend to agree.
The same questions of religion, ethnicity and grab-by-all means by a few or a section have been at the root of most if not all our troubles, causing incalculable pain and damages, and yet, years come and roll by; in place of solutions and progress, we have retardation and painful dislocations that are natural outcomes when things don›t follow right processes. When each of the debilitating fallouts hit us and naturally elicit cries and in some cases physical reactions, diverse responses follow, some pacifying and many others provocative.
Among the provocative responses are the reactions of federal and state governments. Our society in recent time has come under security challenges; I guess the worst we have seen since after the civil war ended in 1970. This spate of insecurity is unique in the sense that it has different faces, Boko Haram religious irredentist attacks which no one has been able to offer any reason the boys are up in arms, a menace which has since assumed the monstrous nature of an insurgency; there is the case of terrorists masquerading as herdsmen, banditry and kidnapping. Living and traveling in our space no longer offers joy, it has become a very high risk adventure. Fatalities take place and it amazes when you find the Federal Government remaining dumb as if nothing of significance has taken place.
The heads of police, army and state security are not called to account. One hears of no arrest. In America few weeks ago heads of security lost commission for dereliction of duty, simply for allowing civil protest turn rowdy and then fatal. Nobody has told us why the Nigeria army would be on a war of insurgency against an unorganized and obviously poorly armed renegades for all of over 12 years running. The Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, speaking on national television on Tuesday said it is about asymmetrical warfare. Now, why are our soldiers, police and civil defense forces not combing our forests and pulling out foreign invaders who infiltrated our borders and while in our society chose to establish a home in the forests of other people? How come they have such wide latitude?
The states appear impotent and confused with some state chief executives having the face of Janus, they change and pursue different policy options depending on the selfish political agenda they intend to pursue. Governor Masari of Katsina State pulled out state resources and went after barbarians, begging them to take money and give his state peace. He was following the “rich” example of Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State who much earlier disclosed he knew those troubling us, he took millions of naira, public funds and went to beg them to cease from their unholy acts. In the two cases they knew those behind our troubles but couldn’t get the security agencies to give them fatal blows and bring the misadventure to decisive end, they rather poured money on it. Yet, what should cease crying never stopped, rather it is shouting even louder.
Following the people›s resolve to defend themselves in view of government failure to provide security in some states in Southern Nigeria, Governor El-Rufai released the first shot demanding governors to “rise and offer all citizens protection.” Good talk but he forgot that in his state the largely Christian South has had to chew more than a mouthful in terms of frequent attacks and attendant lose of lives that follow. Even as he spoke last weekend, these unarrestable felons returned to attack some communities in two local government areas of Southern Kaduna. As you read this no arrest has been made, neither is their identity known. All we know is that northern governors have met under a Christian chairman to say “open grazing” is outdated without a resolve to commence ranching in their areas that is natural to the pasturing business. A case of feeble efforts arising from conflict of interest. There is strong desire to universalise what, by all intents and purposes, is a localized need, not even a challenge.
The most provocative response came from a few in the north who don›t see anything wrong in threatening to start a war if people react to criminal activities of a few persons of their tribe or religion. Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of cattle rearers is one of such groups. It is instructive they do this and never receive a reprimand at all. Some of us hold strongly the views they are being egged on by political elements who play negative politics. Remember that long before he was elected into office, President Muhammadu Buhari once traveled long distance to heckle a state government on their behalf and not too long ago, a former governor and senator, Rabiu Kwankwanso, also did a similar thing moving into Osun State. These can show why Miyetti Allah has become a political force all of a sudden.
Beyond the above is the tendency to run on false stereotypes. Some examples: «Yorubas are cowards,” “Igbo are war weary having suffered during and after Civil War.” Those positions are fallacious; the new generations are ready to fight if it comes to that; more than this, any new war would not assume the nature of past conflicts. For one, the Middle Belt may have their sons assume headship of Northern organizations especially when core North perceive their acts have brought them to the precipice but that is where it ends, when the chips are down, Benue and Plateau axis won’t fight for the core North having themselves in very recent times been biggest victims of hegemonic misadventures by same forces that thrust them forward in moments of huge crisis. Benue and Plateau people have seen hell and so need no special education on this. South West can fight. Igbo are not only bold but natural warriors ever ready to display.
The truth is that our society ought not to be in the mess we have found ourselves if we had a political class that is intelligent, visionary and progressive. We have enough to go round. Imagine for once if our focus were on issues like people›s constitution, ideology, human capital development, free qualitative education, quality schools, quality social infrastructural turnaround, research and development, productive economy, affordable health care, social security network, our nation would be something to cheer about. Citizenship over indigeneship would have cemented unity and killed discrimination. Ranching in the north and railway development would have rested herders crisis of all kinds. Federalism would balance responsibilities including taking away unemployment and insecurity.
We won›t go this way because many want to run on religion and ethnic agenda in an era others are planning relocation to other planets. See the face of Nigeria today and tell if the North would have allowed peace if the structure was stacked against them. Fairness, equity and high sense of social justice are germane to peace in any human society.