Dr. Muiz Banire
The security situation in Nigeria has become wholly intractable. What started as an isolated case of insurgency in some parts of Borno State has become a national malaise rapidly expanding and threatening the fragile fabric of the nation called Nigeria. The human losses at present have befuddled our capacity to take records and there is hardly an accurate account of people already consumed by the violence of the men of the gun. Thousands of lives have been snuffed out by Boko Haram bombs and guns in the northeastern parts of the country. Suddenly, the North-West caught the fever of banditry, which is operating in a most deadly fashion, leaving behind sorrow, tears and blood everywhere the unscrupulous young agents of death have chosen to carry out their nefarious businesses. Katsina State, the home state of the President, has not been spared the horrors of banditry, killing and kidnap.
The volumes of death, maiming and rape of women by violent herders have left the whole of the North Central states of Niger, Nasarawa and Benue a wide expanse of gnashing teeth and fearsome living. The macabre of death enacted by the orgy of violence by bandits in Niger State has divided the state under two sovereignties as the victims of banditry and Boko Haram campaigns have submitted to the regime of the men of the underworld in order to purchase their peace. Boko Haram now levies and collects taxes from the hapless citizens whose fate is better procured by self-help rather than the constitutional protection that the government ought to guarantee. Bandits have made Zamfara a deadly zone and the allures of gold that the government allowed to be exploited illegally have become a source of destruction and wanton loss of life and property. Kaduna State under El-Rufai has become a theatre of war.
Thousands of lives have been lost in the internecine conflicts between the southern and northern Kaduna characterized by ethno-religious dimensions. Now the bandits have made a beautiful Kaduna another home of kidnapping and huge ransom collection. The raging fire of destruction and devastation has spread to the otherwise peaceful areas of Oyo State as the whole of the divisions of Ibarapaland have been invaded by people referred to as foreign Fulani herders who are in search of land to graze, a home to call their own notwithstanding that any part they visit is not terra nullius, not hitherto occupied by anybody. Forceful eviction of the traditional and original landowners, killing and maiming of dissenting indigenes, kidnapping and laying of siege have combined to make the food-producing parts of Oyo State a place of terror.
The dark and lonely forests of Ondo and Ekiti states where D.O. Fagunwa created the entertaining fables of brave hunters of Igbo Elegbeje, Igbo Eledumare and Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale have today become real forests of horrors as gun-wielding herdsmen have replaced the gnomes, leprechauns and pterodactyls of Fagunwa’s fertile imagination. The nobility associated with the sojourn of the ancient characters of the creative mind of the writer is, however, foreign to the current occupiers of the forests as their articles of trade are kidnapping for ransom, killing and maiming of their victims. The Niger Delta with its characteristic violence birthed under the struggle for resource control in the fate of environmental degradation, has assumed another dimension as the lords of today are those youths born into squalor and violence in the ’90s and who have been deprived of any meaningful future by the terrible system that sees nothing good in good governance. The whole of the South-East today has bolstered itself ready for another civil war in the secessionist struggles of Indigeneous People of Biafra (IPOB) whose agitations have assumed a more dangerous dimension. The whole of Nigeria is witnessing all sorts of violent agitations and destructive elimination by dangerous fighters of no noble cause.
In the midst of the conflagration, a new business was born: mass abduction of schoolgirls and boys. Starting with Chibok, later Dapchi and Kagara, the records of mass kidnap today have assumed an unprecedented dimension. Schoolchildren and adults are kidnapped in their hundreds and ransoms are collected by bandits in millions of naira and dollars. A most conniving government has given fillip to all these undesirable elements by paying ransom to purchase freedom for victims.
A poor herder making a few thousands of naira monthly in the business of herding cattle from Kano to Lagos has discovered a more profitable venture in kidnap of Nigerians, terrorizing them until their relatives or the government pay. Thousands of lives have been snuffed out in their glory when these rapacious elements lay siege on our roads and force hapless citizens into forests. The government complains that the violent and dangerous herders who graze animals openly and kill the farm owners are foreign Fulani herders and yet it is not ready to enforce the criminal laws against these foreigners. This lends credence to the accusation that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is pro-Fulani and is only trying to eliminate other tribes to create a huge territorial home for Fulani invaders across Africa. The long silence from the President and his occasional warnings to bandits and Boko Haram elements paint the picture of a eunuch who only gives verbal expressions to his potency to impress women.
The worst aspect of it all is the average demented Nigerian politician who carries on campaigning for power grab in 2023 as if the whole security crisis in the nation is a tea party. We have seen them junketing from one local government to another mouthing their insane promises and wild projections. They keep quiet whenever the horrors being perpetrated by Fulani herders are being discussed. They maintain a tied tongue anytime their opinions would conflict with the sentiments of the Presidency. Their people are daily subjected to bloodshed and devastations and yet the Nigerian politician is insouciant in his reckless ambition to govern a burning entity. They are keeping quiet, except for a few whose conscience would not allow them to give further inordinate protection to party loyalty and collective insanity. It was quite impressive to hear Smart Adeyemi, the senator representing the Kogi West Senatorial District, the other day lamenting the security situation in the country. His genuine emotions could not contain his manliness when he burst out in tears calling on his comrades on the floor of the Senate to rise up in defence of the land. Ali Ndume has been heard on a number of occasions condemning the conspiracy of government and the elite in what is otherwise a consuming conflagration that is herding us towards Somalia, Liberia and Rwanda. Instead of the various political gladiators coming together to find a solution to the challenge of this vanishing country, they are busy strategizing over election into an office that is appearing to be a mirage. The elite in Nigeria, the civil society inclusive, have given all manner of justification in defence of Buhari’s government, from the sensible to the ridiculous.
At first, the body language of the President was dangled as the magic wand that would cure Nigeria of all ailments. Later they relied on the ignorance of the President and the man too was never aware of any evil happening around him. An excuse at a time was the incompetence and corruption of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, as if that was not what prompted us to elect Buhari. The elite community and the political class has forgotten that when Nigeria finally descends into Rwanda, they themselves would be dislodged from their Don Quixote horse and be made to worship the miscreants that would be in charge of the various streets. Many believe they would run away from Nigeria with their families, forgetting that no one can carry both linear and extended families into safety when the threatening war finally begins.
The sentiments against the Igbo have made many to see the demand for Biafra as a ranting of some lunatics. They have forgotten that to still such voices of secession, we need to have restructured the country genuinely to cater for all interests and the present government is too docile and criminally conniving to save the fragile entity that is about to explode.
The politicians have been carrying on as if nothing mattered except securing a place at the top; 2023 is too much of a paradise to jeopardize by the present hell of calling for the country to be preserved. One wonders if there would be anything to govern when Nigeria finally descends into the steaming cauldron of civil war with its unceasingly flowing currency of bloodshed. One wonders if there would be a President effectively in charge of different parts of the country under various warlords the number of which is sufficient in Nigeria of today to make every street a sovereign state under its own government of hoodlums and miscreants. The multitudes of thugs we have produced, sufficiently armed and deployed in the past to unsettle democratic process through rigging and violence, are enough to make Rwanda a child’s play. The last EndSARS protest with the aftermath takeover by vagrants in Lagos and many other cities is a pointer to the lugubrious imminence of government of the thugs, by the thugs and for the thugs.
This is the time for the Nigerian politicians and elder statesmen to rise up. This is the time to call a spade a spade and let the devil both home and abroad be shamed. This is the time for the civil society to jettison its silly and empty sloganeering of fighting corruption in its roundtable approach and call for the government to do something serious about the insecurity in the land. While politicians can afford to run away, the question is where will you run to when the crisis finally embraces the entire land. Few peaceful spots in Nigeria that have not been effectively visited by these so-called foreign invaders are already under the spy gaze of their agents who are only waiting for the call to action.
Nigerian politicians in their elite conspiracy have been in soulful silence of an irresponsible egoism. They dare not voice out their concerns, they do not want to be regarded as an enemy of the government. Remember that when the chips are down, when the die is finally cast, the money you have kept, the offices you currently occupy, the privileges you fear to lose will not be available to save you and the nation. The time to speak out is now.
- Dr. Muiz Banire a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) was the former Board Chairman, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).