Opinion: Securing Nigeria and the Nigerian populace – By TUNDE ADEPARUSI
The word ‘security’ often seems to top the priority list of all the modern democracies. And the reason for this is not far-fetched; the government of the people, by the people and for the people will only be an allegory if the subjects are maimed or killed and their property destroyed. Life is the only entity around which all other things revolve and, without life, there is no existing activity that can be termed meaningful. And aside from democratic governments, it is also good to reiterate the fact that all other forms of governments (inclusive of the military governments) always have security as top of their priorities.
The subject of security seems to be the only unifying factor amongst all the various types or forms of government across the world. Even animals (both domestic and/or wild) have often demonstrated the importance of security through their activities (i.e. in making of their nests, making burrows, weaving webs, territorial mapping, cage building, day or night crawling. etc.); the animals have developed their survival instincts, hence designing a robust security architecture, so that issues of being starved to death as well as issues of being preyed upon may both be eschewed. Therefore, if animals could demonstrate the importance of security and as this relates to their survival, then every human being on the face of the earth has a right to security and a peaceful coexistence; Nigerians are no exception.
Nigeria is a land which encompasses many nations in it, this being sited not from a negative perspective or to insinuate a clamour for disintegration, rather it is from a profound understanding and awareness of her vast socio-economic advantages over other African countries. With an estimated population of over 180 million according to the United Nations statistics in 2017, Nigeria has the potential to truly be the economic giant of the African continent. Apart from the immense natural resources with which Nigeria is enormously endowed, the human capital aspects may not be overemphasised. Then, one may wonder what could actually be wrong with a country with such an impressive “CV” especially when compared to countries with larger population and less natural resources endowment than Nigeria but are relatively performing better. First, this is not to single out or tag Nigeria as a problematic country because there are issues across countries around the globe, these issues confront the various countries at various levels. However, where the difference lies is the approach or methodology as well as the resilience and doggedness of the leadership in alleviating or mitigating the social issues. But it is a fact that there is no approach or methodology (no matter how effective) that may work, where corruption thrives– it is like constructing a high-rise building on quicksand.
Interestingly, it is not a digression to relate corruption to the issues in Benue or Plateau- the persistent killing of helpless innocent citizens, the avoidable deathtraps on the major roads (e.g. the reported cases of containers collapsing and killing people in Lagos), the deadly flooding in Katsina State, unlawful arrests and killings of innocent people by certain criminal elements within the forces, daily experiences of extortion of the road users, indiscriminate shooting of security agents in public places, egregious abuses of human rights, and the list is endless. The word ‘corrupt’, according to Cambridge English Dictionary, means to cause to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain. From the simple definition, it is very clear that corruption as it is revolves round “self” as a common factor. Hence, “self” has become the orientation of how leadership is defined in Nigeria’s corridors of power. In other words, less attention is focused on the safety of the citizens and the needs of the society in general; policies which favour the political class are more popular on the floor of National Assembly). And all of these culminated in the general systemic degradation of the society inclusive of the vices which have pervaded the social space.
One must understand that no matter the strength and the effectiveness of a system of government, if there is no political will, the status quo remains. For instance, in the various communities where the killings of innocent people have taken place, perhaps, if those in government or any of their family members have been victims, the response and the approach to seeking a lasting solution through effective policies and the enforcement of the same may be different. This is unfortunate and, of course, it still borders on the earlier assertion on how corruption is fuelled by selfish interests.
Furthermore, one may wonder, why is it so difficult to actually see the effects of the humongous budgets every successive government earmarked for infrastructure developments and other social amenities in the country? Where do these monies go? Why has the lot of the citizenry not been bettered for it? Why have the people become poorer and their situation and circumstances deteriorated? Why is there no continuity vis-à-vis development, that each time there is a change of government, the people are always driven backwards- like starting all over again? Why are the politicians more concerned and aggressive about the interest of the party and party development than the interest of the electorate and socio-economic development? Why do we have leaders who claim to believe in the quality of their leadership- promising the people the same social welfare which they always seek abroad? Why should the children of Nigerian leaders be schooling abroad if they believe very much in the country and the impact of the quality of their leadership? And yet, these are the things the politicians promise the people as they seek to be elected or re-elected. Truth be told, most of the so-called leaders do not believe in Nigeria; it is all about what individuals could grab as time permits and better their own lots, not the lot of the citizenry. Perhaps, this could be the reason why each successive government has not really demonstrated the necessary and required political will to make Nigeria better. Moreover, it is a sad reality that the value attached to human life in Nigeria diminishes by the day. People die daily, whether this is captured by the lens of the media or not is another subject entirely. It is also sad that often times the causes of these deaths are practically avoidable only if the government pays a closer attention and is determined to critically nip this in the bug.
The time has come for the government to reassure the people by responding more swiftly and more effectively to their needs most especially in the area of security; this is a primary assignment of any responsible government. A more robust security architecture must be considered; the police require regular training as this will go a long way in helping them carry out their duties more effectively and in a professional manner. Also, the government should regularly review the remuneration package of the entire military as this is the most effective way to motivate the men and women of the force so as to get the best of them. This singular gesture will equally discourage corrupt practices among the officers as well as diminish their involvement and participation in criminal activities.
Nothing survives without adequate security- more than making mere reactive statements on the media, the leadership of the country should be sincere and purposeful to use the power the electorate have bestowed upon them to address the issues, thereby alleviating the pains of poor and vulnerable Nigerians. This way, the value to human life, in Nigeria, will be restored. The time to secure Nigeria and the Nigerian populace is now!Punch
Adeparusi, a member of the British Society of Criminology, wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org