Journalism in the service of society

A nation in dire straits 

THERE is no hiding the fact that Nigeria is in a state of undeclared war. Citizens are being attacked and killed mindlessly by non-state actors who have capitalised on the tepid counter approach adopted by state actors to deal with what is fast becoming a threatening affair. 

The seeming kid-gloves tactics adopted by the military to confront the menace is confirming the impression in some quarters that those charged with the responsibility of exercising the fundamental mandate of the state, particularly the protection of lives and property of citizens, have given up and surrendered to criminals and the enemies of the state. Citizens, particularlythose residing in rural areas in the northern regions of the country with thin security presence, are now at the mercy of terrorists, who see them as soft targets. They are killed, maimed, abducted and dehumanised. 

Worse still, after the mindless slaughter, the perpetrators roam the landscape free looking for the next set of victims. There seem to be no deliberateeffort at bringing these vagabonds to book. This encourages the perpetrators to be, not just more daring but more vicious. Only recently, bandits invaded the neighbourhood of an airport in Kaduna, killing a staffon guard duty at the meteorological equipment station and causing a flight to be aborted. Within same period, the criminals swooped on a military outpost in one of the communities in Kaduna State killing about 11 soldiers on duty. 

A few days later, the Abuja-Kaduna train service, which was the safest means of reaching Kaduna from the federal capital territory, came under an unprecedented attack by bandits. By the time the casualties were counted, eight citizens had lost their lives while more than one hundred were abducted. Videos are currently being circulated on the incident,showing the abducted passengers begging for their lives. The abductors had earlier released Alwan Ali-Hassan, Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, which they claimed was done on compassionate grounds. 

Quite frightening is that activities of the terrorists are no longer confined to the sparsely-policed far flung rural areas. The attack on the Abuja train service, and subsequent abduction of passengers, is a clear signal that the perpetrators have the capacity to infiltrate even the most sacred of places. 

This should be a wake-up to the authorities to nip the encroachment in the bud or be prepared to count more significant loses. The sporadic attacks on targets in the fringe communities of the federal capital city are like testing the waters for a big dive. Only recently, one of the local leaders of Miyetti Allah was murdered by gunmen in Gwagwalada.

If government’s strategy continues to be reactive and issuing lame orders and condolence messages after every successful strike against the people, then the attackers will be emboldened to continue with further attacks. It beggars belief that the camps of these terrorists are known yet no drastic action to take the battle to them in their camps. 

While it is obvious that military solution alone might not address the problem at the root, there is however no contesting the fact that the criminals in whatever form they operate need to feel the resolve of the military to take them on and “send them to their maker” If the military continues with the current reactive approachby waiting for the enemies of the state to hit targets, the ongoing onslaught will continue unabated. 

Since these elements disturbing the peace of the country have been declared terrorists by a court of competent jurisdiction, nothing should stop the security forces from going after them, as a first step in preventing further attacks. That is the most strategicway the government can begin restoring peace, sanity and security to the troubled spots in our country. 

Unfortunately, the heightened level of insecurity is not the only challenge the country is facing. The economy is also bleeding on many fronts. Citizens are groaning over the high cost of living occasioned by the soaring prices of basic necessities and critical services. The high cost of food items, partially linked to insecurity, has made life difficult for citizens as disposable incomes can no longer take care of the basic needs of many families. 

According to Statista, unemployment rate in Nigeria is projected to be around 33 percent in 2022. In the fourth quarter of 2020, youth unemployment rate was put at 42.5 percent by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics. With such a huge number of youths without jobs, there is no need looking far to locate the root cause of the high levels of crimes, including robbery, kidnapping and terrorism. 

Added to these is the fact that for over 50 days, lecturers in public universities in the country have been on strike. If not called off immediately, the idlestudents might fine work in the devil’s workshop, and the country will be the worse for it. To cap the unsavory realities in the country, critical infrastructure required to improve the fortunes of both the citizens and the economy are mostly not in good shape. 

This is exemplified by the repeated collapse of the national electricity grid, leaving some parts of the country in darkness. Small businesses have to cope with the higher costs caused by the epileptic electricity supply situation. Businesses that cannot find their way around the electricity malaise eventually go under,worsening the unemployment situation. 

In the face of these crises, political gladiators have been busy making declarations to run for the highest office and other political positions. How prepared are they to tackle these challenges? The 2023 elections present citizens with the opportunity to bring on board leaders with the ideas, capacity and competence to find lasting solutions to these challenges. Nigeria’s future would be determined by the next set of leaders and the citizens have a responsibility to ensure that only those with the right capacity and competences are elected. If Nigerians allow sentiments to direct their actions, then they have themselves to blame when the cookie comes crumbling. 

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