The meeting of the heads of Nigeria’s security leadership at Arewa House in Kaduna Monday raises important questions about our approach to critical national issues especially on the tie that binds us.
In a post I wrote for this publication, I raised issues with how much of a reactionary people we are especially when faced with a creeping existential crisis, as we are wont to leave things to the fire brigade to put out after ignoring cracks for so long. What the office of the NSA told the media is that the town hall is going to be a nationwide, de-escalation exercise in light of the escalating, charged security atmosphere, given what has been happening in the South West lately.
One of the first questions that needs to be asked is: how did we get here? How did we let security degenerate so badly that everyone except the president is trying to do damage control at the eleventh hour? Granted that some of the problems predate the current administration, but how in God’s name are we letting the president–the one person who inflamed the tensions and exacerbated pre existing problems and ethnic animosities right from the year he was elected till date, with speeches and appointments that reek of nepotism and ethnic chauvinism–off?
Secondly, what is the chance that the degradation of the economy that led to the explosion of the lingering crises was not engineered for a purpose and spiralled out of control to serve some pecuniary interests? Because how does one explain the successive grants, waivers and exemptions given to one major section of the private sector that gives it unfair advantage over so many other industry players? In the light of signing, ratifying and opening up to continental trade, where is the sense in letting some item to an institutional monopoly that has served to stifle economic growth over the years?
Equally important, what exactly happened to the National Security Strategy released by the office of the National Security Adviser in December 2019 that sought to address some of our key security concerns despite how myopic and insufficient the strategy was? It is hard to access the import and effect of such a strategy at least in the past year given how much the ONSA’s budget is shrouded in secrecy, but it does not take a genius to see that with insecurity hitting the roof, the strategy was either abandoned for lack of political will, or failed flat at implementation, because if there is one area it failed to address with glaring result, it is in its inability to provide security and protection for the Federal capital territory where the president lives.
Lastly, given how many times we have seen state, federal governments and private actors Institute town halls and peace deals with criminal elements in the North West, would “criminals” in the south east have gotten the same gestures of amnesty? Or this town hall embarked by the security leadership is an enforcement of the notion that in this godless geographic expression of Frederick Lugard’s making, some animals are more equal than others, given that in previous moves to de escalate tensions, the bandits in the minority ethnic groups have been thrown a chain rather than the meat given to their counterparts up north?
Every right-thinking Nigerian knows the answer to these questions but the other question is, how about the people entrusted with managing our national commonwealth and differences? Do they?