Rising insecurity, beyond Reps’ opposition politics

Rising insecurity in the last few days has left scores of lives consumed, many abducted and property worth millions of naira destroyed across the country, that lawmakers in the House of Representatives across political party lines appeared united in expressing serious concerns over the latest developments. JOSHUA EGBODO writes.

The recap

The lingering insecurity across the country came to crescendo with last week’s reported invasion of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna. Also worrisome to many was the killings in Jos North, where last Tuesday alone, over 30 persons were reportedly massacred. Within the same period, there were also reported killings in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Benue, Borno, Niger and other states across the country.

Controversial TV interviews

Like many other Nigerians, concerns were expressed over the rising insecurity across the country by Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, in a live interview during a breakfast television programme by the Channels TV, expressed his frustration and disappointment with the government at the centre, which he felt was not doing enough to address the challenges.

The same station also hosted a retired Navy Commodore, Kunle Olawunmi who believed that there might be more to the agenda of the bandits and terrorists, trying to plunge Nigeria into chaos. Video of his’ went viral on the social media, with many applauding his rare courage to speaking the truth in the face of expected intimidation.

PDP Reps angered by infraction query

The interviews in question were seen by the nation’s broadcast regulator, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to be in breach of its code. It therefore on August 24, 2021, issued Channels TV a query with a deadline of 24 hours to respond, and explain why it should not be sanctioned. In the opinion of the NBC, Governor Ortom’s interview contained “inciting, divisive and unfair comments which were not thoroughly interrogated by the anchors”.

The programme’s anchors were also reportedly summoned by the Department of State Services (DSS), to explain certain things over the same subject matter.

Caucus of the PDP in the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Hon. Kingsley Chinda was, however, angered by the development, as to it, there were more pressing issues in terms of security challenges, that should be centre of focus to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.

“We must first register our deep concern that whilst the nation drifts into a near Hobbesian state amidst the raging insecurity currently engulfing the nation, the daily carnage experienced across Benue and Plateau states and elsewhere.

in the country, kidnappings of innocent citizens including school children, to the unprecedented violent attack on the
National Defence Academy- one of the most hallowed symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is preoccupied with hounding perceived enemies of the administration and stifling the press, acts which are antithetical to democratic ethos.

“Certainly, there are more pressing issues demanding statecraft and leadership than the hounding of journalists and repression of the media merely on account of interviews granted by opposition figures”, the caucus in a statement signed by Chinda said.

Reps’ minority caucus too

In similar vein, the general Minority Caucus of the House, decried what it called escalated terrorism and banditry. In reaction to the recent surge in insecurity across the councils, the group in a statement by Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, Minority Leader of the House said it was alarmed by escalated acts of terrorism and bandit attacks across the country and particularly last Monday’s invasion of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), resulting in the killing and abduction of military officers.

“The Minority Caucus notes that the heightened attacks on military formations and mindless killings and maiming of innocent Nigerians by bandits and terrorists in various parts of the country, despite the assurances of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration is lamentable, that hardly a day passes without the nation being jolted by reports of gruesome mass killings, abductions, arson and mindless plundering by terrorists and bandits who are now freely operating on our highways, schools and communities in various parts of the country.

“The situation has become extremely horrifying in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Benue, Borno, Niger and other states across our nation where killers and kidnappers are now having a field day raiding communities and killing our compatriots”, it said recalling that last Tuesday, “35 Nigerians were reportedly massacred in Yelwan Zangam in Jos, Plateau state, barely a week after innocent travelers were ambushed and brutally murdered in the state”, it stated further.

APC member also fumes

In what may suggest that many Nigerians are daily getting disillusioned, a member of the House on the platform of the ruling APC from Plateau state, Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, an ardent supporter of Buhari, or so it seemed, in an open letter to the President in the wake of the repeated Jos attacks, said that the failure of the Buhari government to deal decisively with factors indicative of rising animosity in the country was one of the factors fueling insecurity. He also named “mutual suspicion and religious frontlines” as other factors responsible for the recent upsurge in the security challenges in the country.

Addressing Buhari squarely in the letter, the lawmaker who doubles as Chairman of the committee on Navy said, “on 29th day of May 2015, you resurrected the hope and optimism of bringing back robust economic transformation devoid of corruption and free from insecurity via your 3-Point Agenda when you spoke highly about defending and protecting the Constitution and by simple reflection, you swore to uphold the primary responsibility of government as enshrined in Section 14(b) thus:” the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.

“You declared explicitly that equitable and efficient strategies would be adopted by all the machineries of government to end the wanton destructions of lives and property, particularly, those associated with the activities of Boko Haram which hitherto had extended beyond the North East to the North Central and other parts of Nigeria….”.

However, the lawmaker blamed the President amongst other things that “for about six years down the line and having secured a second term mandate from Nigerians, it is heart wrenching to note that insecurity has worsened in the country leading to interrogative concerns by people such as, What is Anti-Corruption without Security? What is the value of food if farms are not safe for agriculture to thrive? What is the significance of infrastructure devoid of security?

“The issue of insecurity has reached a point where the current strategies being adopted by your administration have failed and are in no way adequate to guarantee safety. As it is, they can no longer hold water in a cup let alone in a basket. The gaps are becoming wider by the day with serious concerns such as the plight of many school children still in the den of captives; brazen daylight attacks on communities and travelers which have become almost unabated; the recent shameful raid on the highly fortified Nigeria Defence Academy, ( NDA) Kaduna; and the metropolitan attacks in Jos, Plateau state among others. All these have heightened fears of insecurity in Nigeria”.

The Afghanistan experience fears

Many saw the ever rising state of insecurity across Nigeria as signs that the country was gradually heading to attaining the status of a failed state. Many are therefore expressing worries that the recent return of the Taliban and collapse of the Afghan government were signs that the terrorists and bandits may be emboldened to attempt the replication of such scenario in Nigeria.

On whether that could be possible in the country, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Obadiah Mailafia as quoted in a recent interview with an online newspaper; The Will, said “Why not!. The Taliban have reportedly said they are going to spread Sharia to other parts of the third world, especially Africa. The thing with dictators is that they always say in advance what they are going to do. As a student of history, I have learnt not to disbelieve what they say”.

He told the newspaper that “Ashraf Ghani should never have allowed the so-called “repentant Taliban” to be enrolled in the regular army; a mistake we are already making with Boko Haram in Nigeria”.

Time to wake up

Analysts agreed with the lawmakers and other stakeholders that it was time to wake up to the realities. Beyond reacting each time through press statements in condemnation of loss of lives and property of innocent Nigerians, they opined that more action and new strategies are required to arrest the situation before it is too late.