Former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt-General Theophilus Danjuma (retd.) stirred the hornet’s nest at the weekend, when he descended hard on the country’s military, accusing it of gross incompetence amidst serious security challenges besetting Nigeria. Danjuma lamented the increasing wave of insurgent attacks and Fulani herdsmen invasions, pointing out that it was high time the people started defending themselves.
As a former Army chief, Danjuma could read the direction of the whirlwind of social insecurity afflicting Nigeria, as he pointedly told Nigerians, “It’s time to rise up and defend yourselves.” He particularly berated the military, which is his constituency, noting that the Nigerian Army had failed to live up to expectation. He raised the concern with the frustration of a marooned prophet, warning his Taraba clan and by implication, other locals in the North, especially the North-East, that, “if you are waiting for the military to save you, they will kill you one by one.”
Danjuma, an elder statesman and as such, a respected voice in the country, is neither a nihilist nor a fatalist, but an introspective realist who had viewed the Nigerian situation with deep contemplation and come to the conclusion that, without a cry on the rooftop, those in authority would continue in their tardy disposition to the reign of insecurity in the settlements of the defenceless.
The retired General’s Taraba homeland, for instance, has been under persistent invasion of Fulani herders who, from reports, kill harmless local farmers with glee, to make their cattle graze by making a great feast of the farmers’ long-nurtured tubers and crops. The umbrella body of the Fulani herdsmen, the Miyetti Allah association, had, however, distanced its members from the killings, saying their ranks had been infiltrated by professional fighters who could be terrorists. But this has not detracted, in any way, from the fact that the problem has yet to be nipped in the bud, as the authorities seemingly look on as innocent lives are being lost almost daily with no one yet in the dock for murder.
In Benue State, the local population is almost completely decimated, arising from this same problem of herdsmen violent invasion of not just farms but communities of farmers; as if one ethnic group in the country is at war against the other. The need to restore peace in Benue communities has particularly pitted the state governor, Chief Samuel Ortom, against the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, with the former accusing the latter of taking sides with the herders. Ortom predicated his accusation on the allegation that in the wake of the New Year herdsmen’s attacks in Benue, in which no fewer than 85 locals died, the IGP disobeyed a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari, that the police chief should relocate to Benue, to restore order.
Taraba, Benue and Adamawa communities, being the latest most hit areas, are not alone in this blight that is herders’ heist, as various states in the country have one pathetic story or the other, to tell.
Aside from the herdsmen’s malaise, the country is particularly held by the jugular, by recurring attacks from the Boko Haram insurgents, who have put the Nigerian nation on the edge, in the last seven years. A year after the Buhari administration came on board, the cheery news came, that Boko Haram had been conquered; that Sambisa Forest, which was its fortress, had been overrun, and that the group, reeling in decapitation, could only be found in suppressible pockets of attacks on soft targets.
But alas, that has been found to be a fact in the breach, in the face of reports of frequent attacks in Borno, Yobe and other North-Eastern communities. The insurgents’ terror came to a head recently with the abduction of 110 female secondary school students from their campus in the sleepy community of Dapchi, Yobe State. Though, unlike the Chibok girls’ kidnap of 2014 which could not be reversed for a long time until Buhari came on board and secured the release of some of the girls, the Dapchi incident came to a close with a happy narration: 105 of the 110 girls were returned, as five of them died in the heat of the crisis.
Although many have sneered and read a conspiratorial theory to the Dapchi incident, the overall concern now is how to stem the deadly tide of insecurity brought about by assorted criminal activities in the country.
If Boko Haram is not annihilating an entire community today, the herdsmen are slaying hundreds somewhere the next day, or ludicrously still, some kidnappers are holding a politician or a socialite and are asking for huge ransom.
Therefore, the Buhari administration should take a holistic approach to the parlous state of Nigeria’s security, by first overhauling personnel, orientation and weaponry in all the armed forces, especially the military and the police. Experimenting a semblance of State Police in allowing for community policing with dual allegiance to the state administrations and the Police Service Commission, may not be a bad idea. But in doing this, the corps’ roles could be consigned to taming crimes like armed attacks, kidnapping, and other devious acts against the peace of the society.
The Federal Government, which is passionate in diversifying the economy by attracting foreign investors, should realise that such a dream will be equated with evil foreboding once the country is not safe; in the reckoning of the wooed foreigners.
A stich in time, they say, saves nine.
“The Buhari administration should take a holistic approach to the parlous state of the Nigerian security by first overhauling personnel, orientation and weaponry in all the armed forces, especially the military and the police. Experimenting a semblance of State Police in allowing for community policing with dual allegiance to the state administrations and the Police Service Commission, may not be a bad idea.”