EDITORIAL: Nigeria’s worsening insecurity challenges

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The chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Inuwa Yahaya, said on Thursday that governors from the region are concerned over the spate of insecurity in the region.

This is as he said the northern governors demanded a change in the approach to tackling insecurity in the region.

Yahaya, who is the governor of Gombe State, disclosed this after a closed-door meeting with the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, and the Service Chiefs led by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa.

Governors present at the meeting included Uba Sani of Kaduna State, Dauda Lawal of Zamfara, Babagana Zulum of Borno, Radda Dikko of Katsina, and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State among others.

Yahaya noted that the meeting was convened to discuss and review strategies for tackling cases of insecurity in the region.

He stressed the need for non-kinetic and kinetic approaches to address the remote causes of insecurity.

Some of the recent incidents of insecurity in the Northern parts of the country include the abduction of about 200 women and children who left the Internally Displaced Persons camps in search of firewood in Ngala, Borno state, on March 6.

Bandits on March 7 abducted 287 students from the LEA Primary and Junior Secondary School, Kuriga in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Also, bandits kidnapped no fewer than 15 Tsangaya students in the Gidan Bakuso area of Gada Local Government Area of Sokoto State.

Amidst the chaos and despair, Nigerians cannot overlook the glaring lack of accountability in addressing the insecurity plaguing the nation.

From the executive arm to the legislative arm, then to the security and civil bureaucracies, pertinent questions are arising regarding the performance of those whose main engagement is the provision of effective governance and securing the lives and property of Nigerians.

The worsening insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in places like Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Abuja, and other towns, looms larger than ever.

As Nigeria grapples with an unprecedented myriad of challenges, ranging from rampant banditry to kidnapping for ransom, there has been the relentless onslaught of criminal activities and other overlapping security challenges.

The country has witnessed the loss of thousands of lives; millions of people have been displaced, economic activities disrupted, and the legitimacy and authority of the government undermined.

This crisis underscores a disconcerting failure of governance, a dire lack of initiatives, patriotism, and political will on the part of the executive, the National Assembly, security agencies, and related establishments.

According to a report by SBM Intelligence, a Nigerian political risk analysis firm, between 2011 and 2020, at least $18.34 million, equivalent to N23 billion at an exchange rate of $1 to N1, 300, was paid to kidnappers as ransom.

Figures for 2020 till date are hard to come by.

This is pointing to the fact that kidnapping is more lucrative than government work or politics.

The usage of the ransom monies paid to kidnappers can only be guessed, as these are most likely deployed to fund further criminal activities or to support their personal lifestyles.

“The country has witnessed the loss of thousands of lives; millions of people have been displaced, economic activities disrupted, and the legitimacy and authority of the government undermined.”

We have heard of informants, collaborators, or sponsors, who will most likely be amongst those benefiting from these funds.

Last week, President Bola Tinubu assured Nigerians and parents of the recently kidnapped school children in Kaduna that the Federal Government will rescue the children and others recently kidnapped across the country without paying ransom to the kidnappers.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, stated this while briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Tinubu, at the State House, Abuja, on Wednesday.

The kidnappers operating in Gonin-Gora Area of Kaduna metropolis, Kaduna State, had demanded N40 trillion, eleven Hilux Toyota vans and 150 motorcycles for the release of their victims.

Another set of bandits in Sokoto State kidnapped 15 Quranic students, and recently established contact with the families, demanding a sum of N20 million as ransom before they would be released.

Another group of 61 locals were reportedly abducted by bandits in Buda community, Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Monday.

Amidst the chaos and despair, Nigerians cannot overlook the glaring lack of accountability in addressing the insecurity plaguing the nation.

Pertinent questions are arising regarding the performance of those whose main engagement is the provision of effective governance and securing the lives and property of Nigerians.

What efforts are being made by telecommunications companies in helping to stem the tide? What has been the efficacy of tracking perpetrators, tracing illicit finances, and monitoring the movement of resources, such as motorcycles and handsets, used by criminals?

How is it possible that the monies demanded and derived from ransom payments evade traceability? Why is it difficult to trace the origins of phone calls made to the relatives of victims? All these underscore a profound failure in intelligence gathering and technological utilisation.

Nigeria’s leadership is facing a crucial test, and it is one in which they are failing. The National Assembly members, entrusted with representing the people, appear either paralyzed or indifferent to the urgency of the situation.

Security agencies, including the Department of State Services, the Office of the National Security Adviser, and the Police Force, seem unable to effectively counter the growing threats.

The National Identification Number and Bank Verification Number requirements were introduced to enhance security and accountability.

However, their potentials in curbing criminal activities remain largely untapped. Or are they merely for opening bank accounts and obtaining drivers licence and international passports?

In the wake of these atrocities, it is innocent citizens, whose only crime is living and being in Nigeria, and who endure unimaginable suffering in the hands of ruthless criminals and government alike, who bear the brunt of this negligence. Despite the untold suffering, trauma and loss inflicted upon them, their plights are exacerbated by the absence or lack of proper laws or enforcement mechanisms to deter or punish the offenders.

While their cries for justice and assistance fall on deaf ears, perpetuating cycles of despair and hopelessness, the perpetrators roam freely and those employed to catch the perpetrators are busy clamouring for increases in salaries and the perks of office.

It is time to hold the federal and state governments, National Assembly members, the security agencies and related government and certain private sector players accountable.
The worsening insecurity in Nigeria is a manifestation of systemic failure within the nation’s governance structures. Those in the corridors of power should acknowledge their failures, rectify them or resign from their various positions.

It is time for a collective awakening, where the welfare and security of citizens take precedence over political posturing.