End to this toga of invincibility on terrorism, banditry

Recent events surrounding the nation’s fight against terrorism, banditry, kindapping and sundry crimes do not provide any cause for relief. From the government to senior citizens and upwardly mobile top personalities and the ordinary folk, what we see evokes feelings of despair and despondency. It does not bring any hope at all. The nation’s security agencies do not provide succor at all.

What with the ordinary activities of the security agencies, charged with the primary duty of protecting lives and property, also a primary duty of government, the ordinary folks seem to believe they are doomed.

A trip across the nation’s highways will showcase bandits in security uniform engaged in unbridled extortion. They do this so unabashedly that a visitor to the country would outrightly condemn us as a doomed nation. What about the level of “merchandising” which our police stations have become? It is a shame that the more journalist report all these, the more even people who are presumed to be nationalists dub them as “criminals”. And even as they do this, nothing happens to those who are clearly non-patriotic citizens.

In the past two weeks, criminal elements in the country have elevated the art of kidnapping to a dangerous apogee, and in the process, touching on the very fabric of strength of our country – academics. When disoriented Alhaji Yusuf Mohammed and his gang of criminal elements manufactured its cliché, Boko Haram, meaning Western Education is sin, rather than see it for what it is, so many Nigerians, including top public office holders, some of who occupy very top positions in government even now, kicked against outrightly bringing them to where they belong. Some touted religious toga to the effort by then federal administration to rout them out, others claimed it was ethnic cleansing. The most unfortunate development is that top government and public officers from the North-East zone, where Boko Haram birthed, were most vociferous in attacking and frustrating efforts at bringing Yusuf and his gang to their knees.

Same story still reverberates even with some acclaimed clerics. And we ask, what is happening? The activities of top Islamic cleric, Shiek Abubakar Mahmud Gumi is a great worry to many patriotic Nigerians. But, that the Nigerian government pretended as if what is happening around the prolific cleric is nothing to worry about, beats imagination!

Without making the persona the subject matter of this editorial, it is reprehensible that the likes of the elder statesman could drag the country to this kind of cul-de-sack without consequences. It is akin to gradually allowing our security forces openly collect bribes without consequences, which is what has kept our security corridors where it is.

The display of brigandage whereby terrorists abducted school children in Katsina, Niger and Zamfara states within a couple of weeks, shows that something is definitely wrong in our security system. Several posers have been raised by discerning Nigerians: were all these students, who were abducted in their hundreds fleeced away in vehicles or on motorbikes? Were they taken away through the bush path? Whatever is the answer to the questions, where were our security operatives, especially those said to be deployed as Special Forces, Tactical Squad and the conventional forces who usually erect road blocks? Were they on such assignment simply to fulfill all righteousness or were they conscientiously performing their duty as demanded in the constitution or were they just fulfilling all righteousness? No matter the angle from where we appraise the issues, they failed woefully. But, under the circumstances, would they be reprimanded? Nigerians are yet to be informed, but the usual expectation is for the nation’s image makers to start a process of buck-passing.

One thing is clear in all these acts of decimation of our nation’s fabric: since Boko is Haram, should we continue to tag people who have, as it were, successfully frustrated attempts by the abducted school children to garner knowledge, but have now been frieghtened away from academics, as bandits? Is it not time we woke up and take them for what they are: Boko Haram terrorists?

Should we continue to dialogue with them? The AUTHORITY is happy that President Muhammadu Buhari, through his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, at the weekend dismissed any though of payment of ransom for the release of the abducted school children, but Nigerians should be told the truth as to how these children eventually got released. Truth they say, is immutable; falsehood or propaganda sooner than later, gets exposed for what it is.

The Nigerian government should take the current issue seriously and stop any form of cosmetic approach to it. We should stop at fabricating baptismal names for what is clearly what it is: act of brigandage and man’s inhumanity against his fellow human beings. Those school children and other victims of kidnappings, either by those we refer to as Boko Haram or bandits, have no doubt passed through inevitable psychological trauma. As for those who were killed in the process, their cases have become irredeemably irretrievable. We must not continue to rub pomade on a sore we need to open up and apply appropriate remedy.

If the so-called bandits operate on very difficult environment, what have become of the efficacy of the nation’s space ships, which we were told, could pick information as small as an ant with pin-drop accuracy? Have the two space craft failed completely or wobbling about? What of our international cooperation and treaties? Was it not in Nigeria that the American government sent in seals to rescue a farmer who was abducted in Nigeria republic and brought to Nigeria? How come that bandits are settled, they apparently release victims and return to their enclave without any trace? We need to change the narrative because the ordinary Nigerians are beginning to ask questions they ordinary were not asking. They are beginning to cast serious doubts on the integrity of the nation’s security apparatuses and these are not something we should continue toy with.

The Service Chiefs, heads of the other nation’s security and para-military forces should wake up from slumber and face reality. Even if their immediate bosses fails to make their Performance Evaluation Indices public, the ordinary folks are doing so and this is really what matters. How they massage their ego and portray themselves as doing wonderfully well is not the issue, what should be of concern to them is their public assessment. In case they are not aware or they seem to pretend about it, the Nigerian publics are unhappy with their performance of their public duty. They see them as performing below expectation and they have the opportunity to re-write that performance evaluation. There is no time but now to do so.

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