By Malachy Uzendu
Nigerians have passed through a couple of travails in the past years. Events ranging from escalating insecurity to spiraling inflation up to despondency among the youths who are not employed or even unemployable, up to unimaginable decay in the educational sector. On the aggregate, there are several things which make people sad about this our beloved country, Nigeria.
It’s disheartening that since 1999 and even beyond, there have not been deserving attempt to pay adequate attention to technology and innovation. Rather than encourage expatriate or home-grown innovation, or even revamp up and maintain existing technical structures, we are prone to either selling off or rendering such concerns comatose or keep them in crippling or standstill condition. And I am surprised that we have national development plans, rolling plans and measured processes with administrative paraphernalia which ought to handle all these creditably.
On every sector: infrastructure, transportation, health, education, defense and security, electoral process, administration, marine up to even political and administrative leadership, we not only continued to retard but unfortunately have been eclipsing at terribly lightening speed. At the moment, the worst of all disasters: the decimation of our educational sector, in fulfillment of the ideology of the founders and sponsors of Boko Haram, that is to say that “Education is Sinful”, is progressing steadily. And can we see all those happening day-in, day-out, except if we have been under a spell. It must be emphasized that we should fully appreciate that recent attacks on our educational institutions are in practical furtherance of the Boko Haram ideology.
We may chose to call it banditry, we may equally chose to say those were the handiwork of kidnappers, or herdsmen but the culmination of these several acts of brigandage are Boko Haram in practical terms; those are Boko Haram, QED! And it appears we are giving those criminal act tacit approval by our lackluster reactions. And the evidence is that instead a total crackdown on the perpetrators of such infamy, who have been made to appear at all times, invincible, more sophisticated and several vaults over and above our intelligence community capacity capability, thus making a mockery of our security agencies.
Is it indeed possible that our security agencies, who no doubt have exhibited superlative capacity in their exploits at the international arena; security agency that have for decades garnered laurels and continuously held forth the headship of several UN peacekeeping concerns both in Africa and outside the continent, we have either by deliberate or over-stretched fault, continuously wobbled under the yoke of Boko Haram or those we chose to call bandits, kidnappers or cultists. That cannot be, except that we have refused to ask the right questions. And only the right questions can throw up the right answers.
For example, since we have seen this brand of herdsmen who are continuously for years attacking farmers, destroying their crops, burning down residences, even sacking entire local government, even to the extent of having the bravado to challenge our troops to contests or question their capability, what have we done differently to halt their devastation? Were there lessons learnt from previous attacks and if there were lessons learnt, have we then put in place appropriate measures to forestall a repeat? Have we made attempt to decipher who the owners of those cows are, since it appears cows now seem more important than human beings in Nigeria?
It is elementary knowledge that no herdsman could take his master’s herd of cows beyond the grip and control of its owners. Have we therefore bothered to look in the direction of the owners of these cows for solutions, except we mean to say that those rag-tag herders have the capacity to not just be herdsmen, but that at the same time, they have the capacity to make the contact to procure AK-47 and assorted arms and ammunition, all with their meager allowance as cattle tenders? Those little, almost unassuming boys who look after the cattle? It is impossible for those boys to possess such capacity. They equally lack the capacity to coordinate all those successful attacks on sleepy communities with the precision and expertise with which they have been doing so all these years and still successfully take care of their cows.
Is it therefore not surprising that we seem to have refused to look in the direction of the owners of those cows? I have no doubt in my mind that they are the mastermind of those kidnappings and attacks on people, communities and local government areas. They have added a fillip to their nefarious game, which is kidnapping-for-mega-million-ransom. And their racket is very much alive and active. But, I remain in shock that our security agencies appear not to have got any reasonable lead from the kidnappers they apprehended on these. It’s impossible, except we are not getting something right here?
It is elementary knowledge that there is big time correlation between kidnapping and ownership of cows being shepherded by these armed herdsmen. There is also a strong relationship between the heinous acts of murder, arson, kidnapping, rape, etc and those who come up to bargain for ransom for these so-called bandits.
At a recent talk-shop several speakers, including the Senate President, Sen. Ahmed Lawan; former PDP Vice-Presidential candidate, Peter Obi; the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike and the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, all agreed that lack of political will (hidden interests of the political leaders) is the number one problem the country is facing, just as they equally all agreed that our electoral system needs urgent surgical operation for us to get it right, and there were no pretentions about it.
Therefore, after almost 40 days of prayer, abstinence and almsgiving, which is the hallmark of the Lenten period, climaxing to the Easter, there is no gain saying the fact that we should have reflected enough on these debilitating national problems and got imbued with a firm resolve to restore the dignity and integrity of our country.
The Easter period, which ushers in a new lease of life, especially on people who participated in the Lenten observances, should serve as the fulcrum for a change of heart and the revitalisation of our country. This year’s Easter celebration is even more appropriate to right the wrongs especially as the Muslim Ramadan fasting period had also begun. And with the two dominant religions (Christianity and Islam) which preaches love, peace and accommodation of alternative view points, there is no better time to reverse debilitating situation than this season.
Doing so can never be late. We can successfully restore the dignity of our country. We can do this if our political leaders are committed to dropping the baggage and desires to pursue self-centered interests. With proper accountability and good conscience, it would be a matter of months and our country will bounce back to its glory and splendor. And this Easter period provides appropriate spring board to do so.