OF SECURITY CONCERN, BOKO HARAM and BOARDER CONTROL
Up Super Eagles! Up Up Super Stephen Keshi!!! Everyone loves success. No one associates themselves with failures hence failure remains an Orphan! Rewards are pouring in now like rain and to most people it's as if the feat was by sudden flight. Some Members of the National Assembly admitted one after the other that they did not have faith in the squad not to mention the Nigerian Football Federation who didn't even have a budget for the squad. Things went that bad! But one man, just one man kept faith the man Stephen Keshi. The ovation has started dying now. How do we translate the present success and it's euphoria to an enduring crescendo? Suddenly, we all became friends again. Muslims, Christians, Pagans all were, and are still united in one voice to hail the Super Eagles for their great feat. The National Assembly broke their rules to usher in the great men oh; the president in faraway England threw caution to the wind and embraced his wife in wild jubilation. He must have thought, this is happening in my tenure. For once joy filled the land, because there was something to celebrate. Even Boko Haram terrorist were caught off guards as they forgot their mission to join in tumulus celebration. I am sure that some of the terrorists, Kidnappers, Assassins Armed robbers were at the stadium to welcome the great players. But it did not matter anymore and while it lasted, security concern took the back seat because we all like good thing.
Today, evidence abound that whereas there are proven connivance by some Nigerians of Northern extraction in frustrating the joint efforts of the security agencies in the country, it is now common knowledge that most of the staunchest members of the dreaded Boko Haram and others are mainly people from other countries especially Mali. An in-depth study of the various discovered locations of the factories where their Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are manufactured, shows that most Nigerians are no longer accommodating them as tenants hence their abode now have become some uncompleted buildings in the out skirt of towns and villages. Knowing that the military has declared total war against them, it will be foolhardy to lend a helping hand to known enemies for any immediate financial gain, but that awareness is yet to be sustained.
But while efforts are being made as usual to give some short term respite, it is necessary to do more on long term bases to ensure that this problem would not be a recurring decimal and keep worries at bay once and for all. In developed and some African countries alike, there are natural border posts/control ensuring that point of exit or entries are regularly under check with specially trained security operatives. These checks points proved very effective during the last economic recession in the United States with its spiral effect the world over. Whereas there were heavy migration from nations with poor economy to those considered better, countries like France, Germany and China to mention a few did not have problems controlling the influx of immigrants and so did not have any serious negative economic issues necessitated by immigration issues. This is due to checks put in places by the countries so mentioned, ensuring that before any eventuality, control is in place.
In Nigeria, we have not been able to use statistical data for any very successful project implementation due to the inaccuracies of such information as well as lack of regular update. Most indices necessary for proper data collections are not available or utilized as and when necessary due to political under tunes applied always to the disadvantage of the nation. National Identity Card is not available to everyone despite the huge government investment in it over the years. It is therefore very easy to assume that a citizen of Ghana, Gambia, Mali, Senegal or any black fellow for that matter, could be a Nigerian. This has embarrassed the nation most times as our International Passport have been seen issued even now to none nationals'. All the observations above and many more, have been with us for many years without any dynamic effort to curbing the malady. Yet, put together, they keep denting the image of the country and making our leaders look very unserious in handling security issues. Only a few weeks ago, Nigeria had to send one thousand two hundred military personnel (the highest from among nations) to Mali to help quell the situation in that country and the president was emphatic in describing the negative implications should we fail to help address the problem now. Of course the implication steers us in the face. What can we do differently to fore stall future occurrence of these negativities?
At the beginning of the activities of Boko Haram, so many suggestions freely given to authorities fell on deaf ears as it was thought that the challenges were regional issues. Same was that of the Niger Delta Militancy. Whereas they were both different in outlook and mode of operation, both have turned out to destabilize the country and throw us to where we are today. Now, prominent persons are being killed on daily bases with more serious threat to many more, making situation assume a war outlook or in a state of emergency.
Introduction of minimum military training in institutions is becoming a necessity. Where they are currently in practice, there have been double edged success with the formula - the method has helped mobilize the nation's human capital in times of need. Germany, Israel, US and others are typical examples. Taken from the grass root, and gradually developing, the nation would have trained teams ready any day to answer the nations call like we have done to Mali now, and have been doing to other African countries all these past years. These are but some elements available for our application now that we are in seeming peace time. The system has worked in Germany, France US, Britain etc, it can still work here.
Back to the security challenges of today, l know like most of us, that Islam took its root from Saudi Arabia and handed down through Prophet Mohammed. The same God called Allah in Islam, is the one called Chukwu in Igbo language, Olorun/Olodumare, in Yoruba, Oghene/Ogaga in Urhobo, Uba Ngiji and in different way in different languages of the over 250 languages/ethic groups in Nigeria and beyond. No Nigerian or African can claim to be more Islam than the Saudis. And people have never loosed their sleep in Saudi Arabia on account of belief or none in Islam or Christianity or other religion for that matter. At the tomb of Jesus Christ, there are Muslim worshippers none of which have been challenged for their faith. But here in Nigeria and extending to many African states, it is becoming difficult for people to express their faith in the open for fear of some enemies within. This ought not to be so. It is important to note that while the fundamentalists are free to be Christians and none Christians alike, none of them have the right to kill anyone. Anybody who do, would just be waiting for the obvious judgment of God the creator and owner of life.
The threat to the Emir of Kano's life vehemently demonstrated by the killing of many of his aides is but a confirmation that the chicken has come to roast! It is obvious that there are no trusted personal securities anymore and for good reasons too. Has anyone imagined the magnitude of restiveness that would have been witnessed in Kano alone should the Emir have died? What was the crime of the amiable old statesman? From the mode of operation of these criminals, it is obvious that our security organisations have run out of ideas to curtail these crimes and so need training and this much was expressed during the surprised visit of the President to the Police Collage Ikeja – Lagos.
But of all measures being taken, the one considered most effective has never been on the card – building of Nigerian Great Walls! Or national boundary fencing. China took a once and for all decision to build her walls to ward off would be enemies. The great walls of that country today has remained a tourist delight producing financial returns to the nation's economy, not to mention the security and protection of her people from external invasion. Germany built their walls and it remains beauty to behold even today at the former boundary of the east and west. The Bible records the accounts of Israelites when they went to war Jericho. The success of the invasion was only by God's grace.
The economic importance of a great wall in Nigeria cannot be under estimated. It is not new that while we cry about Fuel subsidy scam, daily, same product is being carted away through the various porous border routes. Construction of wall is not and cannot be a project for one term of Government but must be sustained till completion. All that is needed is a government with the will to start the project for the economic interest of the Nigerian people, and not frustrate it because some individuals are benefiting from the porous cross border trade.
How can the Great wall be constructed? Currently, the contract for the construction of the Kano Maiduguri road stretching over 500 kilometers has been awarded to five notable companies amongst which are CCECC, Julius Berger, Dantata Sawoe etc. it is my view that same yard stick can be used in selecting contractors for the same purpose in each of the states with international boundaries. The boundary adjustment committee is already an existing body in Nigeria and can be mandated to work in matters relating to boundary and associate issues.
Nigerian are peace loving people and deserve much more than we are getting now in terms of threats of war and associate instability and can begin to see the end of all these worries with more attention being paid to border control. We are earnestly looking forward to times which like other nations; life will be for the living, not the living dead. We look forward to the Nigerian Great Walls and other strong security structures being built and devoid of sentiments. These will surely guarantee Nigerians job creation, wealth creation and above all, crime reduction.
Mike O. Akpati is a Public Affair Analyst based in Port Harcourt