Tackling Insecurity Challenges In Nigeria
In recent times, the security challenges in Nigeria seem to have taken a worse turn. For almost a decade, Boko haram wreaked havoc, and is continuing to wreak havoc on lives and properties. Since the advent of attack by the dreaded sect, close to 50,000 lives have been lost with millions internally displaced. Successive governments have tried to curtail the activities of the sect; but they seem to be making little progress.
While Nigerians were faced with how to tackle or at least escape from being victims of the dread sect, another one in the guise of Fulani herdsmen sprang up. This is the latest terror in town; it has embarked on a wanton killing spree. Hundreds of lives have been wasted by the marauding killers.
Like the Boko haram crisis, government is helpless with the herdsmen issue
There are a lot of factors triggering these crises. An attempt would be made here, in enumerating these factors and how to tackle them.
One of the major causes of insecurity in Nigeria is unemployment. Young and able body men who are willing and ready to work roam the streets endlessly without anything to engage them. Many of them end up as mercenaries for politicians, are lured and recruited into these militant organisations, because that pays off and offers them hope of escaping from their predicament.
In order to tackle the problem of having more people identifying with, and been recruited into these organisations, we must begin to think as a country of how to engage our youths. Millions of job spaces should be created and our politicians must appreciate that there is a problem when they see thousands of youths gather at political rallies during work hour.
Poverty is another factor. Many have wondered why children have become tools or instruments or tools used by suicide bombers. One thing is certain, these children are not without parents and these parent are indigent. We have seen where parents sale their children for a low as 50,000 naira, in this country. So, why should we be surprised if parent donate their children as suicide bombers for a higher fee?
A large number of our population is poor. Government has not done anything to address this issue. As a matter of fact, the situation is getting worse; and people must survive no matter how. We have read about how families in times of war, killed and ate their children due to hardship and hunger.
Today, we are witnessing a similar situation;
although, families are not eating their children, they are converting them into money by donating them to terrorist organisations or seling them outrightly.
We cannot continue this way. Leaders must go back to the drawing board and address this issue. We must create an egalitarian society where everybody has an equal opportunity to struggle and survive. What currently obtains, is a society where a minute number of people have cornered the basic means of livelihood for themselves against the general majority.
Insecurity thrives because of our cultural and religious differences. Nigeria shares the pride of having diverse cultures and religion. In other climes, these differences would have been explored for good. In our case, it is the opposite. Our diversity is now an albatross that is threatening to tear us apart and disintegrate the country. We must call a spade a spade. Religious and traditional leaders have failed, totally in their responsibility. They have taught us to value the things that divides us rather than the things that binds us. The institution of the family is also complicit. A society where the institution of family is failing; where the traditional and cultural institution is moribund, then that society is endangered.
One propelling factor for insecurity is the lackluster attitude of our security agencies. Our security agencies are in tune with the idea of returning fire for fire, repelling attacks and pursing attackers. None of them is interested in preventing attackers. Terrorist or militants do not just get up and attack. They meet to plot and strategies on how and where to attack. What happens to intelligence gathering? Someone is just no doing his job. If they were working like they should, must of the attacks we have experienced and the consequences that follows would be prevented and avoided!
The herdsmen/farmers crisis has been on and has no doubt consumed hundreds of life. I would address this issue quite in detail and proffer what I thinks are solutions.
Fulani herdsmen and farmers have been having clashes in different parts of the country. We saw it in Kaduna, Plateau, Enugu, Adamawa and many other states.
The recent ones however, have been worrying. The killings in Benue, Taraba and Zamfara has made it incumbent on me to write. The reason is simple; it is gaining more ground and spreading fast.
Although farmers have been complaining about herdsmen going into their farms to destroy their crops as the cause of this issue, it goes beyond that. The herdsmen are nomadic in nature, that was why grazing routes were created. Nigeria used to have 52 grazing routes; today, they have been depleted down to seven. What happened to the other 45, taken by politician!
In trying to locate these routes, they stray into the farms of politicians were damage is done to the crop. Just as the farmers have an attachment to their crops, the fulani herdsmen also develop an affinity with the cows. Thus, the farmer is pushed to attack for the destruction meted on his farm, while the herdsmen is also pushed to retaliate for killing his cows. The drum beats of violence goes on.
How then can we stop the herdsmen and farmers crisis?
First thing we need to do is create grazing routes. We must go back to doing what is right by creating routes to enable these herdsmen move freely like they did in the past. Through this, they won't need to stray onto the lands of farmers and that would prevent the killings we have recorded in the country. I have read arguments against the idea of grazing routes, which to me are of no moment. What we seek is a lasting solution to this crisis and the only way I think is by reintroducing grazing routes.
The ban on grazing by the anti-grazing laws is a good law that is being implemented dangerously. For instance, in one of the laws passed by the states, herdsmen are required to lease the lands for a period of one year that may not be renewed. Imagine all industry and resources that may be expended in raising it to standard, then one would have to re-apply for renewal after one year, of which he is not guaranteed to get.
These lands should be sold to the herdsmen or leases of longer years should be granted in order to avoid the stress that comes with applying and reapplying. If the lands would not be sold, then government should provide the land for them, where it would monitor and regulate how it is put to use. Anybody who contravenes the rules with regards to usage, should be sent packing.
There is a greater need now to explore other means of settling conflicts than resorting to violence. People are hyper active these days. Farmers are quick to attack and kills cows once their stray into their farms, while the herdsmen are also quick to attack communities in the dead of the night to kill hundreds of people who may know nothing about what had transpired.
Conflict management mechanisms should be put in place and people must be encouraged to adopt this option rather than resorting to violence.
Again, we need to put mechanisms in place to console and compensate victims of conflicts and other sundry matters. When crisis occurs, people lose their lives, living behind grieving families. Properties are also lost. Because of our laxity in compensating these people; they feel abandoned and neglected and always seek and opportunity to avenge their loss on the system and also on people who they feel are related to, or share an affinity with the villain. We cannot continue to look the other way, while the list of victims grows.
Security agencies are sleep on their duties. I think they are content chasing imaginary things rather than things that matter. They can prevent these attacks and killings if they want to.
Our justice system is another contributing factor. Many people have no hope in the judicial system of our country. They believe justice is for the highest bidder. The judiciary is no longer the hope of the common man; he has therefore, decided to help himself. This is why violence continues to be on the rise.
Finally, we must be tolerant of one another. We must understand that God was not mistaken for creating us different, and also for assembling us from different ethnic and religious groups. We must live as equals, without feeling that our religion, tribe or ethnicity is superior to others. Our leaders from all walks of life and in all areas of human endeavour, must take the lead and show by example.
Frank Ijege can be contacted on: [email protected]