HEED THE SECURITY WARNING NOW!
The United States (US) embassy in Nigeria has just issued a security alert with the warning that the terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, plans to attack Abuja, Nigeria's capital city, particularly high profile hotels patronised by westerners.
The warning was conveyed in an emergency message to US citizens in Nigeria posted on the embassy's website. The US government said it has no information on the timing of the planned attack but pointed out that the Nigerian government is aware of the threat.
It will be recalled that the US issued a similar warning on possible attack of high profile hotels in Abuja by Boko Haram in November last year but later withdrew the warning. As was the case on previous occasions, the Nigerian government is ill at ease with the security alert from US. It has frowned on it and has accused the US government of causing undue panic in Nigeria.
Apparently feeling that its stature is being diminished by the proactive measure from America, Government has, as usual, assured that security agencies in Nigeria have the capacity to contain the situation.
It is amazing that the Federal Government has continued to display ill temper over security alerts from the US or any other foreign country. Government has always displayed ego and placed undue emphasis on Nigeria's sovereignty each time there is an intervention or suggestion from a foreign country on security issues in Nigeria.
Even though government reserves the right to guard Nigeria's sovereignty and image jealously, we believe that the warnings are harmless. If anything, they are aimed at saving life and property. They are a clarion call on government to guard its loins properly so as not to be taken unawares. As a country that places high premium on security, the US reserves the right to work towards protecting the lives of its nationals in Nigeria. This is what it has been doing through the security alerts. But the warnings do not just serve the purpose of the US, they also draw our attention to looming dangers in the horizon. For this reason, we should approach such alerts with soberness and a lofty sense of responsibility rather than join issues or split hairs over them.
Significantly, the US warning is coming at the time the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has expressed serious concern over the activities of Boko Haram. The senate, this Wednesday, urged the Federal Government to invoke its military might and all instruments of power at its disposal to put an end to the Boko Haram menace. The lawmakers said the move had become imperative if the disintegration of the country must be averted. It said the Boko Haram attacks were an assault on the unity and sovereignty of Nigeria and, in fact, a declaration of war on the country.
If we place the call from the Senate side by side with the security alert from the US government, it becomes evident that we have an emergency on our hands. The Boko Haram threat is as serious as it has been painted by the US government and the Senate. The Federal government of Nigeria, which the National Assembly is a part of, should view these warnings and calls with utmost concern. We agree with the senate that everything has to be done by government to put an end to the Boko Haram menace.
Government has been in the habit of always assuring Nigerians that it is on top of the security situation in the country. But such assurances have yielded no fruits as Boko Haram has always caught our security agencies napping. It is even much more worrisome that most of Boko Haram attacks were preceded by warnings from the terrorist organization. Yet, government was unable to avert them.
We must not allow a repeat of that this time around. Government has to heed the warnings and the calls and protect Abuja and, indeed, the whole of Nigeria from the onslaught of terrorists. It will be unpardonable if we fall prey to Boko Haram attacks again after our attention has been sufficiently drawn to the looming calamity. To be forewarned, we are told, is to be forearmed.