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HomeNewsPOLITICAL DIMENSIONS OF INSECURITY IN NIGERIA AND ONE SILVER BULLET SOLUTION

POLITICAL DIMENSIONS OF INSECURITY IN NIGERIA AND ONE SILVER BULLET SOLUTION

By Law Mefor

One is reminded of carved-up Christmas turkeys when considering Nigeria and how both foreigners and its citizens plunder its resources. An Igbo proverb that refers to the guidelines for cultivating newly discovered farmland that belongs to no one in the community is “Okata okolu” (farm as you may). The elders would declare a day on which the people would farm the land because no one owned it. Everyone gathers on the designated day and hour, and each person tills as much of the land as their strength carries them.

That’s how Nigeria has come to be. Prebendalism – the idea held by government officials that resources owned by the government are their own – allows citizens to plunder as much of the common resources as they can. To them, stealing government funds is not theft. But they would amputate a twelve-year-old who stole a phone somewhere in the north and lynch another who stole one thousand naira down south, but they would embrace government officials who stole billions of naira and offer them front pews in churches and mosques.

Since Nigeria doesn’t seem to belong to anyone as a geographical expression, plundering is the norm. Because of this, no one in Nigeria manages for the benefit of the people or the advancement of the country. Systematic class fraud is taking place, with the deliberate goal of crippling the economy and imploding the country.

This is the reason for the escalation of insecurity. Security personnel are also exempt. They, too, are Nigerians, and, like the rest, would gather anything they could, not believing that their country even exists. Generals embezzle money intended for arms and soldiers’ living expenses, while troops who dare to ask questions face court-martial, imprisonment, or dismissal. Police investigation and judgement by courts are now mostly to the highest bidders and politically connected. Therefore, corruption, the politicisation of national security, and a lack of any sense of patriotism are core causes of Nigeria’s current state of insecurity.

Three decades ago, Nigeria was considered to be among the world’s safest countries. For Nigerians, terrorism meant something entirely alien—a fairytale from distant lands. However, because the people in command and authority turned a blind eye or colluded for less than honourable reasons, terrorists and Janjaweed bandits have taken over forests in both the north and south of Nigeria.

There are underlying reasons for Nigeria’s insecurity, which the nation must deal with to have peace, growth, and progress. Symptoms are alerts to more serious underlying conditions. Ignored or dismissed symptoms frequently result in more difficult situations later on, when the underlying illnesses manifest. That is precisely what happened with Nigerian insecurity: the nation failed to nip in the bud the sources of insecurity.

Prebendal politics and unpatriotic political leaders are Nigeria’s main causes of insecurity. Even the most horrible of the others are copies of political corruption and unpatriotic leadership. As a signature, prebendal politicians, who embezzled the country’s common resources and left the populace stranded, hungry, and enraged, are to blame for terrorism, Janjaweed banditry, killer herdsmen, insurgency, militancy, cultism, ritual murders, and Yahoo Plus, among other forms of insecurity in the land.

Bad governance is a direct result of prebendal politics and a common feature that underpins and gives insecurity its wings.

Prebendal political players score so highly on the rating because they are the ones who steal public money in large lumps. They embezzle the funds intended for economic growth, job creation, and development. They should be appropriately viewed as economic terrorists, just like the other terrorists, militants, rebels, and bandits.

To counteract insecurity, it is therefore essential to overthrow prebendal politics and recover the loot of public officials in a manner akin to how the country handled the Abacha loot. Yes, prebendalism must be addressed with decisiveness. And stopping the feeding of government officials is the right place to start. There is a report that 30 governors spent over N950 billion on entertainment in 3 months! Only Nigeria and Africa feed their leaders; no country in the West does.

The rich feed the poor in the West, but in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, the impoverished feed the rich. In psychology, this is known as means-end inversion.

The next is asset declaration, which needs to be made public both before and after an individual assumes office. It is morally and legally unacceptable for a public official to conceal his wealth and income from his employers. He or she may choose to keep their privacy by not running for or accepting any public office at all. No one enters the kitchen if they don’t want to get heated.

Third, a new law that stipulates an extremely long sentence—possibly life or death—for corruption must be passed, and the fight against corruption must be apolitical and serious. Because it is evil, corruption ought to be regarded on par with armed robbery. In addition to being theft, corruption is a moral blight and a crime of betrayal. Because of this, dishonest government officials in China are executed. That country views it as a waste, sending corrupt officials to jail. As a result of this prudent management of public resources and zero tolerance for corruption, China has grown to become the largest economy in the world, possessing reserves exceeding $1 trillion. Compare that to Nigeria, which has less than $35 billion in reserves and where prebendal public officials plunder the commonwealth.

In Nigeria, Politicians founded a terrorist movement and brought in bandits to prosecute elections. Boko Haram terrorists had government positions in their early years. One even held the position of commissioner before they were forced underground and withdrew into the Sambisa jungle. Dealing with them decisively is challenging because they had been politically involved in the past.

In a similar spirit, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, a former chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), traced the origin of the current insecurity in the country to the influx of bandits from neighboring countries like Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Niger, and Chad. Honourable Baraje then told Nigerians about how these Janjaweed bandits were brought into Nigeria to ensure electoral victory in the 2015 presidential election and then left on their own, which led them to start kidnapping for ransom and extorting citizens for taxes. The fundamental reason it has been difficult to weed the bandits out is the political undertone of banditry. Videos and images have surfaced of their leaders posing with a governor and sporting turbans from traditional monarchs in the north.

Likewise, politicians have used cultists as private armies and political thugs to cause unrest in Nigeria. For their elections and security, the politicians arm the cultists and provide them with political cover, and help them get away with murder and other serious crimes. Since the politicians cannot retrieve the guns they illegally bought for the thugs and cultists from the black market, many of them turn into armed robbers and kidnappers.

Under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, killer herdsmen gained the greatest impetus and boost. Anywhere they could, they let their animals graze. They’d become so brazen and reckless that they were uprooting crops and feeding their cattle, even going so far as to set farms on fire to force the early sprouting of grass so the animals would have food while the farmers starved. Many farmers who ventured to challenge the brazenness were raped, wounded, or killed.

The tension between farmers and killer herdsmen has also intensified after a governor revealed to Nigerians on national television that he was involved in a project aimed at resettling an ethnic group that had become stranded around Africa in the country. Communities have been sacked as a result, and their attackers have taken control of the sacked communities. What this means is that politicians are the ones bringing in the killer herdsmen into the country as well. Effective containment of the situation is also hampered by the killer herdsmen’s political cover. Even on the floor of the Nigerian senate, some senators argue that herdsmen and their cattle should be allowed to enjoy the rights of citizens and should graze anywhere they may.

Insurgents and militants are engaged in economic conflicts of marginalisation as democracy has failed to bring about progress and employment possibilities. The loud protests against the Niger Delta’s oil not helping the people living there while it develops other regions of the nation are known as the Niger Delta militancy. Thus, it is a fight for inclusion and social justice, a fight for resource control as seen in other federations.

A president showed audacity by calling the Igbo ethnic group, which has potentially over 40 million people, just a dot on a circle and treating them as such. That was how the South East, which was the safest zone in Nigeria, was allowed to become home to unknown gunmen.

In addition, numerous types of insecurity and violent crimes have been brought on by economic stagnation among young people in general. With the economy growing worse, the majority of young people who graduated more than ten years ago have no chance of finding work. The outrageous displays of extravagant wealth exhibited by politicians without any labour have also instilled in young people the desire to become wealthy overnight. This led to the advent of Yahoo Boys and Yahoo Plus. Yahoo Plus is the Yahoo Boys who, supposedly, kill for rituals to spur their Yahoo activities, no thanks to the prebendal politicians and their primitive acquisition of wealth.

Bottom line: the political elites are responsible for the different types of insecurity in Nigeria. The solution to insecurity in Nigeria has therefore one silver bullet: deal with the prebendal politics and the identified root causes of insecurity decisively, and their manifestations will vanish in no time.

· Dr. Law Mefor, an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought; drlawmefor@gmail.com; Twitter: @Drlawsonmefor.

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