By Reuben Buhari
“So you think if I have a loaded gun in my hand one ‘bastard’ would still sneak into my house and attack me?” he asks rhetorically. Knowing the persuasive intent of such question, I kept quiet but i could feel the scorching heat of both his anger and despondency.
I met him in the hospital after surviving an attack on his village that killed his wife and 3 children. He was also lucky to survive, albeit with multiple, life threatening machete cuts on his body. His resolve was that never again would he be taken unaware.
In the face of unrelenting insecurity, compounded by less than a million security personnel policing 923,768 square kilometers, inhabited by almost 200 million people, most Nigerians, especially in the rural areas of the north are adopting self-help measures to stay alive. A mixture of an overwhelmed security, an executive lacking the will to admit and a political class, feeling smug in their gilded fortresses have made the ordinary man to feel abandoned and resorts to stay alive through self help.
The resolve to self help is anchored on two beliefs: To deter and repel. Most feel that the presence of a loaded weapon in their hands would deter any criminal from attacking them, while those needing it to repel feel that a shot fired signifys the right to a reply both as a counter and deterrent.
While some are arming themselves physically with all sorts of ancient and modern weapons, others are going ocultic. Consequently, a resurgence of traditional practices stares at us as young men in rural areas go deep into the forest in the middle of the night to ‘cook’ and ‘fortify ‘ themselves against bullets or knives from bandits.
This resort to self help, though, probably beneficial to vulnerable individuals wouldn’t augur well for the country in the long run. A profusion of guns everywhere when the current insecurity ends would be the birth of another insecurity that the Government needs to be aware of.