“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly” (Mahatma Gandhi).
Section 14 (2b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), states clearly that the welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary aim and duty of government. But with the increasing insecurity everywhere in Nigeria, has the government not failed in its primary duty?
In a recent motion raised on the floor of the senate by Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC Senator representing Ekiti North Senatorial district), the attention of Nigerians was drawn to the increasing insecurity situation under President Muhammadu Buhari’s.
Adetunmbi drew the attention of his distinguished colleagues to the fact that indeed Nigeria is in serious crisis. Furthermore, he called the attention of his colleagues to the statement made by President Buhari on the eve of 2015 general election.
On February 26th, 2015, at the Chatham house in London, the then presidential candidate made a bold speech on how he intended to make Nigeria the pride of Africa. A country where no territory would be under the control of the enemy. But disappointedly, nearly six years after, the situation has worsened. (cf. “Nigeria needs to be rescued, APC Senator tells colleagues,” National Daily Newspaper, by Admin, February 4, 2021).
Adetunmbi, a card carrier of the President’s political party, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), further acknowledged that Buhari needs help. However, my immediate reaction, after reading with keen interest, the motion raised by the Senator, was a question I asked while soliloquizing; “Is Buhari aware that he needs help?” If indeed he is aware that he needs help, he would have long sought for help. I do not think he is aware he needs help. I also think that he has forgotten the statement he made in London, on his promise to be at the forefront in leading Nigeria to safety of lives and property.
Nearly six years after, Nigeria is comatose. Our major roads, streets, farm roads, and even our homes are no more safe. Our children abroad can no longer come back home, for fear of being killed. Those who have been fortunate enough to survive the terrible ordeal of falling into the hands of kidnappers on their visit to Nigeria, have vowed never to make the mistake of ever returning to their home land.
Human life in Nigeria has seriously deteriorated into a mere commodity. Yet, Nigerians keep smiling amid the untold sufferings and daily killings. Indeed, the great Afro-beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti was right when he described Nigerians as, “suffering and smiling.” Sadly, I would say that Nigerians have drastically moved from “suffering and smiling,” to dying and smiling under Buhari’s watch.
Nigeria has now deteriorated to the new world Somalia. The Somaliazation of Nigeria is obvious today in every nook and cranny of its geographical space. Worse, is the infiltration of foreign terrorists in the name of foreign herders in most of our forests/bushes as a result of porous borders. Terrorists that were forced out of the territories they once occupied in Mali, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, and Libya are now having festivals of terrorism in our territories. The Nigerian geographical space has become a haven for them to feast.
Day and night, there are reported cases of killings by these new colonial elements in desperate search for colonies to occupy. Yet, instead of condemning the criminality, some elements in the Buhari led federal government, see any attack on those criminals as an affront on a particular ethnic group that could lead to ethnic crisis.
On January 18th, 2021, the courageous and erudite governor of Ondo State, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, gave a seven-day ultimatum to criminal elements occupying Ondo forests reserves to vacate. That ultimatum saw a quick reaction from the presidential senior spokesman on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, where he condemned the governor’s position.
Akeredolu gave the ultimatum following the increasing kidnappings and killings in the State by elements suspected to be criminal herders. The very last straw that broke the Carmel’s back leading to that ultimatum was the killing of a first class monarch just a few meters from his palace upon his return from a crucial meeting in Akure the Ondo State’s capital by suspected criminal herders.
Amid the controversy surrounding Garba Shehu’s inciting statement on behalf of the presidency, the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje has reacted in sincerity. In his reaction to the increasing farmers herders crisis in the South, and middle belt, he called on the federal government to ban the movement of cattle from the North to the South and middle belt. According to Ganduje; “My advocacy is that we should abolish the transportation or trekking of herdsmen from the northern part of Nigeria to the middle belt and to the Southern part of Nigeria. There should be a law that will ban, otherwise we cannot control the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers and cannot control the cattle rustling which is affecting us greatly” (cf. “Ganduje calls for ban on cattle movement from North to South, ” Vanguard News, by Johnbosco Agbakwuru, January 31st, 2021).
The clarion calls by Senator Adetunmbi, Governors Akeredolu and Ganduje, who are card carriers and stalwarts of the ruling APC, clearly shows that truth is truth, irrespective of one’s political affinity.
Let us hope that since members of his political party are beginning to tell him the truth, which many of them have hidden for so long, he will now rise to the challenge and do the needful. Nevertheless, without mincing words, insecurity under Buhari’s watch may be waiting to explode, and only a timely intervention can save it from deteriorating into a full Somalia.
Finally, fellow Nigerians, must we continue to keep silent, and keep dying and smiling? If our governments have failed us, let us not fail ourselves. Do not forget, “Truth never damages a cause that is just” (Mahatma Gandhi), but silence does.
© Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI, 2021.
Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI is a Catholic Priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul. He is currently on mission in the Archdiocese of Douala, Cameroon.