By Hon. Josef Omorotionmwan
The view is popularly held that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. This becomes easily true in a pluralistic society like ours where geography and ethnicity are defining factors in our daily activities. At a point, things are seen differently. Patriotism, which to many of us, might ordinarily mean the love for ones country and the devotion to the welfare of ones compatriots, could assume a different meaning.
For example, the authorities might require you to say that in a communal clash, you saw 39 corpses, not the 200 that were physically counted! You must not say anything that could scare foreign investors. That’s their patriotism. They speak with a tone that suggests that foreign investment is everything to everybody.
They forget that the world is now a global village in which information travels at the speed of thought. They also forget that in this global village, foreign interests are properly represented. Quite often, the foreign interests see more than we do. Their reports are more authentic than ours. For one thing, they cannot be gagged. For another, while the average Nigerian reporter on the beat is a generalist, covering every subject under the sun – from Agriculture to Zoning – his foreign counterpart is a specialist, assigned to one narrow area of interest. This is the basis on which we bring your way today some seemingly damning reports of the Nigerian security situation in the eyes of foreigners.
But we must hasten to say that this is the type of report that can move a nation forward. This is also the type of report that the foreign interests need for their planning. Inter alia, it enables the few foreign investors intent on coming here to determine the risk factors to bring into their operational costing.
The United States Council on Foreign Relations, CFR, an independent body of experts dedicated to providing advice on policy options facing countries, has documented at least 19,890 deaths in Nigeria since June 2015, after President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015.
CFR puts the figure for the cumulative deaths from May 2011 to May 2018 at 53,595, saying that the deaths are from violence that are both causal and symptomatic of the weakness of Nigeria’s political institutions and citizen alienation.
These reports are supported by the reports of the United Kingdom-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CSW, which disclosed that Fulani militias killed 1,061 people in Northern Nigeria in the first quarter of 2018 in some 106 attacks; while 11 other attacks in Southern Nigeria by the militias claimed a further 21 lives.
According to the CSW, it is a capital error to attempt to characterize the attacks as communal clashes as deviously clamed in some quarters. Given the regularity and precision of their attacks; the fact that the militias are armed with sophisticated weaponry, including AK-47 and on at least one occasion, rocket launchers; coupled with the fact that between 2015 and 2017, the militias killed more men, women and children than the much-dreaded Boko Haram, they cannot be engaged in anything but ethno-religious cleansing!
Hear the Chief Executive of CSW, Mervyn Thomas:“The number of attacks and casualties is staggering and illustrates the appallingly high price communities in Central Nigeria and the Middle Belt are paying for the absence of an effective official response to a force that is not only a threat to national security, but also to national unity”
On Thursday, November 29, 2018 the Nigerian Crisis came to the British Parliament, where in the House of Lords, it was vigorously debated between the hours of 2:16 p.m. and 3:02 p.m. – 46 minutes of intense debate in frayed nerves.
It was clear to the parliamentarians that the Buhari administration had since lost control of the Nigerian situation. They descended heavily on the Nigerian and British governments, warning that except some drastic measures were taken urgently, Nigeria might be plunged into the type of genocide that would reduce Rwanda to a child’s play.
During the debate, the lawmakers adduced reasons for the worsening Nigerian situation and they came to the inevitable conclusion that the violence was a part of the Jehadist movement.
The Hansard for the day’s proceedings clearly indicates that the major protagonist of the debate on the Nigerian crisis was Baroness Elizabeth Rose Berridge, 46, who argued most eloquently, “The violence visited on farmers in the North and the Middle Belt were a part of the Jehadist movement, However, the solution to the problem is in the hands of Nigerians themselves. I hope the citizens, especially Nigerian Christians, will use the opportunity to be provided by the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections to press home their demand for the government to deal with the crisis”.
At the home front, we have been worried that in the face of all this, the Buhari administration remains totally clueless and uncaring. The question today is no longer whether the bubble will burst, but when. The answer to that is soon!
We have observed elsewhere that our President is already afraid of himself and his aides. And that’s the worst that can happen to a leader.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has since become a loose cannon – only loyal to his personal ambition. For him, the President, the National Assembly and the Judiciary count for nothing. And the President looks on?
The Defence Minister, Dan-Ali, is totally in a world of his own, issuing his own proclamations, condemning and single-handedly quashing legislations validly enacted by democratically elected Assemblies – as he did with the Benue State anti-grazing law. And the President looks on?
Members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association openly claim responsibility for the wanton killings, maintaining that they are all mere reprisals for their lost or killed cows. Yet, we have a sitting government and nobody is asking the professed killers any question?
Nigeria has suddenly become one place where you could kill 200 people and go scotch free, but kill 10 cows and you will be killed! That’s our warped scale of preference – the choice cow over man!
At the giddy height of reckless nepotism, our President threw overboard, the concept of Federal Character which finds its classic expression in Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution. Instead, he has chosen to surround himself with his kinsmen. For instance, in a 14-member Security Council, only three members are from Southern Nigeria while the Chairman and other members are from the North. What this means is that when it comes to discussing the security of this country at the highest level, a critical segment of the nation is yanked off! Any wonder, then, that we are where we are and our security is what it is?