By Tope Fasua
Let us stand back to look at our nation. Let us rid our minds of bias and politics. We have the world’s worst security crisis here today. It’s been like that for a while. But trust us, especially the political leaders, not to acknowledge. For them, it is about looking good for the cameras. But we should all b y now, feel the closing apocalypse. Don’t we all feel hemmed in? Rich and poor, from any part of Nigeria, adherent of any religion or none. Aren’t we cooked already?
By now, a government with a little bit of shame elsewhere, would have resigned. Truly. The loss of lives is beyond pardon. I had started this article a week ago but been too depressed to complete it. Luckily, President Buhari summoned courage and landed in Imo State despite the security concerns there. Good one! But the security issues must be catalogued.
The usual tendency is to hide behind one finger, and dodge in between statistics, many of which are designed to put us in even more trouble. There will soon come a time when we will have nowhere to turn and no excuses to hide behind. By then, we will find ourselves in the open; naked and shivering. Already, it is that way. The Western world that we love to pander to, is only very diplomatic and deceptive. What is discussed about Nigeria around their kitchen tables and core strategy sessions in the highest decision-making places is a world different from what we are told in the open.
It is left for us to tell ourselves the truth. Alas, this is not our forte. Even Lugard (hate him or love him), mentioned in his famous book about us that we hate the truth. This is playing out today. For if we understood the value of truth, we would not keep hiding behind the states that say Nigeria has the world’s third worst security crisis, behind Iraq and Afghanistan.
Let us look closely. Until the Americans decided to leave Afghanistan, when last did we hear of suicide bombing there? And when these things happened in Afghanistan, they were at war with foreign invaders. We here get too carried away with cliches and repeat like parrots what we hear on CNN and elsewhere, and the current fad is to mock Afghanistan. We will still be mocking, when our worse realities will become open to the limits of the world if we are not careful. What is it about insecurity in Afghanistan that we don’t have worse here?
And we have a president drawing salary, looking fresh, sponsoring himself on our dime for treatment abroad? We have governors who – like the president – are lords and masters in their states and who in many ways are far more profligate than the president? We have all sorts of politicians running all over the country in byzantine gluttony, wrecking the nation in more ways than one, while the entire country is a total write-off, security-wise? How can this situation make anyone happy? Is it not all about the disconnect of governance from the people?
What about Iraq? When last, since the US deescalated their involvement in that country, did we hear the usual things we heard when the country was at war? That country was targeted by the Americans, British, Canadians and other usual suspects, over the false pretext that she harboured weapons of mass destruction. The Westerners wanted a war; Bush got one, not minding how many women and children died. Obama repeated the same in Libya. Iraq has been largely peaceful of late. I searched on the internet and there is not much going on there lately. This is the country we are hiding behind as we usually do, while they are reorganising themselves and nowhere is safe in our nation. It is a big, massive shame to our security service too. I would not be proud if I was in the Nigerian armed forces today, or the intelligence services.
But it is a Nigerian thing, for if you go to the economic space too, all we do is hide behind the cliché that just like other developed nations of the world, we are in an economic recession, when the reality – unacceptably high rate of unemployment, unacceptably high crime rates, untold insecurity and killings, unacceptable inflation rates alongside low growth, unacceptable poverty, disease and hunger – show that we are at least in an economic depression, if not worse. Why are we never interested in the truth, even about ourselves? We say our debts are not enough based on some metric recommended by the World Bank. We deny that we have economic issues.
I’ve revved myself up to write this article, and I wanted it to be jarring. I wanted to point out a truth that is just staring us in the face, while we avert our eyes, deliberately ignore the elephant in the room. I wish I could achieve what I intended still, somehow. I got a text from Omoyele Sowore on the morning his junior brother was shot dead around Okada in Edo State. Jide Sowore was a mature student of Psychology at Igbinedion University. I recalled sometime in 2017 when I undertook a study tour of Edo State police stations and prisons, and we had to go to Okada area to check their police stations. The retired Superintendent of Police I was with, was very afraid when we had to visit Okada. He said that place was very notorious for those kinds of attack.
They even showed us in the police station how they arrested some guys only for them to break themselves out of jail through the ceiling. We saw it all. We were told at the police station that the children of the big men who attended the university had to be escorted by a trailer load of armed policemen when they resumed and when they vacated. I wondered what kind of life was that. I wondered how Nigeria has become such a place that distinguishes itself in this world as very unsafe, where anyone can be kidnapped or shot. Only the large cities are fairly safe, but there are no guarantees.
This is an incredibly sad and abnormal situation but I think the first thing to do is for us to acknowledge exactly where we are if we shall ever find solutions to our security quagmire. Next week we shall expand on this and find solutions.
The above opinion article first appeared in Daily Trust, https://dailytrust.com/honestly-and-empirically-nigeria-has-the-worlds-worst-security-crisis-but-it-is-artificial