Since the last four months, the security situation in the country, especially in the North Eastern part, has been a serious cause for concern to many law-abiding Nigerians. Indeed, the spectre of bomb blasts and attacks on innocent Nigerians, resulting in colossal loss of lives, maiming, as well as destruction of property worth millions of Naira, are taking a frightening dimension.
Only last week, President Goodluck Jonathan summoned an emergency meeting with security top brass in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with the aim of putting every machinery in place to checkmate the spate of bomb blasts and violent attacks on the citizens, particularly on government officials and institutions. The meeting came on the heels of a suicide bomb attack on Police Headquarters in Abuja, recently, by a group, allegedly linked to a fundamentalist religious sect, Boko Haram.
Before that daring incident, a number of dastardly bomb blasts had been unleashed on unsuspecting Nigerians and government institutions across some states in the North. On October 1, 2010, as Nigerians were celebrating the golden jubilee anniversary of the independence of the country, twin bomb blasts hit locations near the Eagle Square venue of the national event in Abuja, killing at least, 11 persons, and injuring some 35 others. Since then, bomb blasts have been recorded in other cities.
Specifically, in March, 2011, after a political campaign rally in Suleja, Niger State, a car bomb had exploded near the venue of the rally, causing stampede and severe damage to buildings nearby. Similarly, on the eve of the botched April 2, 2011 National Assembly elections, a bomb had detonated at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) building, killing innocent Nigerians, including volunteer members of the National Youth Service Corps, recruited by the election umpire to conduct the April polls.
Between then and now, series of bomb blasts have ripped off buildings, killing law-abiding citizens, and raised tension across the land. In Zuba, within the precinct of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Zaria in Kaduna State, Mugadishu Barracks, Abuja, and a plethora of other explosions that had killed many in Borno State, are clear cases which quickly come to mind. From available records, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for virtually all the bomb attacks from last March to the most recent attack on an eatery in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, last Monday.
Boko Haram, we understand, is a fundamentalist Islamic sect demanding, the establishment of Sharia as the official legal system in 12 states in the North, an end to secular education system, and a government system that professes Islamism as fundamental principle of governance, among others. In fact, Boko Haram elements claim not to recognize democratic governments and institutions, and insists on extirpating any semblance of representative democracy in the North. They also want to eliminate the police, and other para-military institutions and personnel.
The Tide feels particularly worried at the level of sophistication, strategic deployment of weapons, mode of delivery and execution of the series of bomb attacks, and the daring impunity with which members of Boko Haram have carried out their uncanny and unpatriotic campaign against the state. To say the least, the Boko Haram tactics and strategy are serious threats to the security of Nigerians and the territorial integrity of the nation. Indeed, we are ashamed at the successful execution of the suicide bomb attack on the headquarters of the nation’s security agency. We are sad that the epicenter of agency responsible for the protection of lives and property of Nigerians was so masterfully attacked and police officers serving the nation killed by common criminals.
While we expect that every citizen has a right to profess his or her religion, demand and get his or her rights to good education, high quality healthcare delivery, shelter, employment, and security guarantees in an independent nation such as ours, we also feel that such rights must be gained in a decent fashion. But it is particularly important to remind perpetrators of the festering mayhem of the immutable fact that their rights end where other Nigerians’ rights begin.
For us, therefore, to canvass amnesty for such group of persons, who have not in any way requested for government’s olive branch or shown remorse for their acts of terrorism and treason against the Nigerian state, as some few elements have surreptitiously done, is unpatriotic and unnecessary. The presidential amnesty granted Niger Delta militants by the Federal Government was necessitated by the fact that the struggle was meaningful and anchored on the need to develop the region, engineer political inclusiveness, and promote justice, equity and fair-play within the polity.
This is why The Tide supports the Federal Government’s present joint military strategy as a means of crushing the menace of Boko Haram. We say so because we do not see the desire to further any reasonable and development-driven ideas and demands by Boko Haram. In fact, their demands are crassly antithetical to development, progress, peace and security.
We, therefore, insist that government must do everything within its powers to suppress the rising tide of violence, bomb blasts, unwarranted killings, maiming and destruction of property of law-abiding Nigerians in any part of the country. The joint military task force must rise to the occasion, and quell this tasteless menu served Nigerians. The police must also swing into action, arrest and prosecute those directly or indirectly linked to the spate of insecurity in the land, so as to serve as a deterrent to any criminal minds, planning a new offensive anywhere in the country.
The time has come for the security agencies in this country to truly show that they are on top of the security situation. This is the only way we can beat our chests to say ‘Nigeria is foreign investors’ choice destination’, in Africa. Otherwise, the government’s vision of making Nigeria one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020 could be a huge pipe dream. The security challenges are real, and the government must face them frontally. This is the truth!