Since the 1966 pogrom that culminated in the 30 month-long Nigerian Civil war which terminated the nation’s democratic journey after independence in 1960, never has the survival of her democracy project been so threatened as today.
With an encouraging 12 years track record leading to the current dispensation and after three aborted republics, it seemed that the country had achieved reasonable stability on the democracy trail.
Happily, the military, which aborted previous democratic projects, now seems content with to its professional and constitutional calling, of mainly, protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation and answerable to political leadership.
Sadly however, the security challenges of the nation today present a clear and present danger not only to the Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Presidency but also and even more importantly, to the continued unity and survival of Nigeria.
Over the past 12 years of what has become today, Nigerians fourth republic, there have been several security challenges which have largely been seen as ingredients of a growing democracy and economy.
These challenges rather than abate have continued to assume disturbing proportions as incidences of armed robbery, kidnapping, assassination cult-related ritual killings, crude oil theft have today become the rule rather than the aberration . And no state is completely spared.
Here in Rivers State for instance, the Police Commissioner Mr. Mohammed Indabawa in a recent press briefing in Port Harcourt, meant to highlight successes of his command’s in March and April 2012, said the command arrested 61 armed robbery and 25 kidnap suspects.
Also, in the period under review, 20 suspected cultists were arrested.
The record reflects the troubling security situation in the state, generally perceived as the most secure, so what should one expect in other states of Nigeria?
Similarly, crude oil theft in various states has continued to inflict damage on the nation’s economic suvival and security with an estimated 150,000 barrels lost daily, and which denies the nation a whooping $6 billion yearly.
The co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, citing Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) figures said recently that bombings and other attacks by crude oil thieves resulted in the loss of 17 percent of crude oil production which translates to one-fifth of the nation’s revenue target.
However, of all these security challenges, by far the most threatening of the nation’s democracy and corporate unity is the one posed by the Jama’atu Ahli Sunna lid Da’awanti wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram.
The violent Islamic fundamentalist group which appeared on the nation’s consciousness during the Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s tenure, is said to be opposed to Western education and wants the Nigerian government to be run by sharia laws.
The violent activities of the sect assumed epidemic proportions after President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s inauguration following his electoral victory in the April, 2011 presidential elections.
Largely suspected to have been sponsored and funded by well-placed Nigerians, the group has not only targeted public places in parts of six Northern Nigeria of the federation with bombings occasioning death of hundreds, but has also attacked the Police Headquarters, the United Nations UN Office in Abuja, Churches, Media Houses and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members among others.
According to the Ministry of Police Affairs, the sect has executed at least 118 attacks in which 308 persons were killed in six states within Northern Nigeria.
As security agencies grapple with the containment of the various manifestations of the nation’s security challenges, the recent acknowledgement by government that the Boko Haram sect had infiltrated its top security and political leadership is most discomforting. This is so when added to the fact that the federal government had also indicated that its security report had linked some top politicians and prominent Nigerians with the sponsorship of the reign of terror against the state.
Against this background, it has become imperative for government to undertake an urgent self-appraisal with a view to making public, masterminds and sponsors of the Boko Haram-instigated violence with a view to trying them for treason.
It is also regrettable that the president’s alleged interest to contest the 2015 elections has taken centre stage only about a year into his four year tenure. This has also not helped the security situation in the country with former Head of state General Muhammadu Buhari threatening violence if it is rigged. Captions such as “Jonathan’s 2015 ambition can break up Nigeria” and “Jonathan’s 2015 ambition fuelling insecurity” were reportedly posted in the social media. This is capable of politicising all genuine efforts at addressing the situation.
This might have prompted the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati to blame such reports on the inordinate ambition of a few ‘self centred’ Nigerians and their obsessions with the politics of succession in 2015″. But it must be said that the obvious politicking of the presidency with Jonathan’s 2015 political future has not helped the cause of national security.
However, if the Jonathan Presidency is to give practical expression to the regime’s much touted economic transformation agenda, it must act its words voiced in near repetitive promises on security.
Indeed, security of lives and property are cardinal constitutional responsibilities government owes its citizenry and foreigners within the country. If however, a government becomes incompetent in discharging these responsibilities, it raises moral and constitutional questions about its legitimacy and propriety.
What Nigerians expect today is a proactive security template that both preempts and prevents crime through improved intelligence and better equipment. And not waste ample time debating the moral and legal questions surrounding President Jonathan’s 2015 ambition.
Again government must make real, its fight against corruption that had made a select class in the corridors of power super-rich while the large majority wallow in poverty.
Also, the development of infrastructural needs of the nation must be pursued vigorously to fast-track economic growth and empowerment of the citizenry.
Furthermore, education must be accepted as a key potential necessary to guarantee security, patriotism and civilisation. Of course, when everyone possesses basic education, governance becomes easier in a democratic culture.
Another, is Justice for all and a level-playing field for all interests because it is an ingredient of a virile democracy which ought to be promoted by the political class for the survival of democracy in the country.
The lack of these rital imperatives, no doubt, contributed to the civil war, and so, must be guided against. Perhaps, also, Nigerians need to know that Nigeria can be stronger, Greater and more progressive as a united people with one destiny.
The Unity of Nigeria must not be compromised for any political exigency, no matter the tempting nature of the selfish ends some politicians seek.
These would however be realised only if the federal government remains focused to the implementation of its transformation agenda, proactively tackle security challenges and provide the soothing atmosphere for regular dialogue and reconciliation.
This is what President Jonathan and his team of appointees, cabinet ministers and other heads of departments and agencies, owe Nigerians within the next three of the four-year tenure, and not haggle to protect their political seats, as most selfish politicians do, through baseless debates on 2015, which still far, far away.