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Insecurity: Why State Of Emergency On Security Is Necessary by kindnyce(m): 3:59pm On Mar 11, 2021
Insecurity: Why State of Emergency on Security is Necessary.

Abdullahi D Mohammed

The begining of new rainy season usually are anchored on many variables -- New and fresh produce or yield for the farmer, and a prospect for fresh grazing field for the herder. But, in today's Nigeria, new rainy season brings with it, fear and anxiety, not from the likelihood of flooding along the country's riverine communities, but, from farming communities who insecurity has increasingly disrupted their trade.

Recent challenge the President gave the new Service Chiefs to end insecurity before the new farming or raining season, is apt and commendable. By implication, there seems to be a new twist or fervor on the part of political actors; ostensibly as a result of backlash from Nigerians on the spate of Killings, and the high profile abductions of schoolboys and girls in Kagara and Jengebe, respectively.

During the swearing in ceremony, the C-in-C charged the new Service Chiefs to bring to an end criminality and insurgency in the land. That to me, sounds like a target, set by a daring and intimidating boss. More so, that should have been the tone of Mr President.

In the 21st century corporate world, there are no jobs without target. As such, every employer has some form of target for employees, and, they have to work accordingly to meet the threshold. Failure to do so, could lead to deduction of salaries, outright sack, or termination of appointment.
In the public sector however, especially with the daunting and prevailing security challenges in the country, the President must be proactive, and take charge like a true General. Putting out a mere speech would not be enough. Doling out proclamations or order, as a task or target to the new Service Chiefs is the way to go. Set out a template, and a time frame within which they are expected to perform, and assessed. Such majors could potentially reduce, to the barest minimum rate of senseless killings in the country.
The most noble step in achieving this is by foremostly declaring a State of Emergency on security. The no- fly zone declared must be extended to other states, and go beyond Zamfara, or the Northwest axis.

If banditry in the country is exacerbated by porous borders, then, time to take effective control of the border is now. The infiltration of armed men into the country on the pretext of grazing must be checkmated or curtailed.
Regardless of the ECOWAS Protocol on Transhumance adopted in 1998, which allows member states recognize cross-border pastoralist Transhumance, as economically viable, and an integral part of regional integration drive on the principle of free movement of persons, goods and services. Nigerian Government, in view of the security challenges must halt such movement until a more robust mechanism or framework is developed which would secure the borders.
The principle of free movement had obviously hurt the country lately. The pains, far outweighs the gains. States hit hard by insurgency and banditry are those sharing borders with or neighbors.

The focus of the new Service Chiefs should be on the countless abandoned territories or spaces across the troubled states. Decades long neglect of communities allow undocumented persons build fortresses, and large followership with considerable influence on communities within their space and beyond. Using such fortresses as launchpad for attacks and other criminalities became more and more prevalent, especially in the Forests across Northwest.

Zamfara for instance, which is the epicenter of banditry, has many blaming political actors in the State of complicity. Competing for control, or possession of large land, which has rich Gold deposits was, as some experts say responsible for the spate of Killings. They benefit from illegal mining on the Gold fields for decades. The only medium to take off preying eyes on these activities is to create an atmosphere of chaos, fear and insecurity. Alternatively, they turn to the Fulani herders -- arm and empowered them. It is an open secret, well known within security and intelligence agencies in the country. Those fuelling, and benefiting from insecurity in Zamfara are known in the intelligence circle. Lack of political will to bring them to book, or prosecute them, is entirely a story for another day.

But, a major pointer to this is the rejection, by the Zamfara State House of Assembly the recent no-fly zone declared by the Federal Government. It leaves many to wonder, and, their motive suspect. At the moment, Zamfara, does not have a functional Airport, the hue and cry is needlessly aimed at derailing efforts of security operatives. Both the Executive and Legislative arms in the State seemingly enjoys some form of mutual relationship with the bandits. Hence, the peace initiative of the State Government has not yielded any positive. Kidnap for ransom has not abated, sacking of communities has not too. Currently, most boarding schools in the State are shutdown for fear of attacks. Obviously, the peace or amnesty is not working.
Which is why, the call for the rejection for an amnesty or pardon to the bandits has been amplified lately, across different quarters. Surreptitiously, the bandits had found a lucrative venture, with zero investment and a large quick turnover. Abandoning such ventures is no mean task.

Government must extract a commitment pledge from the Service Chiefs -- accomplish the task, or get sacked!
Securing the country is so significant to be subjected to partisanship. Most developed economies prioritize their national security, against any form of parochial or personal interest. In Nigeria, instead of taking full responsibility, and consider how lethal insecurity is, political actors oftentimes politicize almost everything, including national security. Failing to take into account that, securing the country first is a recipe for any enduring and sustainable development.

What characterizes the tenure of immediate Service Chiefs, were allegations of endemic malfeasance. Many reports are in the public space, where top military brass, as well as Junior officers complain of insufficient arms, which, affects the morale and fighting spirit of their combatant soldiers. Weapons used by Nigerian soldiers are said to be inferior, when compared to the sophisticated arms used by the insurgents. A new drive, motivation and vigour must be injected in the fight against insecurity.

Intelligence and technology, rather than an all-out combat are some of the mechanism adopted in prosecuting a 21st century guerilla-like warfare. Technology, for instance, reduces fatalities and casualties on the part of government forces. Reconnaissance, with the aid of drone was partly responsible for successes recorded by Chadian forces which gave Boko Haram terrorist a bloody nose last year.
Even the ill-fated Helicopter crash which killed 7 gallant Nigerian Airforce personel last February would have been averted had the authorities concern resorted to the use of surveillance drones to detect the whereabouts of the Kagara school boys.

Nigeria must not cave in to the demand of the terrorist in whatever guise. The closure of boarding schools across the region signifies one thing -- reactionary stance and complacency. Precedence had been set, with the abductions of Chibok school girls, that ought to have put Government on its toes, to atleast anticipate and be proactive in the face of any eventuality, or aggression.

Atleast, since schools are being targeted, securing and fortifying them should come top of government to do list. For an educationally disadvantaged region, shutting down schools, especially Girl's, would automatically reduce enrollment, as most parents would either marry them off, or, for those who could afford, send them to private schools. Either way, it portends a grave danger to education in the region.

We all heard gory details of massacres of farmers by bandits which had affected or threaten food security in the country. Most had to pay to have access, to their farmlands. Bandits openly tax farming communities across Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto. Now that another farming season is approaching, and the C-in-C had issued a statement to the Service Chiefs, it is expected he do a follow-up, by declaring a State of Emergency on security. This would put every single security personnel on his or her toes. Legislatures must also ensure, through various committees on matters of security, synergize with relevant stakeholders on security. Communities are helpless, the best they could do is alert security operatives in the event of an attack, which they graciously do. Heeding the advice of Defence Minister is simply suicidal, an armless civilian, confronting an armed terrorist is sheer stupidity.

Mere statement by Mr President to the new Service Chiefs would not change the configuration, or pattern of security in the country. But, setting targets, tasking and tracking their activities would effectively have an impact on the Modus operandi; and hopefully, we would see peace and return to the land.

At this point, we feverishly wait, and hope banditry and criminality ends, at least, before the rainy season begins, so our farmers could access their farmlands, and our school boys and girls return to school.
With the new Service Chiefs on board, a state of emergency on security in place, we sure can heave a sigh of relief, and await real progress.

Abdullahi D Mohammed is with the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University-Zaria.
He writes from Kano

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