By Ibrahim Kabiru Gagarawa
This is the time of truth. It is a period to thoroughly examine ourselves and tell ourselves the truth. Insecurity is ravaging our country; it is not that it has not been there before or that it would not be even in best times, but the truth is it has gone beyond tolerable levels.
On one side you have the Boko Haram menace and on the other there is the ravaging Fulani herdsmen versus community residents. We also have kidnapping and ritual killings.
In addition, we have cases of armed robbery. Indeed, these are realities of our times. These problems have been solved because sometimes many of us, including the leadership,wants to deny reality.
For instance, when Vice President Yemi Osibanjo went abroad, he said issues of security were often exaggerated by political opponents.
We also do ourselves so much harm when our leaders refuse to accept the extent of insecurity that plagues the country. It is unfortunate that the ruling party will continue to say that things are turning better when raw statistics keep showing that the country is losing more lives daily than nations at war.
This situation cannot be acceptable if truly ours is a habitation of sane people. The truth from history is that every case of insecurity no matter how complex it would seem has an answer once there is a political will. How do we then solve our challenge of insecurity? The first is to admit that the situation is bad and to have the federal government declare it a national emergency. This way it becomes a national problem and not the challenge of the political party in power.
For most times we have seen the challenge of insecurity as failure of governance on the part of the ruling party.
Other parties make fable references to developments in this regard, take frequent jabs at the ruling party and retreat, feeling happy they have scored political points that could bolster their fortunes in the next general elections; this is not right.
Challenge of insecurity especially when it involves lives is beyond partisan politics. So declaring a national emergency would go a long way to change narratives and dispositions.
The next should be to convene an all politicians/political parties/security expert summit. It should begin with all politicians – all political parties security summit.
This recommendation is based on the fact that the politicians are mainly behind most cases of insecurity, whether of the religious, ethnic or social kind. If politicians in the north for instance don’t want religious riots and senseless killings of non-indigenes that often accompany it, I can bet not one religious riot would happen anywhere in the north.
When some of those riots happen, you are compelled to ask: what is the objective? If we tell ourselves the truth, it is territorial control that is often behind some of those dastardly activities. I have said it that militancy in the Niger Delta, Odua People’s Congress (OPC) and Indigenous People of Biafra were propped up and soon they became more powerful than their sponsors. Thugs and thuggery are part of the challenges.
So it is very pertinent that politicians meet and agree that it is time to drop negative behavior and bad political tactics so that the country can have peace. I insist that the politicians must look themselves in the face and agree, and once they agree 70 percent of factors behind insecurity would be dealt with.
After that the politicians and security experts can meet so they can hear each other. My only fear is that security experts tend to talk in billions of naira and that can be scary.
Not all security challenges require money to solve; a lot of them just require brainwork. Federal government is budgeting N2.2 billion to establish cattle colonies in the 36) states, it could as well have used the same amount to turn the entire Northern region green.
Kenya in just one week got the citizens to plant 300 million trees and this was just few weeks ago. We can plant trees and grasses and develop our railway system and a cattle dealer can arrive Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State from Kano, do his business and return back to his base in three days.
The third is to employ the power of public enlightenment. I have told friends that if I were a governor in South East I can use the tool of public enlightenment to stop deviant behaviors in my area of jurisdiction. I have in recent times had things to do with youths from different parts of this country and one thing I discovered is that nobody speaks to their mind, not the parents, not the schools, and unfortunately the faith-based organizations also fail in this regard.
They emphasise product over process and discipline, and that is taking its toll. The government is not even thinking in that line. The absence of good policy and sound governance, combine to add to the problem.
The vacuum created is being filled by foreign influences that are often far from realities. So we have a responsibility to teach why they should not bring harm to themselves and cause the society so much pain.
The fourth, this should come before education. There is urgent need to draw a national development plan, perhaps a four-year plan which would require the three tiers of government (federal, state and local) running developmental projects in key sectors of national life, all at the same time.
Some of these projects could be mechanized agriculture with added value. Where they produce rice for instance there should be rice mills to turn them into finished products for the markets. There could also be small-scale industries that can turn rice into flour, same for beans, yam, palm oil, tomatoes, groundnut and cashew nuts. I do not see why we cannot produce chocolates from cocoa.
You can also talk about road infrastructure, massive housing, and petroleum refining capacity amongst others. It is still inconceivable that we cannot have uninterrupted electricity supply in spite of the huge funds that annually goes into the sector.
Fifthly, credit facility has become an imperative. Many Nigerians know what to do but do not have funds. Imagine what would happen where the three tiers of governments are running credit facility programmes.
When our governments talk economy they talk only about fiscal and monetary policies; they hardly talk about productive economy. It is time we begin to do so. We must look at the sectors and see how we could populate them with investors.
Manufacturing is the life of any country. The youths we produce from our institutions must have avenues for self-actualization.
The sixth is education. Nearly 60 years after independence we are still producing educated people and not trained manpower. It is time we know that education without skill is a disservice of the highest order.
There is need to change our curriculum and restructure our institutions of learning beginning even from the primary schools.
We must help the North to train and educate our youths. I don’t want to talk about political restructuring even though I find so much sense in it. I also don’t want to talk about the police institution even though I know that the police’s main problem is not about numbers or remunerations.
Yes they are part of it but the bigger problem is the institution itself. The way it is today, new recruits would always be forced to bend to a police culture we know has not helped this country. Above all we need good governance. We need dialogue all the time.