By Michael Bush
For decades, I have followed the empty to-and-fro discourse on how best to retrieve our country from the vice-like grip of enemies of state, who, unfortunately, are everywhere. These guys being in high and low places means they take part every time in the national search for solution. That’s akin to sending a thief to catch his gang. It is not rocket science to deduce that scoundrels in government would 8, 9, 10 out of 10 times connive with rebels (militants, kidnappers, armed robbers, terrorists, name them).
The foregoing is, short and simple, the major reason Nigeria has continued to beg the security question. The kindergarten business of internal security, which entails managing the populace has remained a vexed question because of hypocrisy. Added to the list of other factors namely mediocrity, injustice, religion, politics, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, ethnicity, corruption, etc., you see why the current security reality might remain our fate for much longer, God forbid. In security, when you sow nothing, you reap tears or chaos -or both.
The Nigerian situation is worse; worse than a harvest of tears and chaos combined. We are a country who laugh when we should weep. We are a people who think nothing of something that is actually everything. Worst, all of us (okay, I concede, an alarming majority of us) as if collectively high on a cocktail of narcotics and alcohol don’t believe anything is amiss.
So, we keep doing the exact same thing that always draws blank expecting rather ‘mumuishly’ that it would birth the elusive utopian result. For instance, we elect people we think we know who in turn appoint people they think they know into positions including security. A few years down the line, we cry against those we voted in and when that fails we turn our attention to those they appointed calling for their heads. The sadists we are, we jubilate when they get thrown out but to our chagrin the problem persists.
Now, we the people(?) want our security chiefs out while the government(?) mulls creating an agency to rehabilitate repentant Boko Haram members. These strategies (if that’s what they are) are neither here nor there: a new set of security chiefs may even perform more abysmally, and if you recall: an identical agency created for militants in the south south solved nothing, well apart from being a conduit for thieving managers. Nigeria’s security challenge is beyond government or one set of people. The solution to Nigeria’s security migraine is not in the hands of any one person.
Nor is it a particular solution. Buying vehicles for the police is a goal but no. Ditto, acquiring all those monster-looking figher jets for the air force and gunboats for the navy. Also in this league of efforts that cut no ice are the humongous funds budgeted for or expended on the army’s welfare and sundry military hardware, software and anonymous subheads.
These have failed to be as talismanic as planned. And that is not a function of failure being ingrained in them. These so-called solutions failed to achieve set objective and would keep failing except the authorities and the masses realised the folly of acting alone and in halves. Our government(s) and people need each other and total honesty and openness to successfully tackle insecurity.
My roadmap might seem simplistic but truth to tell, resolving our chronic security quagmire requires nothing other than what I call elementary commonsense. In any case, what’s the problem with trying it out since all highfalutin approaches have hitherto fallen flat? Bible readers will recall that David refused war clothing but defeated Goliath summarily with only one stone; Naaman was healed just by bathing in a river; Noah’s ark was locally made but in the Stone Age did what hi-tech Titanic could not in days of science and wonder. Nigeria is on the security precipice, nothing is too small to try out.
We don’t need to summon a security summit. Enough of those academic hallucinations. When those elected or appointed to oversee our commonwealth desist from using their pen to pilfer therefrom, instead creating jobs and treating everyone fairly, the number of our young people inspired to steal with a gun shall reduce drastically. When the Igbos are treated more like full blooded Nigerians that they are, Nigeria would not need to secure its southeast region the way it currently does -like some occupied territory.
Furthermore, just as the world is a global village, every country is a national village. Alas, no Nigerian government has ever deployed what I call the Village Formula to fight insecurity. It could prove magical. Parents, village heads and allied societal nucleus leaders must be held accountable and responsible.
Since most criminals thrive on anonymity, the Village Formula shall take away the veil; enabling us to know whose son or daughter is the black sheep. Remember, as Ray Ekpu once wrote, ‘in the village, everyone knows everyone,’ and by name and face. As with everything security, no need to expatiate on this suggestion. The powers that be should immediately reappropriate or redirect the lion’s share of the security budget to ensuring justice openly and equitably, fighting corruption honestly and justly, raising village and general living standard, empowering and upping the status of parents, village heads and other traditional rulers.
These basic tactics have been lacking in our unending battle against insecurity. Security is not a caucus or cabal matter. It is neither political nor religious. It knows no language, it recognises no tribe.
Security is an ill wind that very soon transmogrifies into a tsunami. It should be fought like an all-inclusive war: every hand to the pump. Government(s) and its/their agents must seek and get and utilise the buy-in of parents, village heads and other traditional leaders. The day this happens, those who have held this country by the neck and by the balls shall know that their end has begun.
God bless Nigeria!