Insecurity, The Folly of Arewa’s Conspiracy of Silence, By Aminu Imam

#TrackNigeria – At the moment, no one can deny the fact that Nigeria is going through one of its most turbulent times in its chequered history. And Arewa, my beloved North, is gradually being decimated right before our very eyes. 

At a time when the leadership of the country is being piloted by one of our so-called ‘very own’ PMB, the region has never had it so bad; whether socially, culturally, economically, but most importantly, security; or to put it in context, the lack of it.

Back in the day, when the atmosphere was to say the least, normal, the region used to be the centre-piece of the nation’s food production, from Benue state, which used to be known as ‘the Food basket of the nation’ to Plateau State, the ‘Home of Peace’. That was then; nowadays, the only news emanating from the region has been overtaken by tales of pervading insecurity, killings by so-called herdsmen, kidnappings, farmers/herders clash etc.

As the dawn of this administration’s second-term begins, most of us ordinary Nigerians who have endured the pain and bewilderment of living in our dear nation today deserve an award, or at least a standing ovation; for surviving against all odds in the face of almost hopelessness about the future. 

 In the early period of our nation’s history, before the coupists arrived at our political landscape, Nigeria was a highly respected and contented, if not happy, society. Our people were living together harmoniously, and were either engaged in honest businesses or working for the progress of the country; honesty and hard work fuelled by political idealism made various economists to envision a nation with very bright prospects. Nigerians were respected overseas, and everyone was pleased to be identified as a Nigerian.

However, in the past few years, rampant corruption, bad leadership and followership apathy plus poor economic choices by the Government have progressively bred a stagnant and an impoverished populace. Added to this, our politicians unending greed has tragically turned our nation, which used to be called the Giant of Africa, into a laughing stock in the global village as Nigeria is no longer seen as a powerful country to be reckoned with. 

Nowadays, the country, particularly Arewa’s insecurity situation, is worsening by the day on account of job losses and escalating youth unemployment. Bandits, kidnappers are all over the place, leaving only tales of woes and misery along their path. Blood-letting has unfortunately become a regular staple in the country. Now, it seems that bandits are in possession of more sophisticated weapons than what is available to security agents. Without being a prophet of doom, reality check shows that majority of Nigerians are living under severe hunger, pain, heart break, anguish and poverty due to the mis-management of the country’s economy.

Many ordinary Nigerians, especially youths, are now more deprived than they were then; they are now more ethnic-conscious than in the past; the country is now more divided than ever before. The hatred level in the country generally has now been elevated to unprecedented levels and hate speech has almost become a national anthem. The negative vibrations are already being felt across the length and breadth of the North, which many observers say if left unchecked could spill-over into the rest of the country. 

The jobless youths are being orchestrated to descend full-blown into thuggery.

People can no longer send their kids regularly to school, job losses are occurring on a daily basis, people have now been turned to beggars (in addition to the millions of street beggars, or almajirai, roaming aimlessly across the streets of the North), while many Nigerians can barely eat once a day or access to affordable health-care since the administration came with its ambiguous economic agenda, which to an increasing number of observers, is destroying most businesses and the economy.

Unfortunately, the situation has now degenerated further, with almost the whole states in the North facing a period of uncertainty bordering on the scale of the ‘unknown-unknown’ (apologies to Donald Rumsfeld), from what economists term: a scale of ‘certain-uncertainty’, it has now degenerated into ‘uncertain-uncertainty’.

The question on the lips of many naturally is: Who, or what, is behind the apparent attempt to, against all odds, bring the region to its knees?

While those in authority seem to be making frantic efforts to launder the battered image of the country, they truly appear to many observers to be overwhelmed by the myriad of crisis confronting them from almost all fronts with each passing day.  It actually seems to many to be ‘all motion but no movement’, albeit making only half-baked attempts to boldly and genuinely address the key contending issues. 

The quest to improve the country’s bastardized image by past and present Nigerian leaders have often been met with skepticism on the part of the populace.

Many observers have said that Nigeria, especially the North with its burgeoning population, is plagued by too many internal problems. Stakeholders have posited that the enduring image-change Nigeria needs is the kind that must address the image crisis that has eaten deep into the fabric of the country and its people. 

The popular media is full of examples of bad leaders in government, academia, and business with these characteristics.  Researchers who have studied the dark side of leadership for many years have pointed  out that the key derailment characteristics of bad leaders are well documented and fall into three broad behavioral categories: the first one is “moving away behaviors,” which create distance from others through hyper-emotionality, diminished communication, and skepticism that erodes trust; the second one is “moving against behaviors,” which overpower and manipulate people while aggrandizing the self; and the third is “moving toward behaviors,” which include being ingratiating, overly conforming, and reluctant to take chances or stand up for one’s team.

Since the Buhari administration took office, its economic policies, whether well-intentioned or otherwise, have had what some of its apologists termed “unintended negative consequences”, and anyone making an objective analysis of the President’s economic scorecard in his first-term would be hard-pressed to give a pass-mark, in light of the woeful outcomes; from its foreign currency devaluation to the untamed double-digit inflation, the  consequence of which almost all of us, including good-old PMB, have become impoverished in real terms.

Many Nigerians who had very ambitious expectations for this administration’s second coming, are now having a rethink and have begun to wonder when or whether things will ever begin to positively take shape.

Many critics have faulted some of the mis-steps of Government to include its 2019 GDP target of 2.2 %, which  is well below the country’s projected population growth of 2.6 %, according to the World Bank, to its over-ambitious plans to generate employment for  a 100 million Nigerians in ten years, without  providing any specifics, etc. The list is endless. And the latest inaction of PMB to appoint his cabinet a full month after being sworn-in, and four months after being reelected, confirms the justification in many quarters that this administration is indeed clay-flooted.

An increasing number of Nigerians citizens are gradually coming to the conclusion that the ship of our dear nation is gradually cruising rudderless in uncharted waters and the country is arguably becoming a Banana Republic, whereby the citizens are subjected to the will of some incompetent leaders in their region.

Too many close observers, things are going very wrong under this administration, which requires very serious and urgent solutions to fix them. Indeed, these critics have said that since Buhari came to power in 2015, he has found himself in the business of starring the calm waters than to restoring the battered economy. Indeed, if things continue at this rate, 2023 may not be a reality for many to see.

Just last week, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele expressed fears that Nigeria may slide into another recession if measures are not taken to tackle the high rate of unemployment and other economic crisis but most importantly, the (in)security problem.

Whereas, just last week, the governors of the six states in the South-West geo-political zone have hastily convened a security summit in Ibadan where they pledged to find a solution to the lingering security challenges in the zone, their counterparts in the North are busy checking their calendars to confirm the next monthly FAAC allocation.

Whatever the case, at this stage in our historical experience as a country, we have reached a point where we cannot continue as we have been going all this while. Nigeria’s estimated 200 million-plus population cannot grow rich by just exporting oil to the rest of the world, without embracing value-added manufacturing and being integrated into the global supply chain of multinational companies.

While the current administration begins its second-term in the next few weeks, all hope is not lost however. As the renowned economist and columnist, Dr. Boniface Chizea, put it: “God most certainly loves Nigeria. Despite predictions of dire consequences about the future of Nigeria following 2015 elections, we scaled through miraculously. Our only hope now is to offer supplications for a repeat of such divine favours post-2019”.

However, the President clearly needs to take some tough decisions as well be decisive in the coming days and months. Otherwise, as Dr. Chizea averred, “the omens are not reassuring”. 

Aminu Imam wrote from Tudun-Wada, Kaduna and can be reached on [email protected]   08033644990

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