Insecurity: Time to change the Narrative, By Issa Aremu

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#TrackNigeria – A visitor from outer space reading through “Buratai’s conspiracy theories” by the celebrated domestic columnist, Ray Ekpu in The Guardian 25 Jun 2019, and watching almost everyday television reportage on the “Worsening Insecurity” would assume that Nigeria is under the heel of bandits, terrorists and criminals alike. The impression is that Nigeria lacks security officers of the states as criminal non-state actors hold the sway. It is time to rescue the imagination of the media from what seems to be inadvertent “mind control” by terrorists and criminals alike through serial pockets of violence and carnage.  Of course it is an open knowledge that Nigeria is increasingly unsafe for many good Nigerians. Without an official declaration of war, not few Nigerians daily die in the hands of armed robbers, kidnappers, bandits and criminals of varying persuasions. Insurgents in Northeast audaciously still make attacks and dare to take on the Nigerian armed forces. One more commentary on insecurity situation will certainly be one too many.

The media had run much commentaries on the insecurity challenges, it’s time to change the narrative from problem naming, red herrings, scare mongering, palpable fear to crime curtailment and total eradication. I suggest that what should capture our imagination should be the national efforts to curtail and put an end to criminality, as distinct from the dramatized violence perpetrated by the  criminals. I agree with  Mr Ray Ekpu in taking a strong objection  to the bagful of excuses by the Army Command for the current seeming set backs in the fight against insurgency.  If indeed Lt General Tukur Buratai  had “strong evidence that politicians were sponsoring banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities in the country” the nation demands nothing less than immediate prosecution to such sponsors of insecurity.

The security forces should not only provide us with evidence-based reasons for the current insecurity but proactively nip the menace  in the bud.  Security of citizens is what the constitution envisages not reasons for insecurity. However until this is done, the media  should also resist the temptation of dismissing the official explanation from  the security forces.  Is it not true that some politicians with official license to import weapons could be fueling crisis as a continuation of political contest by other means? In place of cynicism,   what is needed is constructive partnership between the media and security forces to put an end to crimes. The point cannot be overstated that the   media must also verify every celebrated case of banditry to avoid giving cheap unpaid advert to criminals which in turn can make crimes addictive. The cases  cited by Mr Ray Ekpu on why “our high ways are no more safe”, are not officially from the police command but from, first social media later formalized by the mainstream media and legitimized by columnists.

We cannot put an end to criminality if we all engage in self fulfilling prophecy of unverified crime stories bordering on hysteria rather than the truth. It might well be  that these sordid stories of crimes are true but the legitimate source of crime news  remains that of the police. Please don’t get me wrong. We all have had our fair share of the carnage perpetrated by criminals including yours comradely. But the solution is not hysteria but sobering engagement with the security agencies to keep terrorists out of business. As citizens, we must demand for consequences for security system failures on the part of those we elected and appointed to protect us all. Governors who cannot protect lives and properties should be impeached. All governors took oath to implement 1999 constitution which says primary purpose of governance is security and welfare of citizens.  Commissioners of police under whose commands robberies occur frequently should be removed and prosecuted for negligence. Same for security service agencies whose members are paid to secure us but look the other ways while we are being slaughtered.  Conversely the security officials who prevented and apprehended crimes should be promoted, honored and properly rewarded. Indeed security men and women should be well paid and motivated to deliver services. President, Vice President, the ministers and governors, local governments chairmen, including community chiefs as well as security agencies must urgently be on duty to protect lives and properties of Nigerians.

Nigeria parades a President, a Vice President.   36  ministers,  36 governors and   774 local government chairmen. Some thousands of traditional rulers, district  and community chiefs. Army men and women. Police men and women, State Security service men, intelligence service men and women. There is also Road safety commission, Civil Defence Commission. Of course there are vigilante groups of different types.  In addition, Nigeria has the highest number of retired heads of states and governors, military and police men. There are over paid 109 senators and 360 House of representatives expected to make laws on security and welfare of all of us! It’s time that all these public officers ensure good governance. 

Issa Aremu mni

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