Insecurity; that is the new song in town. That is the politics. That is the koko. That is the meat. That is the new political game and a country whose citizens are famed for their short memories is not missing the opportunity to tap into this new gospel. Distressed ethnic groups still smarting from the lost illicit patronage from government are relishing this new song. Political locusts that cannot thrive again because of the scorched earth approach the present government puts on the commonwealth are berserk in the allure of this new song. Religious leaders whose coffers are no longer stuffed from stolen wealth are dancing themselves to stupor in the throes of this new song. The media, oh the media, forced to wean itself from rotten political patronage are flutists for this new song. Different cadres of Nigerians who can no longer freely access the treasury for their damned covetous ends are singing this song with their entire strength. Yes, the country has never witnessed this kind of security crisis before, they chorus and against a government that naively believes it needs not tell its story, they are having a field day.
With the social media, they manufacture and spread false tales of security problems while the famished media latch on these fake materials to rail at the government. The pastors and religious leaders form the theme of their gospels on it. Ethnic groups build moratoria on these. Politicians swear and scavenge by these fake materials. And everywhere, cries of insecurity, even when you can hardly locate real cases rend the airwaves. It takes a story of killing of man in Kaduna or Boko Haram detonating a bomb in a farmland in a remote Borno village for the Nigerian space to get stuffed with howling lamentations of how unsafe Nigeria is and develop a song about it. The government, seriously deficient in information management, soon capitulates to this blackmail and strives to meet the insatiable demands of its blackmailers.
But are we facing the worst security nightmare in our history, as these agent provocateurs claim? The purveyors of this emotional blackmail know that Nigerians are gifted with very short memory and they aim at exploiting this shortfall to the hilt. They know that Nigerians are swayed by what they see at the moment and after that, they forget. They know that what is needed to harvest the fleeting emotions of Nigerians is rehearse lies, half-truths and misinformation and pronto, the citizenry unites in one momentary whole. The insecurity stories this time around, are not structured on the invincible, ubiquitous Fulani herdsmen who were so powerful that they fouled soup pots in remote villages they may never even know. That one was a strategy for their ill-fated 2019 electoral voyage.
Today, the insecurity story is fluid. None of the merchants of this insecurity clap trap can point to a theater of the act and in the sequel, they generalize it and make a song out of it. The whole of Nigeria is in a security nightmare, if we believe them-and most Nigerians believe them. In fact, insecurity has taken over the entire country. The media is tired of repeating this mangled story. The notorious opposition we have in Nigeria today is weary repeating this forged story. Religious groups and leaders, especially those that claim to be of Christian variant, have become monotonous with this message. Ethnic groups who were hitherto patronized with stolen national wealth when the going was good have cracked their voices reciting this catena. All manners of Nigerians that feel peeved that the national treasury is not being used to service the elephantine greed of a few have ran themselves ragged telling us that Nigeria is over swayed by insecurity. Yes, it is the raging song. It is the tone of post-2019 and pre-2023 politics and it is gaining traction as impressionable Nigerians that won’t bother to stress their reasoning are gulping the fallacy, hook, line and sinker.
But are we having the worst security situation ever in this country? Far from the reality and truth. The whole security hoopla is a carefully, choreographed and syndicated political gambit that aims at the solar plexus of a government that is fighting the in-grained corrupt tendencies of many Nigerians but which refuses to join issues with those that are marketing this hemlock with the naïve feeling that it will disappear on its own. Make no mistake about it. Nigeria is having, and had always had, security challenges. Every country, including the most advanced are having security challenges so it is not a challenge peculiar to Nigeria. But to single Nigeria out and the five years this regime has stayed, as the worst in terms of security in Nigeria is to cruelly slay the truth, take liberty with our collective memories, dupe all of us and score very hollow and cheeky political points. That is why an Abaribe that represents an Aba can shrug off shame and come on the floor of the senate to ask President Buhari to resign and is being applauded by some Nigerians for that. He did so because he believes Nigerians are morons that can’t think or remember.
As I said earlier, Nigerians are imbued with very short memories and that is why we forget so easily and that is why those mischievous, sly political nabobs find it expedient to score against our intelligence and shortchange us in the sequel.
But let’s prod our memories a little. Have we forgotten the era a sitting Attorney General was killed right inside his bedroom by assassins? Have we forgotten when every commuter bus plying Nigerian roads could not be on the roads without full compliments of well-armed security men? Have we forgotten when the Niger Delta was immersed in blood with the introduction of kidnapping (an outfall of the deadly PDP politics) when mass kidnapping, mass killing and widespread violence ruled the entire stretch of the region? Have we forgotten when the entire South East was engulfed in violence, armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes that its citizens living outside the region refused to come home and those who can afford relocated outside the region? Have we forgotten when South Easterners sleep in the bush every night because they were ceaselessly raided by armed robbers, assassins and kidnappers? Have we forgotten when every Easterner with a monetary value of N10, 000 was an object for kidnapping? On yes, we have very short memories.
Have we forgotten when Boko Haram seized an area in Nigeria that The Economist described as larger than Belgium and carved it as their caliphate? Have we forgotten when a sitting government officials dared not visit certain states in Nigeria because Boko Haram dared them to visit? So since we had short memories, what gave rise to the IDPs where millions of Nigerians were quartered after fleeing from insurgency? Have we forgotten when Boko Haram captured the entire North East, made reasonable inroad into the North West, moved into the North Central and was pushing down South, killing in hundreds of thousands?
Have we forgotten when trailer loads of human cadavers were trucked down South East, victims of Boko Haram insurrection? Have we forgotten when Boko Haram nearly took our capital, Abuja, bombing schools, churches, mosques, motor parks, markets and even bombed the United Nations office and the Police Headquarters, killing tens of thousands in the process? Have we forgotten when the entire North was webbed in the fearful cloud of attacks on every public institution and millions of Nigerians were killed by Boko Haram insurgents while the sitting government mopped in utter helplessness and rather told us that Boko Haram members were ghosts and that it didn’t know how to fight ghosts? Yea, CAN could engage in endless marches for insecurity today because the streets are free and secure. Have the CAN provocateurs forgotten when they used to worship in even remotest parts of Nigeria under heavy security cloaks and their adherents subjected to serious and humiliating body searches before they enter their churches? Yes, we are a nation of short memories. That is why CAN only remembers Leah Sharibu and has forgotten the hundreds Chibok schoolgirls captured by Boko Haram when Nigeria had its best security situations.
Have we forgotten when the entire North was ravaged by the notorious criminals known as kwanta kwanta who were not contented with robbing people on the highways but carrying out mass killings of their victims? Have we forgotten when Christians worshipped with fear and trembling in all parts of the North because religious violence was the order of the day? Have we forgotten when Plateau State was engulfed in unending ethno-religious strife that tens of thousands were killed including serving senators and House of Representatives members? Have we forgotten the carnage in Benue that consumed Zaki Biam and festered for a very long time when Nigeria was secure? We have forgotten how the stretch of Ilesha-Akure-Owo-Ikare Road became a killing field where armed robbers were having an extended party when we had the best security situation. Have we forgotten Arepo where bunkerers, armed robbers and criminals had field days yet we didn’t complain about insecurity? Have we forgotten when stories of violent bank robberies were the order of the day in this country and no bank in any part of the country was spared this pestilence? I can go on and on in my inquest. Of course, we may have forgotten, a nation of short memory. We can only remember that armed robbers struck in Akwanga a few days ago and that shows that Nigeria is having its worst security situation!
Coming to Abaribe who had been representing Aba for neon years in the senate and who just remembered that Nigeria is insecure and for that President Buhari should resign. Have we forgotten that between 2010 and 2014, Aba was completely shut down as all manners of criminals took over Aba killing, raping, kidnapping at will. Banks were shut down, schools were closed, markets were deserted, residents relocated, bullets flew in broad daylight, surrounding bushes were brimming full with kidnapped victims, school children were kidnapped in their school buses, robbers went from one compound to another and Aba was a ghost town? To Abaribe, Nigeria was so secured then because his party was sharing the commonwealth among party chieftains as to concern itself with Aba and other towns in the South East. He was not known to have raised a motion in the senate then about the security situation of Aba or elsewhere. Today, Abaribe and Aba residents thrive and move unhindered in the city but he is latching to a syndicated political narrative that favours his corrupt political interest to tell us how insecure Nigeria is.
This Abaribe instance sums what is happening today. It is a choreographed political narrative that is procured and sold through the social media via manipulated half-truths and fabrications and the aim is to score very selfish political points. It aims at beating the drums of insecurity, repeating stories of insecurity even with little proof and package same as a political weapon against a government that has adamantly refused to play the corrupt ball the merchants of this peevish gospel thrive in. Displaced politicians, the angry media, mischievous religious leaders, ethnic mandarins and many other sundry interests are active players in this disingenuous act.
Truth is that Nigeria is facing security challenges which is a normal trajectory of a country of its history, composition, population, political interests. Every other country has same security challenges peculiar to it. The problem we have presently is the manipulation the distressed opposition is putting to the actual security situation. Fabricating and selling false security narratives is a deadly political game the opposition hopes will help them get at the Buhari government. The government itself has helped in the thriving of this faux pass by refusing to confront these false narrators with its own side of the story which involves comparing the future we conveniently forget with the present we see as well as what and what it is doing to tackle these challenges. But to say that we had a better security before Buhari came is a criminal breach of the truth, a grand larceny and an unsustainable license with the truth, aimed at scoring very cheap and transient political gains and nothing more.
Peter Claver Oparah