Having suffered from several religious, ethnic and political violence over the years, violence in Nigeria has taken an unanticipated dimension since 2009 with the off shoot of the fundamentalist group Boko Haram which has masterminded many brutal attacks in northern Nigeria that claimed thousands of lives. The cycle of violence being unleashed on Nigerians by the fundamentalist group has heightened fears among the populace and the international community that the hostility has gone beyond religions or political coloration (1). Noticeably beginning with attacks on worship centers as far as 2009, Boko Haram's violent pattern has panned and tilted towards various conflicting directions which make it sufficiently difficult and complex to easily understand or even guess reasonably, the agenda of the fundamentalist group.
While some are of the view that the radical attacks against civilians, the military and public properties by the group was ignited by the peaking social injustice in the nation, others are of the view that such attacks will not be launched on innocent citizens if it were just a reaction to social injustice from Nigeria’s political elite. Generally, this has become a major concern to the United Nations and its member states such as the United States, France, United Kingdom among others suggesting that such terrorists act which remained a major threat to Nigeria’s security could extend to other parts of West Africa and perhaps the world gradually.
Critically examining the longevity and depth of the activities of Boko Haram, it will not be difficult for a reasoning mind to conclude that the federal government of Nigeria under the leadership of Goodluck Jonathan has evidently proved itself to be weak and incapable of tackling the nation’s security challenge. Several empty promises have been made, security panels set up with the robust allocation to tackle the problem yet it get worse by the day; in its usual style, the Goodluck government has continued to play politics with Nigeria’s security challenge, even as more lives are lost in northern Nigeria. Of course, this is lamentable, a leadership that fails to protect its people is not worthy of maintaining its position-human lives have no duplicate and are too essential and tied to one another as a whole, while we set our goals and aspirations with strong hope to achieve them someday. The government, which is characterized by such height of a lack of seriousness, made it known in one of its press statements that “terrorism is everywhere in the world and Nigerians should learn to live with it”- an inference that’s too low-a-blow from a nation’s leadership. This has generated fear, crippling businesses in northern Nigerian, forcing students to leave school, graduates to reject and redeploy NYSC posting to northern Nigeria, and in a way dividing the nation against itself.
The piece by an erstwhile head of the State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, on the challenges of security in Nigeria (2004) which came from an address given at NIPSS in 2004 clearly shows that the greatest threat to the current civilian dispensation is insecurity (2). The This Day Newspaper’s editorial (2011), titled Soldiers as Security Men, observes that the current state of insecurity in Nigeria has left the Federal Government to deploy troops in such a manner that all our roads are littered with soldiers in combat ready fashion. The impression one gets is that security can be created by merely posting soldiers on the roads. But given the temperament of soldiers, many have questioned the wisdom of such a large scale deployment. As noted by This Day, the menace of terrorism no doubt calls for a new approach that will be founded on credible intelligence gathering”. Nevertheless, the deployment of policemen to guard political office holders, private homes and individuals who have the financial muscle and influence in government circles has led to a situation such that there are very few left to fight crimes in the street.
Ignoring the rising issue of amnesty for Boko Haram in this essay, it’s important to note that a strong government that truly has the masses at the height of its agenda will explore any counter violence measure available to stop the progression of any form of attack on the populace; examining the recent event of twin bomb blasts in Boston Marathon which left about 140 people injured, received urgent attention from the American government through the security men who worked devotedly as its government and fetched the suspects only in few days, wow! Understanding the value of life which can be compared to none and also the mandate for the government to secure the populace-all measures were speedily put in place by American government fishing out the suspects at the shortest delay, even as they go on to comfort the families of those who lost their lives and ensure the injured victims receive proper medical attention sufficient enough to stay alive.
Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has been battling with Boko Haram since 2009, but unfortunately for Nigeria, even at the 4th year of continuous attacks on the masses, his administration is yet to produce useful security information that will help tackle Boko Haram. Annually Boko Haram waxes stronger in its activities at the expense of innocent lives in the region yet the statement remains “we are on top of the situation”, since 2009. Among the committee of nations, examining the place Nigeria occupies, it’s sad and disgraceful that insecurity has become a major issue which the government appears too terribly weak to fix. Almost every week, Nigeria has made it a duty to be in international news headlines with security issues; people find it reasonably difficult to visit Nigeria, Nigerians abroad are given special attention; such a disgraceful pace are signs that follow Goodluck’s multi-dimensional administrative weakness.
The future belongs to those who can stand and fight today; if America can end the menace of the Boston bombers in few days, why is it taking Nigeria almost half a decade with no progressive step toward getting rid of Boko Haram? Weak leadership structure! Irrespective of the complexities attached, creating happiness for the greatest number of people should be a government’s topmost priority, below that, there is a problem. Nigeria at this point deserves a better leadership, and this is only possible if we decide for our nation in unity, enough of weak political profile which has allowed insecurity to grow, enough of incompetence, decide to ‘decide’ within yourself to stick to better leadership in view, again, Nigeria deserves a better leadership!
Professor Adagba Okpaga, Ugwu Sam Chijioke, Eme, Okechukwu Innocent, “Activities Of Boko Haram And Insecurity Question In Nigeria” in Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review (OMAN Chapter) Vol. 1, No.9; April 2012. p77
Abubakar, A. (2004), “The Challenges of Security in Nigeria”, A Page presented at the NIPSS, Kuru on November 26.
Rotimi Ogungbola is a Post Graduate Student at the Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters