I keep trying to have faith in our security operatives but they never help their case.
If I were to get N50, for every time government and security agencies in this country have said the words; “Nigerians have been advised to go about their normal duties as security operatives are on top of the situation”; I would have made the Forbes Africa rich list published last week. I would make even more money for every time they make that statement and something terrible like another mass murder or robbery or kidnapping occurs. It is mostly laughable these days.
There is no doubt that criminal activities mostly go unpunished in Nigeria. The ones that do not even make the news sometimes outnumber the sensational headlines we see everyday and quickly forget soon as we drop the newspapers. Not because we do not care but mostly because, bad news has become so overwhelming in these parts that we have become so toughened, knowing that the next bad news is not too far off.
I keep trying to have faith in our security operatives but they never help their case. If the police isn’t killing people at checkpoints and at the back of police stations, the military Joint Task Force (JTF) are ironically wiping out whole communities in their search for peace in the North. As the criminals and terrorists get more brazen, security operatives usually seem to turn their anger on the defenseless. Someone always has to bear the brunt and judging from history, it is usually the innocent Nigerian. The criminals sometimes get amnesty and rewards instead.
Okay, not sometimes. Most times actually. The ones in government never get arrested and continue to milk the country’s treasury dry. A recent headline by ‘The Punch’ newspapers said; “5 trillion Naira has been looted under President Jonathan’s government alone.” Even I didn’t bat an eyelid at such a humongous figure. We have become used to seeing billions and trillions bandied in the news for so long that it almost feels like stealing a trillion might even be forgivable nowadays. With successive governments seemingly becoming more corrupt than their predecessors, it is inevitable for crime to rule the land.
Militants have been given amnesty and are being paid unbelievable amounts of money just to stay quiet. This temporary solution to the Niger Delta problem might be working for now, but what happens when a new president comes in and decides just like President Jonathan did with fuel subsidy payments, that Nigeria can no longer afford to pay amnesty? We would go right back to square one right? Except this time, we would be left with militants who now have unbelievable amounts of their own personal funds, enough to cause even more harm than they did the first time out.
But until then, while we celebrate the faux calm and peace in the Niger Delta, we obviously need to address the even scarier problem in the North. Thousands have lost their lives to the terror attacks across parts of the North in the last 2 years and talks about amnesty for members of Boko Haram, have become even louder. First, they were threatened, then they were begged; then they were called for negotiations; then the government confirmed that “backdoor negotiations” were holding; then Mr. president denied the negotiations; then a most wanted list was released with monetary rewards for any leads. All these while Nigerians continue to die and live in fear. What really is the strategy here? Many believe an amnesty program would solve everything. Which would then mean that many innocent Nigerians would have died once again while their killers be allowed to live happily in sheer opulence as a result.
The South East has refused to be left behind. The Niger Deltans might have started the kidnapping trend, but the Igbos, have made it a full-fledged business. Not a day passes without someone’s grandmother or uncle or brother being grabbed and held till some money is paid for his or her release. It is a problem. I grew up visiting my village at least twice a year every single year. It is an integral part of who I have become today. But in the last 4 years, I have been there just once and it was on an unscheduled visit. I spent a night there and ran out. That is how much fear they have put in us.
Headlines over the weekend got even funnier (read as ‘scarier’) with reports that an Association of Kidnappers of Nsukka (AKN) had been formed. This group in Enugu State was brazen enough to print fliers and posters and paste them in different parts of Nsukka, warning people in communities to pay certain amounts of money into certain bank accounts or get kidnapped; some sort of kidnapping prevention fund. So maybe the kidnappers would go round one day and ask everyone to show their bank teller deposit slips to confirm payment. Those who haven’t paid might then be thrown into a bus and shipped away. It would be laughable if it weren’t possible, knowing my country. As usual, the police spokesperson has told Nsukka resident to go about their daily business as the police is handling the situation.
It is hard to know how long we can go on like this for without it all imploding right in our faces. But it is also hard to see why we would not be fine, since we have lived this way for decades. Security operatives here have always been incompetent. Nigerians have lived with robbers, murderers, ritualists and what not for God knows how long. Yet, we have continued to move on. Is that a good enough reason to keep looking the other way? No! But it probably is reason for Nigerians to go about their normal business, hoping that they never get caught in the criminal web slowly entangling us all.
As you were…
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.