By Rasheed Bello
Generally speaking, Nigerians are peace-loving people, very accommodating, tolerant, hardworking, enterprising, intelligent, seekers of knowledge, very prayerful, have rich culture and love enjoyment.
However, all the above can only flourish in an atmosphere of peace and security which is the primary obligation of government to the people. Any government that cannot guarantee the security of lives and properties of its citizens cannot claim to succeed in any other sphere of public life.
No matter how one attempts to downplay the magnitude of security challenges starring us in the face, the situation has compelled the people into massive discontent, frustration and daily mourning.
Unwarranted loss of human lives in large numbers has become a regular occurrence every day. Terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, arson, abduction, rape, armed robbery and other forms of violent criminalities have become order of the day.
We have lost peace in our various communities, travels are now restricted to only very essential journeys in which people would hold their hearts in their mouth, farmers are no longer free to enter their farms, students and teachers are not safe in schools, kidnapping and ransom payment has become a most thriving business in Nigeria.
The government, together with all its security forces, appears not to have the capacity to curb the menace of gun-wielding criminals intimidating the larger populace.
It is this total failure of government over the years to protect the lives and properties of law-abiding civil populace that has led to the current civil unrests, agitations, demonstrations and uprisings across the country.
Worse still, the average Nigerian is finding it increasingly difficult to survive due mainly to food crisis, high inflation, joblessness, hostile economic environment, worsening electricity supply, lowering per capital income, high bank charges, cost of petrol per litre and others too numerous to list here, as if the institution or apparatus called government no longer exists in Nigeria.
Even big companies are not spared. Many of them are closing down while some are relocating to Ghana or other places. Frankly speaking, both quality and quantity of life are rapidly going down in Nigeria while poverty is spreading massively. Nigeria is gradually becoming the headquarters of poverty in the world.
Debt Management Office says Nigeria’s debt burden has hit N33.1 trillion and more will still be added.
Honestly, this is not the time to issue threats nor insult the genuine concerns of citizens. This is a time to move closer to the people, listen to them, gauge their pulse correctly and lean on the side of the people.
It is a time to pacify the people and make efforts at rebuilding confidence and trust. It is a time for government to do a sincere self-appraisal, sit up, restrategize and start to live up to its responsibilities to the people.
The people want to see the sincere determination and actions of government forces to flush out all criminals hiding in any forest irrespective of their tribe, religion or region. It is a time to disarm all non-state actors who bear arms illegally to terrorize the rest of us that are armless.
Since our Police appeared to be overwhelmed by the security challenges, it is expedient to allow creation of State Police and Vigilante groups to watch over local communities. The Nigeria Police need to add modern technological devices to their arsenal. Such devices may include Drones, Trackers and Jamming devices.
Let peace return to the land. Let all Nigerians be equal stakeholders in the Nigerian project. Let us all begin to have feeling that the government is for us all by its actions.
When security of lives and properties is guaranteed, other good things and serious human endeavors can follow.
GOD BLESS NIGERIA AND NIGERIANS.
Bello Rasheed, a retired federal government official writes in from Abuja, Nigeria