“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned”
The above is an excerpt from one of many brilliant works of poetry by the late American writer and poet, Maya Angelou. In the expository tome, “ALL GOD’S CHILDREN NEED TRAVELING SHOES”, Angelou reminds us all about the attribute of the place a man calls home. It is also my opinion that home should be attractive, luring us towards it. Home should be safe; hiding us in its tranquil and benevolent bosom. And nobody should be questioned by anybody why we live in a place we’ve chosen to call home. If these differentiae are missing in a home, the place we call home is without a shred of doubt not homely enough.
I feel sorry for many Nigerians who live abroad. They always thirst to go home seasonally to cuddle up with their loved ones. Unfortunately, horrendous accounts of kidnappings and killings by bad hombres all across Nigeria today infuse fear in many of them. Nigerians in Nigeria also are terrified daily traveling by road. Only the rich who can pay off the police and private security operatives can hit the road on journeys that may end up in the dragnet of mean and imperiling kidnappers. Hounding killers and bruising bandits in Nigeria come in different shades. They’re Christians, Muslims, and people of no faith. They are male and female. They are Nigerians and foreigners. Poor ones may be the foot soldiers; but their backings and encouragement come from the rich who have enough money to purchase AK-47s.
Greater noise, however, is on Fulani herdsmen. They have been fingered in the spreading foofaraw. Where their boots touch, hell breaks loose. These herdsmen have dethroned kings they did not crown. They have exiled queens they did not betroth. They have torn down palaces they did not build. They have kidnapped and killed as they collect ransoms running into millions of naira, and they do so with audacity and impunity. A friend of mine, a thoroughbred Fulani woman from Bauchi who lives in Kano, wrote these words: “All those arrested here (kidnappers) in the North, are Fulani. I wonder how proud people like the Fulani are now engaging in this lowly crime”Who in government is able to hedge these terrorist Fulani? Images we see on videos show us that the miscreants are in huge supply of arms and ammunition, and they are not soldiers.Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, last week, said his convoy narrowly escaped the rampage of the bandits on the Akure-Ibadan road. But he had fully armed escort that was able to rebuff the threat with ease. If people had been shot and killed on the governor’s entourage, government efforts to descend mercilessly on these merciless merchants of violence would have swung in top gear. For an Ondo monarch, Oba David Olajide, it was a day of divine grace. The chief was traveling down the Akure Airport Road in Osi when Fulani herdsmen blocked the highway with their cows and attempted to kidnap him. He managed to escape. According to reports, one of the Fulani herdsmen is now in police custody. Maybe, we have to wait until political bigwigs are kidnapped before aggressive and strategic steps are taken to end ongoing ravaging banditry.
These must be very tough times for President Muhammadu Buhari. His heart must be mangled in a wrench right now with daily reports of ceaseless and unbridled mayhem sweeping across the four corners of a nation. The atmosphere in his Aso Rock office must be dispiriting. His meetings with Nigeria’s security apparatchiks who are failing woefully and woebegonely must be rocky. The assurance Nigerians receive daily is that the best is on its way for the country, and it’s coming at the Next Level. Kidnapping in Nigeria is now at a vexing next level. Poor Buhari! A bony, bold, venturous and venturesome soldier standing shoulders-high at over six feet. A former platoon leader. A former state military governor. A former Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces. And an unassuming assumed tower-of-terror to terrorism and lunatic Islamic insurgency. The country he ruled and reigned over as a military junta in the 80s is definitely not the same today. Mr. President is failing us right now on security.
The attraction to Buhari in 2015 and this year, by many, was not based on integrity alone. Very few doubted that security issue would linger this long with the commanding oversight of a man who was once hailed as the champion of security. Nigeria is now wrapped in a blanket of pestering and piercing metastatic violence that Mr. President should stem, but is unable to. Today, the only safe set of beings on the Nigerian soil are elected officials who can beckon for police and army protection without paying a dime. Former agriculture minister Audu Ogbe once said that many of the bandits are foreigners. All 150 borders in the Nigerian geographical territory are porous, permeable, and pervious. Every naira spent on safety and security by the government remains flushed down senseless sewages of wastage and baskets with very many holes.
Like city gates in ancient times, the strength and weaknesses of a nation are in its borders. Borders thrown wide open without control is a nation left wide open to be smothered and conquered. Borders are a nation’s identities. “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation”, so said America’s 40th President, Ronald Reagan. Today, all manner of dreaded demons can stroll in and out of Nigeria at will without our security flagging them down at our borders. Do we have a nation? No, not yet! Our borders are part of our present bothers.
Somebody once wrote this and I agree. “If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.” It is obvious that the Nigerian government can’t protect Nigerians. One region is now employing self-help to protect its people since the Federal Government can’t guarantee the same. A few days ago, Yoruba monarchs let loose hunters and militias into forests to smoke out Fulani bandits in their land. Other regions are warming up to do more for their people. These killers must be killed and obliterated, and let the world see the faces of their sympathisers. Nigerians have the right to enjoy peace in their own homes.
The ruling party now controls the legislature following the elections of Ahmad Lawan as Senate President and Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the House of Representatives. But it remains the duty of the executive to guarantee security of lives and property across Nigeria. It is not impossible that some adversaries of Nigeria in Nigeria are behind the current security siege. They could be political opponents and financiers of diabolical ethnic brickbats as alleged in some quarters of government. But the evil of kidnappings and reckless killings shouldn’t thrive this long, threaten lives this bad, and annihilate peace this severe with a retired army general as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. How I wish Mr. President embraces the resolving idea of state police. We are under siege!