Nigeria’s democratization, culminating in the country’s Fourth Republic in 1999, began amid high hopes and expectations. This change was to herald the dawn of good government in the country.
However, it is quite unfortunate that this has not been the case, as the political landscape has shown otherwise.
There is no evidence of good governance since the start of democratization in Nigeria.
For example, the rule of law in Nigeria is just a mere political philosophy established by word of mouth, elections and electoral processes are monetized, political parties have no ideological premises as, in most cases, you see party candidates crossing the rug between party lines. without any sense of responsibility, even to the electorates.
In fact, there are cases where a candidate who supposedly won an election on the platform of party A, only to transfer the mandate to party B without regard to party A, which offered him the winning platform!
Thus, the continued unethical practices in the Nigerian political space have been a major factor in the current deplorable state of its democracy, in that there is no unity of purpose when it comes to the primary objective of a government: the safety of life and property. In other words, in a climate where politics is seen as a game to be played by a ‘powerful’ few, surely critical security issues are inevitably politicized too! And unfortunately so.
Nigeria, as a nation, is in a critical state, especially due to the current wave of insecurity, which has also negatively impacted its economy. When considering the complexity of the current situation by examining its various dimensions, it can be argued that the idea that the various ethnic groups that make up the entity called Nigeria are united by the same spirit of nationalism may be wishful thinking. This is simply because the impact of the 1966 event, which apparently weakened the very foundations of the Nigerian state, cannot be underestimated.
To be sure, the 1966 coup sparked mutual mistrust among the major Nigerian ethnic groups. And this unfortunate fact not only left the union fractured but also amplified the already diversified ethno-religiousness. If only this issue had been handled well, even as the country transitioned from military rule to democracy, the current disrepair would never have been the experience.
Aside from the challenges of security, there is also the challenge of feelings of insecurity, which have permeated the entire environment on earth, most especially in regards to various ethnic groups in the country. Therefore, this could be the reason for the conspicuous desperation in the face of the struggle for power, relevance and the disturbing desire for total control of common resources among the 3 main ethnic groups. Even the smallest groups are not left out, hence the repeated conflicts or clashes, which are sometimes further exacerbated by religious coloring.
Although religion may not be considered as the main cause of insecurity in Nigeria, however, to a large extent, it has increased the problem to such an extent that people of the same cultural background and language are divided on this basis! This is the story of the people of Kaduna, a city that occupies a large part of the northwestern region of Nigeria.
Apart from being the base of the Nigerian military stronghold, Kaduna is currently home to the largest number of reputable military institutions in the country! Historically, Kaduna was home to British settlers who founded it in 1900. And because of its proximity to the Lagos-Kano railway, the first British Governor of Northern Nigeria, Sir Frederick Lugard, chose the region for development. Therefore, Kaduna became the capital of the former Northern Region of Nigeria between 1917 and 1967. This (brief) historical perspective may be necessary for one to understand why Kaduna is considered a cosmopolitan city that is home to not only locals, but also other Nigerian citizens of different ethnic-religious backgrounds, as well as foreigners. No doubt, this cosmopolitan gathering was brought about by the various business activities/interests and private investments that are a major industrial hub in Northern Nigeria, manufacturing goods like textiles, machinery, steel, aluminium, petroleum products, to mention Some.
Today this economic hub, once a thriving socio-economic space in northern Nigeria, is now a ghost of itself, first due to the impacts of the 1966 event (mentioned above), and later due to insecurity , which proliferates throughout northern Nigeria.
In recent times, the northwestern states of Nigeria (including Kaduna) have been affected by the same insecurity due to terrorism, banditry, religious conflicts, conflicts between herders and farmers, and the like. Until now, this pace has only been maintained and restricted to the northeast region, which has been under siege due to the activities of Boko Haram terrorists and members of the West African Province of the Islamic State.
Today, the Northwest is in dire straits, and the pressing issues of human security and development cannot be ignored. The country’s north-western borders have experienced a massive increase in the scourge of rural banditry and terrorism, while the massive ungoverned spaces that characterize its hinterland have also become scenes of banditry and rampant conflict. Kaduna State in particular has apparently suddenly become an epicenter of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in the north-western region of the country.
In fact, the abundant evidence cannot be contradicted. The synopsis of the attacks in Kaduna indicates that lives are lost daily and citizens remain vulnerable and defenseless despite being surrounded by the military presence. Interestingly, the most recent attack in which more than 28 people were murdered in cold blood in the Kaura local government area of the state is proof that there is more going on in Kaduna than meets the eye. And it may not be entirely out of character to use the ongoing massacre in Kaduna as a good evaluative litmus test when it comes to Nigeria’s entire security architecture.
In addition, the body language of the government of the day, particularly the state government, can also be described as quite worrying. For example, just 48 hours after the attack, which sparked a bloodbath in southern Kaduna, the governor posted a tweet of himself (with photos) attending a ceremony in Gwantu. Gwantu is a town in the Sanga Local Government Area of the state. How insensitive!
Therefore, the question remains; How is it possible that a state like Kaduna, which houses the country’s military might in terms of military presence, security institutions, security architecture and intelligence, has suddenly become a comfortable haven for non-state actors, as well as a port for criminals who have spontaneously sustained their activities within the state without any apparently solid military commitment?
It may be important to carefully examine and evaluate the different dimensions by which insecurity in Nigeria is perceived, especially in the search for a durable solution, otherwise it would be practically impossible to manage or contain the unpleasant situation that prevails.
Finally, for the avoidance of doubt, it may be of great importance and necessity, and perhaps for the records, to highlight the huge presence of the entire Nigerian Army (with heavy artillery) and other security forces in Kaduna, such as the Nigerian Defense Academy. . , Nigerian Army Military Police College, State Security Service Training Academy, Nigerian Army Mechanized Division, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Nigerian Air Force Base, Nigeria Institute of Technology Air Force, Army Training Depot, Nigerian Military College, Defense Industries Corporation, Nigerian Army Ordnance School, Nigerian Navy Armant School of Technology, Police College, Boston Training College, School of Nigerian Army Infantry and Nigerian Army Operations Base (South Kaduna).
Therefore, it is incomprehensible that innocent citizens keep watch over the incessant insecurity despite the dense concentration of the entire Nigerian army! A besieged Kaduna State is the most ridiculous and most embarrassing experience to be associated with any country, especially in the modern age! It is a beautiful paradox. So the question remains; Who is fooling whom? It is often said that where there is a will, there is a way. Therefore, may the bloodshed policy in Kaduna State stop now!
‘Tunde Adeparusi, a UK-based independent investigator and criminologist, wrote via [email protected]