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Is Nigeria a pressure cooker of internal conflict?

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For numerous Nigerians, this surely is not the best of times. As a matter of fact, not many are smiling these days. In short, to the average Nigerian, there is hardly anything to cheer about.
All you get to hear, all over the place, are tales of woes and gnashing of teeth. Ugly stories abound in all facets of our daily lives.

Indeed, Nigerians have never had it this rough. The recent listing of Nigeria by an international survey group as the world’s third most dangerous country did not surprise many. Except, of course, you are living on Mars! Or perhaps, you are in government. Or better still, a member of the cabal.

Nonetheless, and considering that the listing resulted from both corruption and insecurity, it would be very uncharitable not to acknowledge these two cankerworms as really eating deep into the fabric of today’s Nigeria.

Sadly and amidst the high insecurity in the land, the president, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), says the pride of Nigeria that he leads today has been restored.

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“You will agree with me that the successes we have achieved so far have restored our pride and honor in the world over,” the president said last Thursday at Eagles Square, Abuja, while commissioning three attack helicopters.

This is despite the rising insecurity and attacks by Boko Haram in the Northeast as well as killings by Fulani herdsmen, banditry, kidnappings, and other forms of criminal activities going on in other parts of the country.

I want to believe this is exactly what people mean when they talk of ‘political statements.’ Or how on earth will a president in present-day Nigeria, where reports, both locally and internationally, show that at least 245 people were killed across Nigeria in January 2020 alone be gleefully making this sort of claim?

Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden,” and whose cardinal purpose is to establish an Islamic state that will follow a strict interpretation of Islamic law, has been waging an armed campaign in the Northeast since 2009.

Even as the president had promised to crush the group during his first-term election campaign in 2015, the group still continues to kill, maim and, displace people in their thousands to date with impunity.

It is widely reported that some 30,000 persons have been killed and more than two million displaced since Boko Haram militants launched their armed campaign. And we are still counting, considering that the group has repeatedly attacked schools, churches, mosques, and markets, with state institutions such as police stations and military facilities as primary targets.

Therefore, and notwithstanding the kind of information that government would like the public to believe on how it has crushed, subdued or conquered the deadly terrorist group, fact on ground is that almost six years down the line, the Buhari administration has not succeeded in quelling the rebellion as increasing attacks are still coming from the group on strategic towns.

In fact, increasing insecurity has become the order of the day under the Buhari administration, no matter how his aides would want to whitewash the situation.

As it were, Nigerians now live in fear of all manner of banditry, abductions/kidnappings, and killings and are therefore asking the security chiefs to throw in the towel since they appear incapable of protecting them from the highly emboldened terrorists.

Only recently, wife of a Kaduna-based medical doctor, Philip Ataga, was abducted along with her two children. They were said to have been abducted from their home at the Juji community in Chikun local government area of the state by gunmen, who also killed a member of a local vigilante group in the area during the operation.

Sadly, a week after the incident, the bullet-ridden body of the woman was reportedly found inside a bush in the Kakau area, along the Abuja-Kaduna highway with the whereabouts of her two children, at the time, unknown.

The kidnappers had even established contact with the family after killing the woman and were demanding another ransom before they could release the two children that were still in their custody at the time.

Although the children are said to have been released, a ransom must have been paid in addition to the killing of their mother before their very eyes. You can then imagine the trauma these kids and members of the family, as well as many others that have suffered a similar fate in the hands of these agents of Satan, are now living with.

At the same time when this horror was happening in Kaduna, some four young seminarians were also abducted in the same state and the body of one of them would also be found along the road. As if that was not enough, these bandits previously described as ragtag, are now so sophisticated to the point of pulling down a military helicopter, still in the same Kaduna almost at the same period.

And as it is in Kaduna, so it is in other states as Nigerians are being roundly terrorized. Travelling by road, for instance, is now one exercise many dread. For where they are not attacked and robbed, they are abducted for ransom and that is if they are not killed. Where these are not the case, the death traps that are the state of our roads would pose its own brand of danger.

The security situation in the country has so degenerated to the extent that the ninth National Assembly, mostly regarded as a stooge of the executive, would add its voice in lamenting the scale.

The House of Representatives with the Senate has urged the president to change his service chiefs in order to address the spate of killings across the country, a call that has remained unheeded.

Ironically, the presidency, in response, said the security situation now “is better than it was before Gen. Buhari assumed office, hence, Nigerians have reasons to be grateful.

“We know what the situation was as of 2015 and we know what it is today. Despite the reversals in security, it is still not as bad as it used to be in this country,” the president’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said.

Well, the Southwest governors did not see any truth in that statement. Neither did those from other regions. Concerned about the safety of their people, these governors recently set up a regional security outfit, Amotekun, to address rising criminality and killings in the region.

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The Coalition of Northern Group, following in the SW footsteps, also unveiled its own security outfit code-named Operation ‘Shege Ka Fasa’, just as the governors of the Southeast states are said to have concluded plans to establish the region’s version of a security outfit similar to ‘Operation Amotekun.

Although the name of the security outfit for the Southeast is yet to be made public, a logo with the name, Operation Ogbunigwe, is already going viral as code-name.

Thus, Nigeria, whose corruption perception index keeps going down the ladder, thus illustrating the point that the country has not improved from the scourge of corruption, despite its noisy anti-corruption agenda, looks indeed like a pressure cooker of internal conflict.

Therefore, and as a United Nations rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, said in September 2019, pretending that there are no crises will be a “major crisis.”