By Steve Nwosu
Dear Ordinary Nigerian,
I don’t know what the situation of your personal finance and general wellbeing is at the moment, but in the books of the APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari, we have exited recession. And, as comedian Mr. Macaroni would say, we’re all doing well.
In fact, I overheard information minister Lai Mohammed reeling out the figures a few days back, and boasting that our reemergence into prosperity was not by accident. But that was before this latest trend of wholesale abductions of passenger-laden buses and entire schools took over the headlines.
And talking of headlines: Suddenly, the daily human sacrifice in Southern Kaduna no longer makes news. Even the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East, who the media are accused of giving needed oxygen, with lavish publicity, have realized that they now need to seriously up their game before they can get the usual frontpage mention these days.
Yes, whatever they do to Gov. Zulum and his people in Maiduguri, Dikwa or anywhere else has suddenly paled into irrelevance for us. And the situation does not change even if the insurgents plant landmines on every inch of road there, nor if all the new service chiefs relocate to that place. Our sense of perception (and proportion) has since become fatigued. We are now beyond shock.
We have chosen to ignore them and their shenanigans, as we shift our attention to marauding herders (whom we must not identify as Fulani, to avoid being accused of ethnic profiling) and large-scale kidnappers.
And, of course, relishing strange tales from Gumi and the Bandits (bandits who, by the way, are not criminals). Add all these to the now-open secret that every notable person in the affected areas, apart from those we statutorily pay to arrest or eliminate them, knows who, and where, the bandits are.
Then, there is also the drama of food blockade, ethno-religious clashes in Gombe, the mindless killings in Shasha, the interludes of Sunday Igboho, Ibarapa, Ondo forests, Orlu and Oru, ESN, Amotekun, Miyetti Allah, South West governors, Senate President, Bala Mohammed, Samuel Ortom, and a spineless South east governor who chose the path of self-humilation and annihilation of his constituents, as a way of impressing his Abuja lords and masters.
And, in all this madness, the federal government, as represented by the National Security Adviser, finally reads the riot act, to ‘scoundrels’ and ‘scallywags’ (add ‘scamping rascals’ to that classification), as well as other audacious felons – including the criminal mining rackets of Zamfara and the smuggling rings of our border towns.
Now, that is what the Federal government should have done several years ago!
But it’s still better late than never. And, it seems we’re not stopping at that. In fact, there’s more where that came from.
For the first time in a long while, my emeritus president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Malam Garba Shehu, who is one of the two former presidents of the Guild who speak for President Buhari (the other being Mr. Femi Adesina), said something that didn’t leave me wondering what had come over him.
Garba reportedly told the Hausa Service of the BBC that President Buhari had given security operatives the marching order to shoot every non-state actor found with AK-47 and other such sophisticated weapons.
“The president has ordered security forces to go into the bushes and shoot whoever they see with sophisticated weapons like AK-47″, Garba said, adding: He ordered that whoever is seen with terrible weapons at all should be shot immediately.
Yes, this presidential order might be late in coming, but it is clearly the way to go, in the face of the daredevil banditry that is currently holding our country at the jugular. The sort that has made our towns unlivable, our roads unpassable, our farms a no-go area, and our school premises, a favourite hunting ground for kidnappers.
Even if we end up not shooting anybody, this latest presidential stand is the right body language every right-thinking Nigerian had been hoping to see from President Buhari all this while. It is the step PMB needed to take, to put a lie to insinuations that he is the patron saint of the marauding herders and their bloodthirsty bandit cousins after all. It is the all-important signal needed to put the fear of the awesome power of the state into criminal elements and non-state actors, who appear to have since carved out autonomous sovereignities for themselves within the Nigerian sovereign.
And now that FG has bared its fangs, it must be ready to bite. And to bite the right enemies of the state. This new tough stand should not be an opportunity to further politicize an already delicate. State actors must not exploit this seeming emergency rule regime to go after real and perceived opposition elements – both persons and groups. It should not provide a blanket cover to frame up, arrest, or even eliminate, critics of government.
It must not give vent to further ethnic cleansing or executive impunity.
In all this, however, we mustn’t fail to recognize that it was the vacuum created by the failure of government to do that for which it exists in the first place, that has given rise to different bands of non-state actors and criminal gangs, which have now been emboldened to exercise state powers over portions of largely ungoverned sections of the country.
For, as they say, nature abhors vacuum.
And now that the President has woken up, let us pray that he remains awake for a while longer, to help pull Nigeria from the brink. For, if truth must be told, we were on the verge of losing our country.