It has become recurrent for criminal gangs under various identities to work into our schools and kidnap children without any resistance from our police or armed forces. In the streets, the miasma of kidnapping has become a daily occurrence. Apart from the economic, psychological and mental burden that kidnapping has visited on our people, the trauma of having our children kidnapped at school is unimaginable, unacceptable and intolerable. While the poor funding of our security apparatus has depressed the psychological will of our soldiers and policemen, the lack of the political will on the part of government, to tackle the problem of criminality has placed the social order in appalling danger.
Central to our present experiences, is the worsening crises of unemployment in Nigeria. In a society where youths graduate for over ten years and remain unemployed, it takes the intervention of the divine will to foster order in that social system. Secondly is the collapse of our educational system. A social order in which examination malpractices becomes the norm produces youths with a constricted mindset. When these youths are confronted with poverty arising from the incapacity of the state, their indulgence in criminal activities for the purpose of survival becomes predictive.
We note that the crisis of insecurity has taken various dimensions. In the Southern part of Nigeria, the crime of kidnapping has been branded as a fallout of the incursion of Fulani herders and criminal gangs. We appreciate the herders-farmers’ crises. We hold that there are likely Fulani indigenes with criminal mind that are culpable of various criminal activities in our communities. However, we advise that we should refrain from a blame game that blinds us to the fact of the matter. We submit that the security operatives must evolve thorough investigation that unfolds the level of collaboration between these Fulani criminals and internal forces in our communities. We consider it a fallacious argument to always link the present spate of robberies, kidnapping and killings in our country to the 2015 election. While the militarization of our youths for election thuggery largely elevate the dimension of arms proliferation in Nigeria, we inform that criminality and gang wars among others have been part of our experiences before 2015. To use such premises in isolation brings an obscurantist dimension that emasculates the real cause of our problem. We inform that except we have a proper understanding of the problem, we cannot effectively identify the appropriate path to its resolution.
We note the dimension of corruption in the country and its devastating impact on the proper functioning of our institutions. We aver that the poor funding of our military architecture derives from the profligacy that corruption delivers. We cannot continue to deny the status of Nigeria as a failed state. Drawing from the apparent dearth of the various integrals that define statehood, Nigeria lacks the capacity to effectively address the issues that underpin the security collapse of the country. We are not unmindful of the efforts of the state government in responding to the security challenges facing Edo State. Yet, we aver that as long as kidnapping, cultism and cult wars, robberies and killings maintain their current banal expression, the citizenry are likely to se the initiatives of government as window dressing. We argue that the government must take a more decisive approach to dealing with the crises of insecurity in the state. While we avoid being drawn into the ethnic narrative presented in ongoing analysis, we opine that a criminal is a criminal whether Hausa, Fulani, Bini, Urhobo, Yoruba or Igbo. Therefore, the government must be proactive in totally eliminating criminality in Edo State. We posit that our communities must be strengthened by providing the innards that help them to fight infiltration by criminal gangs. This include providing them with financial capacity to sustain community vigilante groups as well as providing them with capacity to monitor influx into the communities
We argue that the present dimension of criminality and insecurity in Edo State is antithetical to our development as a state and a people. We cannot develop in isolation. In a global world order, Edo State must have a cosmopolitan and multilateral approach to its development plan. Therefore, a social anomie that discourages investors from coming to Edo State negates all government efforts and slogans about a realizable development plan. For Edo State to be development friendly, government must decisively foster a social order that earns the confidence of investors.
Let the government know that we will not be able to live with the Zamfara situation or more explicitly, the current situation in the North where children are kidnapped and dehumanized. We urge the government to immediately optimize efforts at identifying and bringing to book those involved in the attack on the National Institute of Construction Technology, Uromi. This will enforce deterrence. The government must issue a statement assuring us that our children are safe on their way to school, in school and on their way from school. Any attempt to take the safety and wellbeing of our children for granted will provoke very decisive mass action from civil society in Edo State. We implore the state government to strengthen the response capacity of the police. The kidnappers take their victims to our forests. It is laughable that the Nigerian police cannot locate criminals and kidnappers hiding in our community bushes. We call on government to evolve a more decisive approach in curtailing the security situation in Edo State
We argue that the corporate existence of Nigeria is in glaring uncertainty excepting the security crises is effectively resolved. In our perspective, the resort to self-protection by individuals and communities has engendered the proliferation of ethnic militias and warheads. In a country where nationhood is still a mirage, the implication this scenario delivers is too dangerous to imagine. As a way forward, we submit as follow: We call for a genuine solution to the unemployment crises particularly in relation to youth unemployment. To that effect, we request that government present an action plan or a working template that is convincing on minimizing unemployment. We call for proper funding of our educational system. We call for a fundamental legal approach that deliver deterrence on examination malpractices
Abiola is president of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organisations in Edo State