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Chibok girls, the mirror in our faces

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As we remember the girls captured in Chibok three years ago, we must remember that they constitute only a fraction of the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency.

I would urge Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), while you keep this issue of Chibok on the table, to broaden your message to cover all girls and boys abducted by Boko Haram, and also draw attention to the condition of girls and women in our society in general.

To give you an idea of the extent of this problem, as at today, in Dalori 2 IDP camp near Maiduguri alone, there are over 1,500 Boko Haram abducted girls who are either pregnant or carrying babies, and who have been freed by the military.

Hundreds of orphaned children are being carried away to unknown destinations and they are all gone into oblivion due to society’s neglect.

It is therefore critical for the BBOG movement to gain much broader support in the populace and be more effective, to use the dramatic case of the Chibok girls as a referent and a plank, but not the exclusive focus of its struggle.

Our interest should be in bringing back all our girls. But after these girls are brought back, shall we ask ourselves as well: where are they being brought back to? What kind of society?

How much better is the “normal” environment we all take for granted than Boko Haram camps? These questions ultimately force us to face the reality that the kind of society we have created in fact is the root cause for the emergence of groups like Boko Haram and occurrences like the Chibok tragedy.

All my life, I have been engaged deeply with the question of women and the oppressed and marginalised groups in our society. I have come to accept, like you, that remaining committed to this discourse is a risky and potentially costly venture in this environment.

The elite consensus is about a culture of silence and complicity, where everyone remains in his or her comfort zone, and where the voiceless majority are allowed to remain where they are.

The argument, it seems, is why should you care about poor rural women when you are able to educate your own daughters in the best schools in the world? Why should you hold up a mirror to our faces, expose our unclean underbelly and remind us of the brutish life to which, over many decades, we have subjected a large mass of our population? Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics.

Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the North-East and North-West of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat, the noise is yet to die down.

But what really are the facts? The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the UNDP in 2015 published data on the incidence of poverty in Nigeria showing that, on average, 46 per cent of Nigerians are living in poverty.

This is based on the UN’s Global Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index which focuses on education, health and living standards. Although this average is in itself bad, it masks even more serious internal inequalities and incidences of extreme poverty by region and gender.

So, for example, the South-West of Nigeria has less than 20 per cent of its population living in poverty, while the North-West has more that 80 per cent of its population living in poverty. In the North-East, the figure is 76.8 per cent. Over 90 per cent of the people in Yobe and Zamfara states are living in poverty, compared to 8.5 per cent in Lagos and around 11 per cent in Osun and Anambra states.

The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voice that dares shine the light on the society to which we are saying ‘Bring Back Our Girls’.

There are those who believe these attacks are aimed at discrediting me personally but even if that is the objective it will not work. I can only be discredited by what I have done and not by insults and lies on the social media. And in any event, personal criticism has no impact on issues.

These attacks are aimed at diverting attention from the issues raised and all of us who are involved in this struggle must remember a few things. We are dealing with an antiintellectual environment, and with people whose failure has bred a sense of insecurity, which leads to incomprehensible, almost insane, reactions to simple advice. Second, that these problems are deep-seated and have been there for a long time, so that changing mind-sets will be a difficult and painful process.

Finally, we must never succumb to the temptation to join our opponents in the gutter. You may say what you like about me for as long as you like, so long as you address the issues. As Michelle Obama famously said: “when they go low, we go high”. Instead of hiding these statistics and being scared of repeating them, what we need to do is bring out even more of these data.

These are already published and easily verifiable but not often discussed in the public space. But these data help us understand what poverty means for girls and women. According to published research:

1. Over 70.8 per cent of women in the North-West are unable to read and write, compared to 9.7 per cent in the South-East zone;

2. More than two-thirds of 15 to 19-year-old girls in the North are unable read a single sentence, compared to less than 10 per cent in the South;

3. In eight Northern states, over 80 per cent of the women are unable to read and write;

4. Only four per cent of females complete secondary schools in Northern Nigeria; 5. 78 per cent of adolescent girls are in marriages in the North-West, 68 per cent in the North-East and 35 per cent in the North-Central.

These numbers clearly mirror the poorest regions in the country. The statistics in the other zones are 18 per cent in the South- South, 17 per cent in the South-West and 10 per cent in the South-East.

6. Apart from the huge loss of productivity and incomes caused by the lack of focus on education, especially for girls, adolescent marriages have led to serious social and health outcomes. One Nigerian woman dies in childbirth every 10 minutes.

The North-East has a maternal mortality rate of over 1,500 per 100,000. This is more than five times the global average. I can go on and on. These statistics are not flattering. And they speak to a truth that is inconvenient to most of us. But the culture of silence must end. We have a problem.

In fact, we have an existential crisis. And all of us in this country – politicians, intellectuals, Emirs and traditional rulers, religious leaders, businesses, NGOs – have to come together to solve this problem.

The real patriots in the North are those who are honest enough to accept this reality and insist on change. The consequences of ignoring this crisis are unimaginable. And I wonder if the public generally recognises this.

It is a vicious cycle. Children of educated mothers are 50 per cent more likely to survive beyond the age of five, and educated mothers are more likely to send their own children to school. Meanwhile, every extra year of education for the girl child could increase her earning capacity by 10 per cent. Infants born to mothers under 18 suffer a 60 per cent higher risk of dying in the first year of life when compared to infants born to mothers aged 19 or older.

Girls who become pregnant below the age of 15 in poor countries have double the risk of maternal death and obstetric fistula than older women. In addition, girls under age 15 are five times more likely to die from maternity related causes than women under 20.

The statistics that are provided therefore represent the tragedy in the lives of real human beings. This problem is most severe in the North-West and North-East but the North-Central also fares worse that the three zones in the South. Let me state, at this point, that the issues faced by women go beyond girl-child education, early marriage and poverty. Educated women still have to deal with issues of equal opportunities in the work-place, and unwritten but no less real gender discrimination. As governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Chairman of the Bankers’ Committee, I forced the question of addressing the gendered work-place to the fore.

We officially adopted a policy of aiming for at least 50 per cent of employees of banks and the CBN being female by 2014. Also to address glass ceilings, we pushed for at least 40 per cent of senior management in the CBN and banks, as well as 30 per cent of the Board of Directors being female.

By the time I left Central Bank, I had en-sured that the myth that women were only good enough to run Human Resources and Medical Services departments, which are more suited to what is called, rather condescendingly, their “nature”, was annulled. In addition to these two departments, I appointed women as directors in charge of core technical areas in the Central Bank, including Banking Supervision, Risk Management, Consumer Protection, Internal Audit, Branch Operations and the Governor’s Special Adviser on Environmental, Sustainability and Governance Policies. By deliberately pushing for the promotion of outstanding and highly competent female staff, we showed the industry what could be achieved by women.

We also developed and launched a N220 billion MSME development fund in 2013, with a condition that 60 per cent of it is to be devoted to female entrepreneurs and businesses.

I declared 2012 as “the year of women’s economic empowerment” and trained Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and CBN employees and management staff on sustainability and gender. Also, in collaboration with International Labour Organisation (ILO), we launched the FAMOS (Female and Male Operated Small Business) toolkit specifically to measure how financial institutions serve their female clients.

I am going over this now to make the point that my engagement with issues of gender and opportunity for women did not begin when I became Emir, and my current engagement with forced marriages, domestic violence, arbitrary divorce, property and maintenance rights for women etc. is not new. It is also not a politicallymotivated attack on any group.

The point I seek to stress is that BBOG needs to transform itself from a group defined by the narrow focus on an incident, to one that addresses the broader social reality of African women, and particularly women in Nigeria, especially the North.

We all claim to be horrified by what Boko Haram has done. We all call this primitive and barbaric. They forcefully took young girls out of school, forced them into marriages without their consent or love, impregnated them and turned them into mothers at young ages and exposed them to serious health risks, and maybe inflicted beatings and verbal abuse on them. We are all horrified. Really. But let us pause a little.

These things that horrify us, do they not happen every day in every village in Northern Nigeria and some parts of the South? Do these girls complete their education? Do they all grow up and give their consent to marriage when they are old enough to? Does domestic violence not happen? It is often not the fault of the girls or their parents.

What do they do if there are no educational and health facilities made available to the poor? So the discourse on gender has to be looked at in the context of the discourse on poverty and governance. And this is why many people are not comfortable.

The fact is that poverty in the North and in Nigeria is not inevitable but a result of decades of failed social policy. It is only by recognising this and accepting it that we can even hope to make progress.

If we do not, then the society to which these girls are brought back will be no better than where they are now. Anyone who challenges a system or fights for the voiceless must be ready for a serious backlash.

Character assassination, slander, blackmail and intimidation are the normal tools employed by those who defend and profit from the status quo. The poor people for whom you fight are voiceless by necessity.

Those of us who are fortunate to be part of the elite and who choose not to speak for them are voiceless by choice. We want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the pain of being insulted and abused on social media. We want to hold on to the small comforts of our status. We want access to power and to be seen as friends of those in power and members of our inner circle. We are afraid of being destroyed by ruthless state machinery.

We have a morbid fear of being isolated, of not belonging to an exclusive club close to power. The reality is that everything in this world is fragile. Life itself will come to an end and we will lose money and position and loved ones all the time.

The only thing we have control over is who we are, what we stand for, what we represent. Being a coward or a sycophant will not add one day to your life or one day to the term of any of the things you hold dear. The worst silence is that which happens in the face of injustice. Do not be intimated. Do not be silenced. Do not betray your conscience or sell your soul.

Do not fear any human being. Stand up and take all the bullets that are fired at you but never kneel down. If you have to die, please die standing and not on your knees. Most important, ignore the noise. Do not defend yourself too much against personal attacks because they want your person, not the issues you raise, to be discussed.

I know it is tough, I go through this every day, but I have learnt that after all the insults and blackmail the issues remain and will not disappear until they are addressed. That is your task, put these issues on the table and do not walk away until they are resolved. We pray that Allah return all our girls and boys safely to a better society.

 

• Sanusi II (CON), a former CBN governor and Emir of Kano, gave this speech given at the 1st Chibok Girls Annual Lecture held in Abuja on April 14.

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If in doubt, please quit!

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A major trust of news reporting in journalism is: “if in doubt, leave out or drop the story.” In my days as a News Editor, whenever a reporter couldn’t substantiate his facts, I will drop the news item. It is a norm that conforms to the best professional practices. Integrity and truth are the hallmark of media practice but with the advent of social and online media, those valued ethics seem to have been practically jettisoned. And the consequences of such professional delinquency daily stare us in the face, regrettably though.

This same ethos applies to those planning their conjugal affairs on a sandy soil of anxiety, doubt and uncertainty. If betrothed lovers are frequently experiencing rancour, threats of breakup and relating to each other with mutual suspicion and fear, they don’t need a soothsayer or a prophet to tell them that they are not compatible. Many of those in desperate mood to remain in troubled relationships are women.

Reasons adduced for their tenacity usually centre around fear of the unknown, age, social class, low selfesteem, economic factor, religious affinity and beauty among others. Some of them prefer to go into ‘trial’ marriage and fail than let go their abusive partner.

The reckless decision they often make is to blindly walk down the aisle with partners they can’t have peace and desired happy matrimony with. A 31-year-old woman would not let go off her fiancé of two years despite her frustration and constant abuse in the relationship.

Twice she had called it quit but she reconciled on both occasions without her boyfriend showing any sign of remorse. Devising a way to end regular disputes, she moved into his apartment unannounced thinking perhaps they would understand themselves better by living together. Her boyfriend’s response was to bring another woman home for the weekend. Yet, she stayed on, weeping, begging for his love. They eventually got married and it only lasted for nine months! She packed out with seven months pregnancy when she almost lost her life due constant battering.

A young man is currently battling with high blood pressure arising from constant cases of cheating, insults, threats to quit the relationship and coping with hardline rules of his fiancée. His reason for hanging on with this woman is her beauty. He said he would rather learn to endure than let her go.

“All my friends envy me because of her beauty,” he said. More than thrice, he had caught her pant down with other men. She cheats a lot. She insults him at will and set rules for him as condition to remain in the relationship. As you read this article, they are planning to wed in a couple of months’ time. Should we then ascribe these kinds of relationship to genuine love?

If yes, then, love is truly blind! It shows love can blindfold lovers when they are engrossed in it. In most cases, the love charm usually have a vice-hold on one of the partners. When blinded in love, they usually act blighted. Consequently, the traits of such desperate, confused and helpless partners are to:

• Defend weaknesses, character flaws that would eventually shred the union.

• Get fixated and unreasonably enslaved to their partners by trying to please, satisfy, compromise and sacrifice to tag along; forgetting that once they beg or manage to go into marriage, they need to keep begging and managing to remain married for the rest of their life.

• They are afraid of the unknown. Attitudes they won’t tolerate ordinarily or naturally would become their choice just to remain in relationship.

• They accommodate those things to feel “fulfilled” among their peers even when eventual failure looms large in the horizon.

• They often ignore every counsel that is not in tandem with their sentiments, interests and expectations.

• They often learn their lessons at a time the situation is beyond remedy. They calmly live with the scars because it was their choice. There are three levels of marriage:

• Marriage contracted in fear – desperation, low self-esteem, age consideration and social class

• Marriage contracted in reluctance – family and peers pressure, abstract considerations, marrying partners not wholly convinced or satisfied with many things about.

• Marriage contracted in wilful decision – marrying one’s dream partners, desired choice, best friend, feeling satisfied, fulfilled and complementary to her life. It is advisable and wiser to avert awaited marital failure by quitting troubled relationships. As it is often said, “A broken relationship is better than a broken marriage.”

Some are currently regretting their decisions in marriage because of the choices they made. While many of them have tried frantically to make their marriages work; but alas, they couldn’t get it right not due to their own faults, but because they paired with wrong partners.

There are those who might feel heeding a counsel that is against their wish is obviously denying them the right of choice in their personal affairs. I wish to submit that counsel is not a law. There’s no compulsion in it. Counsel is a piece of advice steeped in rich experience and knowledge. My sincere prayer is that may the song: “Had I Known” not be your anthem at last. Amen.

 

Send your responses/private issues to: mikeawe@yahoo.co.uk or 08035304268 (SMS/WhatsApp)

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Tinubu’s uphill task

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“You cannot influence a political party to do right if you stick to it when it does wrong” – John Bengough

 

When a doctor is called in to handle an ailment after the disease has eaten deep into the patients, the task of saving that life would depend only on divine intervention. It does not matter the quality of that doctor or his antecedents in handling such issues in the past.

The challenge of such doctor is analogous to the one being faced by the former Governor of Lagos State, Aswaju Bola Ahmad Tinubu, who was recently appointed the arbitrator and at the same time a reconciliatory officer to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

Incidentally, President Muhammadu Buhari who gave Tinubu the gigantic task cannot absolve himself from the problem. In fact, political observers believe that the problem of APC derives largely from the shortcomings of its leader, the President, due to his indifferent approach to political party matters.

 

Going by the analysis of experts, the style of the President in political party management has been underwhelming and clearly falls far below the required standard and this has led to the emergence of all kinds of cliques within the party. Pundits in political matters would always say that there can never be a vacuum in political space. The space President Buhari’s poor political strategy could not fill easily got occupied by pockets of chiefdom.

 

It is largely believed that the foundation of the myriads of APC challenges was long laid when the President at the inception of his administration told all who cared to know that he would not be interested in who emerges as the leaders of the National Assembly but when those he did not want emerged, he led the onslaught against them since June 9th 2015.

 

Political watchers believe that on the issue of National Assembly the hide and seek approach from the President actually helped to fertilize the crisis that eventually engulfed the ruling party.

 

Among those within the party who shared in the President’s obvious bitterness and anger against the leadership of the National Assembly was Tinubu who ostensibly remain embittered because his cronies in the parliament lost out in the scheme. Tinubu then literally supplied the amour with which the National Assembly particularly the Senate was and is still being tormented.

 

The sudden appointment of Tinubu as chief arbiter at this time is therefore curious and raises a number of questions. The appointment is trying to help observers discern the mind of the President on the situation in the party.

 

Could it be that the President after his review of the situation has decided to embrace one of the factions in the party at the detriment of the others? Or is it that Tinubu has been identified as the bigger problem and has to be given the task of confronting the task of removing the heap of refuge he probably helped to assembly?

 

For Tinubu, the view out there on his new job is similar to what happens when a party to a case is appointed to make peace, two things are likely to play out, he buries his own interest and accommodates other people’s interests for peace to reign or he stands on the point of advantage and pushes through his own agenda. Either way Tinubu decides to go it’s not going to be an easy task both for him and the party.

 

That is why it is very germane the verdict of the embattled Comrade APC Senator of Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani that APC would be finally ruined if Asiwaju Tinubu fails in his mission to bring peace in the party.

Even though Tinubu is a master in the game of politics and the intrigue therein, he would need the courage of biblical David and the Wisdom of Solomon, David’s son, to figure out an acceptable solution to the APC crisis.

 

Other posers waiting to be unravelled in Tinubu’s assignment is whether the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun who has spent the last three years of his political life eulogizing President Buhari would be thrown out just like that as has been the wish and desire of Tinubu? Why not, you may say, election year for politicians is a time of betrayal and sacrifice especially of those whose electoral value is inconsequential. Electorally, Tinubu stands head ahead of Oyegun, and this is not in dispute.

 

Also, can Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State dine together politically with Comrade Senator Sani and Senator Hunkuyi whose building was even demolished during the fight?

 

After Governor Ibrahim Ganduje of Kano State declared publicly recently that he has parted ways forever with his former boss, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, and his Kwakwasiyya group, would Tinubu make him leak his vomit?
What of Tinubu himself, can he stand with the Senate President Bukola Saraki to say old ways have passed away for a new way to begin? Even when it’s widely believed that he contributed to the inconveniences that prevented Saraki from enjoying fully his number three position? Today if you Google Saraki the image you get is not that of a nation’s head of parliament presiding but that of a criminal suspect in the dock, can this wound be easily healed by Tinubu’s drug box?

However, there is this optimistic attitude indicating that in politics everything is possible. Believers in this optimism easily embrace Maurice Barres, the French novelist who captured the never say die spirit of politicians in his statement that “the politician is an acrobat. He keeps his balance by saying the opposite of what he does”. How sincere is Tinubu and Buhari on this reconciliatory project?

 

 

There are so many other possibilities to Tinubu’s assignment that cannot also be overlooked. It could have been a strategy of a drowning Presidency itching into general election and hoping to keep up with whoever can help at such a critical period.

 

It could also be the geo-political North’s own strategic response to halt the seeming unity in the Southern Nigeria, a development that could be the deadliest blow to the Northern hegemony. There couldn’t have been a better way to tie apart that dangerous geo-political romance in the South than pulling out the biggest political tree in the region and whispering into his ears, the goodies that await him. There couldn’t have been an easier way to achieve this especially as the Aswaju is not enjoying the best of relationship with the Yoruba socio-cultural and political group, the Afenifere, who has been at the forefront of this crusade. There is also the other treachery aspect indicating that Tinubu might just be playing a fifth columnist role against the system for deserting him after victory only to rush coming because the day of reckoning has arrived.

 

 

Also as a possible instigation to Asiwaju’s assignment is the scorching attack by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo on both President Buhari and his ruling party. The easiest way to contain and possibly help divert the conversation away from the huge effect of that outburst on the government and the party is cleverly to draft from the same region as Obasanjo a formidable political iroko to quell the accompanying political uprising.

 

It could also have been that what President Buhari did in drafting Tinubu to go and make peace in a war where he has been a top commander is just the extension of taking the people for granted. No wonder American Journalist, Franklin Adams once remarked that “there are many politicians who believe, with conviction based on experience, that you can fool all the people all of the time.”

 

But in reality, after President Buhari and his party rode to power cruising on the falsehood of propaganda and deceit, can they fool Nigerians again after the hellish journey since 2015?

 

For Tinubu, there are some landmines on his political career that he must apply all his political wizardry to manoeuvre his way in this difficult assignment. At stake is his goodwill with the people and no politicians would want to toy with it.

 

American businessman, Marshall Field, aptly captured it better in these words: “Goodwill is the only asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy.” Nigerians are watching to see how the Jagaban will writhe out of this. God help Nigeria.

 

 

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A national security strategy

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The present government should as a matter of national emergency roll out a comprehensive, forward looking, national and acceptable strategy for combating extant and emerging security challenges in Nigeria. This national security strategy must of necessity involve a summit of all the critical stakeholders involved in the prevention and detection of any crime against the internal and external security of Nigeria.

 

It must involve all the agencies and organs of government charged with the responsibility of or employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations.

 

The security summit must involve all those vested with legislative and judicial powers. It must involve religious, traditional, community, professional and civil society leaders. The National Security Summit (NSM) must map out extant and emerging and future security challenges and design strategies of combating, degrading and neutralizing them.

 

The Summit must review the report of past conferences and their recommendations and flesh out the ones that are still fresh and can assist in tackling the myriad security challenges affecting the country.

 

In undertaking this assignment, the government must avoid puritanism and grandstanding. When the nation is grieving or in pains, national security interest demands that all patriots must unite and chart a common agenda of national rebirth and reconstruction.

 

This period demands that opposition political parties and other vested interests must not play politics with national security issues but must unite with the government in finding solution to the security challenges of the nation. In constituting the membership of the summit, government must realise that the issue of security affects everybody and government must never play politics with the security of lives and properties.

 

The government must marshal the best brains and the representatives of individuals and organisations with credibility. National security challenges should not be used for the settlement of the “boys” or for opportunistic purposes.

 

We must not allow the country to go to blazes before we realise that the country is drifting and requires urgent surgical attention. It should be very clear to the leadership of our country that Nigerians are increasingly becoming apprehensive about the security of their lives and properties.

 

 

It is not as if the Nigerian people expect magic or miracles from the government. No, the people know that the government is run by human beings and that government is based on rules and procedures.

 

The Nigerian people know that government controls the means of gathering information and that the government controls the instruments of coercion and law enforcement.

 

The people expect the government to listen to their concerns. The people expect the government to react to their concerns and the people expect the government to degrade, neutralize and or obliterate extant and emerging security challenges threatening their lives and their properties.

 

 

The Nigerian people have the right to be apprehensive about the future and their conviction that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan did not have the will power or commitment to protect lives and properties contributed in no small measure in their resolve to dispense with the regime.

 

The Nigerian people find it difficult to connect with the cyclical and unending security challenges bedevilling the country.

 

The country went through the crisis in the Niger Delta that resulted in the blowing up of pipelines, the kidnapping of expatriates and the proliferation of small arms by self-styled militants. The government declared a ceasefire and granted monetary amnesty to the repentant militants and there has been relative calm in the Niger Delta with pockets of resistance.

 

 

 

This does not mean that the military has pulled out of the Niger Delta. The presence of the military is still very strong as they are maintaining internal security in the whole of the Niger Delta.

 

From the Niger Delta challenge the country witnessed heightened cases of kidnappings and ritual killings. From there we migrated to and progressed to the “Boko Haram” challenge that has led to the death of thousands of Nigerians, the displacement of millions of persons and the killing of countless number of security operatives.

 

 

The country is still battling with the challenge and committing millions of dollars to the “Boko Haram” project. As if the “Boko Haram” challenge was not enough, we had separatist agitations in the South-East that threatened the corporate existence of Nigeria. Fair enough the present regime acted decisively even if too late in putting it down.

 

 

As if we revel in new issues and new challenges, the farmers/ herders conflict, cattle rustling and rural banditry has assumed a monstrous and murderous dimension.

 

The government has a constitutional and statutory obligation to listen to the Nigerian people when they say that the government is not doing enough in the area of security. When the citizens are uncertain or steeped in confusion regarding what tomorrow portends for them, every other activity being carried out by them or by the government becomes tentative as fear and apprehension becomes the order of the day. It is my opinion that the present government is too slow in reacting to the mounting security challenges in the country. When something happens the people want to hear from their government and from their leaders.

 

This is because the government has security agents on the ground and has multiple channels of getting information. When the people do not hear from their government, opportunists, merchants of conflicts, speculators and gangsters take over information dissemination and fill the void left by the government. In Nigeria, rumours and rumour mongering is a big business and rumour travels at the speed of light.

 

There must be something alluring and salacious in embracing and believing unbelievable tales and stories which on their face value appears unbelievable.

 

 

Yet, government sometimes out of a culture of silence leaves the people no choice than to believe what ordinarily a rational and thinking fellow should not believe. We must therefore constantly remind the government at all levels that the security of lives and the guarantee of their welfare is the primary purpose of government and there is no ambiguity in this.

 

 

Any government that lacks or loses the ability to protect lives and properties is not worth being in power and the oath of office taken by persons in government loses its efficaciousness.

 

Saying so does not amount to running down any government. It does not amount to playing partisan politics. It means being patriotic because if the country goes down, Nigeria goes down and nobody can determine who will be internally displaced and who will become a refugee and nobody can determine who will die and who will survive.

 

 

We must consciously map out some of the security challenges bedevilling the country and make conscious efforts at degrading them. We must remain vigilant at all times and degrade potential security threat before they overwhelm us.

 

To this end, the government has a responsibility to find out why intolerance has become the order of the day and why ethnic nationalities that hitherto lived in peace have become murderous enemies.

 

The government should and must remain proactive in dealing with and speaking out on measures it is taking in tackling security challenges as silence in the face of threats to the nation amounts to abdication of responsibility.

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