August 08, (THEWILL) – Nigeria, whose sovereignty spans 60 years, since her independence from her colonial master- Britain on October 1,1960, can best be described as a nation of irony in many ramifications.
Blessed with adequate rich arable land for agricultural activities, its citizens, particularly thousands of those who choose farming as a lifelong occupation, have been prevented from their farms by the activities of herdsmen in their battle for supremacy with the farmers among other contradictions that heightened the current wave of insecurity in the country.
Empirical evidence also shows that whereas the nation never lacks well qualified and adequate manpower, it continues to turn out thousands of graduates from universities, polytechnics and other higher institutions in dire need of white-collar jobs, which has become highly elusive. This stark reality thus heightens the rate of unemployment with corresponding frightening statistics.
Being Africa’s most populous black country in the world with 182 million inhabitants and an annual growth rate of 3 per cent, the Big Brother, located in West Africa, has 59 per cent, approximately 105 million of its citizens under 35 years.
Adjudged Africa’s biggest economy in Africa, Nigeria is said to have covered 92.4 million hectares and 53 per cent of the population live in rural areas with GDP growth averaged 3.8 per cent a year from 2009 to 2014, a development that makes economic analysts to term Nigeria as a middle-income country.
With these cheering statistics, one would have thought that Nigeria, by now, should be operating on the same level of development with the advanced nations of the world with much enviable developmental strides.
However, this is not to be as the 60-year-old independent country is bedevilled with teething problems, mostly human, exemplified in monumental corruption, falling oil prices, security challenges with attendant risks, policy uncertainty, with multiplier effects on the slow economy growth and development.
Members of the academic community in the country hold strongly to the popular belief that the phenomenal poverty, which they compute has reached the alarming 44.9 per cent, especially with severity in the rural areas, in their studies, remains a serious impediment to Nigeria’s growth and development in the scheme of things.
This, they further argue, has compounded the scenario where by youths, often regarded as the future leaders of society, lack economic opportunities, coupled with sporadic civil unrest.This is the submission of Onifade Comfort, Imhonopi David and Urim Ugochukwu in their studies bordering on”Addressing the Insecurity Challenge in Nigeria: “The Imperative of Moral Values and Virtue Ethics.”
Despite the efforts of the current administration in the country to put insecurity, the most intractable problem confronting the country to the barest minimum, pieces of empirical evidence show that insecurity challenge in Nigeria has continued to assume a formidable dimension, threatening Nigeria’s statehood.
According to Onifade and her colleagues, Nigeria has reached a situation whereby “the thirst for blood and the preference for violence in expressing pent-up frustration and disenchantment with the state has become a visible feature in our national development.
They argue that Nigerians and national totems may be a pointer to the need to revive moral values and virtues within the socio-economic, political, religious and educational institutions in the country.
“Nigerian leaders, politicians and their mien corners must be forced to evolve and uphold moral values and virtues in all their conducts in order to lead by example and to avoid heating up the polity unnecessarily by their conducts and comments, which sometimes incite violence in their followers,” they pointed out.
Besides the above study, many strata of society, ranging from NGOs to various government institutions, have also carried the cross of wrestling Nigeria from the apron string of insecurity and other challenges besetting the course of peace and development in the country.
For instance, in series of killings, maiming of innocent lives and destruction of property worth billions of naira in many states of the federation, besides the complex of the 10-year-old Boko Haram phenomenal, which has dwarfed Kidnapping, armed robbery, no fewer than 25 persons lost their lives in four communities of Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna state alone by gunmen.This is besides Kidnapping of Secondary school students, the low and the high in the country in recent time.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, who gave the update in a statement he issued on August 4, 2021, in Kaduna, said that the attack followed that of Ungwan Magaji, Kinshicho, Kigam and Kikoba villages of Kauru Local Government with attendant casualties and property damaged during the attack.
“The figures bring the total number of those who died in the attack to 25, with three persons injured, 68 farms destroyed and 63 huts burnt,” he said.
Security analysts describe the scenario in Kaduna state as typical of the fate of many victims of communal attacks by gunmen in recent memory in many parts of Nigeria but peace-lovers say they are not relenting in ensuring that Nigeria puts behind dustbin and resume the course of achieving reality socio-economic and political growth and development for their beloved nation.
This and others factors may have informed the on-going National Conference, organised by The School Of Management Studies, Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja, with the theme:”Proliferation of Small Arms And Light Weapons (SALWs) And State Resilience In The 21st Century.”
Localising the panacea to insecurity in the state, with emphasis on the involvement of youths, Kogi State Government warned students and youths in the state against indulging in criminality and arms proliferation, stressing that perpetrators would face the full wrath of the law.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Wemi Jones, who gave the warning at the ”National Conference Of The School Of Management Studies, Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja, noted that the theme of the conference is apt and timely due to the current insecurity bedevilling the nation.
He gave kudos to the Rector of the polytechnic, Dr Salisu Ogbo Usman, the management and organisers of the conference for the choice of the theme, saying that it would go a long way in boosting concerted effort aimed at addressing the prevailing circumstances and situation of the nation.
”I sincerely hope that this conference will add value to existence and will also go a long way in proffering solutions to the challenges currently bedeviling our nation,” he says.
The poly boss expressed concern that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons had caused enormous pain and havoc being experienced across the length and breadth of the country.
”But we are lucky and favoured in Kogi State to have a Governor who has taken security as a call that must be obeyed and he has ensured that in Kogi State, there is absolute zero tolerance for crime and criminality.
”The Administration of His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, is ready to do all it takes to ensure the security of lives and property in Kogi State, and zero tolerance to arms proliferation.
”Whoever is caught in the act of crime and criminality in Kogi State will go to jail,” he warns.
Citing an instance depicting the stand of the state government against insecurity, Jones disclosed that a student of Kogi Polytechnic, caught recently with a heavily loaded locally made gun, has been sentenced to 8 years in jail.
”Until and unless we make up our mind and execute sufficient political will to address this issue, insecurity will continue to linger in our nation.
”But I am happy that our State is very different now, which ordinarily was said to be the headquarters of crime in Nigeria before, but Governor Yahaya Bello has totally changed the narrative.
”So, these discussions here, today, should be a practical workshop that would proffer practical solutions to the insecurity facing our nation”, he added.
Earlier, the Rector of the Polytechnic, Dr Salisu Ogbo Usman, noted that the memory bank of academic institutions in Nigeria is full with ugly accounts of related tragedies” and affronts which vividly contradicts the very underlying philosophy of education.
He adds that in many higher institutions, including Kogi Poly, the crises of supremacy and territorial control among different cult groups has often fuelled social insecurity and academic instability, stressing that dangerous cult crises have seriously impeded academic and peaceful wellbeing of staff and students of many institutions.
Usman, however, allayed fears in some quarters, assuring that the school management under his leadership has explored the 21st century technology as a proactive measure against insecurity, a development he describes apt and functional.
”Our efforts in combating the school infiltration of these illicit arms and weapons on our campus can be modestly described as aggressive and resolute.
”Our goal is to ensure progress in the areas of security development, with special focus on creating a safe learning environment, through elimination of access to small arms and light weapons on our campus,”, he added.
The rector stressed the need for the stakeholders to take steps that would make the answers provided by the conference tenable, practical and goal-oriented.
He further urged the participants to contextualise the social importance of the current level of technology in addressing the current security challenges facing humanity.
Contributing to the conference, the Ohio Megye Igu of Koton Karfe, Alhaji Abdul Razak Isah Koto, called for adoption of technology in combating crime and criminality, and stressed the need for people to go back to the family basis in addressing the issues of insecurity in the country.
The Keynote Speaker, Prof. Hassan Saliu of the Department of Political Sciences, University of Ilorin, who delivered a paper, entitled: ”Understanding The Impact of Small and Light Weapons on Nigeria’s Security Situation” urges government and leaders at various levels to ensure equity, justice and fairness to all Nigerians.
”The feeling of alienation from governments, especially the Federal Government, is not a good tendency in our country,”he notes.
He also advise the government to imbibe the culture of dialogue as a viable option to proffering solutions to several agitations and challenges and stressed the imperative of addressing youth unemployment, which he observed has reached epidemic level, saying that the current efforts of the Federal Government in addressing youth unemployment are like a drop in the ocean.
On his part, the Lead Paper Presenter, Dr John Tor Tsuwa, from Department of Political Science, Benue State University, Makurdi, who dwelt on ”Arms Proliferation, National Security and Sustainable Development in Nigeria”, notes that the proliferation of arms was encouraged by unabated conflicts in intra and inter ethnic militancy and criminality.
He also traced the problem to porous borders, economic regression and lack of basic amenities, “occasioned by an irresponsive and unaccountable government.”
The Don recommends that the government should adopt local content in its control initiatives toward restoration of peace by thinking globally and act locally.
The lecturer also emphasizes the imperative of strengthening inter agencies cooperation among the security agencies on intelligence and information gathering and sharing as well as improving control of security, through technology on Nigeria borders.
In a nutshell, the thinking among the participants at the conference, in alliance with the patriotic expression of other peace-loving Nigerians is that, the security challenges facing Nigeria are enormous but not above the capacity of Nigeria and ability of the government to overcome, even if it means in a shortest time possible.
The current security challenges, according to them, pose great threat to peace, stability and of course corporate existence of a geo- political expression called Nigeria, the “Big Brother Africa” and its image among the comity of nations.
All that is required, they argue, is a genuine and concerted crusade by the people, against crime and criminality in the country, coupled with the political will by government to overcome the hydra headache, a multifarious evil affecting Nigeria and its citizens, which must be defeated at all cost, so that an average Nigerian can sleep with two eyes closed.