Bring Back Our Nigeria

Frank Lampard reminds me of someone who is a properly groomed  Son of committed Parents. His well ordered upbringing shows in his avalanche of successes in life. I’m currently reading his autobiography and a chapter in it reminds me of how we were also groomed.

He writes:”Moving out of Mum and Dad’s house was like being given the keys to a new world. I decided that I should be more independent. I could afford to buy a flat and when I found the right place I took the plunge. It was more a case of doing
what I thought I should than what I really wanted. I was very comfortable at home. I enjoyed having my family around.
Some of my mates were in their own place though and it seemed like the right thing to do. It was. Well, I thought it was. I quickly found that instead of gaining freedom I had a lot more time on my hands. I could do whatever I wanted. I just wasn’t sure what that was.”
He wrote further:  “At first, I did what I knew best and went back to Mum and Dad’s house. Ate there and hung out with my sisters. After a few weeks I actually moved back there for a few days because I was so lonely. Mum didn’t say anything. She knew what was going on and that I needed to get it out of my system. I drove back to the flat in Woodford Green and decided to get my mate’s round. I was bored. I didn’t really know why. Suddenly the restrictions which had governed my whole life didn’t exist. No more ‘Where ‘you going and what you doing?’ I was a bit lost without Dad’s third degree every time I opened the door to go out.”
“A lot of my mates lived close by: Sam- who we call Tel- Billy Jenkins, Alan (Alex), Finny, Banger (Mike), and HK (Sam). Good lads. Most of them went to a rival school but we had got together when we were about 15 and bonded. I phoned them and would get them round to watch the football on a Sunday. It was the natural thing to do. There was no one else there, I wanted company, and the lads were up for watching the game. It didn’t seem so bad then. We would have a laugh and muck around and for the first time in my life I was doing the things that most people my age were doing. I was having a life. A life outside of my job. Outside of football”. (My Autobiography Totally Frank by Frank Lampard.)”
That was Frank Lampard narrating a story that looked like what some persons from my age group and above went through in the good old Nigeria.
What the English former footballer and now Coach stated and what he actually left out in that chapter was the issues of social and organized crimes which even in Nigeria of the early 1980’s were few and far between.

In the 1980’s Nigeria, I remember traveling from Kafanchan, a rural setting in North West of Nigeria to Maiduguri in the North East of Nigeria even as a fresh school leaver who was in search of adventures. We never encountered much hassles.
We went to mixed public schools in the North of Nigeria and in the school are children from all kinds of ethnic and religious backgrounds but the only thing that reminded us of the slight difference in ideology was during the general assembly prayer sessions during which the prayers of two dominant religions of Christianity and Islam are recited.

After that you can hardly differentiate who is Igbo, Yoruba, Tiv, Idoma, Kwale, Ijaw or Kanuri or Fulani. Of course most of us spoke the Hausa language outside of the classrooms.

Nigeria of the 1980’s was fun but I was even made to understand that those who came before our set, enjoyed a much happier Nigerian setting going by the availability of different educational scholarship schemes and job placements. As a school boy, I went to the stadia, paid gate fees and watched professional football league.  I went partying and dancing ‘wildly’ but no fisticuffs.
Crime and criminality were perceived as abominations because the moment a person is identified as a thief, he suffers alienation, stigmatisation and the person was named and shamed.
Politically, there were cases of manipulation of elections but not to the level that we see now whereby gunmen shoot at potential voters.

Also, much of the 1980’s were under military rules. So, I have mentioned the low crime rates and the high levels of inter-ethnic harmony.
However, what shifted the entire scenarios and marred the serenity of those days was religious disturbances here and there in the North. Governments did not manage the aftermath of these religious conflicts but efforts were made to minimize the occurrence of such a phenomenon.
In 2014, the dynamics of societal challenges such as terrorism and associated crimes gave rise to the quantum leap in the sophistication of organized crimes.
This became apparent with the daring kidnapping of over 300 girls from their school in Chibok in Borno State and almost all the girls kidnapped are Christians who were born in an Islamic dominated environment. The coming of the terror group of boko haram terrorists dramatically shot up Nigeria globally in infamy.
Nigeria has been ranked third most terrorised country in the world by the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report, which stated that death attributed to Boko Haram in Nigeria increased by 25 percent from 2018 to 2019.
According to the report, “Nigeria had the second largest fall in total deaths, owing largely to a 72 percent reduction in fatalities attributed to Fulani extremists.
“Despite this decrease, the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 25 percent from 2018 to 2019.
“Renewed activity by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger, remains a substantial threat to the region.”
The report added that: “In 2019, Boko Haram carried out 11 suicide bombings causing 68 fatalities. Suicide bombings accounted for 6% of all terror-related incidents by Boko Haram in 2019, marking an 89% decline from their peak in 2017.
“Boko Haram was responsible for Nigeria’s deadliest terrorist attack in 2019 when assailants attacked a funeral in Badu, Borno State.
“At least 70 people were killed and 10 others were wounded in the attack and ensuing clash.
“The two main factions of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) and the followers of Abubakar Shekau, are both engaged in an insurgency campaign against the Nigerian government.
“Violence by the two main factions of Boko Haram have taken a large toll on the civilian population, particularly in the North-East, where continued attacks have internally displaced more than two million people and caused a further 240,000 Nigerian refugees to flee to neighbouring countries.”
Since 2014, terrorism in Nigeria has grown in leaps and bounds even as there are many branches of terrorism that have dominated the media because of the regularity and the fact that the law enforcement agencies are not doing a lot more to counter these enemies of the public.

Kidnappings as far as most people can recall, has become one tough organized crime in Nigeria that the government finds it difficult to grapple with.
School children have been kidnapped and, are being kidnapped on daily basis in all parts of Nigeria. A Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese was kidnapped and he spent over a week before the kidnappers freed him.
Christian Churches in the whole of Kaduna State are being regularly attacked and worshippers are picked up by terrorists and they are sometimes killed if they can’t pay their way out.
President Muhammadu Buhari at a time issued threat when he told the kidnappers not to force his government to be hard on them. But the government’s voice was treated like that of an ant by the kidnappers in the North who were believed to be mostly Fulani. Then the president went from threatening the kidnappers to begging them to release students kidnapped and kept for two months.

This tells you that perhaps Nigeria has transmitted from bad to worse.- is this the end of government?
The return of the State of nature in Nigeria is brought about by leadership incompetence. Only yesterday, kidnappers struck at the Abia State University and took away some students. Channels Tv reports that the information Commissioner in Abia State confirmed the ugly development.
He, the information Commissioner of Abia State reportedly said;
“Preliminary information available to us indicates that the students were moving in a mini van from Okigwe to Uturu between 7pm – 8pm when they ran into the armed gang who marched them into the nearby forest along with other yet to be identified travelers,” the statement said.
“Two of the students managed to escape from the hoodlums while others are still being held at a yet to be identified location.
“We are working with the government of Imo State and relevant security agencies in both states to ensure the rescue of the abducted students and others.
“Members of the public and ABSU community are advised to remain calm as we will spare no resource in ensuring the safety of the victims.
“No criminal operating within our environment will be allowed to escape justice as we take the job of protecting lives and property of Abians and visitors to the State very seriously.”
As I was saying the bishop who was recently elected in Owerri Catholic church was kidnapped.
The Imo State police command, , said that it has arrested few persons connected to the kidnap of the auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Moses Chikwe. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Orlando Ikeokwu, confirmed this to journalists in Owerri.

He mentioned that among the victims rescued was Bishop Chikwe’s driver and a 33-year-old, one Chioma Stephanie Ekwedike, female, who was kidnapped in front of her residence, at Imo Housing Estate Umuguma, Owerri West local government.
The police further said that the Bishop and others were rescued from a thick forest, between Awara in Ohaji/Egbema local government area of Imo state and Omuku creeks in Rivers state, led by the anti-kidnapping unit.
They noted that during the rescue operation that some of the kidnap gang members fled and efforts have been intensified by the command to arrest them.
The police narrated: “The Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, Bishop Moses Chikwe has been rescued unhurt as a result of a sting operation embarked upon by the tactical squad of the Command led by the Anti Kidnapping Unit.
“Recall that on 27/12/2020, the Auxiliary Bishop was kidnapped together with his driver, and the hoodlums went ahead to kidnap one Chioma Stephenie Ekwedike ‘f’ aged 33yrs at Imo Housing Estate Umuguma, Owerri West LGA in front of her residence.

“Pursuant to the above, the Head and the Officer in Charge of the state Police Command, newly promoted AIG ISAAC O. AKINMOYEDE, activated all the tactical teams in the Command, and charged them to rescue the Bishop and others, and arrest the hoodlums responsible for the act. “Acting on the said directive a combined unit of all the tactical teams on the 31st December 2020 stormed Awara, Ohaji/Egbema LGA and Omuku creeks.
Few persons positively linked to the crime/criminals were arrested, and some incriminating items recovered. “The arrest of the suspects and other coordinated operations by the Command led to the kidnappers abandoning victims, leading to rescue of the bishop and two other victims unhurt and without payment of any ransom. Efforts are ongoing to arrest the fleeing members of the notorious kidnapping syndicate.”
The Imo police command further warned that, “It is noteworthy to mention that an online media platform last week came up with the news of the death of the Bishop. In the online report, it was claimed that the Auxiliary Bishop was beheaded and his head and decapitated body recovered somewhere in Anambra State. The Command, therefore, wishes to warn against such speculative and junk reportings especially in social media as such is capable of causing breach of peace.
“The Command also wishes to commend the public and the Christian community for the calmness during the period of this travail and the confidence reposed in the Nigeria Police to resolve the crime. We, however, wish to assure everyone that the Command remains capable of protecting all law-abiding citizens of the state.
“Members of the public are reminded that all incidents within their area must be promptly reported to the Police especially incidents of grievous nature or heinous crimes. The Command also calls for information from the members of the public concerning crime and criminalities in their area to enable the police take prompt and decisive actions.”

The above warning made no difference in the ears of the criminals because few months after, they graduated from kidnapping citizens and have branched off into attacking security operatives and institution including the Owerri Federal prisons.
What tells you about the urgency of the now that Nigerians should think of  launching a Campaign to bring back Nigeria of at least the 1980’s, is the fact that the President knows next to nothing how to resolve the insecurity threatening to destroy Nigeria. The governors are even more confused than the President.
And then, the legislators who ought to reform the laws to allow governors and states set up armed police, are in a state of political hibernation.
Yesterday, these confused legislators met with the military Chiefs, and the choregraphed details of that meeting, tells you that citizens are needed to begin the Campaign to bring back Nigeria. Both the legislators and the military Chiefs have no immediate solution to end the cocktails of sophisticated crimes all around Nigeria.

Senate spokesman Ajibola Basiru spoke on what transpired when he briefed reporters after the meeting.
Basiru said: “Today (yesterday) the Senate played host to the key leadership of the Nigerian security apparatus.
“The Chief of Defence Staff who led the Service Chiefs, that is, the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff and the Director of Defence Intelligence, the DG of National Intelligence Agency, the Director General of SSS and, of course, the Inspector-General of Police.
“At an executive session, they briefed the Senate comprehensively on the state of security in the country, analysis of the various operations and theatre of activities that they are engaged in, the topography across the six geopolitical zones, the complexities and the challenges that are being faced and ways by which they believe the parliament can work together with the Executive and the heads of security agencies to ensure we rein in the atmosphere of insecurity and ensure a long-lasting peace and security for our country.
“The Senate leadership expressed our gratitude for their forthrightness, for their being very open to us and we are committed to ensuring that all necessary legislative and appropriation support is given to all the relevant agencies as may be subsequently requested. I think that is what transpired in summary at the closed session.”
Basiru added: “We did not talk about money. We did not talk about figure. We had a high-level discussion on general challenges and requirements for us to have an efficient and effective security.
“The details of whatever will go into supplementary appropriation can only be worked upon by the ministry of finance, which is an Executive arm together with our relevant Committee and such are not matters that we will go into details.
“Of course, everybody know that security is a serious matter for which you cannot take with levity when it comes to ensuring appropriate appropriation for that. We are ready to receive supplementary budget.
“We don’t have any doubt that there is synergy among the various security agencies. In fact, from the nature of the briefing that we received, it reassured us as elected representatives of the people that there is indeed a synergy.
“In any event, even the success that has been made which we were apprised of is like security is something you only feel the impact when there are breaches.
“Nobody will give you credit for security situations you have been able to address and attended to. For instance, we have a tremendous status quo report that a lot had gone into stemming the tide of insecurity in Nigeria.
“Perhaps, if not for that synergy and the efforts that have gone in terms of operationalising and putting the Nigerian security organisation, particularly the Air Force in proper shape, perhaps we would have being in a more terrible situation.
“So, the story is about how far we have gone but then there is room for improvement and we are committed to that improvement.
On whether the Senate is satisfied with the plan of the security agencies to ensure security in the country going forward, Basiru said: “After listening to the briefings, I personally became upbeat that a lot of work had gone into addressing the problem of insecurity and from the various perspectives that were brought into the discussion which is very frank,  clear and without any form of duplicity, it became very clear that Nigerian security agencies are not only looking at the internal dimension of the challenge we have, we look at all ramifications both in terms of the political context, economic context and international context to the development. There were even perspectives as to what happened recently in Chad.
“So it was a very thorough discussion and I also believe that the forthrightness of the leadership of the security agencies showed the seriousness that they attached to that duties.
“So, I believe that going forward, the confidence has been built between the security chiefs on one hand and the Nigerian parliament on the other hand and that would be a good signal of what we expect in the future.”

Is Nigeria a lost case? Can we bring back humane Nigeria where competent leaders will lead by examples?
I will suggest two quick solutions. Give guns to all Sane, crime free adults. Post armed guards to schools as the United States of America did few years back when some schools came under gun attacks.
Expert in the USA wrote these opinion: “As discussed in our analysis of gun-free zones, two federal laws restrict who may carry guns in or around schools offering kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) education: the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 (18 U.S.C. 922) and the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 (20 U.S.C. 7961). These laws do not prohibit all people from carrying guns in schools, however. Law enforcement officers and individuals with valid state-issued concealed-carry permits are exempted from the laws’ prohibitions (18 U.S.C. 922(q)(2)(B)(ii)). Furthermore, gun owners can legally keep their firearms in a locked container or a locked firearm rack in a car on school grounds, and schools can allow individuals to carry firearms on campus for use in an approved program or in accordance with a contract entered into between a school and the individual (18 U.S.C. 922(q)(2)(B)(iv), (v); 922(q)(3)(B)(ii), (iii)). State and local laws and school district policies often further restrict whether law enforcement officers, properly licensed teachers, or others may carry firearms at primary and secondary schools.
Those who argue in favor of arming either teachers or law enforcement officers—often called school resource officers—contend that, without guns, teachers or other staff have only limited countermeasures available to them when confronted with a shooter. They can run or hide, but fighting a shooter without a gun can require sacrificing one’s own life to protect others. In addition, with more armed adults, effective response might be brought to bear more quickly. At Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for instance, a school resource officer reached the school building under attack within 99 seconds of the first shot being fired, but 21 people had already been shot by then, nine fatally. The commission investigating this shooting concluded, “This makes clear that seconds matter and that [school resource officers] cannot be relied upon as the only protection for schools. Even if there is a rapid response by an [officer], it is insufficient in and of itself in safeguarding students and teachers” (­Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, 2019, p. 978). Finally, just the knowledge that teachers could be armed may deter some would-be shooters.
Arguments against arming teachers and school resource officers highlight the elevated risk of accidents and negligent use of firearms as more adults in schools are armed. The Associated Press reported, for instance, that there were more than 30 incidents between 2014 and 2018 that involved a firearm brought to a school by a law enforcement officer or that involved a teacher improperly discharging or losing control of a weapon (Penzenstadler, Foley, and Fenn, 2017). This compares with around 20 active-shooter attacks at schools over a comparable period (Cai and Patel, 2019). When even trained police officers have been found to successfully hit their intended targets in just 18 percent of incidents involving an exchange of gunfire (Rostker et al., 2008), critics question whether teachers can be expected to effectively return fire without inadvertently injuring the children they mean to protect (Vince, Wolfe, and Field, 2015). Finally, if teachers are holding guns or engaged in gunfire, it may make the job of law enforcement officers more difficult and dangerous when they arrive at the scene. Officers could mistake the teacher for an active shooter or could themselves be inadvertently shot by the teacher.
Data capturing firearm use on school campuses suggest that rates of violence on K–12 campuses have decreased substantially in the past few decades. Since the introduction of federal regulations related to guns on school property, rates of students carrying weapons in general and to school have decreased. In 1993, 22 percent of students in grades 9–12 carried a weapon, such as a gun or knife, in general; in 2017, about 16 percent of students carried a weapon in general (Musu et al., 2019). The percentage of students carrying weapons to school has also decreased. In 1993, 12 percent of students reported carrying a weapon on school property during the previous 30 days; in 2017, only 4 percent of students reported bringing a weapon to school (Musu et al., 2019). (https://www.rand.org).

We must BRING BACK NIGERIA!

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights commission of Nigeria.  

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