By Ladesope Ladelokun
SIR: No day passes without one reading chilling stories of our compatriots that are sent to early graves by the lethal weapons of the merchants of death on rampage across the land, causing many to lose sleep. Despite the rising spectre of violence, there appears to be a consensus of denial among the men of power. If President Buhari is not bragging about successes of the military in tackling Nigeria’s monstrous security challenge, his media aides are telling Nigerians why they should be grateful to Buhari because our security situation is not as bad as it used to be under former President Jonathan.
Whether it is the beheading of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) chairman in Adamawa or the murder of an 18-year-old seminarian or the roasting of 30 stranded travellers in Maiduguri or murder of over 30 humans in the president’s home state, Katsina at the weekend and more, the unremitting killings across Nigeria bear testament to a country in dire straits, giving Nigeria a semblance of a massive graveyard.
And to think all these happened on the watch of a war General elected on the promise of defeating the violent extremism promoted by Boko Haram and other terror groups! Where then lies our salvation? When will this siege be over?
With tired and unimpressive service chiefs, especially with some already overdue for retirement, it may be hard to make a meaningful headway if no room is created to accommodate fresh ideas. In a recent interview with a national newspaper, Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, had said troops were not constrained by manpower and equipment.
If the issues of manpower and equipment have been adequately addressed, why are we then not getting desired results? Could it be failure of intelligence? The buck stops on the table of the president – a fact attested to by his recent visit to Maiduguri where he was, to the shock of many, booed by a crowd that used to give him a warm reception.
The president will do himself a world of good by refusing to listen to those who tell him Nigerians who booed him during his Maiduguri condolence visit were sponsored miscreants; or the one who said Nigeria was now heaven when compared to the hell it was in the days of Jonathan. He must roll up his sleeves to work to ensure we no longer have our hearts in our mouths when we ply the major roads in Nigeria. The jeers in Maiduguri should nudge him to a moment of sober reflection to work out how Nigerians can best be protected.
While it is long overdue to rejig the country’s security architecture, there must be a concerted effort by governments at all levels to fight poverty and illiteracy, especially in the north. A recent report by the World Bank that the north is home to 87 per cent of Nigeria’s wretched paints a pathetic picture of a war far from over, especially with over 10 million out-of-school children. While we earmark billions of dollars to kill terrorism or insurgency, we must not forget to kill the enablers – illiteracy and poverty.