Insecurity is no doubt the number one problem facing Nigeria. Its adverse effects have become manifest in all facets of human endeavour and therefore call for collective action.
That there is hunger in the land, coupled with social distress and general hardship, largely due to the acute food shortage in spite of government calls on citizens to key into Agriculture, particularly food production with a view to addressing food security, create direct and indirect jobs for the teeming youths among other sundry challenges, is not unconnected to the insurgency, banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping, thuggery etc.
Noteworthy is the fact that Nigerians in their numbers especially rural dwellers have in the recent past intensified commitment to exploring the Agricultural sector but have continually had their fortunes pillaged by hardening criminals.
We are awash with terrifying news of how innocent citizens including farmers are robbed, kidnapped and killed every day on the roads, on their farms and in their residence.
This has by no small measure rendered their determination to attain self-reliance, by implication, contribute meaningfully well to the socio-economic development of the country futile since their produce either end up being set ablaze or destroyed.
In some cases, they end up in the hands of kidnappers and bandits who later release them upon payment of huge ransom. Sometimes, not only is proceed accruing from the seasonal production not enough to secure their freedom, they have had to, on many occasions, dispose of their belongings; farmlands, houses and everything else which they toiled hard to acquire over the years.
We are also told of how farmers in some part of the country pay tax to criminals in order to work on their farmlands unharmed.
It is in the light of these ugly scenarios that Nigerians decried the overstay of former Service Chiefs, giving the rather heightened insecurity which has gradually festered into virtually all sections of the country.
Recall moments when schools had to be closed, when people feared going to markets and farms, and when mosques and churches had to be put under lock and keys.
Thankfully, barely a month to the retirement of the ex-Chiefs, tremendous successes were recorded in the fight against insurgents, kidnappers and bandits as serial attacks were launched at their enclaves.
The new Service Chiefs must therefore strive to meet up to expectations of the people in the area of security considering that there is no alternative to peace.
As security operatives confront criminals headlong and give them heavy blows, hopefully to the point of stupor, other security arsenals ought to be considered.
Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi’s Peace Initiative is a welcome development more so because there is no one route to peace.
The role of dialogue in settling the dispute of whatever gravity can never be overemphasized. Dialogue has proved to be a veritable ingredient for solving problems not even war could have. But Gumi, as well as States and Federal Governments must tread with caution.
Any attempt at freeing culprits serving jail terms in whatever guise or financial inducement to bandits and kidnappers must be jettisoned if only to avoid making crime a lucrative business where one gets paid for claiming to have repented.
How are we sure they will not return to their old selves when they do not have enough to lavish around. Katsina State is a case study.
It is my view that a sincere repentant would not have the guts to demand money or for the unconditional release of his partners in crime.
Notwithstanding, the legal process of ascertaining who is truly guilty of criminal allegations and who is not among those detained in prison for years should be fast-tracked.
Traditional and religious Institutions should make it a point of duty to engage the people, give them reasons to shun violence and offer them support to become productive.
Teachers at all levels must not relent in giving their pupils and students the best training in learning and character so they grow to abhor crime while cherishing education and hard work.
Intelligence gathering must be enhanced. Confidence of people who have information about criminals should be won so that they will speak out without having recourse to fear been attacked by criminals elements.
Many people are holding back information because, from experience, the men of the underworld scout free only to return and deal with those leaking out information about them.
The general public would recall that when Muhammad Yusuf, leader of Boko Haram was captured and subsequently killed, his disciples, having realized they were overpowered, dispersed into thin air.
I recall late Sheikh Muhammad Auwal Adam (Abani-Zaria) of blessed memory warning that members of Boko Haram will infiltrate cities and villages, be in the market places, mosques and churches pretending to be harmless as they gather intelligence and eventually regroup.
We didn’t listen to him but his fears came to pass. I also fear that when they are overpowered in the ongoing fight, they will flee their known hideouts to other places.
My home state, Nasarawa is one area kidnappers have had a field day.
They are aided by the mountainous and topography of the State where they plan, launch attacks and keep their victims hostage.
The hills in Onda, Kana, Odu, Akyewa and Kuvo all in Nasarawa Local Government Area and the Umaisha hill in Toto Local Government Area where members of Darul- Salam terrorist group settled are a few such places they are likely to hide.
It is imperative to state that unless and until the root causes of insecurity are traced and logically addressed, there will be no end to insecurity in the country.
The proliferation of weapons through our land borders has to be addressed. It is also believed that Fulani militias who disguise as herders from Mali, Chad Republic, Sudan, Senegal, Niger and other countries come into Nigeria unnoticed pose threat to peace as they work along with, and train locals who supply them with the information they need to cause trouble. They are the leading bandits and kidnappers who also engage in cattle rustling in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna and Nasarawa States. Neither their Nigerian Fulani brethren nor non-Fulanis is spared from their dangerous activities which have over the years thwarted economic activities leading to widespread poverty and constitute a threat to the education of our children. This has to be checked if we are to make headway.
Ardos and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria should consider working hand in hand with Security Agents to provide vital information that may lead to the arrest of criminals in their midsts, most of whom are foreigners since they are also victims of insecurity perpetrated by the criminals.
Northern governors are advised to do their utmost to integrate Fulani herdsmen into society. They deserve sound education with which to disentangle them from the clutches of those misleading them into crime, good healthcare delivery system, and other basic necessities of life.
They, like other citizens, deserve support to strengthen their means of survival in view of the gains that can be made out of sales of animals, beef, dairy, heights and skins etc. which not only reduce unemployment but also increase export duty.
The annual animal vaccination should be reintroduced. Providing Dams for livestock wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Stringent laws must be enforced to deal with anyone including Security Agents who benefit from acts of criminality.
There are many of them as it is usually reported. Hard drugs induce crime. Youths take to a crime having lost their senses to drugs made available by enemies of the country who push them to crime.
Deny them access to drugs and the result would be impressive. General Buba Marwa (Rtd.) and his men of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) must redouble their effort in this regard.
Yahaya Abdulrahman writes from Oversea, Nasarawa State.