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The Growing Culture Of Killings



“There is nothing I can do to help the situation [in Jos and Benue states] except to pray to God to help us out of the security challenges.” This was President Mohammadu Buhari’s “highly disappointing” condolence message in Jos, Plateau state, after the massacre.

A nation is defined as a territory with its own central authority— a government. A sovereignty on the other hand, is defined as the supreme power of the state. But from the perennial killings in Nigeria, and the President’s statement, it is obvious that it does not meet either of the definitions expressed above.

Who is running Nigeria these days that the rule of law cannot be enforced? It is absolutely shameful that life means nothing to our leaders, especially those responsible for safety and security of Nigerians. The mere fact that President Buhari seems helpless at this point is a sign of his leadership flaws.

When he became the democratic President of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, the intolerance persona he possessed became his winning card. Immediately after the swearing-in ceremony, he directed the state’s security agencies to get to work. With General Tukur Buratai as the chief of the army, the lingered Boko Haram menace quickly faded. Nigerians thought, for that moment, that a leader with security at heart had arrived. But the tide has changed; insecurity has become the order of the day and, regrettably, the ambivalence of this administration is of great concern. No human life is safe anymore.

The argument by this government that politicians instigate their loyalists to perpetrate these heinous crimes does not hold water. If, truly, the government has authenticated that politicians are the motivating factors, why can’t they be arrested and prosecuted?

The first responsibility of a leader of any country is to secure the country—politics or not. The feeble excuse that opposing politicians have grown their army of bandits to main, kidnap, and kill innocent citizens is unacceptable. If the state security agencies cannot employ the necessary critical intelligence to fish out plots to create mayhem in the country, there is obviously a misrule and the government is practical ineffective and irresponsible.

The massacre in Jos last week shows that the organized criminals have up the ante; a direct challenge to the government, if we are to call Nigeria a country with a central authority. Similarly, Mr. President’s frequent inactions indicate ineptitude. This is contrary to Nigerians’ perception of Buhari’s no nonsense personality. Maybe, after all, this assumption is a mirage.

The impunity with how a human life can be destroyed for no just cause is appalling. Every day in this country, at least, 5 to 10 people are killed for just being on a personal property, farmland, or simply traveling on a federal highway. In the name of Fulani herdsmen, we have tamedour minds that this dangerous trend is usual. It is not. Even if it is true that the herdsmen are licensed to kill, should they kill innocent citizens? Are we not at war already?

From Boko Haram insurgencies, we have coined a new name for another horrific group, “the herdsmen.” In Zamfara state, death means nothing to the ordinary working people. Anyone can be killed at any time. Ironically, the minister of defence is from Zamfara, he sees nothing wrong in the wanton killings of his kinsmen. It is a big disgrace that he is still in office, pretending to oversee the defense of a defenseless people.

If the state commissioners of police are not answerable to their respective state governors, except the central police headquarters in Abuja gives a directive to act, why tagging the governors as chief security officers of the states? It is now very clear why the Zamfara state governor, Abdul-Aziz Abubakar Yari, aptly resigned his position as the chief security officer. The commissioner of police in Zamfara only takes instructions from the inspector general of police or his other superiors in Abuja. Does it make any sense?

According to the political theories of Max Weber, a state is defined as maintaining a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its borders. When this is broken (e.g., through the dominant presence of warlords, paramilitary groups, armed gangs, or terrorism), the very existence of the state becomes dubious, and the state becomes a failed state. The difficulty of determining whether a government maintains “a monopoly on the legitimate use of force”, which includes the problems of the definition of “legitimate”, means it is not clear precisely when a state can be said to have “failed”.

The problem of legitimacy can be solved by understanding what Weber intended by it. Weber explains that only the state has the means of production necessary for physical violence. This means that the state does not require legitimacy for achieving monopoly on having the means of violence (de facto), but will need one if it needs to use it (de jure).

Typically, the term means that the state has been rendered ineffective and is not able to enforce its laws uniformly or provide basic goods and services to its citizens because of (variously) high crime rates, insurgency, extreme political corruption, an impenetrable and ineffective bureaucracy, judicial ineffectiveness, military interference in politics, and cultural situations in which traditional leaders wield more power than the state over a certain area.

Why is Mr. President reluctant to change his ineffective lieutenants? Why can’t he give the IGP an ultimatum that if another incident of irrational killings occurs again, he will be fired? It is impossible that the operational characteristics of a typical Nigerian Police officer will change. It is part of their professional DNA to profit from chaos and mayhems. In an anarchic environment, the police officers in Nigeria thrive better. Increasing the number of police officers in Nigeria will not change their embedded culture of supporting crimes. Obviously, Nigeria is at a threshold of a failed state status as enumeratedabove.

The challenge facing Buhari’s government is to demonstrate to Nigerians that crime does not stop with treasury looters. Killing of an innocent human being should be a national calamity, which must be met with fierce punishment. But these senseless killings have been ongoing for more than 8 years. Still, no arrest, no punishment, and clearly no sign of waning.

When Jonathan Good luck was in office, it was generally assumed that northern political leaders orchestrated the bombing and suicide attacks in the nation. But there was no sense in the analogy, since most of those killed were actually from the north. The next analysis rested on religious trajectory, which also made no sense since Muslins were the most affected. It is therefore, evidently clear that with the state of lawlessness, anyone, at any time, can carry a gun, head to a major northern highway, and hold people to ransom. Abduction for ransom is ubiquitous; no apparent hope of abating.

Although President Buhari stands to win the 2019 Presidential elections, on what premise does he intend to convince Nigerians that he has the capacity to safeguard their lives? Buhari has, through this weak premiership, left his appointed security chiefs to wallow in unaccountable offices. I have always been an ardent supporter of the President, but deservedly, he is to blame for the failure to secure life and property in Nigeria; except he also ceases to be the chief security officer.



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