The most reigning voices now in Nigeria are the terrorists’ because they are the only ones that whenever they rent the air, almost all people become either agitated or frightened. All the various terror groups are now a force of which there is no equal or equivalent and to which, as the current realities have amply shown, there is no counter.
Every of the terrorists’ acts—abduction, arson, physical assault, murder, issuance of threats—is always shocking enough to make their victims and potential targets lose a lot more hope for an end to the prevailing insecurity. The incapacity or indifference or insensitivity of the government on the one hand and the vulnerability of the ordinary citizens on the other hand become more manifest with every attack by the violent criminals.
The constant violent engagement of Nigerians by the terrorists reminds everyone about the fact that human lives have regrettably been compromised. It, in fact, necessitates reflection on the essence of government which is, most unarguably, about the security of the citizens’ lives, but which has already been subjected to neglect.
People’s reactions to the release of a video in which the abductors of the passengers of Abuja-Kaduna train were seen severely beating the victims, many of whom are women and children, have continued to arouse anger over the failure of the government to control the situation. Since the occurrence of the train attack, more than three months ago, most Nigerians have come to terms with the ugly reality that the terrorists are really on the loose.
The message contained in the video was about the clear determination of the criminals to further frighten the populace to the extent that everyone must just recognize their superiority in terms of capacity to unleash terror. The particular act of indiscriminate physical assault of the abductees was such show of callousness that was worst than an embarrassment to the government.
But it was a challenge that the citizens, in various ways, took up. The huge fury that was practically expressed by the people as evident in the absolute condemnation of what is still being described as the refusal of the authorities to rescue the train attack victims and several other abductees pointed to a resolve to continuously push for the adoption of the right kind of approach to the problem by the government.
Although the public reactions to the rising insecurity have been deficient in terms of definition and co-ordination, the genuine need for a quick action that can effectively bring a succour to the citizens has been fully established. The prayers for divine intervention, calls for foreign help and even the demand for greater community participation in surveillance and intelligence-gathering are all manifestations of an implacable desire and resolve to deal with the situation.
Well, it is not known what exactly will happen now that voices have been raised much higher than ever over the continuous threats to people’s lives. The government and the terrorists must have now realized that the concerns over the security challenges have thickened, which means that something must have to happen.
Yet, what will come out of the prevailing confusion, especially as it relates to the security of the citizens is not easily predictable, because even with the widespread protests over the continuous deterioration of the security situation, there is yet to appear any fundamental shift in either the attitudes of the violent criminals or the approach of the government to the problem. The issuance of more threats or even perpetration of more violence by the terrorists as well as the usual mere condemnation of the acts by the government have only re-enforced the apprehension over the resolution of the crisis through the adoption of conventional measures.
Confusion such as the one that exists now limits the scope of thinking and blurs the vision of even the most skilled problem solvers. This explains the absence of any concerted effort towards the articulation of strategies for the effective fight against terrorism even at the community level which is the reason for the escalation of the crisis.
There is, perhaps, nothing completely strange about the failure of government even in the most fundamental area of security maintenance. Breach of peace and security is, after all, one of the ugly possibilities that, once in a while, manifest in even bigger countries.
It is, therefore, the nature and scope of response to such occurrences by the government of a country that shows the quantity of the competence and patriotism of the leaders. The capacity of leaders to tackle emergencies in a manner that can guarantee the quick mitigation of the effects of the challenge as well as forestall recurrence is what builds the confidence of the citizens.
What is most frightening about the security threats in Nigeria is the fact that majority of the measures taken by the government have not yet produced the kind of results desired by the well-meaning citizens of the country. This the basis of the strong allegation that the managers of the security architecture either as political leaders, heads of the relevant agencies or just some trained personnel who are out there on the field are the only beneficiaries of whatever dividends the implementation of the country’s security policies have been yielding.
The factors that have caused the unfortunate loss of public confidence in government have always been clear and are repeatedly highlighted by all those who care about peace, security and development in the country. It is therefore the refusal of the government to heed the persistent calls for the application of the right kind of measures at the right times that both produced the current terribly dehumanizing condition and compelled the citizens to seek a way out.
Nigerians have to, by all means, live in their own country, whether or not government functions. Neither an abdication of responsibility on the part of the government nor the intensity of attack by the terrorists can make the citizens abandon their country for other places.
All those kidnappers, arsonists, killers and other violators of the law and their sponsors can continue to believe that the weakness and, in some cases, complicity of the authorities are a reason or even a booster for them to go ahead with their heinous acts. They are free to sustain the feeling that they are everybody’s masters and can therefore raise their voices over everyone else’s.
However, the fast-growing fury of the citizens should make the terrorists realize the fact that a counter-force that will subdue them must have to somehow emerge. The prayers, protests, calls and consultations by the various groups of Nigerians all geared towards the restoration of normalcy will eventually produce a reality that will be completely antagonistic to the existence and operations of terror groups in Nigeria.