By Sir Andrew I. Ajaero
The wanton destruction of life and property in present day Nigeria reads like pages from the middle ages. It appears to be a regeneration of the Nigerian pogrom rearing its lethal head in episodic dimensions. But this is happening in our time. It remains a mark of underdevelopment that a country known to be independent cannot safeguard the life and property of its citizens with certainty.
Nigerian security forces have played significant roles in ensuring peace and stability in many African countries where the ravages of war and conflict have demanded external security assistance to maintain peace and order. Nigeria has been acclaimed globally for the gallantry of her security forces in this regard.
It stands to reason that a country like Nigeria could not have taken the security of its citizens for granted unless the powers that be are not really serious in providing practical security.
Our security outfits for all intents and purposes objectively assessed is heavily skewed towards selective attention.
Security in Nigeria of today has become a scarce commodity which only those who have the means can dream of. Nobody reckons on the common man.
The security of the common man outside the favoured class has become no mans business and a subject of false propaganda which gains currency when criminals miscalculate and are routed.
Incumbent leaders make merry and boast about their successes in “doing what Napoleon could not do” but remain speechless during successful surprise attacks. Security operatives have been largely limited to riffle trotting squads who protect their masters at the detriment of the masses who have been left to their own devices.
The army chiefs and their officers, police bosses and their men, politician and their leaders of all description, some traditional and religion rulers endeavour to more about only under the protection of armed guards because of the so called sacrosanctity of their lives, office and roles in society which have been so personalized that any aspirant for such a privilege is an intruder.
It has become increasingly worrisome to observe the bravado with which selective security is maintained in our society which actually expose unlookers to the vanity of their operations.
This is to justify the security votes lavished on them. The threatening blare of offensive sirens; the outstretched whips from escorts to ward off passersby and commoners cars from nearing the deified leader and personalities in their convoy speak volumes on the ability of our security squads to dramatize pretence and over enthusiasm.
What about the noisy bank escorts that simply announce that money is intransit so that fraudsters within and outside the banks can network and strategize to loot the fund while the same security squads go out for investigation.
One May not be wrong in feeling that those so lavishly and overenthusiastically deified and guarded leaders hardly remember that their subjects in the rural areas don’t know what security is except during occasional siren visits to the villages by their excellencies and their dishonourable representatives.
Very often these leaders and their security men are seen during burials and ceremonies where the security men are invited to maintain peace and order at a fee as part of their fringe benefits. The common man watches.
One could see gun trotting security men at check points on our commercial routes. People may be inclined to believe that the common man is assured of his safety as these security men are combat ready to face any eventuality. The common man is really disappointed at what happens uncontrollably at our check points where nothing is checked. Infact the sound of an exploded balloon in a car can send an entire security squad scampering for cover in the bush.
Our check points have become relay race handover baton points where money is exchanged from commercial drivers to armed policemen.
This orgy goes on with impunity and unabated in the South East even after checkpoints have been verbally dismantled by every incumbent police boss.
The security of the common man in the rural area has been abandoned for traditional rulers who may know the bad elements in their domain and may help the police in tracking such elements down through valuable information after which the glory goes to the police whose posts in the rural areas are stations for bailing accused persons at exorbitant fees against the law which no civilian dares to challenge except Lawyers.
One could equally see local Government security outfits who answer “vigilante” squads parading matchets and clubs. What a misfit in terms of training they undergo as they readily serve as cannon fodder before armed robbers.
Armed robbers, kidnappers, abductors, bandits and thugs are having a field day in Nigeria. If our oil locations are safeguarded what becomes of the common man operating his business at these locations.
If we protect the lives and property of those who are in power, what becomes of them when they surely leave their position and can no longer fend for their security guards. They must amass enough wealth to remain relevant.
If at our checkpoints lorry loads of arms and ammunitions are not intercepted what happens when such arms reach their destination in the hideouts from where robbers and electoral thugs are serviced.
Nigerias security consciousness is a fairy tale. The populace must feed the police with information before any break through to boost their ego without which they are mere civilians in uniform.
The modern age of Technology should equip the police with modern gadgets for information gathering if our leaders really care for the common mans security.
On a more serious note our legislators at all levels should think more seriously about making laws legitimizing and liberalizing the possession of fire arms so that those who are privileged to process such will stop intimidating those who are bare handed.
Since Nigerians have a penchant for abusing any privilege, those who have guns should be aware that their neighbours are as security conscious as they are.
Anybody who has need for a gun to defend himself and is of a certain age prescribed by law should own his own gun for his personal protection. No robber can readily intimidate a person who is equally armed.
This builds confidence in a man who should defend himself.
Considerable civic education should be embarked upon on the need to own, retain and manage firearms.
Appropriate legislation should be introduced to enforce compliance on the rules regarding the use of firearms.