By Sen. Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi
At every level of development, every society or nation cannot escape being confronted by challenges of various hues; the test for the strength, cohesion and maturity of the society and its system is not in playing the ostrich and trying to pretend that the challenges aren’t real, but in how they are confronted and dealt with. As Nigeria currently faces challenges of monumental proportions in virtually, all spheres of endeavour, it behoves on all of us to come pull together as one to confront and defeat these challenges.
Of all the challenges, to me, the biggest and most scary is the seeming breakdown of security in most parts of the country. That the provision of security is the primary purpose of government, is a trite and worn-out cliché, but it bears repeating here. Governments at all levels must therefore strive to remain faithful to this mandate, realising though that they need the support and understanding of all citizens to succeed.
Incidences of banditry, kidnapping and other forms of criminalities are becoming the order of the day across the country. Economic and social activities are therefore stalling, leading to a stagnation of our development as a people and a nation. There can be no development without stability; and there can be no stability without adequate security that affords all the chance to pursue various legitimate means of livelihood. And no investor, local or foreign will bring their capital to a place in which security of life and property is not guaranteed. So, North, South, East and West, we need to realise that we are in a deeper pit than we seem to acknowledge.
Governments at all levels must therefore lead the quest for us to get out of this quagmire by upping the ante and tempo of this fight against insecurity in all its ramifications. The rejigging of the security architecture and equipping it with all the necessary wherewithal is paramount. Even though this is government’s primary responsibility, it cannot be effectively shouldered to the exclusion of the citizens. It is therefore incumbent on governments at all levels to embrace all and give all a sense of belonging through inviting and as much as practicable, working on the contributions of all, irrespective of political differences, ethnic or religious background to ensure the success of the fight. Every Nigerian is a critical stakeholder in this project; therefore, all perspectives should be harnessed and deployed in prosecuting this fight.
We, the led, must also realise that we have a part to play to ease the burden on the governments. And this we can all do by coming together, setting aside all differences, be they political, religious, tribal, geographical and any other, to launch a massive onslaught on this monster, which does not discriminate on who, where and when it attacks.
A situation in which we allow emotions to rule our decision-making faculties, leading to incendiary remarks by some of us from all parts of the Country who ordinarily ought to have known better is a recipe for loss of focus, which ultimately leads to doom. I therefore call on all of us, the leaders and the led, to put on our thinking caps and realise that we are all in this mess together and it takes the coming together of all of us to get out of it. All of us, across all the partisan and other divides must also guard against the temptation to politicise the issue of security. We must realise that we have to have a country before we can play politics.
Leaders, political, religious, traditional, socio cultural and others must also be smart and guard their utterances and actions, as the handling of some of the issues arising from some of the problems requires sensitivity, delicate balancing as well as the capacity to operate above the fray. It is in this light that I consider the issuance of ultimatums and counter ultimatums to Nigerians living in various parts of the country by leaders and cultural groups across the divides as counterproductive and a far cry from the real solution to the problem. This is not to say however that agitations against criminal elements are to be ignored. People have the legitimate rights to raise their voices against criminality perpetrated by anybody or group, while leaders must rise above sentiments and emotions by looking more broadly and more holistically at issues and their pros and cons, in order to ensure justice to all. In line with this spirit, I welcome the statement by the Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum to the effect that no ultimatum has been given to anybody by any Governor.
I also call on the Federal Government to intensify its partnership with the States and other leaders to bring an end to the banditry, kidnappings and other criminalities across the length and breadth of our dear Country
Governments at all levels would also do well to be more accommodating of critics and criticisms and avoid falling into the trap of always looking at and seeing critics as enemies. Critics are not necessarily enemies, not even opponents; they just happen to see things from different perspectives. By engaging positively with critics, governments have the dual advantage of analyses from alternative perspectives as well as the opportunity to educate the critics on the insights to their own perspectives that the critics may otherwise be unaware of.
I condole with families who lost dear ones to the various crises and criminalities arising from this situation of insecurity and also sympathise with those who lost properties or suffered any economic loss and also call on us all to support governments at all levels as they grapple with this challenge.
Senator Makarfi, CON, is a former Chairman, PDP.