Nigeria To The Dogs

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A few days ago Kadaria Ahmed released a voice note, she addressed to owners/proprietors of media organizations in Nigeria, asking them to work towards stemming the tide of incisive headlines stories being rolled out by their outfits. Warning that if the current trajectory is maintained, the country might become another Rwanda in just a matter of time. Since her submission, she has as much admitted (on Jimi Disu' radio show where she was a guest by phone) that she'd put herself offline, while many noticed that she's also deactivated her account on twitter. The reason for this may not be far fetched, as many claim that more people would've solidarized with her, had she done the needful when she had the opportunity in 2019, to ask the incumbent president and his vice, searching and thoughtful question, even after their perceived woeful initial outing. Rather she bottled up, and saved her salvos for the opposition candidates, who many thought should've been given a benefit of the doubt. Interestingly, when this was raised at Jimi's "THE DISCOURSE" yesterday morning, by one of the callers, he sternly retorted that the message should be considered over the messenger, and moved on to other callers who had nothing but brash words for Nigeria's press, for their role in inflaming the seething anger amongst the populace against certain groups in the society. Why is this message coming at this time? It is because the most vocal of the Nigerian media space seem to have turned its back on the government. They appear to have done this because of the security situation in the country, that has now gotten to their doorstep. When it was far away in the northeast they helped to cover up stories of the carnage that was going on there, harping mainly on the efforts of government to fight the insurgents there to a standstill. They were monitoring the progress of the procurement of Super Tucano aircraft from the United States (for instance) that we were told the government had paid for but is yet to be delivered to date. They even served as bulwark to the government, from those insisting that the government rejigged the security apparatus, claiming that apart from the fact that it was skewed to favour a section of the Nigerian regions over others, the top echelon were occupied by officers who were past their retirement dates. What they purveyed was that such a change just for the sake of it, would amount to not so much, forgetting that military careers and experiences of those below the very top were being frittered away for no just cause, and that even though those officers may also be involved in the prosecution of the war against insurgency, they may be doing so very demoralised, with its subsequent trickle down effect. Even when the so called banditry in the Northwest was gaining momentum, it took days on social media before the news finally made headlines in the so called Lagos - Ibadan media, because they didn't want to rock the boat of the government they helped put in power. The North Central and Middle Belt states had already mastered the use of social media to relay their stories, so much so that they couldn't be ignored by the media any longer. From there, the Southeast received also their own dose of the menace, especially in the states bordering the middle belt, and still the media just had enough time to make it part of their news bulletin. The only region that seemed to have escaped much of the experiences of the other regions seem to be the coastal parts of the Niger Delta, maybe because there isn't much arable land there, or the fear of an equally well armed militant culture of the region, though the upland states in the region are also bearing the brunt of the menace, just like any other affected state in Nigeria. That is, the invasion of farming communities by Fulani herdsmen seeking pasture for their cattle on the one side, and the Fulani militia usually in the wake, to avenge instances of cattle rustling, or deal decisively with communities for complaining or reacting to damages done to their livelihoods by cattle traversing their farmlands, or for turning their forests into hideouts and havens for kidnappers and armed robbers, aided by spokesmen of an arm of the cattle breeders association, which serves as their voice to the world, spewing rhetoric for which spokespersons of other groups could find themselves jailed for daring to think such thoughts alone. What changed is the fact that when the Southwest, was met with the same challenges, it was only but a matter of time before the narrative changed. They trashed the talk of reporting the news without particularly resorting to ethnic profiling, like they were doing when the other parts of Nigeria seemed to be under attack. They shelved the words, "unknown gunmen", "herders/farmers clashes" (even when the so called farmers were women and children in their sleep, some in major towns, away from farmlands, as with Benue State), "bandits" etc. These ones began to call it as they saw it, Fulani Herdsmen, and started pointing to a report that placed the Fulani militia as one of the groups to be dreaded, according to the World's Terrorism Index, not just in Nigeria but the whole West African Region. Soon enough, questions as to the continued existence of Nigeria began to be asked, followed by actions by Sunday Igboho who saw himself as an activist fighting the cause of the Yoruba, now at the mercy of those whom their political leaders have continually failed to shield them from. Then Shasha in Oyo State happened, leading to an Exodus of people of Northern Nigerian origin in the area, followed by the intervention by their governors to the west to douse tensions. This is the background to Kadaria's reaction, which must have followed from the vitriol online by frustrated Nigerians, who have grown tired of the seeming insensitivity of the central government, who control the security apparati and apparatchiks (skewed in favour of the North under this administration), to their plight. It was not surprising therefore that setting up of local security organisations by governments in the southwest (Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn), and that by a secessionist group in the southeast (ESN), amongst other set-ups across the country became a thing, because the security agencies only appeared after a carnage has been unleashed on hapless Nigerians (despite intelligence and information sometimes provided by locals to those concerned way before the unfortunate events occur), to count the dead (then report lower numbers of casualties), before moving same to morgues, or straight on for mass burials, with the state doing nothing to honour the dead, not even as much as mentioning their names, rather just adding them to the numbers of the victims failed by their country, with their rulers' perceived penchant to not prioritise the security and welfare of the citizens, as the primary responsibility of government. Following the recent unrest in some parts of the Southwest, and the bad press the Fulani have been receiving in recent times, #TheNorthRemembers began to trend on twitter, gladly till now calm heads have continued to persist there despite what could be termed provocations, especially of forced evictions from the south by those who want their lands back from herders who had paid nothing to be there in the first place. These ones posit that just as southerners in the North pay for accommodation and space to run their businesses, so also must the herders down south should so do. Maybe one of the reasons the North has been calm is because they also are facing security challenges, a deadlier one more so, such that the tribes closest even to the Fulani are beginning to review their relationship, from which they seem to be hardly benefiting from. Not many of them seem to support what the Fulani, especially those from outside of Nigeria are doing. These ones on rampage seem to be acting out a script, like one with a promissory note, with the intention to claim the compensation thereof to the fullest. Sadly, even though the government acknowledges the influx of dangerous elements through Nigeria's Northern borders, some of its officials have at one time or the other practically asked Nigerians to accommodate them, even let go of their lands for the sake of their lives, and most recently (last week) in the face of rocket launcher - wielding bandit /kidnapper videos of abducted students of Government Science Secondary School in Kankara (moments after travellers in another part of the state were abducted), Niger State, the Minister of Defence asked that Nigerians quit playing cowards, and fight back, and I ask, with what? Road travel to and within the North (as with the South too, with extortion by road block mounting police, soldiers, customs, road safety officials etc), is done these days, only with the travellers hearts in their mouths, with each day replete with the most horrifying of news items from the region, and security forces almost helpless in policing effectively the vastness that is the North. There was a time policemen made their names by bringing kidnap and robbery kingpins to book in the South, today in the North they are people who are negotiated with and treated with kids gloves apparently. Doing photo-ops with Governors and with Islamic Clerics has now become a thing with so called bandits, not anymore with the brightest student in school, or with innovators, or with those who've made the state proud in their field of endeavours. There's even talk of amnesty for kidnappers in the North, just like it was done with the Niger Delta militants who were then in a struggle with the Federal Government owing to the degradation of their environment from oil exploration and exploitation a few years back. So, as it is, the country seems to have been bound to the Philistines (a là Jimi Disu) and thrown to the dogs, it would appear. The bandits that can't be located by the intelligence units, and the security agencies, are the same ones daringly posting videos of abducted students, their teachers and members of their family, with their environment and surroundings not edited out, while critics of government are geolocated using the latest technology to smoke them out for arrest and subsequent detention. Also, these bandits are also easily located by those who want to negotiate the release of their captives, even while the security forces are combing the so called forests of grassy savannah looking for the same bandits. This is why banditry is a growing business up North, and there are no signs of the trend abating, even as the government at state and federal level insists it doesn't pay ransoms for release of those abducted by bandits, kidnappers or whatever names they go by these days. It would appear that the North is drinking from the beer it's been brewing over the years, in not taking the education of its children seriously, in unbridled procreation (which though provided political gains, especially as regards underaged voting), the Almajiri phenomenon, unemployment and unemployable youth population, and the problem of illicit drug use amongst other ills. Political power, which is usually at the core of considerations, have yielded little to nothing in improving the life of the common and average Northerner, especially in the Eastern and Western part of it. Discontent fueled by religious fanaticism birthed the Islamists, and in recent times morphed into hideous forms that is difficult to link with any formally expressed ideology, which begs the question as to what would be gained beyond the pecuniary, should the amnesty thus advanced in some quarters among the Northern elite, is considered a bargaining chip and positively responded to. What groups exist (apart from those that have been there), and which will be satiated, and whether it will be all encompassing remain a question that's yet to be answered, since it appears that there hardly is any political will to engage these terrorists in the name of bandits in the North, in any form of combat. It is instructive to note that while the situation in the North is beginning to look like a game of "jẹ kí'n jẹ" between the security forces and security threats, with periodical videos from the airforce aiming at targets released, many times with visuals that look like they are showing the same coordinates, and pictures but stated to mean of different theatres of the war on terrorist Islamist and bandits; the show is as real as it gets in the Southeast where the police and military are involved in street warfare right in the middle of town, against the Eastern Security Network, ESN set up by IPOB's Nnamdi Kanu to rid the east of marauding herdsmen, whose activities governors in the southeast simply mull over, but largely hesitating to do anything tangible about. Interestingly, this group was declared a terrorist group and proscribed when they were armless and engaged only in peaceful protests, while groups with evidence of bloodletting in the North remain to this day, even more ferocious than ever, without such a designation. 'kovich PICTURE CREDIT: - - - NIGERIA TO THE DOGS

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