I have just checked on a thesaurus for the meaning of the word, ‘insecurity’. I am doing this because the thesaurus, much unlike the dictionary, is a document that focuses more on the finer aspects of synonymy and antonymy – it gives viable alternatives and establishes the authenticity for words and their meanings. I am also consulting the thesaurus because I find myself in an environment where a huge ball of doubt has been placed on my head and shoulders by persons who think they know everything and by a society that hardly wants to ask questions about the real state of ‘insecurity’ – newspapers are singing the insecurity mantra to the extent that if you open any daily and you don’t find that word at least 20 times then that paper would not have been put to bed; politicians refer to our state of ‘insecurity’ as the greatest problem in which this administration has failed woefully – and the curious thing is that on the one hand they say this government is very weak and unable to deal with our ‘security challenge’, and on the other they say the administration should not have declared a state of emergency simply because the JTF are ‘killing people’ indiscriminately. Even the business and international community are involved in this campaign of calumny. Another curious thing about this ‘insecurity’ is the fact that even when unimaginable sums are allocated to states monthly as security votes for this ‘insecurity’ in Nigeria, we still allow these politicians to get away with the fact that they spend only a fraction of these monies for ‘insecurity’ while the rest of the monies end up in the bank accounts of these politicians.
So what did I find as another word for ‘insecurity’? As a matter of fact, there are a lot of options to choose from, and even though in my estimation most of them do not get anywhere near what we have experienced in the last two years of our life as a nation, one of the words eloquently captures the true meaning of the word ‘insecurity’ – that word is VULNERABILITY. When we are vulnerable either as individuals or as a corporate entity or as a nation, we are insecure and we are exposed to a lot of the vagaries and inconsistencies that have become our lot – most Nigerians still live on less than a dollar daily, many do not have access to education, health care or even the pleasure of living in a decent environment. In that, I see more vulnerability and insecurity because anyone who is as vulnerable as this easily becomes prone to committing a crime.
So the question now is this: are we indeed vulnerable individually and collectively? For me, if I am to respond to that question, I would do so first of all by juxtaposing and contextualising the idea of ‘insecurity’ with the acts of violence unleashed on us all by the Niger Delta militants vis-à-vis that of the Boko Haram Islamic sect. First, what are the facts in the grouse of these people? The first group, the MEND, claims to be the voice of freedom from the oppression of the Nigerian state – that is, the state takes the oil from this region and uses the same oil to suppress the people of this region in that even though they produce the income that runs the state, they cannot rule. After government – run by someone who was considered a benevolent ruler – offered them amnesty, they came into the open, laid down their arms. Before long, this benevolent ruler passed on and was replaced by his deputy, a man from the Niger Delta.
The second group, Boko Haram, sprang up immediately. First, they said they reject everything western. Second, they wanted the incumbent to resign and surrender himself and power to them. Third, they don’t believe in the Nigerian constitution and wanted to govern themselves via Sharia. And the next of all, they translated their complaints into acts of genocide – they bombed, killed anything or institution – innocent Christians and Southerners – that can be seen as having anything to do with the man who replaced the man from their geographical divide – the North. They have been asked to come out and dialogue and discuss but they have declined.
And today, nothing eloquently describes what has been going on, and what is going on now other than the state of emergency, SOE, which is in place now. Before that declaration of SOE we had a weekly reign of terror perpetrated by a few disgruntled elite from the North who sponsored and induced what everyone refers to as ‘insecurity’. The idea was that since they had lost out in the power play that removed them from running the show, they were going to make Nigeria ungovernable, and they were going to ensure that the blood of the people they call baboons flowed like rivers.
But there’s relative peace and security in the North now, thanks to the SOE. There are no longer any weekly acts of terror against Christians and Southerners. The SOE has rightly indicated that indeed we did not have an insecurity problem as was being canvassed all over. It was all just a despicable plan by some people in the North to use the blood of innocent Nigerians to paint the incumbent as incapable and lacking the ability to handle violent situations. We didn’t have any issues prior to this, apart from the cases of certain elements in the South-East, the Bakassi Boys, and the OPC in the South-West who were clamouring for self-determination. The actions of these elements did not translate to the taking of the lives of innocent Nigerians from a geographical divide other than theirs.
It therefore means that if the people who are the sponsors of these acts of genocide eventually get into power tomorrow, other sections of the ethno-religious Nigeria divide who may feel short-changed in the power play would perpetrate their own acts of violence. And of course, we will see it as ‘insecurity’.
Wahala dey o…