Security, Religion and Citizenship: Unresolved National issues

When critical national issues threatening our fragile federation unity is discussed, emotions and partisan outburst overpower and configure the response and outcome to the issue. We have been chasing the shadows in the diatribe as to how to correct the ills and more so, address the lingering problem.

Security tops the list of the problem that has defiled resolution. The emergence of insurgence in parts of the country is an attestation to the unresolved national security concerns. They point to the issue of national border security, police, respect for individual rights to co-existence. The police from its foundation as part of the constabulary used in the popular”Race to Nikki” had since then acted or came to be seen as a grand design “army of occupation” rather than to serve and to protect the security of life and property of the citizen.

Most recently, the emergence of pocket resistance had increased in intensity with the most recent being the Boko Haram. Many pundits blame the emergence to the frustration of some sections of the country with the fears of marginalization or unrealized and unfulfilled aspirations of the federation. Some however, points to the the Niger delta militancy to the lopsided resource allocation and plunder of regional resources by other rather than the region where the resources originates from. Most Nigeria would objectively agree that the response of the Federal government to the now famous “Odi massacre” still leaves a gory image of how not to respond to fellow citizens by a government.

Being aware of the devastation caused by the Odi massacre, the present military onslaught against the insurgence in Bornu, Adamawa States and the news that Duara, katsina State is currently been bombarded raised the question whether, there is the ulterior motive behind the whole saga of trying to wipe out opposition candidate, because, Daura is the home town of (rtd) General M. Buhari, who is an avowed opposition presidential candidate of the A.N.P.P, a political party that has challenged the ruling P.D.P.

As long as the police is constituted the way it is, the issue of security would not go away. There is the need for a De-centralized police force. Many countries with a Centralized police system, have modified and continuously worked toward fine-tuning its operation. If a country practices Federalism, how then can they have a centralized police force? Understanding Federal system to mean that a consternation of self autonomous unit who shares centrifugal and centripetal homogeneity to form a federation. There has not been any concerted efforts, at least within the tenure of the current administration to secure the borders of the country particularly its northern and southern fringes. When the idea of National identity card was mooted by Ex-president Obasanjo, it was vehemently opposed by governors from the farther most northern fringes, they argued that baseless at it maybe that it will disenfranchise majority of the illiterate populace in those particularly border states.

I had argued elsewhere my full support for the national identity program, hinging my unwavering support on the need to be able to identify and provide some solution to the issue of identifying a Nigerian. I also supported the idea, because it will effectively checkmate the election seasonal migration witnessed in many northern border States and assist in collating proper population figures for effective planning. If the government under Obasanjo or even under the current president is serious about the future benefits of pursuing the project, i belief they would have vigorously pursued the program. But like most problems in that Nigeria that never gets resolved, the non-implementation of the national Identity program, albeit, may favor the ruling P.D.P, who would benefit from the season influx of foreign immigrants from neighboring country during election to secure electoral success.

Those of us who still remembers will recall, G.N.P.P had one of its elected member Mandera, deported, as part of political witch hunting or reality.

During elections, the unseen hands that confers advantage is the police. Rather than being the protector of the law and defender of the constitution, they, the police are manipulated as part of the electoral succession corruption. No wonder, we daily see Nigerians arguing with the police, simply because, the police is viewed with disdain, disrespect and have lost the confidence because they are manipulated by the government at the center. Recall from the 1980’s, Use of Police by Shagari’s ruling N.P.N, where the police under Inspector general Adeusi use of threat, intimidation and the trend has not changed even 30 years after. The orientation of the Police force and perceptions by Nigerians towards the police has not changed. As a result, many sincere officers and men of the Nigerian Police are bottled within a system that is in dire need for reformation.

In all this equation, is the issue of religion that is tied to almost all national discussion. The divide between, the christian and Muslim religion is getting wider by the minute. Many leaders on bother divide have had accusatory fingers pin-pointing to the use of religion to create a hostile environment and unsafe country. Religion is an equation used in selecting leadership at the top, appointment,security,and in almost all facet of the country’s life. As Nigerians, we have refused to ask ourselves, why are we asked the question of “State of Origin” in most or all federal or State application, even for education, jobs, scholarship” One of the answers maybe, we have no way of knowing who is a Nigerian, or that the issue of citizenship is non-existent. I would love a national discussion on Citizenship and Statism. Both taken together with a mix of religion, addresses in a nutshell, the critical National Question.

Written by
Ritchie Ejiofor
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