f weapons were restorer of peace and unity, countries like Afghanistan in the Middle East, Somalia, and South Sudan in Africa, and a host of other countries at war within itself and/or outsiders would be as calm as the lake by now. Rather, more weapons being injected into a war-torn zone/country means more hostility and hostility brings resistance, and more are bound to die; and, war knows no bound and its end is devastating and costly for both the victor and the vanquished. Truth be told, “no one wins a war, but loses”.
This is the case that plays out in Nigeria currently because the government of Nigeria in conjunction with their ‘trusted’ think-tank believes that by buying the most sophisticated modern-day arms and ammunition, they could actually keep the forced union with each State within the Federation together for as long as they can with “warplanes, armoured tanks, and guns”. From the days of yore up until now, armoury can conquer territory but love wins people.
“Between January and September 2021, 888 individuals were slain, 2,553 were kidnapped, and 720 were injured in the State,” says Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs.
Keep in mind, that Kaduna State is not the epicentre of Northern Nigerian insecurity. As a result, some Presidential spokespersons claiming that security in Nigeria is better under the Buhari administration than under the previous administration are lying.
Although the arrival of the Super Tucano aircraft in Nigeria is welcome news, it should be noted that, as the Taliban has recently shown in Afghanistan, firepower cannot be the main decider of military triumph. Otherwise, the United States would not have received the devastating blow it did in that country. To believe that the acquisition of American fighter jets could solve Nigeria’s insecurity problem, as welcome as they are, would be a big fantasy.
The A-29 Super Tucano light-attack planes are said to be capable of intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance, and precision air-to-ground strikes. They also provide greater targeting capabilities, which should help Nigeria combat Boko Haram and the ISIS West Africa branch more effectively.
But that is as far as they will go since Nigerians will have to face their own internal demons, as the elements driving the hydra-headed insecurity in the country differ significantly from its usual variants, such as youth unemployment, regional imbalance, and overpopulation, instability in politics, and numerous others.
Even if these factors continue to play a part in Nigeria, the root causes of insecurity are basic and often come from leadership failure, which no amount of armament can cure because there will always be a long line of insurgent recruits.
Let us take a closer look at these.
Lack of funding and attention towards education in Nigeria
While the North Central, which has long been a part of the North, is now one of the country’s most educated regions, largely to the statesmanship of the Sadauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, not so in the Northwest, where feudalism made Western education either useless or a taboo. At the same time, Awolowo and Azikiwe were fiercely pushing the borders of education in their own territories, and the distinction between the two segments is as evident now as the distinction between day and night. Today, the Northwest is a place where insecurity has taken up permanent residence, with hordes of people being kidnapped or murdered on a daily basis, with little being done to stop the trend. Not everyone is surprised that Aruwan continues to make morbid announcements. There is no proof to believe that Northern Governors regard this as a problem, whereas their Southern counterparts would be unable to sleep at night if their states were as bad as Zamfara, Kaduna, or Katsina. Take, for example, the Almajarai case. While the Governor of Sokoto was busy enacting fundamental changes in the practice, such as establishing schools where attendance was made compulsory and for which a law was passed punishing parents for their children’s nonattendance, others were furiously deporting Almajiris from their States of residence to their putative States of origin, as if the poor kids remember who their actual parents are after leaving home too early. Some of these leaders would rather take new wives or marry off their children in some bizarre festivals, while others in society, more interested in empire building, took advantage of the lockdown, which coincided with the interstate movement ban, to transport these unfortunate urchins in trucks to southern forests and communities, with security agencies paying no attention, and are now busy rapping, kidnapping for millions of Naira and other crimes. This egregious leadership failure, especially in an area where the population is expanding at exponential rates, will never be remedied by a slew of Tucano planes.
Failure on the leadership’s part
In Nigeria, leadership failure as a source of insecurity extends far beyond the subnational level. Indeed, it strikes me as being much more poignant at the national level. President Jonathan’s fault was cluelessness, which was exacerbated by his intrinsic fear of the North in terms of his reelection aspirations, and which was akin to Obasanjo’s incapacity to pro-actively deal with Sharia at its introduction, but President Buhari has no such excuse. Here was a trusted, former military General who had battled to keep Nigeria united, coming to seek for our votes for the highest office in the nation, pledging to end insecurity, fight corruption, which he claimed would destroy Nigeria if left unchecked, and reorient our sinking economy. Nigerians had no reservations in electing him both in 2015 and 2019. He is a man of incomparable integrity and a former military Head of State. At the same time, I fervently endorsed his candidacy on these pages, believing he would be the best President Nigeria has ever had.
But what did we gain in return?
The PDP had the audacity to point out this government’s failures, simply because of the President’s wholly unforeseen shortcomings, most of which were self-inflicted.
When asked what the PDP failed to do during its 16-year stranglehold on Nigeria, Kola Ologbondiyan, the Party’s Spokesperson, responded:
“The truth is that President Muhammadu Buhari has failed miserably to keep any of the promises he made to Nigerians over the last five years. The economy is in a state of disarray. He vowed to fight kidnapping, insurrection, and banditry from the front lines, yet we are currently dealing with the worst form of all three.
“Rather than caring for the poor whom they duped and deceived, the Almajiris are making more people homeless and abandoning them in the midst of nowhere. They are being deported within their own country, transported from place to place as if these unfortunate youngsters, victims of religion, are aware of their true parents.”
Finally, he stated that the PDP has challenged the Buhari administration, not once, but twice, to explain to Nigerians which of the promises he made to them has been fulfilled in the last five years.
I would pose the same question to you.
Apart from the daily festivals of killings in all areas of the country, the litmus test for me in terms of security is the fact that in the past 19 months, I have not had the guts to venture out of my location, to anywhere by road, no matter how short. We are seeing the free fall of the Naira against the dollar, to levels no Nigerian could have imagined just four years ago, and the anti-corruption war is nothing to cheer about since Attorney-General Malami maneuvered himself into becoming the sole determiner of who can be tried, regardless of the alleged offence. Such a level of insincerity and compromise will only continue to add to our existing multifarious problems.
So, why will the Tucano aircraft not be a sufficient solution?
As earlier said, the replies will primarily focus on the President’s personal flaws, some of which could have been avoided if he had counsel who would tell him what he needs to know rather than what they think he wants to hear. This is one of the disadvantages of nepotism. The widespread perception that the President governs for the North, as though he believes, like FUNAM (Fulani Nationalist Movement), that Nigeria is a captive country where Fulani are just waiting to form a caliphate with Sharia as the law. Unfortunately, there are parts in the same North — Benue, for example, and Southern Kaduna – where people are treated worse than immigrants. This view is reinforced by his policy efforts, which include RUGA, open grazing, cow colonies, and the National Water Resources Bill, all of which are Fulani-centric. This also applies to his appointments, where he would almost certainly not blink, handing 18 of the 20 consequential appointments to the North, all of which would almost certainly go to Muslims (both the Chairman and the Executive Secretary of the Federal Character Commission are from the North). It happened recently in the Judiciary with the promotion to a higher bench. Assuming the North, which has no commercially viable oil reserves, effectively controls the NNPC, it goes without saying that President Buhari will do the same with the National Water Resources Commission, if one is established.
This is what has led to the extraordinary degree of separatist agitation that we are witnessing across the country. No amount of military weapons can address these insecurity-inducing conditions. It is also worth noting that the United States now prohibits aircraft from being used against bandits unless they have been branded terrorists. I can not see President Buhari doing that, even if banditry has become one of our most troubling security challenges.