Insecurity and Economic Rejuvenation in Nigeria: Afenifere tips President Tinubu on what to do

…Lauds him for laundering the country’s image

…Calls for reduction in cost of governance and combating corruption

…Advocates decentralization of Police and Youth Corpers serving in their states

Without doubt, the profile of Nigeria is rising in the international circle with diplomatic forays that President Ahmed Bola Tinubu has been making within the last few weeks. The ultimate and most recent being his participation in the G20 meeting in India, at the 78th United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York and his being the first African President to be asked to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ where he wooed investors to come to Nigeria.

Making this declaration was the pan-Yoruba socio cultural and political organization, Afenifere, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi this weekend.

To Afenifere, “going by responses to his pleas and the exhortations by the United States’ Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo, on strengthening economic ties between the US and Nigeria, Tinubu’s efforts at rejuvenating Nigeria economically has a lot of potentials for success”.

It however quickly added that for the potentials to become realities, “two albatrosses have to be quickly tackled. One is the ogre of insecurity that is daily ravaging the country while the second is corruption that is thwarting the efforts at developing the country and enhancing the welfare of Nigerians. So much has been said (and is still being said) about corruption that we will not talk about it in this treatise today. Especially since the panacea to it has to do with complete attitudinal change by all Nigerians, irrespective of positions or status”.

According to Ajayi, at the moment, the greatest hindrance to achieving President Tinubu’s lofty aim for Nigeria is insecurity. In the very week in which the United States of America expressed its desire to cooperate with Nigeria in economic and other fronts and in the very week in which Tinubu is wooing investors to come to Nigeria, the US issued a statement warning its citizens to be wary in coming to Nigeria because of insecurity.

“Those who may want to be dishonest might argue that America is being mischievous in this respect. But the reality on ground indicated that the super power is not crying wolf where there is none.
Reports afield now have it that eight youth corpers from Akwa Ibom State were kidnapped in Zamfara in August this year while the kidnappers are asking for N4 million ransom on one of them. This week, 19 people were reported kidnapped in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Thursday, September 14, 2023 while Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun States in the South West of the country also have bitter stories to tell in this respect.

For instance, in Ekiti, series of kidnapping took place in Ikole Local Government area etc. where four persons were kidnapped and a person killed by kidnappers. These happened towards the end of August and early September this year. The Ekiti incident occurred around 3.30pm – in broad daylight! The victims were returning from their farms according to reports”, he stated.

Save the Children International (SCI) in a report observed that nearly 2,000 school children have been kidnapped in Nigeria since the abduction of 276 students from Chibok, Borno State in 2014 thus putting the education of our youths in greater danger.
The statement went further: “Earlier this year, a 19-year-old girl, Adetutu Okibaloye, was kidnapped in her residence in Imoru, Ose local government area of Ondo State. The kidnappers even shot her aunt who was trying to escape. Luckily, the aunt survived the attack. In the same Ondo State, 67-year-old Chief Imam of Uso community in Owo local government area was recently kidnapped in his farm at Asolo Camp at about 3p.m.! We can go on and on. We are however stopping with the listing and rather talk about the way out.

“In one of our Press Statements in 2021, Afenifere had advocated for a review of the way graduates are made to serve the country through the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC). Our submission then, which we are repeating now, is that youth corpers be allowed to serve in their respective regions or even states. Other things being equal, Akwa Ibom youths who were kidnapped in Zamfara would not have experienced such were they to be serving in their state or even local government areas”.
Last year, 2022, the National Assembly, passed a Bill imposing jail terms of at least 15 years for anyone that pays ransom to free a kidnapped victim just as it imposed death sentence on any one found guilty of kidnapping.

A Guardian newspaper report of August 9, 2023 indicated that failure of South West governors to implement anti-open grazing laws has encouraged a resurgence of banditry by herders, including kidnapping.
“It is no longer debatable that increased attacks against farmers across parts of the country are adversely affecting agricultural practices as seen in the displacement, market disruptions and direct threats to life”. Early this September, the Emir of Birni Magaji in Zamfara State, Alhaji Kabiru Birni Magaji, was accused of complicity with kidnappers because of his order on youths of the community who seized the wives and kids of kidnappers who abducted their own people to return the kidnappers’ family members to them.

The youths’ intention was to force the kidnappers to return their own people to them. But the monarch allegedly ordered the youths to return family members of the kidnappers even when the latter have not returned the victims. This tends to lend credence to the editorial of The Guardian, of November 22, 2022 which alleged that “the security agencies, constitutionally saddled and routinely funded to keep Nigeria safe, have been fingered of complicity in curbing” insecurity in the country.

Afenifere spokesman added that both the security agencies and the populace have roles to play in putting an end to the menace or at least reduce it considerably. This much was attested to by no less a person than the spokesman of the Nigerian Police, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi who alleged that “Kidnappers hide amongst our people and have their hideouts in communities.” Adejobi who spoke in Abuja at a workshop on Anti-Kidnap Multi-Agency on Wednesday, September 21, 2023, also called on intelligence agencies to work together to contain kidnapping and other forms of criminality in Nigeria. Mr. Peter Afunaya, spokesman of the Department of State Services (DSS) spoke along the same vein at the same event.

To seriously curb insecurity, particularly kidnapping, Afenifere called on President Bola Tinubu to:

1. As a matter of urgency, decentralize the Police so that each state and local government areas in the country would have police made up largely of indigenes of the respective areas.

2. Conscious, consistent and sincere efforts be made at dealing with youth unemployment and decaying infrastructure. Former President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. The National Bureau for Statistics (NBS) also stated last year that about 133 million persons were suffering from Multi-Dimensional Poverty. These were an admission that well over 50 per cent of Nigerians are suffering various forms of deprivations. The removal of petroleum subsidy and decreasing value of the naira have worsened the situation. For survival, people experineciing deprivations may turn to various forms of criminality, the type we are witnessing presently.

3. The federal government must equip the security agencies and motivate them more. Modern technological devices must be deployed in various parts of the country to detect, apprehend and prevent banditry and criminality.

4. Communities must realize that banditry will continue as long as they hide bandits in their midst. They must report them and co-operate with security agencies to rid the society of criminality.

5. Finally, sincere efforts must be made to reduce the cost of governance and seriously combat corruption in its various manifestations.

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