Nigeria’s democratization, which culminated in the country’s Fourth Republic in 1999, started amidst great hope and expectations. This shift was to herald the dawn of good governance in the country, however it is quite unfortunate that this was not to be, as the political landscape has proven otherwise. There is no proof of good governance since the inception of democratization in Nigeria. For example, the rule of law in Nigeria is just a mere political philosophy established on lips service, elections and electoral processes are monetized, political parties have no ideological premise as, more often than not, party candidates are seen cross-carpeting between party lines with no sense of accountability, even to the electorates:
As a matter of fact, there are instances when a candidate who has purportedly won an election on the platform of party A, only to transfer the mandate to party B in total disregard of party A, which offered him the winning platform! Hence, continued unethical practices in the Nigerian political space have been an important factor in the current deplorable state of her democracy, in that, there is no unity of purpose where the primary objective of a government – security of lives and properties, is concerned. In other words, in a clime where politics is seen as a game to be played by a ‘powerful’ few, no doubt, critical issues of security are also, inevitably, politicized! And unfortunately so.
Nigeria, as a nation, is in a critical state, especially, due to the current spate of insecurity, which has also impacted so negatively on her economy. When one considers the complexity of the current situation by examining its various dimensions, it can be argued that the idea that the various ethnic groups, which make up the entity called Nigeria, are bound by the same spirit of nationalism may be an illusion! This is simply because one cannot underestimate the impact of the event of 1966, which apparently enfeebled the very foundation of the Nigerian State. No doubt, the 1966 coup caused a mutual distrust amongst Nigerian major ethnic groups. And this unfortunate event not only left the union fractured but also amplified the already diversified ethno-religiosity. If only this problem had been well managed, even as the country transitioned from military rule into democracy, the current bad state would never have been the experience.
Apart from the challenges of security, there is also the challenge of the feelings of insecurity, which has pervaded the entire atmosphere in the land, more especially with regards to various ethnic groups in the country. Hence, this could be the reason for conspicuous desperation vis-a-vis tussle for power, relevance and the eerie desire for a total control of the common resources amongst the 3 major ethnic groups. Even the smaller groups are not left out, hence the repeated conflicts or clashes, which are, sometimes, further exacerbated with religious coloration. Although, religion may not be considered as the main causative agent of insecurity in Nigeria, however it has, to a very large extent, heightened the problem to such a degree that, people of the same cultural background and tongue are divided on this basis! This is the story of the people of Kaduna, a city, which occupies a large section of north-western region of Nigeria.
Apart from being the base of the Nigerian military stronghold, Kaduna currently hosts the largest number of respectable military institutions in the country! Historically, Kaduna was a home to British colonists who founded it in 1900. And due to its proximity to Lagos-Kano Railway, the first British governor of Northern Nigeria, Sir Frederick Lugard, had chosen the region for development. Hence, Kaduna became the capital of Nigeria’s former northern Region between 1917 and 1967. This (brief) historic perspective may be necessary so that one may understand why Kaduna is regarded as a cosmopolitan city being home, not only to the Locals, but also to other Nigerian citizens of different ethno-religious backgrounds, as well as foreigners. No doubt, this cosmopolitan gathering was triggered by the various business activities/interests and private investments being a major industrial Centre in Northern Nigeria, manufacturing products like textiles, machinery, steel, aluminum, petroleum products to mention a few. Today, this economic hub, which was once a thriving socio-economic space in northern Nigeria, is now a ghost of itself, first, due to the impacts of the event of 1966 (earlier mentioned), and subsequently, because of insecurity, which proliferates across the entire Northern Nigeria.
In recent times, the north-western States of Nigeria (Kaduna inclusive) have been served with equal measure of insecurity due to terrorism, banditry, religious conflict, herders-farmers’ conflict, and the likes. Before now, this tempo was only sustained and restricted to the north-eastern region, which has been under siege due to the activities of Boko Haram terrorists and members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Today, the North-west is in dire distress and the pressing issues of human security and development cannot be ignored. The frontiers of the north-western region of the country have experienced massive increase in the scourge of rural banditry and terrorism, while the massive ungoverned spaces that characterise its interior landscapes have also become theatres of brigandry and unbridled conflict. Apparently, Kaduna State, in particular, has suddenly become an epicentre of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in the north-western region of the country:
As a matter of fact, the abounding evidence cannot be gainsaid. The synopsis of attacks in Kaduna indicates that lives are lost daily and the citizens remain vulnerable and helpless despite being surrounded by the military presence. Interestingly, the most recent attack in which over 28 people were slaughtered in cold blood in Kaura Local Government Area of the State, is proof that there is more going on in Kaduna than meets the eye. And it may not be totally out of place to use the on-going massacre in Kaduna as a good litmus test of assessment where Nigeria’s entire security architecture is concerned. Moreover, the body language of the government of the day, particularly the State government can also be termed to be quite worrisome. For example, just barely 48 hours after the attack, which led to bloodbath in southern Kaduna, the Governor posted a tweet of himself (with pictures) attending a ceremony in Gwantu. Gwantu is a town in Sanga Local Government Area of the State. How insensitive!
Therefore, the question remains; how has a State like Kaduna, which is home to the country’s military might in terms of military presence, security institutions, security architecture and intelligence, suddenly become a comfortable haven for non-state actors as well as a harbour for criminals who have spontaneously sustained their activities within the State without any apparent robust military engagement? Perhaps, it is important to carefully examine and assess the different dimensions by which insecurity in Nigeria is perceived, especially in pursuit of lasting solution, otherwise it would be practically impossible to manage or contain the prevailing ugly situation.
Finally, for the avoidance of doubt, it may be of great importance and necessity, and perhaps for the records, to highlight the huge presence of the entire Nigerian military (with heavy artillery) and other security forces in Kaduna such as; The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Nigerian Army School of Military Police, State Security Service Training Academy, Mechanised Division Nigeria Army, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Nigeria Air Force Base, Airforce Institute of Technology, Army Training Depot, Nigeria Military School, Defence Industries Corporation (DICON), Nigeria Army School of Artillery, Nigeria Navy School of Armant Technology, Police College, Bostel Training College, Nigerian Army School of Infantry and Nigeria Army Operation Base (Southern Kaduna).
Therefore, it is incomprehensible that innocent citizens would keep vigils over incessant insecurity despite the dense concentration of the entire Nigerian military! A beleaguered Kaduna State is the most ridiculous and most embarrassing experience to be linked to any country, especially in the modern age! It is a beautiful paradox. So the question remains; who is fooling who? It is often said, where there is a will, there is a way. Hence, let the politics of bloodletting in Kaduna State stop now!
‘Tunde Adeparusi, an independent researcher and UK-based criminologist, wrote in via email@example.com