Horrible, worrisome, terrible, distressing are a few adjectives that aptly describes the security situation in the country.
The sad tale that started this year with the ambush of passengers in a train that left the nation’s capital to the nearby city of Kaduna in March was heightened with the prison break at Kuje Correctional Facility in July which, according to reports, led to the escape of scores of terrorists and Boko Haram members.
That the prison break happened few months to the 2023 general elections raised eyebrows. That four months after the attack, 546 escapees are still at large and no one has been fired for the breach of security is breeding the speculation that the operation was carried out with the imprimatur of well-placed, connected and influential persons. That there have been recent reports by our international neighbours of a possible spate in terrorist attacks in the country, especially the Federal Capital Territory makes one wonder what the next tragic story on the news might be.
Undeniably, our leaders are insouciance about the lives and safety of Nigerians as they have thrown caution to the wind and dismissed the security alerts, saying that “as far as insecurity is concerned, the worst is over for Nigeria” when, clearly, it is only an excuse to ward off the ‘distraction’ and focus on the forthcoming general elections, especially as campaigns has commenced.
Needless to say, though it has been adjudged that next year’s elections will be fair, there are palpable fears about whether it will be free, not only in the sense of being deviod of electoral violence, but also deviod of any security breach that might likely result in the loss of lives. And these fears are valid, given the rampant reports of potential intensified terrorist attacks in the country three months to the presidential election.
The need for a free and fair election cannot be overemphasised. Apart from making citizens trust the electoral process, a free and fair election guarantees the emergence of a legitimate government, thereby preventing the electoral process from being skewed towards a particular political party or candidate.
Given the foregoing, the government’s lackadaisical approach to the infiltration of the nation’s security apparatus by terrorists beggars belief how they expect Nigerians to believe that they are committed to ensuring that the general elections will be free and fair in all ramifications. The presidential rally of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna last month was reported to have been disrupted by ‘sponsored thugs’. Though the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), alleged that the attack occured because the PDP reneged on its promise with the crowd it rented for the rally, the fact that no culprit was arrested and it was easily dismissed as a normal political brouhaha shows that the nation’s security has been politicised.
Isn’t it baffling that our crop of leaders are only concerned about the electioneering with little or no care about the state of security in the country? About the safety of Nigerians when they go to the polls to cast their votes? About making sure that political rallies and the elections are held in a free and fair atmosphere? It is not out of place to think that the present administration might have gotten worn out with the security challenges, and is simply counting down to the day a new government will be inaugurated. That notwithstanding, it behoves him to ensure a smooth, credible, transparent, free and fair transition just like the precedent set in 2015.
No doubt, the issue of electoral violence is a recurrent phenomenon in the country. In a recent report on electoral violence, The Punch said more than 1,149 persons, including officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security officers were killed in the 2011, 2015 and 2019 elections. The report also says that the electoral body, INEC, has already begun to raise alarm ahead of the polls scheduled for February and March 2023, which shows that the scary terror alerts ought not to be trivialised.
While I appeal to the government and the security agencies to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of lives and property rather than urge Nigerians to disregard the reports, I hope the candidates of the respective parties, like former president Goodluck Jonathan, come to the realisation that nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.
Ezinwanne may be reached on email@example.com