It would not take many Nigerians a particularly long time to answer the question whether or not they feel safe in the country. When importuned to answer, the suspicion is that many would have no hesitation in categorically stating that they do not feel safe in the country. And it figures.
It figures that many Nigerians fear for their lives in the country today. Even those Nigerians that have migrated to other countries but have loved ones here fear for those they have left behind. It figures that many Nigerians neither sleep with both eyes closed nor go about their daily activities without having to constantly and fretfully look over their shoulder.
Multiple attacks on the country in the last couple of years have ensured that the country has drawn the unwanted distinction of being one of the most terrorized countries on earth. And what exactly it is that terrorism does? The Nigerian experience has been especially telling.
Terrorism has turned communities upside down, tearing families apart limb by limb until nothing has remained. For the men and communities who have survived, terrorism has ensured that life as they knew it has been eroded irreparably. Expectedly, the cost on Nigeria has been almost incalculable.
It is not just the quality of life in the country that has suffered. Nigeria`s GDP has continued to take terrible hits. Hunger has soared in the country as conflicts have interrupted agricultural activities in rural areas causing food prices to soar thus driving food insecurity. The education of many children has been interrupted to leave them at critical crossroads so early in life. In all these, the frustrations of the everyday Nigerian have been compounded by the unmistakable feeling that the government does not take its responsibilities seriously and is stuffed and staffed with people who would rather be elsewhere but stay put in public offices in Nigeria because the perks of such offices are inordinately alluring in Nigeria.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, insecurity has burned its way to the front burner. There is a consensus on the fact that without adequate security free and fair elections which form the bedrock of any thriving democracy will be nigh impossible.
With the campaigns having been declared open, it is expected that in the next few months, Nigerians would have to congregate in large numbers in public places to hear what loquacious politicians will say to them.
Given the precarious situation of the country at the moment, while Nigerians must endeavor to sift through the oft outrageous and outlandish promises of crafty politicians with a fine-tooth comb to separate the wheat from the chaff, Nigerians would also do well to be conscious of their safety while in those public places.
When they gather, they must each be conscious of the next person. Nigerians must also be wary of alarmist incidents that induce panic and rapidly escalate into deadly stampedes.
In this wise, a recent tragedy in Indonesia offers a cautionary tale. On Saturday October 1, 2022, tragedy struck when a stampede at the Kanjuruhan football stadium in the eastern city of Malang following a riot resulted in the death of about 125 football fans.
Life and limb must be put before and above any gains whether sporting or electoral conscious of this fact, Nigerians must approach the buildup to the coming elections with a renewed determination to stay alive and keep others alive.