Not too long ago, a former Chief of Army Staff and later Minister for Defence, Lt Gen T.Y. Danjuma, made a weighty allegation that the military (particularly the army) was conniving with herdsmen to attack innocent civilians in Taraba State. His call for the people to defend themselves against the murderous herdsmen was considered an invitation to anarchy. More recently, Peter Gyendeng, representing Barkin-Ladi Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly and Emma Zopmal, President of Middle Belt Youth Council, accused the military of trying to cover-up the murder of innocent citizens (on 24th June 2018) by herdsmen in Barki-Ladi area. As mind boggling as these allegations are, in a society where everything has a price tag, nothing seems impossible. The level of involvement in criminal activities in the past by some of the bad eggs adorning the uniform of security agencies in Nigeria gives credibility to these allegations. The Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies have also at one time or the other been accused of taking sides in conflicts around the country. Though investigation by the army authorities did not find the army wanting with respect to the allegation by Lt Gen Danjuma, biased security institutions is sure inimical to a peaceful Nigeria.
While it is easy to sit in the comfort of one’s home to criticise these security agencies without considering what they go through to keep the people safe, one must not forget that the reason Nigeria still exist as a unit is because of them. What should bother everyone still interested in one Nigeria is that, when people continuously get murdered in hundreds under the watchful eyes of our security men and no one is held accountable, the call for the people to defend themselves against perceived threat would only get louder. This definitely should get us worried: the present situation does not suggest to the ordinary Nigerians that they have dependable security institutions.
Definitely, other factors exist that contribute to the inability of our security agencies to protect lives and property of the citizenry. One thing is however clear, the disease that has bugged Nigeria down over the years – “corruption” is also endemic in the various security institutions. Fortunately, fighting corruption is one of the priorities of President Buhari’s led administration. Perhaps, it is high time the government beamed her anticorruption light on the security agencies. Ensuring that they recruit the right personnel is where to start, and refusing to water down allegation of corruption involving security agents would get them on their toes. Government’s effort to improve the socioeconomic status of Nigerians would not yield the expected result in the face of corrupt security institutions.
A corruption free security institution is a corruption free Nigeria. Fight corruption in the Nigeria Police Force and we will be assured of a police that is Nigeria oriented and would in turn ensure corrupt individuals in and out of government face the law. Fight corruption in the Nigeria Custom Service and her personnel would not connive with smugglers to sabotage the nation. Fight corruption in the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and we will have a drug free society, not a Nation where innocent youths are rumoured to be tortured or exhorted for carrying ordinary pain killers while the highly connected ones carrying hard drugs are allowed to roam the highway unbothered. Fight corruption in the military and they will defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria and her people without favour to, or prejudice against, any group. Fight corruption… Until our security institutions work, Nigeria may not work.
Happy Nigerian Army Day Celebration!
Shola Olayiwola is a freelance writer. He loves to write and defend the course of his country.