Severe security challenges are posing existential threat to Nigeria. The country ranks as the third most terrorized country in the world, grouped in the war-torn comity of Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. The reign of terror and arson, which used to have the North-East as hotbed, has now spread to every part of the country, pushing citizens to the Hobbesian State of Nature where life is poor, nasty, brutish and short.
The reason Nigeria is on the brink was exposed recently but may have been missed by many. This was during the back-and-forth between President Muhammadu Buhari and governors last week. Buhari had during a rare television interview disclosed that, “Two governors from the southwest came to tell me that the cattle rearers in some of the forests there have killed the farmers while the cattle were eating up their crops. But I told them, you campaigned to be elected and you were elected. So, I said go back and sort yourselves”.
This remark has widely been interpreted as the President shifting the responsibility of securing the nation to subnational governments. According to Aminu Masari, the Governor of the President’s home state of Katsina, “In the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the issue of security is under the Exclusive List so it is the responsibility of the Federal Government and states can only complement and this is what we have always done and are still doing. Based on provisions of the Constitution, the blame should go to the Federal Government for the general state of insecurity in Nigeria.”
Weighing in on Buhari’s submission during the interview, the forum of PDP governors said, “Mr President seem not to be aware that the coercive instruments of State security is firmly within his hands and not the governors. Mr President has ultimate authority under the Constitution over security organisations, even though the States have a role to play.”
The forgoing abdication of responsibility is the biggest clue why Nigeria is being buffeted by all manner of security challenges. To therefore rid the country of insecurity, the President must work in concert with the sub-national governments, which he apparently haven’t been doing. He must lead the charge and provide direction for the fight against terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, killer herdsmen and arsonists.
One of the tripartite agenda of the Buhari government is Security. It is tragic when a President elected on the basis of his past military exploits abdicates responsibility for what was assumed to have aptitude and experience for. However, the governors dare not hands-off the task of securing their jurisdiction lest they stop collecting security votes and account for what they have so far received. One wonders why governors who know how to arm thugs with sophisticated weapons during elections won’t equip the police in their states to secure the people? More so, what becomes of those firearms giving to political miscreants after the elections?
Indeed, Nigeria will cease to be insecure when federal, states and local governments do their bit in making the people and their belongings safe. The existence of large swathes of ungoverned territories across the country makes the need for collaboration among all tiers of government to sack bandits and terrorists who use these territories as fortress and holding cells for their hostages.