Not to punish evil is like authorising it – Leonardo da Vinci
…When the laws have ceased to be executed, as this can only come from the corruption of the republic, the state is already lost – Baron de Montesquieu.
A kingdom (nation) can endure with unbelief, but it cannot endure with injustice – Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci died on 2 May, 1519. He was an Italian with encyclopedic learning. There was no branch of knowledge that he didn’t touch. His achievements, diverse interests, personal life, and empirical thinking always spark interest and admiration, even today.
Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, referred to as Montesquieu, was a French judge, man of letters, historian, and political philosopher. The theory of separation of powers is based on his work.
Usman Ɗan Fodio was a Fulani scholar, Sunni Islamic religious teacher, revolutionary, and philosopher who founded the Sokoto Caliphate and ruled as its first caliph.
These philosophers were leaders of men, ideas and nations and are all in polar positions to speak about lost states.
But Nigeria is not lost, not yet; but is it passing through a difficult phase? Yes. Does it have the potential to be a top world nation? Unquestionably yes. However, our potential to grow into that great nation, that world power, is under threat.
The way diseases take over the human body is simple but clinical. It is by immunity destruction. We may see viruses as single cells, but they are intelligent. They first attack the soldiers that protect our life blocks – the white blood cells. They weaken them and kill them off. Were these white blood cells multi-celled beings like animals or humans, they would “pick race” whenever they see them because their attackers are ferocious and coming in droves. Their attacks are multi-dimensional, taking various forms. And, yes, they are tactical about it.
Have we observed that this is now what is happening to the corporate entity called Nigeria? When Boko Haram started, they aimed at demoralising the security forces into believing that wearing the uniform was an act of bravado. Many wore mufti as underwear and sprouted beards so that when they remove and throw away their uniforms during attacks, they can blend with ordinary civilians.
When the Eastern Security Network, the armed wing of the Independent People of Biafra (IPoB), started, it too had security agents among its topmost targets. And so nothing is surprising if bandits – Boko Haram with another name – are targeting security agents.
Just as the human body becomes vulnerable to opportunistic illnesses when its immunity is lowered, so does any nation succumb when its military is overwhelmed. And so, before any country is taken, its army must first be subdued. The day those who should protect the people run away, protecting just themselves, is the day the country will tip over. May we never witness that day.
And so it is not for fun when George Orwell said: “People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
Winston Churchill, too, was quoted to have said: “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us”, which is a slight variant of Orwell’s quote. The message is what’s important, not who said it first, because Rudyard Kipling, an English journalist, and John le Carré, a British author, had all said something similar.
What is happening now calls for concern. The people have been cowed by vendors of terror; terrorist acts now happen by the minute that even media houses are overwhelmed by the deluge of the reports. We cannot, sadly, report all the acts of mayhem being visited on innocent people in the north and many parts of the southeast and some parts of the southwest of the country.
And now it is the armed forces themselves that are endangered. We know the attacks on them have been ongoing for long, but now there is a frenzy about it. It is as if there is a special urgency to run over the military, which is the buffer between the nation and its people and those bent on destroying its sovereignty.
Sadly, our president, according to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, does not even know. El-Rufai told a bewildered and traumatised nation that he had to tell the president about the threat by terrorists to kidnap him and the governor – meaning the president was not even conversant with the predicament of the train attack victims. Did I hear someone say El-Rufai should know?
In years past, the focus of Boko Haram was to take over Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. At one point, Maiduguri could only breathe through one nostril – the road leading from it to Damaturu, the Yobe State capital. They did their best to plug that only gateway to the outside world with no commensurate success.
While they have not forgotten Maiduguri or the North East or even Katsina, Zamfara, Niger, Kogi and Kaduna, they seem to have turned their ambition for territorial conquest to Abuja.
Since last year, we have been shouting on top of our voices that bandits operating in Niger State to the West, Kogi to the South, Kaduna to the North and Nasarawa to the East had sandwiched Abuja and there is a need for a clinical onslaught against them. The Fulani settlements in these areas need to be forensically combed. Quite a few of the rugas around Kuje, Lugbe, and close to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport are alleged to be used by bandits to store weapons.
On February 1, 2021, in the piece entitled ‘Mandela and the Parable of the Fulani’, I wrote on this page: “But there is also something wrong with the North. It lacks a leader. It lacks focus, and it lacks vision. Most of the Fulani terrorising Nigeria now could have long been engineers, medical doctors, professors, etc. The regime of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida started what it christened nomadic education. Under it, there were many things involved that could have changed the way the Fulani live. But because most of our leaders were short-sighted and prioritised lining their pockets, they never took that programme seriously. Now, with all the money they have sliced for themselves, those who should have been professionals today will not allow them, and other innocent citizens, to enjoy it.”
Government must ginger our security personnel. A situation where top officers skim off what should go to the troops should urgently be addressed. Ill-equipped, hungry and demoralised security personnel can easily be compromised by evil men or intimidated by their capability for violence.
With our population going through the roof, the government must urgently embark on massive facilitation for the proliferation of small and medium-scale enterprises. It must overhaul and reposition SMEDAN, NDE, etc.; they are now just avenues for the wastage of public funds. The only way to mop up idle brains and cut off the recruitment base of the crime industry is to provide a means of livelihood to the citizenry through gainful employment that the private sector can provide.
The government must not only take the education of the citizenry with the seriousness it deserves, but it must also overhaul the curriculum. Our education must be skill acquisition based from kindergarten. A situation where a school graduate, even at primary level, cannot be self-employed is detrimental to national security and growth.
Then the government must be just – and be seen to be that – and fair to all, irrespective of ethnicity, religious leanings or political affiliations. Crimes must not be ignored and no criminal should go unpunished. When God has not pardoned a renegade, no man should “pardon” him, “rehabilitate” him and set him free while his victims have not been given justice and comparable compensation.
It is also high time the government explored the strategy of mobilising our youths to form a people’s militia to complement our military. It should also form a special force, as Colombia did to extricate itself from a situation similar to, if not worse than, ours. Everyone must have a stake in protecting the nation. This fight is now a do-or-die one that cannot be left to the army and police alone.
I shall conclude with this quote from George S. Patton Jr.: “The soldier is the army. No army is better than its soldiers. The soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.”
•Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.