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The tragedy of a nation

By Faith Berewa

Invaded! Deadly!! Dreaded!!! That is what Kaduna-Abuja highway has become. And for those who dare to ply this 200 km route, fear, trepidation, anxiety, and prayers, until destination is reached.

This is the new Kaduna-Abuja highway reality. A den of dare devil bandits, kidnappers, murderers, bold and daring enough to hold the nation at its throat, dropping the nation, citizens and a limp security system on its knees. It is inconceivable what has become of this very important and strategic route in present day Nigeria. It has become akin to jungle world.

Often these brazen acts of kidnappings and banditry happen in broad daylight and in a certain pattern; sometimes dressed in military outfits, armed to the teeth, these bandits and kidnappers will block a section of the road, flag down vehicles and dispossess the passengers.

Some are shot, wounded, some killed, and others are taken into the bush. The lives of their hostages are traded for ransom – running into millions of naira.

If in this day and age these brazen acts of lawlessness are committed with such audacity on a strategically vital road as Kaduna-Abuja connecting the North West to a large part of the country, tell me a better definition of a failing state.

If protection of life which is the most basic of functions of a government is virtually non-existent, tell me a better definition of a system that is broken and dysfunctional. Tell me we have a government that is working. Let us tell ourselves the truth, Nigeria is falling apart.

The impurity with which these outlaws operate raises a lot of questions about high profile security compromises, fueling conspiracy theories that such daring and dastardly acts are only taking place because of the protection from those in the know. Let’s face it, who are those men, and what weapons do they have that our security agencies cannot tackle?

What and who are they against the Might of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that we are being held to ransom, afraid for our lives? Don’t tell me, they cannot be dislodged. Don’t tell me they cannot be defeated. There is definitely more to it than meets the eye. All of a sudden, we are at the mercy of killers? And they can’t be conquered? This shows how sunken we are as a nation.

The current operations of these bandits and kidnappers are a frightening reality of an audacious criminality, one that can only be possible in a country that is not under any form of control. Unfortunately, majority of the victims are ordinary innocent citizens going about their businesses.

Top government officials whose irresponsible leadership is fueling these carnages seldom travel by road, and if they do at all, are heavily guarded by security personnel in their bullet proof vehicles. The masses do not have the luxury of special security protection and are left to the mercy of this blood-shedding national security failure.

Nigerians are no longer at ease with total insecurity almost everywhere. We are told to pray but I know that national security is the non-transferable responsibility of Government. This is why I cannot understand why and how Government has failed in providing security along this strategic Kaduna-Abuja Express Way, and the nation at large.

What is worrisome here is the almost total silence of Nigerians over the incessant national calamity. Nobody seems to hold Government responsible for this irresponsible approach to governance. It is as if Government is not to blame. For how long are we going to sit and watch this Government sink our beloved nation deep into anarchy?

Suddenly, the Train is the escape route for virtually everybody, including top Government officials and even those who have bogus budget and security votes to protect us. They are all avoiding the Abuja-Kaduna Highway for fear of the Bandits and Kidnappers. What a shame!

How can the train become the alternative to security and safety against banditry and kidnapping along the nation’s most important route linking the Northwest to most of the South? Is this why it was conceived and constructed? What if the Goodluck Jonathan regime hadn’t implemented the rail project?

Why is the Federal Government failing Nigerians in such a shameful and irresponsible proportion? Where are the Service Chiefs? What are they doing? Are they waiting for President Buhari to give order? Is it that Mr. President is not aware? What are they really waiting for? This siege has lingered. People are being wasted bestially. Families are destroyed heinously. This is not just about the Abuja-Kaduna Highway disaster. It’s all over the country. It has become a vicious cycle of destruction fueled by the failure of security agencies in the country, and a government that is too weak to provide the needed command and direction.

First, Boko Haram practically over ran the country with unbelievable carnage in the face of a military and police that seemed helpless. Later the Fulani Herdsmen marauded this country annihilating communities and slaughtering human beings they considered enemies in their way, with impunity unimaginable. Then came these kidnappers and bandits, who have so much protection that no one can explain how they collect their ransom fees, where they save it, talk less of how they get the security garbs and arms they are ravaging the land with.

All these are happening in spite of the Federal Might but as a friend of mine often says, where there is no virtue there can be no might, not even Federal might. Could this be the case of Nigeria’s Security architecture? This is failure exemplified by the Army and Police. No wonder Government is now begging the Bandits in the name of talking to them. What a way to legitimize crime and criminality.

How can we trust this crop of leaders with our lives and property? If they cannot protect us as citizens, how can they protect foreign investors, who now see investing in Nigeria as major security risk?

As a matter of urgency, Government should review its present security structure and re-strategize for operations that should end banditry and kidnapping altogether.

Faith Berewa is a columnist with Sahel Standard Newspapers, Abuja

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