In his 1651 book titled, ‘Leviathan’, one of the founders of modern political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes, gave a vivid account of what things would be in a society without a government.
The English philosopher posited that the essence of social contract was for people to surrender their self-governing power to the state in return for protection from criminals and ensuring a peaceful society from the government. He postulated that without government, man’s life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
According to the Section 14 (2) (b)(c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.
As Nigeria celebrates 19 years of uninterrupted democratic experience and with three years into the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the security situation in the country has come under serious scrutiny.
Pundits have expressed grave concern over the frequency of violent killings in various parts of the country. They wondered why President Buhari – a retired major general in the Nigerian Army and former Head of State – who had promised, among other things, to end insecurity across the country during the 2015 electioneering campaign, appeared to have failed.
“The level of impunity and frequency of violent killings in Nigeria in recent times is a source of grave concern to citizens and all people who wish our country well. Even with the suppression of information on these killings, it is quite clear that the toll of killings has risen dramatically in recent times. Nigerians now wake up daily to fresh news of mass atrocities,” says Chidi Odinkalu, human rights lawyer and former chairman, National Human Rights Commission.
According to the Joint Nigeria Crisis Action Committee (JN-CAC), in the first 70 days of 2018, over 1,400 persons were killed violently across the country, an average of nearly 40 per state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The committee also revealed that at least 34 out of the 36 states of the Federation have experienced at least one episode of violent killings within the first quarter of 2018.
“It seems to me that Nigeria is becoming a lawless country; a country with no rules and regulation, a country where laws are not adhered to; a country where there is no consequence for bad behaviour.
“We have a government, security agents, or we don’t? These are the fundamental issues at stake today because every day since we have gotten here, someone has gotten killed, raped, throat slit, killed at gun point and every day we have resolutions and nothing is being done,” outspoken senator, Ben Murray-Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa State) declares.
A school-of-thought believes the unabated killings threaten the conduct of the 2019 general election.
The General Overseer, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Enoch Adeboye, shares this view.
Speaking during the church’s May Holy Ghost Service, the cleric said his position was borne out of reasoning and not a prophecy.
He said: “A bishop asked me some time ago, ‘Daddy has God told you who will win the next election?’ I said, ‘Sir, I am not even sure yet if there will be elections because unless these killings stop, there may be no election next year’.
The President, on his part, has refused to heed the demand of senators for the immediate dismissal and replacement of the nation’s service chiefs and heads of security agencies over their inability to halt lingering insecurity in the land, even as the House of Representatives recently passed a vote of no confidence on them.
Also, both chambers of the National Assembly have summoned the President over the spate of killings across the country.
With the Federal Government’s approval of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to prosecute the war against insurgency in some parts of the country, Buhari’s release of $496million to the United States government for the purchase of 12 Tucano jets without National Assembly approval, some analysts have described the insecurity challenge as a cash cow from which some people are making money.
“We can now see why former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Yakubu Danjuma (rtd) accused the armed forces of colluding with armed bandits to kill Nigerians.
“The fight against insecurity has become a cash cow for top military chiefs. They will stop at nothing to fuel the crises at least to justify release of more funds,” a security expert who spoke on condition of anonymity told BusinessDay.
Service chiefs and heads of para-military agencies are also expected to submit special funding requests to the National Assembly next week.
Senate’s resolution followed a closed door meeting with security heads for over four hours.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who announced the resolutions at the end of the meeting, which equally deliberated on the lack of coordination among security agencies as a key factor in the failure to quell the incessant killings and kidnappings.
Saraki also said that the Senate resolved to accord priority to all bills that will strengthen the security architecture of Nigeria.
He explained that the special funding requests would be in the form of a Supplementary Budget.
He, however, disclosed that the Supplementary Budget will be different from the $1 billion approved by the President to the military to tackle insecurity and release of $496 million to the United States Government for the purchase of 12 Tucano aircraft.
“The Senate in a closed session received briefs from the Chief of Defence Staff, the Director General of the Department of State Services, representatives of the Comptroller General of Immigration, Inspector General of Police and the Comptroller General of Customs on the proliferation of dangerous arms, spate of killings and kidnappings by hoodlums across the country.
“Thereafter, they answered questions from Senators bothering on security, insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and other national security matters.
“On the whole, we decided that on our part, certain outstanding bills or protocols that needed to be fast-tracked , be addressed immediately to see that they are passed as soon as possible in order to strengthen the nation’s security architecture,” Saraki said.
“Secondly, the Senate observed the issue of underfunding of security agencies and agreed that there is need for special funding for them to be able to carry out their mandates. Therefore, we gave the security chiefs two weeks to present their own budget on this area of special funding to the National Assembly which we think will go a long way in improving the security situation in the country.
“Our great concern also was the issue of coordination among the security agencies and on this note; we resolved to find ways to strengthen that aspect of security through constitutional means.
“By and large, we all are committed to ensure that these unfortunate trends of killings are brought to end. We all agreed to continue to work very closely in order to address this issue of insecurity and we are confident that things will improve in this area.
“The Senate has its role to play and the security agencies are also committed to play their own role. We hope that over the next couple of weeks, we will begin to take action on some of these things for which we have made commitments”.
Those at the security briefing included the Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, who stood in on behalf of service chiefs as well as Director General, State Security Services, Lawal Daura.
Others are representatives of Inspector General of Police; National Security Adviser; Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service; Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service.
Speaking on the matter, Murray-Bruce who also chairs the Senate Committee on Privatisation, lamented that Nigeria was rapidly degenerating into a lawless country, noting that there were no more rules and regulations in the country.
He said that it was time for the President to act or resign if he was incapable of assuming full control of the affairs of the nation, despite being entrusted with public mandate to enforce the law for the good governance of the country.
The lawmaker posited that herdsmen had turned into a terrorist group and should be treated as such by the government, saying that the Police could no longer contain their violent activities in the country as they go about with more sophisticated weapons.
His words: “It is time the Federal Government of Nigeria act because they have been voted into office; they have an executive function to protect the lives and properties in Nigeria.
“It is disgusting to find pregnant women have their stomach slit, unborn babies removed, and if these herdsmen are allowed to rampage, then frankly speaking, they are a terrorist organisation and a terrorist organisation must be dealt with decisively by the military.
“It is no longer a situation where we call on policemen who do not have the arms or training to face folks with AK 47, well trained militia, those who now occupy lands that belong to Nigeria. If we can fight Boko Haram, we can fight the herdsmen.
“If the security agencies cannot do their job, then the leadership must be fired. You are either in control or you are not. The ministers in charge should resign, Nigerians involved should be fired or resign, otherwise they should be impeached.”
Bruce pointed out that the Senate was now acting as it were the executive arm because of the inefficiency of those in the Executive, urging that the President of the Senate should be made the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is as if the Senate is now the executive arm of government. That is a fact of life. If that is the case, what are we doing about it? If the people responsible for the protection of lives and proprieties in Nigeria cannot do their job, what happens in civilised countries? They are fired.
“If the Federal Government wants the Red Chamber to become the executive in Nigeria, then let us appoint the Senate President to be the President of Nigeria. Let us do the job of the executive because it doesn’t make any sense.
“If Saraki is the only one interested, let him become the President of Nigeria and that solves the problem. We cannot continue like this. We either fix this problem or everybody should shut up and resign from public office,” he added.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja