The essence of governance is the welfare of the governed by the government, which encompasses first and foremost, the security of lives and properties, and freedom from want. When these are absent, the society is thrown into mutual suspicion, distrust and wars; this has been the fate of Nigeria since independence. The country’s security forces keep claiming that they are making concrete efforts confronting terrorists; it is not uncharitable to say their effort is not yet good enough. And this speaks to the new government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Several weeks ago, at the decoration of the new Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs with their new ranks at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Bola Tinubu said the security forces are recording positive results in the security challenges facing the country because of the team spirit among the newly appointed Service Chiefs. But there is presently little to show in the fight against insecurity in the land. Lately, Nigeria has become frighteningly unsafe. Daily, the country is being overtaken by a progressive escalation of insecurity.
Simply put, banditry and terrorism. On Thursday, September 7, 2023, to be precise, a Catholic seminarian, Naaman Ngufe, was burnt to death during an attack on the rectory of his parish in north central Nigeria when assailants reportedly stormed the rectory of St. Raphael parish in the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan around 8 p.m. According to Bishop Julius Kundi of Kafanchan, the attackers were aiming to kidnap the Parish Priest. When they failed in their attempt to enter the Father’s house, they set it on fire. The two priests were able to escape, but unfortunately, the seminarian was burned inside. The local authorities failed to intervene during the attack.
The assault was said to have lasted for more than an hour, but there was no reaction or support from the military forces. A kilometer away, the report has it, there was a checkpoint, but there was a total absence of reaction. At every instance of killings, kidnapping, arson, and other heinous acts, the narrative, to date, is that security forces rush to the scene of crime after the deed has been done, and the terrorists have escaped. Local authorities impose curfew, issue empty assurance of safety, and elected public officials lament the carnage from the safety of their well-appointed havens.
On its part, the Federal Government that controls wholly, the instruments of law enforcement give tired marching orders that produce little or no result. Official response to acts of terrorism in the eight years of the Buhari administration was so irritatingly predictable and ineffective. The murder of Ngufe, the Seminarian and many others, in fact, calls for serious action on the part of government. Government at various levels this time, beginning from top to bottom should be awake and ensure that the lives and properties of the people are safe and secure.
There should be drastic reduction in the rates at which vices take place in the country, including the powers of political thugs, who in a way try to undermine the present government because of their closeness to those in authority. Black spots across the country, including motor garages should be identified and placed on the watch list by security agents because everyone is at risk. It is also one of the ways to tackle insecurity that has festered all these years. The role of government is very clear in the constitution, which is protection of lives and properties of the citizens. Anything aside from this, is antithetical to democratic governance.
Tinubu must move out of, and away from this “say much and do nothing” approach. President Tinubu’s primary task as Nigeria’s President, Chief Executive, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, is to fully appreciate and uphold section 14 (2)(b) of the constitution. This provision says that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government…” He indeed, attested to this in his statements and campaign documents, and Nigerians have every right to hold him to his words, as well as assess him continually on the strength of their being fulfilled.
First, in his inaugural speech, President Tinubu noted, and correctly too, that “neither prosperity nor justice can prevail amid insecurity and violence”. He promised that, “security shall be the top priority of our administration”. Furthermore, he committed his government to “defend the nation from terror and all forms of criminality that threaten the peace and stability of our country and our sub-region”. We call on governments at all levels to make good governance a priority and shun anything that is anti people.
The welfare and survival of the people must not be toyed with in the new dispensation, even going forward, if we must make progress as a nation. Nigerians are anxiously waiting for a change for the better. If, as they say, morning shows the day, this new sheriff in town must do things in a different and result-oriented way. And he should do it now.