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President Tinubu, fix this security mess

When will Tinubu and his team start to protect Nigerians from these kidnappers?

By TUNDE AKANDE

We buried my friend and cousin, Saheeb Adeniyi Adisa (aka Salumba), Saturday, 8, July 2023, in Ibadan. You wonder why Salumba should be the topic of a prose? Salumba is a metaphor for unwarranted deaths in Nigeria. Until trouble get so close to humans, they don’t really feel it. Somebody else’s trouble or pain is another story down the line but when you experience it, when that trouble is yours is when you really feel it. I felt the full weight of kidnapping within the week Salumba, my cousin, and friend was kidnapped by some Fulani herdsmen at Mowe, some 48 kilometers off bustling Lagos. Salumba was returning to his home in Lekki after a visit to somebody in Mowe when he suddenly heard a rain of bullets on his car. He waited and was apprehended by these death merchants who are suspected to be migrants from the Sahel. They have defied a government, that of Muhammadu Buhari who just finished his eight-year disastrous tenure on May 29, 2023, and they won’t let Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the new helmsman breathe, at least give him some respite to settle down before they resume their ransom for death business.

While Ahmad Yerima, the first governor of Zamfara State in 1999 when the reins of government was returned to civilians and from where kidnapping for money started, was telling President Bola Tinubu he had to negotiate with these kidnappers, a band of them arrested Salumba in Mowe, Lagos. In the North they are bandits, in the south, they are kidnappers. They will only release their victims if his friends and relatives can mobilize and pay an amount they dictate, usually in millions. Salumba was an accountant but we his friends and relatives can never mobilize 50 million naira demanded by his captors. Where will we get it in these days of subsidy removal and naira devaluation. We are graduates of universities, most of us have retired but the thought of getting 50 million naira is a mirage. Negotiation began and Salumba’s captors showed mercy agreeing to set him free if we could only pay 5 million naira. Salumba was a pastor and yours sincerely also is one and so while no contribution was possible from me, I contributed to prayers and supplication, others did too, Muslims and Christians.

While those others who could contribute their widow’s mite continued making efforts, I told God to let the release of his servant come in the form of miracle, that these marauders will release him without taking a kobo. And so, when news came that because the kidnappers had gone to raid a church where they had killed the pastor and arrested about five congregants in the same location, the security team of Ogun State had gone to confront them and, in the process, Salumba had been rescued and was in safety, I felt the triumph of one whose prayer is answered. Alas! that was a lie, because when the kidnappers heard the of the presence of security, they took Salumba who they had taken along with them hoping they would meet the team that was bringing the ransom. But they shot him in obvious retaliation. They thought the security presence was arranged by the team taking the ransom to them. My prayers were not answered, that was pain enough but the greater pain was to witness a friend, a servant of God, a man I had never seen in anger, a very brilliant man who is living his life as quietly as enabled by the impossible situation of Nigeria, caged in a white casket and lowered in a grave dug in the front of his very modest small house which was still undergoing construction in the presence of his wife and children and relatives; everyone wailing. Salumba was 69, a very good age in Nigeria where people hardly turn 50 before one calamity or accident or ailment snap them away but as said by his immediate younger brother, the pain is that “we could not rescue him.” This younger brother is a retired director at the federal civil service. He wept like a baby. I felt his pain and others joined the weeping. This man had served the nation meritoriously, but the nation had refused to protect his brother.

I didn’t get to ask Salumba but I’m sure he must have voted for Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the last presidential election that ushered Tinubu to power. A friend told me he was somehow close to Tinubu through another cousin who is a politician. So, Tinubu could not save his friend and one that voted for him and contributed to him being the president. What could Bola Ahmed Tinubu have done to save this electorate? Tinubu has paid every attention to finance and the economy, but he had done nothing on security. We have heard of subsidy removal, floating of the naira but apart from the appointment of the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu who is still making promises and doing nothing, and the service chiefs who do not hold any hope than the usual rhetoric Nigerians are used to, Tinubu has taken no serious action to curb the unwarranted deaths of Nigerians like Salumba. Nigerians can bear the pain of subsidy removal and galloping food prices but the pains of unwarranted death in the hands of criminal elements among Fulani herdsmen may not be tolerated. The family of Salumba for example mentioned the “cruel” death of the father, husband, brother, uncle and cousin in the hands of kidnappers when they announced his death. Friends, church associates, cousins, wife, aunties, brothers, children etc who wept during the burial did not because Salumba died but because kidnappers killed him cruelly. Salumba was not in war but was cut down by a kidnapper’s bullet in a forest in his fatherland by marauders who possibly travelled from parts of West Africa and the Sahel to wreak havoc in the land,

When will Tinubu and his team start to protect Nigerians from these kidnappers? I think Tinubu is not well positioned to do it and so the nation may have to live with this evil for a long time to come. Why would Tinubu not be able to do it? It is because security involves more that appointments or braggadocio. Buhari did all those. It involves more than rhetoric. Security lies at the root of the social and economic relations in Nigeria. The economic wizardry of Tinubu’s demand and supply economists will achieve nothing until there is security and there will never be security until behemoth and diverse Nigeria is decentralized into regions. Restructuring of the federation is a condition necessary to stopping kidnapping and unknown gunmen and Boko Haram insurgency. Tinubu cannot hope to sit in cozy Aso Rock in Abuja and know the condition of Salumba in Lagos and Ibadan or the condition of Emeka in Awka and Enugu or even the condition of Musa in Kano and Zaria. The closest government to Salumba is his local government and his state government. Until Nigeria is restructured, Salumba and his co-compatriots, Emeka and Musa will continue to be victims of untamed herdsmen, dissatisfied IPOB and religious bunkum, Boko Haram who think education is a sin. Salumba, Emeka and Musa will continue to be buried in their unfinished houses in an unfinished Nigeria.

Tinubu has to brace up and as a matter of priority initiate a process of dividing Nigeria into six regions where each region will control its resources and have its police. If anybody thinks the Nigeria Army and the police as presently constituted can tackle insecurity, that person deceives himself. Asari Dokubo, the Niger Delta militant with his private army has told Tinubu the state of our military. He has dared that if anybody arrests him, he will meet the military bullet-for-bullet. With all its recently acquired military arsenal, the Army is a plaything for these security violators. Our military is as disunited and disoriented as the nation itself. A retired general told me how he disdained the military uniform he wore for 35 years because of the bad state of the Army. A well-restructured Nigeria will have governors over big territories with control over their own affairs and resources and with police that knows their terrain and well equipped to confront any security threat taking orders from the governor. This, Tinubu’s predecessor was not able to do because at heart he was a Fulani and not a Nigerian. Would Bola Ahmed Tinubu be otherwise?

Tunde Akande is both a journalist and pastor. He earned a Master’s degrees in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos.

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