BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

The Nigerian State and the Abuja-Kaduna train mishap

Kaduna State, the erstwhile capital and industrial centre of the old Northern Region, is now synonymous with pains and anguish. This untoward situation is due to Nigeria’s inability to address the worsening insecurity in that area of the country.

Terrorists in that state are becoming more daring and brazen by the day. This has been encapsulated in the manner and frequencies of their dastardly attacks on innocent indigenous people, mostly in Southern Kaduna – a region that prides itself as one of the major agricultural belts in Nigeria. Their horrendous attacks have also claimed the lives of Nigerians resident in other states who happen to be passing by when terrorists carry out their antics.

The latest attacks have turned some Nigerians into orphans, widows and widowers. Notable among those who died in the recent train bombing were the secretary-general of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Musa Lawal Ozigi; TUC chairman, Kwara State, Akin Akinsola; a young medical doctor, Chinelo Megafu Nwando, and Abdul Isa Kofarmata, a director at the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). In addition, several other Nigerians were wounded while some were abducted.

We hold the view that the pervasive killings, kidnappings and destruction of public facilities in Nigeria is a manifestation of poor inter-agency cooperation between and among the various security agencies in the nation

The March 28, 2022, bombing of the Abuja-Kaduna rail track came about six months after the same rail track was attacked by terrorists. It also came barely 72 hours after the Kaduna airport was attacked by the same terrorists. In all of these, innocent Nigerians, who were out to make a living, lost their lives. The growing market size of the kidnapping industry has been attributed as one of the major causes.

Meanwhile, Nigerians are baffled as to why terrorists could persistently attack the Abuja-Kaduna rail yet again when another one occurred less than six months ago. Questions that agitate the minds of right thinking Nigerians bother on the identity of the attackers and their missions.

People want to know why Nigerian security agencies are always “on top of the situation,” only after the attackers must have wreaked havoc on their innocent victims. Questions are also being asked concerning why such attacks could not be prevented, especially in a state that records terrorists’ attacks on daily basis. Or put differently, is the problem really a matter of the presence of many ungoverned spaces in the Northern part of the country?

In the process, the facilities and rail tracks of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) have come under attacks in recent times. It would be recalled that in May 2021, the NRC recorded five instances of vandalism of its rail tracks. On May 8, 2021, the Kaduna-Kano rail track was vandalised and three people were arrested by the security agencies. The Warri-Itakpe line was also in the news for the wrong reason on May 14, when five vandals were arrested. Eagle-eyed security agents arrested another set of saboteurs at the Dalle village in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State. What is more, the Nasarawa-Benue axis of the rail track was also vandalised, and luckily, the syndicate members were arrested.

We are of the opinion that the few arrests made so far will not deter future attacks on public infrastructure. For instance, the theft of hand-rails installed to help protect pedestrians has not attracted the kinds of punishment that will instil fear in the minds of would-be perpetrators. This explains why the public hand-rails and other steel reinforcements disappear on major highways.

Back to the rail-tracks, the security agencies must go after the buyers of these stolen public items. It is a value chain that involves a number of syndicates, which, as long as all the criminal elements are not apprehended, they will still be training future saboteurs to wreak more havocs. It should be easy to arrest these elements since some of the vandalised items are not things one can sell in the open market.

Read also: Kaduna train attack eyewitness account: How mobile technology saved lives

Another issue that is worth considering is the submission by the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, that N3 billion worth of equipment – helicopters, drones and other surveillance gadgets – would be needed to monitor the rail tracks in the country.

According to him, this request was not granted. He also emphasised the need to engage the locals to monitor those tracks. Even if the N3 billion is made available now, it cannot bring back the lives already lost. But with Nigeria facing a cash crunch, one would have expected the Honourable Minister to have started with the engagement of the locals, which, had he submitted proposal for this alone, could have prevented the dastardly act.

A number of reasons encourage this position. One, it will increase the level of employment generation in Kaduna State. It will also enhance local content, and create room for timely local intelligence gathering, which drones and helicopters might not be able to generate.

It is also a shame that despite Kaduna State being the home of the leading military and security posts in Nigeria, daily killings of the locals still go on unabated. We are therefore using this medium to call those in charge of security of the beleaguered states of Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, Benue, Plateau, and Katsina, that the Nigerian armed forces and the para-military – the Police, DSS, and their sister agencies to be alive to their responsibilities.

We hold the view that the pervasive killings, kidnappings and destruction of public facilities in Nigeria is a manifestation of poor inter-agency cooperation between and among the various security agencies in the nation. Indeed, as long as the various security agencies do not collaborate, terrorists will continue to have a field day.

All told therefore, it is time for the Nigerian State to wake up and live up to its prime responsibility of ensuring the security of lives and property. This is really the minimum that is expected from a social formation that lays some claims to Statehood.

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