These calls were made in separate interviews with BusinessDaySunday. The citizens said the insecurity situation is depressing and hampering the overall good of Nigeria.
They also urged him to deploy the same energy used in winning the 2023 presidential election to fighting the insecurity challenge besetting the country.
The Tinubu administration will be nine months in power by the end of this month. But the enthusiasm with which many welcomed the administration on May 29, 2023 and the passion with which the new leadership took over the government seem waning today for obvious reasons.
Considering the many promises made at the Presidential Inauguration, especially on fighting insecurity and restoring the economy, the hope of the masses seems dashed as the situations are worse than what they were before the May 29th handover.
There have been talks from the Presidency and some quarters that the President and his team should be given time, and some say the mess left behind by his predecessor is so huge to clean up, among other excuses.
Yet, many others think that Mr. President was aware of the enormous task before aspiring to lead the country and that they need action and not complaint, especially with the new spate of killings across the country.
Aondowase Tyehimba, a Benue-born lawyer who lives in Abuja, blamed the increasing rate of insecurity in the country on adopting wrong strategies and compromises in the execution of even the worst strategy by security operatives who are influenced by their religious and tribal biases and money.
According to him, to win the war against terrorism in the country is going to be difficult because of the political and religious undertones, some sponsors and even some prominent Nigerians (you least expect) are bringing to the table.
“We need to classify bandits, unknown gunmen, kidnappers, Boko Haram, and rifle-wielding herdsmen as terrorists and raise special forces to deal ruthlessly with them.
“You don’t need to vote so much, but make an open show of their killing to serve as a deterrent to potential terrorists. That is the most practical way of fighting insecurity, and not with big funds. The open execution of armed robbers curbed robbery in Nigeria some years ago, let us apply that in dealing with these terrorists,” Tyehimba said.
Citing an instance with Plateau State, where over 300 people have lost their lives to terrorists’ attacks in this new year alone, Yakubu Numan, a serving military personnel from Adamawa State, thinks that Mr. President should give priority to anything that will save human lives, which is one of the oaths he swore to uphold during his inauguration.
“If we do the same thing every time, we will get the same result. The present administration should change the tactics, President Tinubu is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he should insist on what it wants, fire who deserves to be fired, and get the needed hands. The Army has good hands and can deliver, just give the marching order, and put your eyes on it. There have been some success stories by the Army in this fight,” he said.
The military personnel also noted that at the level the insecurity is escalating, there is need for foreign collaboration, especially in technology, surveillance, data and information sharing to enable result-oriented campaigns and raids.
“We as Nigerians all need to work together to curb insecurity. I am in the barracks, but my mother lives in town, her sister lives in the village, our sons, daughters, relatives and friends are out there every day and could be victims.
“Some of these terrorists are our people too, let’s appeal to their conscience, religious and traditional leaders can help with this. We are killing our own and when the government starts killing them, people will remember that they are their sons, what about other people’s families they have killed. There should not be bias or sentiment if we want to be free from these killers. If you have information, give security,” he said.
Ethnic cleansing going on in Plateau
Describing what is happening in Plateau State as ethnic cleansing and the worst security threat in the country, Chijoke Umelahi, an Abuja-based lawyer, thinks that the president should not just declare a state of emergency in the state, but move a substantial number of security personnel to the most vulnerable parts of the state, with a matching order of shoot-at-sight.
“Imagine if a Super Eagles team member is from one of those Plateau villages where his family members have been killed, he will not be able to play for Nigeria, if he is in police, there will always be accidental discharge, if he is in civil service, he will never serve with his mind. We are talking about human lives here and the response has always been statements condemning the killings, yet the perpetrators continue on their killing spree. This should bother the government, it questions their legitimacy, you have power, then use it to safeguard the people. If they put half of the efforts in winning elections into fighting insecurity, Nigeria will be free in one month,” the lawyer said.
To halt the carnage, Bem Hembafan, a retired security officer, who runs private security for estates in Abuja and in Nasarawa State, noted that everything is in the hands of the government because it has very sensitive information on insecurity, which is not public, it has security operatives, it has the ammunition, it has people’s support, but lacks the will power to fight insecurity.
According to him, it is annoying that people are killed every day by the same people, same style, same weapon, they pass through the same route and the government will release the same statement that it condemns the killings, and no action to kill at least one of the killers.
“I am from Gboko in Benue State. What is happening in Plateau State is ethnic cleansing, it is also happening in Benue too. For over 10 years now some tribes have been butchered and every time such killings happen, the government will release statements condemning the killings, and such heinous acts keep happening month after month and year after year. So, who will take the government seriously and their promises, which are never fulfilled?
“If Tinubu wants to be different, let him save innocent lives by changing the past strategies deployed in fighting insecurity because they have never worked. Life for life, kill the bandits as they kill innocent people, kill the Boko Haram terrorists as they terrorise people, kidnap the kidnappers and kill them. If we keep doing eye service in this fight, one day guns will be so cheap and everywhere that the government cannot control again because people will stand to defend their lives as the government cannot and will not.
“Every government knows the killers. President Tinubu should step on toes, is he not the Jagaban? Enforce total lockdown on these terrorists because negotiations have never worked. He should deploy force,” Hembafan said.
From the economic perspective of the insecurity situation, a school of thought is of the opinion that no investor will want to invest in Nigeria now with the escalating insecurity as return on investment is not sure with the worsening insecurity.
Part of the solutions at curbing the escalating insecurity in the country, according to Sam Onikoyi, a Nigerian academia in Brussels, Belgium, is for the president, to travel less out of the country this year, except for international collaboration on salvaging the economy and restoring security, and give attention to boiling issues at home.
“These guys over here mock us when we leave pressing issues at home to attend their parties abroad because they will not do that. It shows insensitivity and will count against them during the election. The notion here is that an African president can leave his country during a civil war to attend a state party in Paris because Paris will always prevail even if he was ousted,” he said.
Speaking further, he explained that Nigeria is like an average family, “if the father is always away, he will know less about his children’s welfare, but the close and observant one will always sort things out before they get out of hand.”
He called on Mr. President and his team to still travel but give priority to Nigeria’s interest, which means many trips may not be necessary this year.
Leadership failure to blame for escalating insecurity
Leadership failures, absence of effective sanctions to serve as deterrent and increasing involvement of security agencies are the recurring issues fingered in the ongoing discourse on the rising insecurity in Nigeria.
In the last four weeks, insecurity has scaled up in Nigeria causing fear and apprehension in the polity.
From the massacre in Plateau State, where over 250 people lost their lives in a horrendous attack to the siege now being laid to Abuja by kidnappers, to the unceasing attacks by bandits in Kaduna, Ekiti, Oyo the situation now seems more challenging than before.
Of recent, the ugly trend has gradually shifted to the South West, with the abduction of the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Philip Aivoji by gunmen along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to the slaughtering of two traditional rulers, kidnapping of pupils and teachers in Ekiti State, and to the latest murder of another Kwara monarch, King Peter Aremu Onikoro, and the kidnapping of his wife right inside the palace. These are dangerous developments that observers believe are not favorable to Nigeria.
At the inception of the administration, Nigerians were hopeful that the President Bola Tinubu’s administration would eradicate insecurity.
But concerned experts, after weighing the sudden rise of cases of insecurity, now believe that the President must act beyond rhetoric.
The President had, at the December 2023 annual Chief of Army Staff conference in Borno, vowed that he would “work assiduously and provide the military with the necessary support to keep troublers of the nation at bay.” He added that “keeping Nigeria secure is one battle I won’t lose.”
Tinubu needs to muster political will to fight insecurity
Freedom Onuoha, a security expert, speaking with BDSunday in Abuja, blamed the sudden surge in the level of insecurity on what he described as “leadership failures.”
He also said: “The truth is that insecurity will continue for a very long time, given the poverty level, high rate of corruption and failure of government to address the crises of unemployment.”
Onuoha noted that the insecurity was a mirror of the decay that had eaten deeply into every fabric of the nation’s economy, adding that “unless the government addresses the issue of poverty, corruption and unemployment, insecurity will continue unabated.”
The security expert wants President Tinubu to muster the necessary political will to confront the security challenges rather than being ‘reactory’”
This came against the backdrop of the President’s reaction to the murder of the two Ekiti Monarchs, which he said he “received with sadness.”
The two Ekiti Monarchs, Samuel Olusola, the Onimojo of Imojo-Ekiti, and Babatunde Ogunsola, the Elesun of Esun-Ekiti, were killed on the way to their respective domains after a security meeting with the state governor. The same day, some school children and teachers were kidnapped within the state.
Mike Ejiofor, another security expert, in his assessment of the President’s record since he assumed office in May, 2023, said Tinubu needed stronger political will to face the issue of insecurity and other challenges facing the nation
“As far as I am concerned, the growing insecurity portends real and serious danger for all Nigerians as everybody is on the edge,” he said.
Ejiofor said that the government must think out of the box, engage more with the local communities as citizens cannot continue to rely on government alone.
Ejiofor, who also expressed concern over the increasing involvement of policemen and other security agencies in criminal activities, said the Inspector General of Police should immediately implement the President’s directives to redeploy police from engagement in VIP escorts.
“We don’t have enough policemen to tackle insecurity; so, I expected the IG to withdraw security attached to the VIP,” he said.
He also called for more military involvement, adding that “the military must be drafted in to strengthen the war against insecurity.
“We have bad eggs everywhere. There should be in-house searching, as this new dimension is now a major problem,” he said.
Lawrence Alobi, a former Commissioner of Police in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), lamented the poor selection process into the Police Force, as well as political interference in the Force operations, a situation he said has helped to diminish professionalism in the Police Force
According to him, “The Police is a micro unit of the society, and this unethical behaviour has its origin in the political interference in the force.”
Alobi also urged the President to address the issue of poor welfare of officers and men of the Police.
“If you have a dog and you neglect the dog, it will turn back against you; government should listen to their challenges and tackle them,” he said.
Alobi, while also expressing concerns over the invasion of the FCT by kidnappers and bandits, also asked government to tighten security around the seat of power.
“As the FCT Police Commissioner, I decided who should be assigned to the VIPs; now the politicians are in control of who should be posted to where and when.
“Even some governors now dictate who should be posted to their state as Police Commissioner; that is bad; it has eroded the operational capabilities of the men and this has also encouraged corruption in the system. This must stop. Let the Police retain its professionalism for better efficiency,” he said.
Senator Iroegbu, a security expert and convener, Geopolitics Series, lamented that the “Tinubu administration did not come to office with any security blue print.
“We have been raising alarm over these problems. The government did not have a blue print, that is why they have been applying this knee-jerk approach.”
He urged the Federal Government to develop the political will to confront insecurity if his administration must make any impact.
But James Omidani, a senior lawyer, noted that the president needs to travel to meet and seek collaborations that will lift the country from its very bad shape.
He argued that, even if a man’s house is burning, sitting to watch it burn down will not help, rather leaving the environment to seek for help.
Some observers counter his argument on the ground that his predecessors had countless of such foreign trips that ended in pilling debt for the country, citing the 2023 Dubai event where Nigeria had unnecessary number of delegates, who were given travel allowances in foreign currency at a time the country was crying no money and high forex.
For them, President Tinubu can fix insecurity if he wants to and they are urging him to do so in order to save the country, especially the poor masses, who have been severely pushed to the wall.