During the campaigns for the 2023 General Elections, the known militia and pariah state of Nigeria experienced calm, peace and safety. It was nuanced that the sponsors of terrorism, banditry and other crimes were too occupied with the electioneering campaigns.
A few weeks after the elections and announcement of results, the spate of insecurity took over the Nigerian space again. It is quite disheartening to see young men of school age involved in various crimes. Education in Nigeria has been so degraded that most youths view it as a waste of money, time and resources. D
ue to incessant strikes and other bottlenecks in the high institutions, majority of the students have embraced cybercrimes, internet fraud (Yahoo plus) and kidnapping. The university professors on the other hand are used by the incumbent government to perpetuate electoral fraud and announcement of election results marred by irregularities.
A pertinent question seeking for answers is why individuals take up leadership positions in Nigeria? To feather their own nest? Take on an uneasy head bearing a crown? Become famous and popular? Or to be precursors to the demands of common good, improve and make their society better and liveable? Our world must be a crazy place to live in. It is just like solving one problem today and tomorrow another one rears its ugly head.
Do we need a soothsayer to declare that the network of criminality is getting stronger everyday in Nigeria? Several State Governors have abandoned the security of lives and property to providence and fate due to incessant killings and lack of cooperation from the federal government.
Crime rate in Nigeria has taken a new dimension in recent times. All these happenings corroborate the statement that ‘the society we abuse today, will take revenge on us tomorrow’. Politicians and influential personalities are seen in different church denominations thanking God for sparing their lives from bloodthirsty men.
We may not need the analysis of criminologists to validate that the corruption of the best is the worst of all corruption. Conflicts, religious tension, religious intolerance which has often bedeviled the nation are ignored due to the tribalistic minds of our leaders. The wealthy and the rich are not the only ones affected by the high rate of crimes; poor farmers and animal husbandmen are always attacked by armed men.
Moreover, we cannot discuss crime in Nigeria without referring to the APC-led government at the Federal level which promised to end insurgency, terrorism, banditry and other crimes in 2015 but has failed woefully in protecting lives and property. The rate at which young people embrace crime is an indicator of a failure on the part of government.
Ritual money, ritual killings and celebration of evil practices is on the increase. Thuggery and touting were the mechanisms used by the ruling party in some states to win elections. Kidnapping and demand for ransom are always evolving into different forms in the South eastern part of Nigeria. In some parts of Nigeria, Christians do not attend churches again for fear of losing their lives.
Undoubtedly, there is crime in every corner of the world but the rate of crimes in Nigeria is alarming. The dignity, sanctity and sacredness of human life is derided. Even priests, pastors and men of God are not spared in the quest for quick money or innocent blood.
Some Catholic priests have been killed and others kidnapped. The masses in Nigeria are faced with the worst scenario of their life every day. Night life is a thing of the past in some cities in Nigeria. Families, friends, relatives and well-wishers are too scared to attend social events like burials, parties, picnics, fun-seeking, recreational outdoor programmes. Many Nigerians are regretting being a Nigerian in the first place.
As a solution is not forthcoming from the government which is into a social contract with the citizens, many are seeking to take laws into their own hands and protect themselves. The failure of the government to fight crime, prosecute offenders and the courts to sentence them portends a grave danger for Nigerians. In October 2020, the youths took to the streets protesting police brutality.
It all shows that justice is not well served as it concerns crime and corruption. Today, not a significant improvement is recorded. The most corrupt Nigerians are seen among the security agents and the armed forces. The security apparatus in Nigeria has been severely compromised.
Inadvertently, the law enforcement agents take authority from the executive arm of government and our political leaders. The rot in Nigerian leadership and democracy is horrendous. To clean up Nigeria is a great task. Only a competent, capable hand with integrity can make Nigerians smile and sleep with their two eyes closed again.
Northern Kaduna, Benue, Enugu and Imo States have been engulfed in unending conflicts that have claimed so many lives. The impact of high crime rate in Nigeria has affected the citizens physically, mentally, emotionally, financially and otherwise.
The financial crimes perpetrated by political leaders in Nigeria have given vent to all kinds of atrocities in the country. Many people have been turned to widows, widowers, orphans and beggars due to crime. The rate of extortion and brutality by the law enforcement agents leave much to be desired of a country.
Unfortunately, the only thing that our leaders do in the midst of the imbroglio is to express shock, mourn or sympathize. A lot of Nigerians are fearful and depressed due to crime. There is a feeling of helplessness in Nigeria as far as insecurity is concerned. Many have resorted to substance abuse, self-harm and attempted suicide in the wake of unwarranted deaths.
The important question remains: How do we achieve successful prosecution of criminal offenders and dismantle the organized criminal groups? How do we assist and protect people who have fallen victim or witnessed serious crimes? Organized crimes in Nigeria range from human trafficking, armed robbery, hired assassins, kidnapping, rape, prostitution, banditry, terrorism and Fulani herdsmen attacks.
The South West geo-political zone established a security outfit known as ‘Amotekun’ due the several attacks and killings by Fulani herdsmen. In the South East part of the country, the governors established ‘EbubeAgu’ security outfit and Eastern Security Network (ESN) due to wanton loss of lives and property orchestrated by the Fulani herders. All these point to the fact that all is not well with Nigeria.
Finally, all that Nigeria needs is responsible and accountable leaders. It is a noteworthy testimony that leaders are a terror to evil. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil”. Who then should fear the power of political leaders; those who commit crime, or those who criticize government policies or law-abiding citizens? Leaders are given power by God to be a minister of good deeds.
Why should leaders relax, be at rest when evil and crime thrive? A place of leadership is a place of honour. Leadership is simply the practice of positive influence on character, development or behaviour of people without the use of brute force and direct exercise of power.
It is not a title but a task because a leader has many constituencies and needs to be many things to many people. Godly leadership entails promoting righteousness and eschewing evil. Self-reevaluation is crucial in leadership. Leaders must be accountable and not blame others for failures that occur under their watch.