The National Broadcasting Commission recently fined Trust Television Network, Multichoice (DSTV), TSTV, and NTA-Startimes each N5 million for airing a documentary about bandits, and threatened to sue the BBC for a similar programme. These actions are unnecessary and distracting. Prior to this, Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, had threatened fines against them for what he called the “glorification of terrorism” in their individual documentaries, which included interviews with bandit commanders. The Federal Government should focus its wrath and tools of coercion towards the many terrorists posing a threat to the corporate survival of the nation rather than harassing the media.
The elite in the federal government and the northern states should also begin to reverse the policies and acts that give criminals more leeway and deal with the underlying issues that produce and prolong instability. The attack on the media demonstrates that President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.) and his administration continue to downplay the severity of the threat, returning to their accustomed state of inaction, and placing blame on others.
The media outlets were categorically merely performing their legal obligation. Undoubtedly, terrorism and insecurity are global ills that affect many nations, with sub-Saharan Africa acting as their “centre of gravity,” per the Global Terrorism Index. However, the elite of Nigeria take activities that help them maintain their influence locally. The government and its authorities have utterly failed to protect people’s lives and property, curb crime and criminal activity, and find, apprehend, and hold accountable the terrorists of various stripes who are destabilising the nation.
Similarly to this, the elite—including previous northern state governors, clergy, and established institutions over time fostered an environment favourable to insecurity and terrorism by pursuing policies and acting in ways that encourage it. They ought to alter their course and stop the nation’s descent towards anarchic collapse.
The documentaries merely demonstrate the ineptitude of the government. The intelligence services would be required to explain why they had been unable to locate and raid the bandits’ sanctuaries for such a long time elsewhere.
The horror of the disintegrating Nigerian unification is that the elite unintentionally promoted insecurity, impunity, and entitlement by exploiting and politicising religion above unifying virtues. Fanatics who feel that the state has not gone far enough in imposing sectarian diktats have turned to violent jihadism by spreading religion in contravention of the constitution and infringing on liberties.
Corresponding to this, a culture of impunity has been cultivated as a result of years of brigandage, mass killings, and violent incursions onto farms by Fulani herders/militants in North-Central and Southern Kaduna State. The herders routinely assert and demand unrestricted rights to nonexistent “grazing routes” and “grazing reserves,” including the right to occupy state forest reserves, just like Buhari and other regime players.
Non-state entities like Boko Haram, Ansaru, and ISWAP act similarly in the areas they control when illegal religious police in many northern states seize and destroy alcohol shipments and violate other people’s rights to freedom of assembly, dress, and religion.
Therefore, both the federal and state governments should deal with the causes of insecurity. These include illiteracy, squatterdom, and fanaticism of any kind. According to a recent estimate, there are now 18.5 million youngsters not attending school in Nigeria. According to the Universal Basic Education Commission, Kano State has the highest percentage; other states with high percentages include Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, and Bauchi. Crime and terrorism are fueled by illiteracy, poverty, and unemployment.
The federal and state governments ought to halt their support for initiatives that prolong poverty. They should put in place sensible economic policies, cease wasting public funds, and abolish the almajiri system, which produces hordes of impoverished, unemployed, and impressionable children.
Some states are reaping the firestorm after sowing flammable seeds. The 12 northern states that enforce religious rules have degenerated into bloodshed and criminality rather than peace and constructive endeavours. The cost is being borne by the entire nation.
More exists. Abubakar Baraje, a prominent politician, once acknowledged that the Fulani who were causing security issues in the nation had been invited in to aid in the election’s success. The Fulani refused to leave after the vote. The Emir of Muri also recounted that murderous Fulani herdsmen had been kidnapping, killing, and raping on communities since they “welcome” them and settled them in the forests. Some authorities have been appeasing bandits with a dubious amnesty that promotes crime instead of chasing the invaders out and deporting them.
Deborah Yakubu, an undergraduate at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, was lynched in May for supposed blasphemy, prompting a preacher to exclaim, “There is no question that she deserved death, but the question is who should execute her and how.” Ironically, the same administration that fired the head imam of the Apo Legislative Quarters Mosque for opposing the Buhari administration chose to disregard the venomous outburst.
Despite proof that a minister Buhari keeps earlier held extreme religious views, A nation that has been ranked as the third most terrorised in the world cannot afford such an offence.
The government is in charge of apprehending bandits and rescuing their kidnapped victims from the woods. Every policy and action taken by the federal and state governments that tends to promote impunity should be reversed. Governments should respect Nigeria’s secularism and focus on fostering production, generating employment, fostering good governance, providing infrastructure, and providing social services. The elimination of the out-of-school phenomena and mandatory mass education should be prioritised.
To expeditiously revise the 1999 Constitution and support state police, the National Assembly, state assemblies, and the governors of the 36 states should work together.
Stop using the media as a scapegoat, Buhari and his administration. Media organisations being harassed should file lawsuits to oppose tyranny.