On a particular day, I was at a cyber café when a military officer in plain clothes brought his younger relative to do an online registration for the Nigerian Police recruitment exercise. He narrated the story of how members of the SARS, were pursuing some ‘Yahoo boys’ who ran into their barracks while he and some other colleagues were on duty at the barrack’s main gate. He said they denied the SARS official entry because the boys were residents in the barracks (probably children of soldiers too) and they ‘settled’ them later. The funny thing is the plain clothes soldier admitted to their actions being wrong but went ahead to argue that at least the ‘Yahoo boys’ game them some money and were only scamming people online. He felt that was a lesser evil unlike politicians looting rather than equitably distributing the national cake and resources. He went ahead to say that SARS engaged in extra judicial killings, harass innocent citizens to extort them and it was a good way to call their bluff.
So, I thought to myself, what if the military officer and his colleagues on duty that day had handed the boys over to the SARS officers but made sure they followed up on the case and ensure due process is followed? What if the military officers were properly remunerated with good working tools and great working conditions? Will they have settled for paltry sums from ‘Yahoo boys’ rather than do the right thing? Or is proper remuneration too much a price to pay for military officers who lay down their lives to ensure that the citizenry is safe? This occurrence seems minor but ask yourself what it would look like if this happened between armed robbers or Boko Haram and the officers bulged. Or even if your child is used as a ritual by one of these ‘Yahoo boys’?
‘Yahoo Yahoo’ is just one of the few ways that young people engage in criminal and illegal activities due to the high unemployment rate in Nigeria. There are practically no jobs in Nigeria. On the contrary, some people claim Nigerian youths are unemployable and decry the poor educational system as the reason why unemployment is rife. Some other persons would say Nigerian youths are not entrepreneurial. Apart from the fact that our educational system is bad which isn’t a fault of young people, where are the refineries, cotton mills, car factories, and food processing industries to employ the teeming youths? Whereas, billions of naira are being looted and the wealth that is supposed to be shared by the masses are expended by the collective few. Where does unemployed, idle young people do to the state of our security? It is saddening to hear that young people are major tools to perpetrate these sectarian killings. And even more saddening to know that politicians sponsor the purchase of weapons for young people, perhaps for their election riggings, who later use it to perpetrate evil when the chips are down from the politicians.
So where do we go from here? Identify issues which threaten our national security, pull our unity at the seams and proceed to tackle them holistically and effectively. Unemployment, poor working condition, resources and even remuneration. How do you give military officers 10 bullets and expect 10 of them to go on a counter attack of Boko Haram in a community when Boko Haram fighters go with over 50 fighters and weapons of mass destruction?
Apart from putting out effective measures to correct the security havoc on ground already, other underlying issues like equitable distribution of wealth, implementation of policies and laws, unbiased judiciary, ethno religious issues, corruption and resulting poverty, bad governance, porous borders, and illiteracy especially in Northern Nigeria need to be tackled. In our local communities, we should take it upon ourselves to hold our local government chairman, councilors and ourselves responsible by ensuring we have the data of individuals in our locales.
Nigeria has assisted so many African and even non-African countries in combating her security challenges and handling our security challenges is not something beyond our capacity if the political and citizenry will is there. Stake holders need to be engaged on the various security issues we face, defaulting persons, bodies, civil servant, ministers be prosecuted when their actions or inactions aggravate our security issues. The herdsmen who take to slaughtering people as a hobby have families, relatives, communities and can be tracked. More so, there can be round table sessions with other herdsmen to innovate around ranching problems so that there are fewer deadly clashes.