- Post 11 April 2012
- Last Updated on 11 April 2012
- By Idang Alibi
Governance in Nigeria has become too laid back; there seems to be no sense of urgency whatsoever in doing anything and the place is becoming so boring and suffocating that we need some bold and innovative steps to infuse dynamism into the whole system.
To my mind, and if I were president like Jonathan and others before him, the number one item on the national agenda under my watch will not be electricity, roads, dams, schools and other big issues, as important and needful as they so obviously are. Rather, on the day I am inaugurated, I will institute a disarmament programme to retrieve from all Nigerians and foreigners alike arms and ammunition in their hands. Whichever way you look at it, Nigeria is in nothing short of a state of war against itself. Armed robbers, assassins, cultists, religious bigots, crude oil thieves, kidnappers, ritual murderers, vicious nomadic herdsmen, smugglers, tribal warlords and all manner of violent ‘’professionals’’ have declared war against their country. And my thinking is that without a thriving arms and ammunitions ‘industry’, these people would not have so easily held the entire nation to ransom they way they have done now.
I therefore think that we need to probably suspend or give minimal attention to all other matters and focus on disarming Nigerians and the foreigners in our midst of all arms and ammunition. This country is witnessing massive violence and insecurity not mainly because of socio-economic difficulties facing some segments of the population as some social scientists would insist. Our country has become hellish because there are too many guns and other instruments of violence in the hands of too many unauthorised persons.
From the little I am privileged to know, every village in this country has her ‘national’ armoury to defend herself against attack from the next village. This explains why some of our communal wars wrought so much devastation that they look like re-enactments of some scenes in some of the theatres of the Second World war. Anyone in this country who claims not to know that this is a fact is simply living a life of dangerous denial. In fact, I can say boldly that if the President himself keeps his ears close to the ground when he visits his folks back in Otuoke he will get to know that even his village also has her armoury complete with her war idol and shrine, foot soldiers, generals and other appurtenances of war.
Apart from villages and communities who have massive stockpiles of arms for defence against ‘external aggression’, many individuals who can afford it, have lethal weapons which they deploy to less than noble goals. In many of our towns and villages, there are some individuals who are known to be arms merchant. Some motor park touts, drivers and others involved in the transport business across the country are active in the gun-running business. The arms trafficking business in our country is such a flourishing one that some of us are truly frightened. And that is why I pray every day that this country should not disintegrate. For if it does, it will splinter into so many fiefdoms ruled not by able statesmen but by ruthless warlords who trade on violence.
President Jonathan should therefore declare a war against illegal possession of guns and ammunition and pursue such a war with real passion. A tough new law should be made specifying death sentence without option of fine for anyone caught trafficking in or possessing a gun. Let a six-month amnesty be declared after which anyone who does not voluntarily submit his dangerous weapon in exchange for some specified amount would be made to face death by public hanging.
The rationale for advocating an urgent programme of national disarmament is that the primary responsibility of any government is to provide safety and security for the citizenry. Without this, no one can even begin to think of enjoying socio-economic facilities. Development cannot take place if a people do not have a peaceful and secure environment to pursue whatever developmental goals they have.
If I were making this call for national disarmament in the USA where the powerful gun lobbyists live on the blood of people who are violently cut down every day, they will pooh- pooh me arguing that guns don’t kill it is people who do. And i will be sure to respond in the word of Shakespeare that the availability of gun encourages the use of it. Misunderstandings that could have been easily settled with at worse a harmless exchange of bare knuckle fists or at best a shouting match, degenerate to a shooting match because guns are freely available. There are some who deliberately provoke their neighbours to war in order to ‘test’ their new acquisitions.
This nation must wake up to the reality that our number one programme of action to save Nigeria is to commence an immediate dispossession of those who possess arms illegally. Guns are in far too many illegal hands than they are in the hands of those who should possess them legally. Since we have porous borders, i think that this recommended programme should not be restricted to Nigeria. Rather, the Nigerian government should champion this cause at ECOWAS and make it the number one agenda for that sub-regional group.
I was taught in primary school that civilisation is the act of living together in peace and harmony. I cannot say now whether the life we are living today in Nigeria can be described as a civilised one. From my small Idang Alibi Corner where I preside over a computer and where I am completely free from lobbyists, special entrenched interests, party chieftains, greedy and unconscionable powerful traditional rulers, girl friends, scheming mistresses and other comfort women, I tend to see things more clearly and some of our national problems appear to me so simple to solve. Like this particular problem I have identified here, I believe that if we move boldly to control the flow of arms so that they don’t get into unauthorised hands, violence will be reduced to the barest minimum in our country and we can then better focus on development.
Just decree death for purveyors of violence and pursue it with passion and Nigeria will become a place where the hitherto elusive foreign investors will be queuing up to come and live in and do business. And the definition of civilisation which I was taught long ago when I was a child will now apply to Nigeria. So simple.