OPINION BY SIMON KOLAWOLE: Nigerian politicians and their gunmen | TheCable bit.ly/3cctiqn
.@simonkolawole: In my article, ‘A Nation Surrounded by Gunmen’ (February 28, 2021), I lamented that the political authorities are making it difficult for the security agencies to tackle insecurity because of their coded messages.
After reading the article, a retired police commissioner gave me a call. He emphasised just one thing from my article: “Nobody wants to be sacked.” By the time we ended our long conversation, I was totally downcast.
I already had an idea of most of what he was telling me, but the details from his personal experience further weakened me. The long and short of our discussion is that Nigerian politicians need to come clean on much of the anarchy ruining the land.
Let me summarise what he said in just one paragraph: “There is a lot already being said about the corruption in the security agencies, the lack of equipment, the poor welfare, the human rights abuses and other issues.
The one big thing that has not caught the attention of you journalists is the role of politicians in fuelling the insecurity. Most of these people we call Niger Delta militants, bandits, terrorists and armed robbers today were produced by politicians.
When they had been used for elections and dumped thereafter, they took to full-time crime, deploying the arms that were given to them by the politicians. That is partly why we are here. And we are in serious trouble.”
“Simon,” he said. “I can take you through the list of the criminals giving police the toughest time across the country – from the north to the south. Most of them are products of politicians either jostling for power or trying to retain it.
There is no state in Nigeria where politicians don’t have thugs whom they arm at election times. The only place today where we don’t have established political thugs and thug leaders is Abuja.
And it is very easy to understand why: there is no governor or mayor in Abuja. The FCT minister is appointed by the president. If we establish a mayoralty in Abuja today, politicians jostling for the position will start breeding thugs. Abuja will not know peace again.”
After the call, I began to chew on the discussion. I concluded that there is definitely a link between our brand of politics and the rise in gun crimes in Nigeria.
I do not suggest in any way that all crimes are linked to politics and politicians. True, right from the time Nigeria started managing its democracy after colonial rule, elections have always witnessed one form of violence or the other.
But that does not tell the whole story of gun crime in Nigeria; after all, armed robbery started flourishing under military rule and there were cases of assassinations here and there as well. It will therefore be disingenuous to limit violent crimes to civil rule.
I have always argued that politicians are undermining the security agencies. Give police the best personnel, equipment and funding if you like, but we will still be at the mercy of a kill-or-be-killed political culture that produces “youth leaders” and “union excos”.
It is from among these youth leaders, motor park chairmen, road transport associations and street urchins that politicians empower gunmen to intimidate and eliminate their opponents.
Killer weapons to equip the thugs are brought into the country either by land or sea and officials at the borders or ports are usually induced to look the other way. The guns become multi-purpose when election dusts settle.
.@simonkolawole: There are questions I always like to ask for which I am yet to get answers. The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) announces all the time that its officials have seized illegally imported “pump action rifles” – but why do we not hear about prosecution afterwards?

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Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba must surrender ethnic identities to Nigeria | TheCable thecable.ng/igbo-hausa-yor…
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