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Why insecurity persists in Nigeria –Ann-Kio Briggs

Why insecurity persists in Nigeria –Ann-Kio Briggs

By Ngozi Nwoke

Ann-Kio Briggs is a vocal Niger Delta advocate and activist for the rights of the Niger Delta people. In this interview, she speaks on the insecurity in Nigeria, her perceived Buhari’s hatred for the Niger Delta and measures to achieve national unity.

What is your reflection on the insecurity situation in Nigeria?

Nigeria is not secure. Look at what is happening with Boko Haram; the herdsmen, the people the Federal Government has identified as bandits and the people that have invaded the South East and South West who the government have identified as unknown gunmen. I don’t see how any right-thinking person will believe that Nigeria is secure with all that is going on. Nigeria is insecure especially with the porous borders. It’s unfortunate that we have a government that believes that the Fulani herdsmen, Muslims, from other parts of Africa could just stroll into Nigeria and automatically become Nigerians. That is the reality in Nigeria. We have no form of identification. We have no database that records foreigners coming into Nigeria. The states in Nigeria cannot and do not have to go through a process of identifying people who have come into their states; why they have come into the states, where they are staying when they come into the states and what they came to do in the states. Even the level of security in our domestic homes is poor either because it is expensive to afford, or because we don’t believe it is necessary, but whichever way, it is reckless and irresponsible.

Nigeria is behind the ratio of the number of soldiers internationally accepted for countries by their census figures. Nigeria falls behind the equivalent ratio required for the number of policemen it should have. The question is how many Navy personnel, Army and Airforce does Nigeria have? I don’t think we have up to one million soldiers in a country that claims to be over two hundred million citizens. So, the truth of the matter therefore is, there is no security and that is why we see that everyone has become their own security. The situation today is that people who can afford to hire security services have hired the security officers we have for their personal use.

What happens to people who cannot afford to hire security officers? These people become vulnerable to being attacked in their farms, on the road, in their houses. They become victims of insecurity. If this government says it has achieved a level of security from the time it came into office in 2015 till today, it’s a lie and they know it’s a lie. They also know that nobody will take them up on that so they just leave the country as insecure as they want it to be. At the end of the day, it’s only God that protects and secures us in this country. That is our belief for those of us who are Christians.

The issue of insecurity in Nigeria has been stressed extremely, what are your suggestions on how insecurity can be curbed, if not completely, but to a minimal level?

The Federal Government must start by allowing the state government to autonomously carry out their security affairs. The Federal Government has no business in the internal security of the state if Nigeria is actually a federation.

You cannot just copy the name Federal Government, when you are not practising the federalism you claim to be. If it is a Federal Government, Rivers State should have its own police. For instance, Rivers State Police, so that the internal security of the entire state, including the twenty-three local governments of Rivers State, is in the hands of the Rivers State government.

So, if we want a solution to the insecurity, we must adhere to this fact. This is also why we are calling for a restructuring in Nigeria. We have been calling for the restructuring of Nigeria for so long and it has become obvious that no one is willing to restructure Nigeria. As for me, I know and believe that restructuring is the best solution for Nigeria and I will continue to advocate and call for restructuring of Nigeria. I also know that unless we take drastic measures to force the Federal Government to agree that restructuring is the way forward for Nigeria’s progress, Nigeria will not be restructured.

And I want it to be on record that when I was proffering solutions to Nigeria’s leadership challenges, restructuring was top on the list. Not because the APC government will accept it, but so that it will be recorded that I consistently called for restructuring of Nigeria. So, when you ask what are the measures to curb insecurity in Nigeria, I am saying that the first measure is to restructure Nigeria.

Then you allow the states to be responsible for the things that federalism allows them to be responsible for and not the things that the constitution has taken away from them. We must devolve certain powers that the Federal Government is exercising today that are in the constitution of which by right should not be. The Federal Government has no business having a teaching hospital in the states. That is the responsibility of the state. The healthcare system should be solely the responsibility of the state government.

The division among ethnic regions has become a threat to national unity, what is your opinion on the causes of these divisions?

Let me start by saying that ethnic nationality begins with identity. If we understand that no nationality is better or greater than the other, then there would be no reason for the ethnic war. All of us are equal Nigerians. No nationality can claim to own Nigeria than the other nationality and no nationality can claim to be better Nigerian than the other nationality. We are all equal nationalities. As a matter of fact, the only ethnic nationality that came into Nigeria from outside and should be considered as strangers in Nigeria, are the Fulani. Anyone who want to argue that fact should go to history, it doesn’t change the truth. Having said that, the division within nationalities in today’s Nigeria is actually more of political division and not ethnic division. That is why I have maintained the fact that we should begin to realise that the issues in Nigeria should not be political party based.

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The disunity we have is fueled by political sentiments. The politicians and the executives that are loyal to these politicians must realise that they are actually being unfair to themselves. This is the reality. The disunity and disagreement among regions are also caused by religious fanatics like the Jihadists, Boko Haram and others, who force people to believe in whatever they believe. Why do you have to force people to believe in your religion? Why do you have to kill people who do not believe your religion?

I am a Christian and Christianity does not force you to believe in it. This is why I do not believe in NYSC, which is another cause of ethnic division. I know why NYSC was set up and it was a good idea but it has never worked. For instance, I am from Rivers State, I have never lived anywhere else but in Rivers State. And because I love my state, I would always love to make inputs and contribute to the growth and development of my state. The sad reality is that Youth Corps members from the Niger Delta region are sent to the Northern states where there are no securities and nothing to stay for; they serve for one year, only to return home to nothing because those from the Northern region who are deployed to serve in the wealthy regions such as the “Niger Delta” end up taking their place in the corporate industry.

The only good thing I have seen that has come out of NYSC is that people meet there and get married. So, I believe that NYSC, which I consider a cause of national and ethnic disunity, should be restricted to the states. What we have in Nigeria today is one section of the country that thinks they are bigger and better than other sections. Other sections think they own Nigeria, while others are their slaves. How can you have NNPC that is a direct result of the oil and gas that is coming from the Niger Delta being run by people completely from another state? You cannot even find 40 percent of people from the Niger Delta working in NNPC. These are the causes of the ethnic disunity and until we address them, it may be impossible to achieve national unity.

What are your expectations for the 2023 presidential election?

My expectations have always been what it is for many years which is only based on justice, liberty and equity. These are my expectations for the 2023 presidential election. Now the question is, have I ever experienced these expectations in the previous administrations? The answer is No. Looking at how the six geo-political zones are structured, you would agree with me that the Northern states have more representation in the National Assembly than other zones because they have the highest number of states and local governments than others. We also know that revenue allocation is based on the number of local governments and states.

Now the monthly revenue that goes to the North, goes to 19 states, while the revenue that goes to the South, goes to 17 states and out of these 19 states in the North, none of these states produce the revenue that they are getting. This is the reality. Only nine out of the seventeen states from the South produce oil and gas. So basically, the North gets more of what they do not produce and the South gets less of what they produce. That is the truth. Even politically, the North gets more political representation than any other zone. They have more senators, more House of representatives and more local governments. The question is, where is justice and equity? There is this long-held belief that people from the North have more political sense than people from the South. But the truth is that they don’t. What they have is the ability to oppress, the ability to impose fear on the people in the South that ought to see themselves as equals as any other nationality in the North.

So, when we talk about 2023 presidential expectations, the North has the right to give their presidential slot to whoever they choose but what I am opposed to is them constantly giving the ticket to a Northern Muslim and not giving it to Christians in the North. The North is made up of Muslims and Christians. I see no reason why a Christian from the North cannot become the president of Nigeria under the Northern rotation.

The Yoruba have done eight years of presidency, the South-South has done three years of vice presidency, and have done one-year constitutional president and elective position as president for four years; the North have done constitutional one year of vice president and elective four years of vice president, the North is finishing four years of second tenure that will take us into 2023 of eight years and the South-West is finishing off its vice-presidential position of eight years by 2023.

So, if we agree on the true meaning of justice and equity, the presidency should rotate back to the South-South. The statement by the Northern Governors Forum that the presidency must come to the North is not an argument. It is this same North that was shouting during Goodluck’s tenure that the presidency must come back to the North. We are also saying that the presidency must come back to the South-South. I am from Southern Nigeria, I am from River State, I am from the Ijaw ethnic nationality.

There is this impression that the North has the power to decide who becomes the president in Nigeria. That thought must change. I do not agree with that. It is oppressing and I do not accept it. The North has no right to decide who becomes president. It is only the electorate that decide who becomes the president of Nigeria. If we do not want trouble in this country, the president of Nigeria must come from the South-South. The South-West should not even think of having a Yoruba president because they have done so for eight years already.

How would you assess the Niger Delta under Buhari’s administration?

I like to make it clear that the hatred of Buhari towards the Niger Delta region is obvious. Even Obasanjo hated the people of the Niger Delta during his tenure. They can all deny it till the moon falls but that is the fact. Buhari’s attitude shows that he has no time, regard and respect for human lives in the Niger Delta. When he went to the United Nations on the 28th of September 2015 to address the United Nations Security Council, what he supported as the president of Nigeria was the self-determination right of Palestinians. That was his focus. Yet he is a man that is persecuting proponents of self-determination in his own country. That is hypocritical.

During that same meeting in the UN, he was asked by a journalist about what he would do for the Niger Delta region and he said that he should not expect to do for the five percent that didn’t vote for him what he would do for the 87 percent that voted for him. Bearing in mind that his campaign agenda was on restructuring and the clean-up of Ogoni land, these unfulfilled promises show deception because he has not restructured Nigeria and he will not restructure Nigeria. The Ogoni clean-up is definitely not going to happen in his tenure. He has done nothing for the Niger Delta.

Under his tenure, the NDDC has had no board for seven years now. Under his tenure, the development that is claimed is not happening in the Niger Delta. So, basically what governance is in Nigeria is what the cabal decides to happen in Nigeria. The Buhari-led administration has done absolutely nothing for the Niger Delta region till this day.

-Sun

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Posted by on Jan 17 2022. Filed under Headlines, Niger Delta. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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