Let’s revisit the Libyan revolution. By the time Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown and remaining stronghold, falls, the sun would have finally set on Gaddafi’s nearly 42-year reign. He seized power on September 1, 1969. It is not unlikely he may flee to Algeria, which is already host to some members of his family. That the National Transitional Council, NTC, is firmly on ground in Tripoli is no longer in doubt. The end of Ramadan prayers at the “Martyrs Square”, the former Green Revolution Square, was a strong enough statement. No wonder Russia, which refused to endorse the NATO campaign in Libya has now formally recognised the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. Many more high profile endorsements would come. But beyond that, the news coming out of Libya of NTC soldiers executing black people extra-judicially is quite disturbing. And Libyan blacks are not excluded. They accuse them of being Gaddafi’s mercenaries. Among these people are said to be Nigerians and Ghanaians. While the leaders of the NTC have a legitimate right to be angry at mercenaries who allegedly worked for Gaddafi, international law does not permit mercenaries to be executed summarily. They should be treated as prisoners of war, including Libyan soldiers who fought against them. Libya belongs to them all.
The NTC leadership should move swiftly to ensure that blacks do not become target practice for young men who are euphoric at their successful toppling of a brutal dictator. They should not soak their victory in the blood of innocent souls. The steps they take from now on will determine how soon Libya can settle down to chart a path towards democracy.
It is curious that the NTC leadership is refusing assistance from the UN in respect of a military force to assist in post-Gaddafi peacekeeping. They must have their reason for turning down the offer. That is one big financial relief for Ban Ki-Moon, UN secretary general, who must have been having sleepless nights on how to raise fresh funds for such assistance. However, there is one very urgent assignment for the secretary-general. He should rally the organisation’s members, especially those which have already recognised the NTC to prevail on the new Libyan leaders to guarantee the safety of all foreigners, including alleged mercenaries in Libya.
Jonathan’s Security Headache
That Boko Haram delivered so devastating a blow in Abuja certainly did not surprise many Nigerians. What would have surprised us is if the attack on the United Nations building had been nipped in the bud. The reaction of the Federal Government in the wake of the bombing of the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja last June showed that the security agencies are ill-prepared for the security challenges of these times. In the aftermath of that bombing, soldiers were drafted to man the numerous checkpoints in Abuja. The ensuing chaos resulted in traffic jams that grounded activities in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. The futility of the measure, searching for terrorists on the major roads of the FCT, was so glaring to even the most illiterate Nigerian. Abuja started to breathe easily again only when the soldiers returned to their barracks. There is no doubt that the military campaign launched against the terrorist group in Maiduguri, Borno State, may have succeeded in checkmating some of their activities. What is not in doubt, however, is that the ”scorched earth” policy has equally succeeded in driving them not only underground but into some other states in the North.
A gang whose number was put at 16 and claiming to be Boko Haram went on the rampage recently in Adamawa State where they gunned down many people. And those who have been arrested in respect of the bombing of the UN building have been traced to Kano in Kano State. What these developments tell us is that the members of Boko Haram are spreading their tentacles, and that many Nigerians are very sceptical of present efforts by the nation’s security agencies at securing their lives and properties. Or how else do we interpret the absence of inter-agency co-operation? According to the Department of State Security, DSS, a signal was sent out many days before the Abuja bomb blast to sister agencies as to the imminent threat from Boko Haram, but the office of the National Security Adviser said it never received such a signal.
Yet, his office is supposed to co-ordinate the activities of the various agencies. The only simple interpretation that stares a layman in the face is that there is a huge communication gap in the nation’s security apparatus. Perhaps inter-agency rivalry has resulted in a situation where the agencies are working at cross-purposes. And it is the nation, albeit Nigerians, that is the worse for it.
Of course, the buck stops on President Goodluck Jonathan’s desk. As commander-in-chief, his first duty is to enforce law and order. For many years now, our country has practically returned to the primitive age where criminals operate with impunity. Armed robbers roam the land and get away with their loot. Not too long ago, kidnapping for ransom was almost upstaging armed robbery. Assassinations no longer make real headline news, because they have become ubiquitous. In most cases nobody ever gets arrested for these crimes. And when the police succeed in making arrests, prosecution is shoddy because it is either the case is not thoroughly investigated or it is compromised. This is why many Nigerians do not believe in our justice system, because they think some of the operators of the system, such as the police, are part of the problem.
Yet we dream of reviving the economy through foreign direct investment. No economy thrives in an environment of insecurity. In fact, one of the things Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance, says we should put right to get the economy going is security. The recent bombings have compounded an already poor situation. So far, the signal coming out of Aso Rock does not generate any confidence. The time is more than ripe for Mr. President to crack the whip at the top hierarchy of the nation’s security agencies. We need security outfits that will be pro-active, which will smoke out criminals from their dens. The criminal has for too long in Nigeria stayed ahead of our security agencies. While many of those who rule us have other countries to run to if terrorists finally take over government, for the sake of the millions that have no other place of refuge, Jonathan should urgently tackle the grave security situation.