Daily, the media is replete with reports of killings and bombings in virtually all parts of the country; it’s just that there are more of one kind of person-on-person, group-on-group violence in one part of the country than in others.
If the situation in Mali is factored in, it is fearsome what the situation in the Sudan and Sahel parts of Nigeria is turning into, with dire implications for the Guinea belt and the tropical forest areas.
When the civil war ended, Nigerians came face to face with the spectre of armed robbery, and over the years, it has come to be accepted as part of normal life here. As bad governance also became accepted, various forms of person-to-person, person-to-group, and group-to-group violence equally became the norm. This over the years led to the rise of ethnic militias that operated above the law-enforcement agencies in many instances.
Now, we seem to have arrived at that crucial nexus where we must take a stand between the wave of insecurity and the survivalist need to sleep with two eyes closed, something that is becoming very risky here.
One equally risky development is the threat posed to the telecoms sector by the insecurity wave. When militants held the oil sector to ransom by unleashing a wave of bombings and kidnappings, the result was decline in national crude oil production with attendant loss of foreign exchange revenue, and divestment by the oil majors. That seems to have abated now with the amnesty deal of late president, Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua.
Now, what is glaring is that entire sections of the country are getting cut off daily as armed groups unleash mayhem on communities. In many of such, telecommunications facilities were first vandalized, ostensibly to prevent victims from calling for help while their attackers perpetrate a bloodbath unhindered.
What is worrisome about the entire unsavoury scenario is that telcos can no longer get returns on their investments in the affected areas, as it has become too life-threatening to attempt to restore vandalized facilities. Besides, telcos are paying rentals on lines that cannot be used.
Worse than this is the plight of the peoples of Nigeria so cut off,probably countable in millions. It also means a lot of people can not access the internet, meaning that these peoples are shut out to life-changing opportunities available on the web. In one breath, some Nigerians are effectively on the information super-highway, fully in the 21st century, while others, as a result of insecurity, remain locked in the analog portals of the mid-20th century.
Very few Nigerians know what is going on in the oil industry; but we can access the benefits of the telecoms sector, which has lifted Nigeria several notches upwards in just one decade.
This is a clarion call on all Nigerians, in and out of government to do all that is humanly possible to arrest this fearsome situation; it has the capability of sending all of us back to the stone age.