Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet
Kene Obiezu is a contributor to USAfrica
On Wednesday June 28,2022, Nigeria lost about 30 soldiers, seven policemen and two civilians when terrorists attacked a mining site in Ajata Aboki in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State. The terrorists also abducted some persons from the site including some Chinese nationals. The attack was said to be part of a more audacious scheme to take over the Shiroro Power Station, which has a power generating capacity of 600 megawatts enough to power over 400,000 homes, and perhaps, cast Nigeria into a deeper darkness than the one in which it is currently mired in.
Nigerians have not had an easy journey in their evolution as citizens of the most populous black nation on earth. Perhaps, that explains the inner steel that every Nigerian has from birth, a kind of natural spine that comes naturally for people born in adversity and into adversity.If bad leadership, complicated by corruption, compounded Nigeria’s problems before 1999 and after 1999 onwards, the evolution of Boko Haram in 2009 proved to be fuel for a fire that was already threatening to rage out of control.
It is no exaggeration to say that a country that already had its hands full with internal security issues probably because its security architecture has always been weak had no answers for the many questions Boko Haram threw its way at once in 2009.While it scrambled to respond, a deadly terrorist group was busy taking trophies.
It has continued to take trophies till this day. It has not just been in the slaughter of thousands or the destruction of countless property and livelihoods, or the disruption of life. It has had everything to do with the way in which the deadly group has fostered a situation of lawlessness, helplessness and hopelessness in many of Nigeria`s rural communities, in the Northeast, but increasingly in the Northwest. In thirteen years of conflict, the casualties have been almost too numerous to count. A slap on the face. Niger State in Nigeria`s North Central has quickly become one of its more insecure states.
Its proximity to Kaduna State, another of Nigeria’s more insecure state, especially its closeness to Birnin Gwari which has emerged as the base of operations for the terrorists in Kaduna State, has seen bandits bent on attacking Nigerians and critical national assets move seamlessly between the two states.The fact that parts of Niger State where criminals appear to be camping are only minutes away from the Federal Capital Territory is a source of great anxiety to the residents of Abuja.
It’s truly a grim situation. The current reality for many Nigerians is of a country besieged by terror and terrorists. With surging terrorism progressively weakening the country`s security architecture for many years, the danger was that insecurity in Nigeria was always going to swerve out of control and it appears to have now.The deteriorating situation has also laid bare Nigeria`s criminal unpreparedness to confront threats to its national security and even sovereignty.
If the country`s poorly equipped security forces were thought to be holding their own for many years, it was perhaps because they were yet to face a challenge as formidable and as devastating as that which relentless terrorism can pose .Now that the bandits are attacking the country from all sides bearing sophisticated weapons, Nigerians must band together to confront what is surely an existential challenge, for with each civilian or security personnel killed, with each abduction recorded, it is the country that loses something; it is the Giant of Africa that loses a part of its soul.