Since the recent exacerbation of terrorism in northern Nigeria, there have not been serious legal actions to punish the culprits. There should be an emergency court for trying the criminals and immediately convict them.
There should be a special law that dictates the kinds of punishment for every kind of complicity in banditry and kidnapping. The punishment should be severe and in the public view. It will serve as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to be involved in any kind of terrorism.
The government cannot fix this level of insecurity in a short while, that is why the citizens have to come in. For northern Nigeria, there should be an independent body or forum that will unite the expertise and resources of all active and retired professionals and elites from the region.
The forum will be independent of the government and should have a structure down to the local government levels. It will be managed by highly respected and experienced people in the region. The forum might be named “Arewa Development Forum”.
The forum will feed the various state governments individually and as a group with ideas and strategies and help harmonize their approaches toward combating the insecurity.
The body will establish “The Arewa Development Trust Fund”, where every working and capable northerner will be contributing a willing amount of money monthly. The funds will be used for compulsory education for all and some basic infrastructural development in the northern rural areas.
The extent of the abject poverty in the north is unimaginable. There are still villages where they don’t have schools and no access to electricity. These villages have no road and potable water, and their population is growing.
The Arewa Funds will be used to build infrastructure in these kinds of villages. It will be used to build schools and sponsor every child’s education, especially in remote areas. It will be used for free education for every northerner. New teachers will be trained and recruited and paid well from the funds.
The Funds should be used to address street children begging and hawking. The Forum will conduct a census of the “Almajiri Child” for a database of their locations and their homes of origin, with a plan to send every child back to their parents.
The parents should be incentivized for keeping and supporting their children’s education. The Funds can also be used to support modern and mechanized farming, including animal rearing and ranches. It can also be used for capital seed for women’s entrepreneurship and businesses.
All the international donor agencies and NGOs that want to work in Northern Nigeria should work with the Arewa Development Forum. The idea is to harmonize the resources for efficiency, devoid of duplication.
The governments of all the northern states should contribute to the funds. International Organizations and Foundations should be solicited to contribute to the Funds. The idea is to generate and spend at least N2 trillion for only education and basic infrastructure in rural areas of the region.
If we can have up to ten million northerners who will be contributing at least N20,000 every month, we will raise N2.4 trillion in a year.
On top of this, we can receive donations from the state governments, NGOs and international agencies, and foundations. Nigerians in the southern region might wish to contribute as well.
The local government branches of the Forum should maintain education and development statistics and a database of the people under their jurisdiction. The information will help for the appropriate allocation of these resources.
There should be a new law that will convict any person or their parent for not acquiring a minimum of secondary school education in the North. The Education must be compelled and made free for all.
Banditry and all kinds of terrorism are ideologies. Ideologies are groomed by certain circumstances, and they can travel everywhere. The only thing that prevents it is education.
Only education and empowerment can fix insecurity. If we don’t come together to kill this ideology, it will kill us. It is now time to stop expecting too much from the government. We have to rise and do it ourselves.
It is not surprising that Northern Nigeria is facing this level of insecurity because despite being the region with the highest population growth rate (with an average woman giving birth to six children), more than half of the girl children aged six and above are not having an education.
The region also accounts for 9 million of the 14 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, with the northwest alone having five million of them. Northern Nigeria’s poverty rate is put at 86%. Any region that has a high level of poverty and lack of education like this has fulfilled the conditions for insecurity.
Traditional rulers have to be actively involved in information and intelligence gathering. They are closer to the people; they could provide relevant information and strategies unique to their territories.
War should be declared in the affected areas. A large number of Nigerian armies should be deployed and given the order to clear the terrorists and ensure peace in the region.
Ultimatum could be given to some of the terrorists who are willing to lay down their arms unconditionally, beyond this chance should be death. There should be immediate rebuilding and infrastructural development of the areas where these bandits come from so that they will have options of a new life in their towns or face death.
Finally, the APC administration must fix insecurity before the 2023 elections, because the APC and President Buhari were voted mostly to fix insecurity. The next administration should not inherit another insecurity challenge.
The next administration should focus on addressing other issues. We cannot afford to waste a complete eight-year tenure of an ex-Army General without addressing insecurity in Nigeria.
I call on all Nigerians to take responsibility and act, we should stop relying absolutely on the government to fix insecurity.
If you do have other ideas on how to fix insecurity or you want to respectfully challenge or support my submissions above or my previous article on the subject matter, you can send me an email.
Ahmed Adamu, PhD