By Rita Moto
Spate of jihadist attacks, litany of kidnappings, increasing crime rate and the hike in fuel and food items in Nigeria has pushed Nigerians to lose trust in the Buhari administration. Since December, more than 600 students have been abducted from schools in north-west Nigeria, highlighting a worrying development in the country’s kidnap-for-ransom crisis perpetrated by armed groups such as terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and armed herders.
In Dec 2020, 300 boys were abducted in a school in Katsina state and later released after negotiations; On February 17, 42 people were kidnapped in a school in Kagara –Niger state; and barely 10 days before their release, some 300 more were snatched from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Jangebe- Zamfara state.
Since the largely reported Chibok girls abduction in 2014 by Boko Haram Islamist militants in Borno state, mass abduction of students in restive areas have followed. This increase in kidnappings, described as a lucrative source of income to bandits, has been largely blamed on a weak security infrastructure and governors who have little control over security in their states.
Inter-ethnic conflicts like the farmers’ and herders’ clashes also play their part on insecurity and has contributed to food insecurity. In addition a high level of poverty, unemployment, police brutality and the covid 19 health crisis have weakened the country’s economy.
President Buhari’s administration has derived strategies to curb insurgencies, but they haven’t borne fruits until now. In 2019, Buhari increased security personnel and installed CCTVs on highways and other strategic locations to keep these areas secure. In 2020, he dissolved the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) following nationwide protests over police brutality. In January 2021, the president replaced army chiefs whom he appointed when he first took office in 2015. Yet the changes seem not to have fulfilled the expectations on the war against terrorism.
By calling on governors to secure their states and urging citizens to avoid being cowards and fight armed terrorists, authorities in Nigeria dampened citizens’ confidence in the president’s ability to put an end to the violence perpetrated by both armed gangs and the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency.
Six years after President Muhammadu Buhari came to power with a promise to solve insecurity, it still remains one of the major challenges in Nigeria. The failure to keep the promise has increased domestic pressure on the government and led to calls for his resignation by civil society.