The Role of Citizens in the Times of Security Challenge – by Young Kigbara

It is appropriate and socially discreet to submit that the State by its commitment to the social contract that exist between it and the citizens accepted to take responsibility for the protection of the lives and properties of not only that of the citizens but also that of the state itself. The existence of this contract presupposes the fact that the citizens naturally submitted their ‘Powers or Mights’ to the state in exchange. Hence, Government through legitimates means carry out actions aimed at protecting the lives and properties of the citizens. These functions are performed by governments all over the world, including the Nigeria Government.

In this modern world, the business of security of lives and properties are articulated in clear terms as a collective responsibility, which by implication involves not only the Government but also the corporate and non corporate citizens. Just as the Government has the responsibility of protection of the polity, the citizens are not expected to stand aloof and fold their hands as on lookers. The citizens have got roles to perform. The saying, which goes that ‘for every right you have there is a corresponding responsibility’, is pertinent in this circumstance. 

The citizens in this security situation ought to perform certain duties especially vigilance to compliment efforts of government or the state for the contract to be effectively implemented. Citizens’ vigilance plays vital role in preventing terrorism and other criminal activity. Vigilance does not mean spying. It means noticing what is around you and recognizing when it is out of the ordinary and reporting such to the authorities either in possibly anonymous style.

This responsibility of the citizens becomes more pressing now more than ever before as we are at war against the unwanton destruction of lives of innocent citizens in the guise of Boko Haram, the wicked militant sect, intimidating law abiding citizens through killings and maiming.

Whilst the government agencies, have the primary responsibility in the task of fighting terrorism, there are practical roles or things ordinary citizens can do to make a significant difference in defeating terrorism. The security of a nation is a joint task of government, citizens and to some extent corporate organizations.

In countries like the US, that have come under the terrorists attacks, the citizens do not play the role of whistle blowing alone; some citizens went as far as working with the security agents. Their communities did not provide cover for these miscreants.  Statesmen came together to proffer solution to the problem. A far more suiting example is that of the United States, where we clearly understand the huge penchant for opposition between the Democrats and the Republican. Yet, during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, both parties closed ranks and dealt with the threatening issue of terror as patriotic political organizations. Also, in the UK, both the Conservatives and the Labour Party worked together to solve problems particularly on National security.

Kenya, for example, long ago had kept records of terrorist attacks particularly among a small Somali heritage, a significant minority population whose districts were for long years under a state of emergency since the 1990s. In 1994, the Wagalla massacre, which took the lives of several persons, was recently unveiled.

On Saturday, September 24th 2013, the Westgate Shopping Mall on the outskirt of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya was attacked by the Al-shabab militant group which is associated with the Al-Qaida. Citizens of several countries including the Great Britain, the US and those of Kenya etc were brutally murdered. The death toll quite surpassed 100.

In Uganda, since 1998, militant religious cult located in the North, called Lord’s Resistance Army, that sought to overthrow the government attacked villages and forcibly conscripted children into the organization. The Somali al-shabab had also staged attacks in the country in response to Ugandan support for the African Union AMISOM. From 1997, the Allied Democratic front, a terrorist organization based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo threw bombs into taxis and buildings. More than 150 people were killed and more than 160 were injured.

Nigeria like the US, France, Kenya and Mali had had its heartrending bites of insurgent attacks which have left scores of people dead. Between November 4th 2011 and December 1st, 2014, terrorists’ attacks in Nigeria have claimed the lives of estimated 13,000 persons leaving several thousand injured.

What these spates of attacks especially on Kenya and Uganda failed to do was to sow division among them despite their ethnic diversity. There were unified responses from private Kenyan and Ugandan citizens including those of the Somali origin in the case of Kenya. These citizens’ were applauded for their individual heroism, community support. The Citizens, the Nation, led by President Kenyatta, stood as one. Apart from helping to sensitize citizens on terrorist activities, the citizens cooperated with the government build greater national cohesion as oppose to carrying out pointless demonstrations against the government. 

Frustratingly, in the case of Nigeria as we have on our hands now, we see the reverse. Most persons who claim to be patriots and statesmen, though, self acclaimed, hardly can exhibit attributes that noticeably promotes the public good and show any high degree of probity and leadership; or show qualities necessary to properly govern our society.

This clearly brings to mind and cast aspersions on the sort of statements, the APC, National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, made in a communiqué published on May 20th 2014, edition of The Punch Newspapers, that President Jonathan was insincere with the fight against terrorism in Nigeria. This statement was insensitive of a leader of a political party in Nigeria at this trying moment. This is a time when great leaders show great profundity in character and not relapse into morbid ponderings and subsequent heaping of coarse invectives on their Presidents.

What one would have expected of the Lai Mohammed of this world is to proffer solution of the problem and not to seek to score political points against the President on the platform of the war against terrorism.

Conclusively, one would doubly state that the Boko Harm like any other terrorist group in the world wants us to submit to their threats so that they can control us. As very responsible citizens of Nigeria, we should continuously show more resolute resistance of the attempts of the Boko Haram to threaten us with incessant bombings by acting as whistle blowers at any suspicious actions of anybody around us and report such suspicion to the appropriate security agencies.
We call on all politicians, in fact, all Nigerians irrespective of party and other leanings, to join hands in the fight against insurgency and terror. Even though, sometimes, the body language of some of those opposed to Federal Government efforts sends wrong signals to terrorists and insurgents that we are divided in the fight. Such actions also demoralize our dedicated armed forces.

Nigerians are enjoined to work in concert with the Security agents and discard the very insensitive utterances aimed at discrediting the efforts of the Federal Government by some politician. As well, we urge Lai Mohammed, Armed Tinubu, and Atiku Abubakar 0.not to politicize the security situation in the country, just as we call on the Federal Government to resolutely show far more commitment and step up strategies in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.

Author: Young Kigbara.

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