Almost on a daily basis, Nigeria appears as one huge playground where serious matters affecting human beings are being masqueraded and allowed to ease off. A masquerade ceremony is a cultural or religious event that involves the wearing of masks. In fact, the wearing of face masks by individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic is simple. Government is a culprit in the masquerading business- showing or telling the masses what they want to hear but the real intentions of its policy are shielded for obvious reasons.
For some persons, a masquerade is a ritual that must be observed. In Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, such masquerades as Ekpo, Ekpe, Ekong, Mkpokporo, Agaba, Okpon Ibuot, Akata, Ewa-Ikang, Sakum, Nto Odio Odio, Oko, Obio-okpo, Abang, Ikut, Enang Ukwak, Okpo Ntaha Ekpat, and Utue-ekpe, among others, are very common. They have their paraphernalia, rituals and mode of performances quite peculiar to them and their adherents.
For the initiates, the masquerades serve as a source of entertainment or otherwise. But to most non-initiates, the masquerades are seen as anathema to their beliefs and self-development because of the garb of secrecy surrounding them.
However, there is one called Atataruru masquerade which used to be common among the young in the rural setting of Akwa Ibom. Among their age-grade, they would gather at an open space under a gleaming moonlight. They would select one of them to perform the act.
Atataruru is a play where a playmate ties a blindfold on the eyes of another. The rule of the play is the boy whose are eyes are blindfolded in the nightlife is expected to locate another whose eyes are not tied and hand over the relay band to him. In the self-help play, the blindfolded would start the search all in a forlorn without tracking him to continue in the stead. Without being cautious, he could fall into a kiln or a pit. After a nerve-wracking search, the blindfolded is uncovered to discover that his playmate succeeded in playing pranks on him in the futile search. What a comical play!
Sadly, after 59 years of Nigeria’s corporate existence, the government seems to be playing Atataruru with the security of life and property of the people. It is the primary duty of government to provide security of its citizens as entrenched in Section 14 (2b) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, which says: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
While there is no society in the world, advanced or developing, that is crime-free, Nigeria’s case is inexcusable for many reasons. Since 2015, there is a skewed appointment of security chiefs from one section of the country, thus raising suspicion of perpetual, morbid fear to truncate the peaceful co-existence of the people. Apart from the monstrosity of Boko Haram insurgents in killing and maiming thousands in the North East, what about what looks like genocide in Southern Kaduna?
During the pandemic lockdown with no interstate movement in the country, allegations of some youths from the North being ‘exported’ to the South were rife. Yet, no government official condemned, or owned up or spoke against it.
A few days ago, Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, the National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, said that the Fulani own Nigeria and will rule the country forever and his organisation had concluded arrangements to flag-off its own security outfit with about 5,000 to 100,000 vigilantes to be deployed across all the states of the country.
This is a heavy security breach to the corporate existence, yet the security agents have neither invited nor arrested the man for interrogation. This makes it looks like the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.
The insecurity is further worsened by the rising unemployment, poverty, terrorism, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Autonomous and Unmanned Systems, Biotechnology, and other Emerging Technologies; Weapons of Mass Destruction and Cyber Weapons Proliferation; and Climate Change, increased migration, porous borders, the spread of infectious diseases.
Unfortunately, cases of rapes, kidnappings, robbery, burglary, and other forms of criminalities are scaling up. Many lives and property have gone.
We, in the Straightnews, are deeply concerned about the approval of the immediate implementation of Community Policing strategy nationwide by the Federal Government to combat the new trend of insecurity in the land most especially in the Northern parts of the country.
In compliance with the FG’s directive, Imohimi Edgal, the Akwa Ibom Commissioner of Police last Wednesday inaugurated the State Community Policing Advisory Committee, which according to him, would oversee and report the social violence and criminality to the Area Command and cooperation of community members towards ensuring, guiding and defending the cause of the state against any internal and external attacks.
As good as the proposal is, it should not be swallowed line and sinker by Nigerians because of the underlying security agenda by some tribes to actualise their ethnic agenda and, by implication, selfish interest. Pontification apart, the President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore’s statement should not be dismissed with a wave of the hand. He flew a kite for discerning minds not for the doubting Thomases.
In spite of the community policing advisory committee, we commend the South West Region for inaugurating Amotekun and urge others to emulate the gesture while the states should jointly form their security outfits as a back-up in case of any eventuality by self-aggrandised internally-aided aggressors and territorial expansionists.
As a post-COVID-19 plan, the various Houses of Assembly must enact laws to slash the humongous security votes paid to governors to preserve the money for other development projects.
We want to call on border communities indeed the entire Nigerians to be vigilant and guard against the infiltration of their communities by purported external attackers and killer herdsmen. Security should be of great concern to all, not a few.
When the government stops playing Atataruru (being insincere) with security concerns, Nigerians will repose greater confidence in the government and its ability to guarantee peaceful co-existence and security of life and property to the people. Handling of the security situation can and will bring, hailings, or hecklings to the government.