I have written, on this blog, about the spate of senseless violence in Nigeria for a long time. But at no time have I suggested that the solutions come from anywhere but the government whose earlier inaction and nonchalance led to the current state of events in the first place. Send more military into vulnerable towns? Empower the police to protect the citizens? Do a lot of information and outreach exercises to empower citizens deal with threat?
I have now come to the conclusion that none of them will help, even if done well (and so far they have not). Soldiers, it seems, are part of the problem. They are either suspiciously absent whenever an attack is about to take place, or, when they eventually act, end up killing innocent civilians instead.
Here is my solution: ARM ALL NIGERIANS.*
I have come to this conclusion not without heavy thinking, and consideration for the unintended consequences: more (accidental) gun deaths, likelihood of mass killings, and an increased difficulty for law enforcement. But, looking at my country today, those are already the reality, and more!
When 43 (and counting) students were killed in Yobe a couple of days ago, all the president, the commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces, could do was to “condemn the attack.” Are you freaking kidding me? Having finally arrived at a state when the state can no longer protect its citizens is to have finally reached the end of the its usefulness. Time to give citizens a chance to defend themselves!
If one must die, there’s honour in doing so gallantly, returning fire for fire with whomever has decided that one’s life is not worth more than a sheet of paper. The upside? The realization by the murdering terrorists that everyone now has a means to fire back will be enough to keep them in check, and even the balance of power in that now extremely precarious environment.
I repeat: the state has failed in its primary duty to protect the lives and property of citizens. And for that, citizens MUST be allowed to do it themselves. It won’t be unprecedented. We already provide our own power (via generators), we already provide for our own security (via unarmed gatemen), and we already provide water for our houses (via pumping machines and pure water bags). And, in most cases, we already provide private funding to tar our streets and clear our sewers. The failure of government is no longer tolerable.
LET CITIZENS DEFEND THEMSELVES! It is way better than having the military return due to a breakdown of law and order.
Now, how does one go about sponsoring such a bill? Any takers?