Hardly a day goes by without news of an attack in one part of the country or killings in another part of the country does not grace the pages of our newspapers or our television screens. It used to be only the bomb attacks and killings in the Boko Haram-infested Northern Nigeria, which have sadly become the norm. It is almost expected that these things occur.
The Boko Haram insurgency has defined our national life and discourse for months, as the mention of them strikes fear in the hearts of many. This is natural considering the barrage of attacks they have carried out against the Nigerian people, from bombings of innocent worshippers on Sundays and on security operatives, not to mention targeted shootings.
However, there has also been another crisis festering just below the surface: it is that of attacks on mostly villages and lone families in rural Northern Nigeria.
Last week, I wrote about how this crisis was growing in Plateau State, especially in the light of the killing of 28 villagers by the (in)famous unknown gunmen. Sadly, it was not the last of such attacks as five days earlier, 9 persons were killed in yet another attack and dozens injured.
The crisis then crossed state borders when 19 people were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen seeking revenge for the poisoning to death of two of their cows in two villages of Kaura Local Government of Kaduna State.
All these events continue to point at a Nigeria that is at the verge of imploding, when citizens have no regard for law and order and also for the established methods of conflict resolution, but instead, prefer to take the law into their hands with lives being lost.
The inability of the government to defend citizens, which is one of the most basic responsibilities expected of them, would force the victims, real or alleged, to find ways to defend themselves. It is in such situations that ethnic militias are formed, leading to a sort of arms-race in which each group stockpiles on weapons. An attack on any side would then have the potential of making everything fall apart.
It is about time that governments at all levels went beyond mere rhetoric and go to every length to, first, protect the people of this country, especially in these vulnerable rural areas of the North, and then to pursue the criminals responsible for these attacks and make an example of them in the right way of justice to act as a deterrent to others.
We better act on these attacks before they become too late. If we allow them to fester, Nigeria as we know it may not be the same again.