The Minister of Defence, retired General Bashir Magashi, had made populist resistance statement to guide Nigerian citizens on self-defence against the rampaging bandits in the northwest and the killer Fulani herdsmen across the country. Though, many stakeholders in Nigeria have chided the defence minister for his advice to Nigerians on how to defend themselves against the violent upsurge of bandits, he may not have been totally wrong. However, the defence minister may have covertly created fresh problems for President Muhammadu Buhari if Nigerians heed to the self-defense advice which in the long run may culminate into flooding the country with sophisticated weapons acquired for crossfire with bandits and the killer Fulani herdsmen.
Retired General Magashi had offered a simplistic solution to contain the invasion of rural communities by bandits, urging Nigerians to stay at alert at all times, there are fears that the rural dwellers in organizing themselves for sustained resistance to invaders of their communities after a period may begin to acquire weapons that will empower match their attackers force for force which could complicate the insecurity control process.
Retired Gen. Magashi in a media interaction on the violent crimes of bandits across Nigeria, had articulated that citizens should not be cowards revealing that bandits sometimes have few ammunition in their possession when they operate. The minister noted the possibilities of people resisting and overwhelming the bandits when fear is removed from their minds.
Defence Minister Magashi was cited to have said: “It is the responsibility of everybody to keep alert and to find safety when necessary; but we shouldn’t be cowards.
“At times, the bandits will only come with about three rounds of ammunition, when they fire shots everybody runs. In our younger days, we stand to fight any aggression coming for us.
“I don’t know why people are running from minor things like that. They should stand and let these people know that even the villagers have the competency and capabilities to defend themselves.”
The Minister, however, contracted his self-defence disposition when he disapproved acquisition firearms by citizens. According to him: “But I don’t advise Nigeria to start issuing firearms for personal use.”
Retired Gen. Magashi may have at this juncture realized the bigger risk in his self-defence advocacy to the rural dwellers.
This is more so when Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State had justified both the killings by Fulani herdsmen and their acquisition of AK-47 for self-defence and protection of their cattle by destroying human lives and property of other citizens not in their trade.
The Bauchi State governor may have validated the possession of AK-47 by Fulani herdsmen to the subtle challenge of governors of other states to empower their people for self-defence within the context of the Defence Minister’s counsel. The corollary is that with the fire force of the bandits and herdsmen known to the people, there is the temptation of high proliferation of sophisticated weapons acquired legally and illegally across the country that the Buhari administration or the All Progressives Congress (APC) government may fall into another crisis of disarmament.
The high capacity of fireworks and the sophisticated weapons in the possession of the bandits are well-known to all; resisting them through unarmed mass action may be obvious a suicide mission Nigerians would be willing to undertake. This is, however, not the intention of the defence minister in his simplistic advice on self-defence. But resisting bandits and the killer Fulani herdsmen without being well armed is also a mission impossible. Though, it would appear the defence sector has exhausted all security strategies, though, getting the people involved is not an absurdity but the citizens have to be equipped to assist the military. Thereafter, the burden of disarming the citizens may be too heavy for the government.
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