Will Bombing Big Thieves Do the Trick?

Will Bombing Big Thieves Do the Trick?

Nations cannot bomb crimes out of existence as the Government of Nigeria seems to think and practice. When purely criminal or illegal activities are committed and perpetuated in a society during peace times and they have no military or genocidal implications, ‘policing’ is the proper line of action, at least in a democracy. A standing police force is the government agency that is created to deal with such problem by using a wide range of proportional “necessities”. The use of heavy military action such as bombing rendezvouses / equipment instead of appropriate police action is a sign of misgovernance.

The biggest business in Nigeria is the stealing of government money, yes it is. As such why have biggest ‘rendezvouses of national theft / thieves’, the National / State Assemblies, State Government Houses, the Courts etc. not been bombed out existence, assuming Aso Rock should be excluded because President Muhammadu Buhari is there currently and he is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. More money is stolen from Nigeria from these ‘rendezvouses of national theft / thieves’ in week than oil bunkerers steal in a year. It must be emphasised that oil bunkering is orchestrated in these same ‘rendezvous of national theft / thieves’.

Oil Bunkering is big business that rips holes in the pocket of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); it is a criminal activity. It is often claimed that about 10% of all crude oil produced in Nigeria is lost to oil bunkering. Oil bunkering is the practice of illegally acquiring and exporting crude oil. To tackle bunkering as in the recent case in Rivers State, Nigeria demonstrated bunkering rendezvouses and equipment are now being eradicated by using the military to bomb them out of existence. Such action is criminal and illegal itself. Whatever happened to policing?

Counterfeiting is rife in Nigeria and a big business of its own, mostly in the informal sector; it too is a criminal activity. Money, drinks, medicines, batteries, cosmetics, documents, ID cards, passports, equipment and the like are counterfeited to levels that surpass their production or availability of the legal authorised products in the country. Customs and Excise lose huge revenues in taxes to counterfeiting and people are hoodwinked into buying faked good at premium prices in a punishingly hard economy. We never hear that counterfeiting houses or factories are being bombed out of existence.

Smuggling is also big business in Nigeria which creates another big hole in pocket of the FIRS; again, it is criminal activity. Materials leave the country and goods including contrabands enter the country easily courtesy bribery / extortion and duties are not paid on the goods. Smuggling subverts local production in the economy, hides economic activity and encourages foreign concerns (that often abet the practice) not to invest in Nigeria. The (convoys of) lorries, trailers and trucks used to smuggle goods into Nigeria have known parks and rendezvouses. These locations or vehicles are never bombed out of existence.

Hoarders are just as bad for the society. No bombs for their facilities.

So what is the incentive of the Government of Nigeria to bomb Niger Delta activities out of existence when they cannot even bomb Boko Haram, an existential threat, out of existence? It could be simply crude ethnic oppression in the country which is often well hidden under the mask of “Federal Character” and tokenism it produces. It is easier to bomb the minorities-constituted regions of the Niger delta and the Middle Belt than any other. It could be the very high stakes in the oil sector for both the “good guys and bad guys”. Truth be told, the oil sector never produces good guys just bad guys with conflicting interests.

It could be that that police are so under-equipped, under-paid, under-trained and under-staffed and under-qualified that in reality Nigeria lacks even a mediocre police force. It could be that the Nigerian Army are much better at amphibious military manoeuvres in the Niger Delta creeks than in dry land operations especially in grasslands desert lands. It could be many things.

The “calabash of disaster” including frequent instances corruption, profligacy, election fraud, kidnapping, assassinations, non-payments of salaries, robbery and rape cannot be tackled by government but the Niger Delta is always an arena for histrionic displays “zero tolerance” a.k.a. “extreme necessities”. If the “calabash of disaster” is thoroughly sorted out with zero tolerance, Nigeria will be a great nations but for now it is of ‘nation of chasers of the softest targets’ and the chasers are the biggest thieves the nation can show off.

If bombing thieves, their tools and their facilities out of existence is the solution to Nigeria’s societal problems, the job may be a far lot easier than we all originally thought.

Grimot Nane

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