By Johnson Eyiangho and Constance Athekame
It is common knowledge that Nigeria currently faces some security challenges quite different from what it used to know.
The spate of bomb blasts, criminalities and suicide attacks in recent times and aimed at prime targets in parts of the federation, are emerging trends of terrorism in the country.
They are rather unsettling for a nation, which still grapples with a multiplicity of other socio-political and economic challenges.
Kidnappings, armed robbery and political assassinations, are added dimensions to the security crises, which are stretching the nation to its limits, sometimes threatening the very fabric of its existence.
Analysts have variously attributed the disturbing trend to political dissatisfaction, ethnic and religious differences, perceived societal neglect and pervasive poverty among the people.
While youth restiveness in the Niger Delta and parts of the South East, occasioned kidnapping and disruption of oil installations, activities of members of the Oduaâ€™a Peoples Congress (OPC) in the South West and that of Boko Haram saga in the northern states, have also been worrisome.
Specifically, the bombing by MEND of the Warri venue of a meeting of Niger Delta leaders of thought in March 2010, the bomb blasts at the Eagle Square vicinity of the national celebration of the nationâ€™s 50th Independence Anniversary in Abuja, were grim reminders of the reality of terrorism in the country.
In Borno State also, there has been no let up in the ferocity of the campaign by the Boko Haram Islamists over grievances that seem hard to comprehend rationally.
Their campaign extended to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on 31 December, 2010, culminating in the bombing of a part of the Mogadishu Army Barracks. On June 16, the group bombed the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, while the U.N. House was also attacked on 26 August.
The mass trail of human and physical destruction was mind-bogging and reprehensible to the generality of the populace.
Minister of Police Affairs, retired Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade, acknowledged that the nation now faced new security threats that were quite different from what we used to know.
â€œI will rather say that we are facing new threats different from what we used to face before.
â€œBut as these threats confront us, we will find solutions to them; it is now a period to look forward and overcome the challenges that face us.â€
Observers say that a holistic approach is imperative to check the new security challenges; especially the imperative for security agencies to synergise and share intelligence, in the bid to curtail the out-lash.
Dr Biodun Abodurin, the Commandant-General, National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), said that security was everybodyâ€™s business, hence no citizens must be apathetic to matters related to enhanced security in the country.
For perceptive observers, the current security challenges, especially terrorism, are not peculiar to Nigeria as they have become global phenomena, which are afflicting rich and poor nations, developed and underdeveloped economies of the world.
This, perhaps, explains the readiness of world leaders and international organizations to collaborate on strategies to rid the world of terrorist onslaught now assuming an alarming level.
Many still readily recall the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, where hundreds of lives were lost in a fell swoop.
President Goodluck Jonathan has said repeatedly that Nigeria was willing to cooperate with the international community, to tackle the problem of terrorism and related vices.
â€œOne thing is very clear â€” terrorist attack on any individual or any part of the world is a terrorist attack on the rest of the world because terrorists do not care about who is anywhereâ€.
Jonathan, who was apparently surprised at the extent of disaster at the UN building in Abuja, stressed that the problem was not just Nigerian but global.
â€œWe will work with the UN and all other world leaders because quite a number of them have contacted me between yesterday and today to make sure that terrorism is brought under control all over the world. â€
Referring specifically to the Islamic sect â€“ Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the UN building attack, Jonathan said: â€œBoko Haram is a local group linked with terrorist activities and as a government; we are working to keep them in checkâ€.
Thus far, several arrests have been made in connection with many violent outbursts in the country and several of the suspects have been arraigned before the courts, even as the hunt for more continues.
Plateau and Borno states have lately also become the hotbed of ethnic, religious and political violence with daily reports of killings and maiming of innocent citizens mostly.
As a result, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, recently got marching orders from Jonathan to ensure that peace was restored to Jos immediately.
On his part, the nationâ€™s Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, has restated the Nigerian Armyâ€™s readiness to collaborate with other security agencies to tackle security challenges in all parts of the federation.
â€œWhat I want to say is that the army will live up to the expectations of Nigerians and that the army is prepared to carry out any task assigned to it concerning security of lives and property.â€
He reiterated that ensuring national security was a collective responsibility, which must involve governments at all levels as well as the ordinary citizens.
While stressing the imperative for increased inter-service cooperation in addressing the challenges, he added that new strategies must be evolved in order to cope with present dynamics.
â€œIt is definite that the groups that call themselves Boko Haram or other names receive training and possibly funding from some foreign elements and this is evident from the type of weapons we have captured from them.
â€œFrom the type of communication equipment we have captured from them and from the expertise they have displayed in the preparation of improvised explosives, there are pointers to the fact that there is foreign involvement in the spate of terrorist attacks going on in Nigeria,â€ the army chief said.
Observers note that the times are no doubt challenging but hopes remain high that with a firm resolve and the utmost cooperation of the citizens through volunteered information tips, the nation will soon ride over this storm in its history.
â€¢Eyiangho and Athekame wrote this article for News Agency of Nigeria.