Nigeria is in dire need of factories where many of the jobless youths now roaming the streets will be gainfully employed. The multiplier effects from such factories cannot be quantified. But it is saddening that instead of setting up factories for functional purposes, some criminally minded elements in the country are setting up factories, illegal ones at that, where they produce lethal weapons apparently for equally illegal purposes. Some others set up ‘baby factories’.
One of such factories was uncovered in Iddo, Okpella, Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State after one of the explosives exploded last week. One of the suspected bomb makers was killed in the process even as another lost his legs. The bombs were being made in a three-bedroom apartment that villagers in the area said was being occupied by some men from Kogi State. According to the President of Iddo Youth Movement, Mohammad Mohammad, “We all came out when we heard the sound and informed the people that explosion killed somebody. When we got to the place, one of the occupants we met immediately escaped in a vehicle. So, the youths gave him a hot chase shouting that he had killed somebody and he was subsequently arrested and taken to the Divisional Police Officer before his onward transfer to the Area Commander”.
Any right-thinking person must be worried about the proliferation of arms in the country. Last year, a lot of smuggled arms were intercepted by men of the Customs, in some cases after they had been cleared at the ports. We should be agitated because of the General Elections that will be held next year. Even before then, there are at least two gubernatorial elections in the country this year – in Ekiti and Osun states. The same elections in the states about four years ago became a do-or-die affair, as the Jonathan administration drafted all the security agencies to ‘capture’ the states for the then ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Thus, we saw a heavy presence of the security agencies, including even the army, playing dysfunctional roles in the elections.
If we are now witnessing a situation where arms are being made locally, that portends danger, and more so if the motive is to serve political ends. It means we are graduating from militarisation of politics to weaponisation of politics, which is unacceptable. The point has always been made that the political stakes are too high in the country. The resources at the centre are particularly too huge not to attract the kind of unhealthy competition for a piece of the action, hence the calls for devolution of power, to give to the constituent parts some of the resources that bring unnecessary bitter struggles for power at the centre.
We have had situations where politicians set up and fund all kinds of militia groups to fight their political battles. These canon fodders later become a problem to the society when such politicians are through with them as they begin to terrorise law-abiding citizens with the arms bought with the money provided by their political overlords.
Although Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has promised to investigate the matter, the security agencies should investigate properly those behind the bomb factory. This is much more so now that we are still trying to interrogate how the herdsmen and Boko Haram get the sophisticated weapons with which they spread terror in the land. We can only imagine how many other places such illegal activities are going on in the country.
For once, the security agencies must get to the bottom of the matter. We want to believe that those caught, including even the unfortunate ones among them that died, could not have been working for themselves. They have some godfathers somewhere. These are the people that should be named and made to face the full wrath of the law.