Playing Politics with National Security

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Jonathan

Even as the country continues to wallow in a serious state of insecurity, Nigerian politicians are busy trading blames on each other instead of making useful suggestions that can help to end Boko Haram insurgency

By Olu Ojewale  |  May 5, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

IT IS a nightmare that no Nigerian knows when or how it will end. The state of insecurity in the land has gripped the nation like a plague and also put it on the world map as one of the unsafe countries to be or go to. From the incessant attacks of Boko Haram, kidnapping to raids by Fulani herdsmen, Nigeria looks like a country in a state of war. The worrisome situation has become a veritable source of frequent foreign media coverage of how unsafe the country has become. The last two weeks have even become more tenuous and harrowing for the country. While the body count of those killed in the bomb attack on Nyanya Motor Park, Abuja on Monday, April 14, was still going on, Boko Haram insurgents on Tuesday, April 15, kidnapped 234 innocent school girls at the Government Girls’ Secondary School, GGS, Chibok in Borno State. Most of the girls were still with their captors as at press time. As if that was not bad enough, Fulani herdsmen launched an attack in Wukari, Taraba State, forcing the government to deploy 50 soldiers in the trouble area on Wednesday, April 23.

Regrettably, Nigerian politicians have refused to see beyond politics and instead of coming together to proffer solution on how to deal with the common enemy, many of them have engaged the government in a blame game. Even when President Goodluck Jonathan proposed to convene an enlarged security council meeting to include  the governors of all the states of the federation on Thursday, April 17,  no governor from the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, turned up for the meeting. Their absence was turned into a political argument which necessitated a rescheduling of the meeting for Wednesday, April 23 and later postponed for 24 hours. This, it is believed, was to allow members of the opposition to reason with President Jonathan on the need to support his plan to extend the state of emergency in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. But at the end of the expanded security meeting, there was no mention of the state of emergency in the troubled states. Instead, the meeting gave the security chiefs a matching order to rescue the kidnapped students at all cost.

Nyako
Nyako

Emergency rule was first introduced in the three-troubled states in May last year for six months. It was renewed for another six months last year. The president relied on section 305 of the constitution for his action. And since the constitution does not empower him to suspend governors of the affected states from office, Jonathan has constrained himself to the constitutional provision in exercising his powers. However, the retention of the governors at their posts is seen as one of the reasons why insurgency has not abated in the states.

But ahead of the meeting, security in the country had become a fractious issue on which Nigerian leaders have been trading blames and engaging in name-calling. In the process, the political temperature has been on the rise. Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State appears to be the most virulent in his attack. In a letter dated April 16, which he sent to the Northern Governors’ Forum, NGF, Nyako accused the President Jonathan administration of committing genocide against the North.  He similarly alleged that Jonathan was from Eastern Nigeria, which was responsible for killing the Northern elite on January 15, 1966. The letters said in part: “The administration is bent on bringing wars in the North between Muslims and Christians and within them and between one ethnic group and another or others in various communities in the region.” He similarly alleged that kidnappers of schoolgirls in Borno State must have had the backing of the federal government “for them to move about freely with abducted children.”

In its reaction through Doyin Okupe, senior special assistant to the president on public affairs,  the Presidency on Saturday, April 19, said that Nyako’s letter was a sad betrayal of trust by a major beneficiary of the Nigerian nation. Okupe said that Nyako’s letter was divisive, adding that it was meant to incite one section of the country against the other.

In the same vein, Labaran Maku, minister of information, described Nyako’s recent comments on security challenges in the country, as highly irresponsible. Answering questions from State House correspondents after the federal executive council, FEC, meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, April 23, Maku said it was unfortunate that such a statement could come from a person of the governor’s status who had, at a time, served as the Chief of Naval Staff. He said a lot of achievements could be made in the anti-terror war if highly-placed people learnt to keep their mouths shut.

He said: “To hear the kind of things being said by the governor of Adamawa State at this period is very unfortunate. Nyako is a former CNS. He is someone that has worn a uniform before. For him to publicly incite the people against the security forces of this country is the height of irresponsibility. I believe that for someone like that who is old enough to appreciate the kind of crisis this country is going through, we expect that there should be greater understanding, politics aside.

“When people reach a certain age, they should watch their utterances and the kind of things they are supposed to say. Maybe for young people like you and me, we can say it is lack experience; but for people that have known the difficulty this country is going through and the kind of effort that is being made by the federal government to come out and make those statements that divide the country is grossly irresponsible…People grandstanding, people playing to the gallery, people making inflammatory statements that divide public opinion, that cause confusion, will appear to me as people that are anti-Nigeria. This is the time we expect all our people to speak with one voice, and speak with a voice that give our people hope that we the leaders are united in finding a solution.”

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