In these perilous times, the federal government should rise to the occasion and tackle the worsening insecurity decisively, listen more to the people, adopt new and effective strategies to improve on the lives of the people. Perhaps, since Nigerians cannot calm this storm, they should stop trying and calm themselves, and pray that the storm will soon pass.
By Goddy Ikeh
AT the heat of the campaign for presidential election in 2015, a frontline member of the ruling All Progressives Congress and national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, asserted that when America, Britain and France were facing tough challenges, they beckoned and voted for their retired generals for the rescue mission and eloquently asked his party men and Nigerians to do same by electing their own, General Muhammadu Buhari.
In his inaugural speech in 2015, Buhari did not disappoint as he went on and promised the following: “A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue.
“Our neighbours in the Sub-region and our African brethenen should rest assured that Nigeria under our administration will be ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of it. Here I would like to thank the governments and people of Cameroon, Chad and Niger for committing their armed forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria.
“I also wish to assure the wider international community of our readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cybercrime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.
“At home we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.
“My appeal for unity is predicated on the seriousness of the legacy we are getting into. With depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts the Nigerian economy is in deep trouble and will require careful management to bring it round and to tackle the immediate challenges confronting us, namely; Boko Haram, the Niger Delta situation, the power shortages and unemployment especially among young people. For the longer term we have to improve the standards of our education. We have to look at the whole field of medicare. We have to upgrade our dilapidated physical infrastructure.”
On Boko Haram’s insurgency, Buhari said that progress had been made in recent weeks by the security forces, “but victory cannot be achieved by basing the Command and Control Centre in Abuja. The command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued. But we cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents”.
He added that Boko Haram was not only the security issue bedeviling our country. “The spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustlings all help to add to the general air of insecurity in our land. We are going to erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined people – friendly and well – compensated security forces within an over – all security architecture,” he said.
He crowned his speech with the pledge that “I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians. I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”
Unfortunately, six years after this speech, the headlines of many Nigerian newspapers are daily awash with the wave of disenchantment across the country. Nobody is safe’: Nigeria reels from nationwide wave of deadly violence
“President Muhammadu Buhari faces criticism from allies and opposition, as security crises leave hundreds dead.’’
“Nigeria: Is President Muhammadu Buhari unwilling to stop the violence?”
Nigeria is bleeding – Defence Minister
Fresh outrage over worsening insecurity in Nigeria
For Buhari Regime, Criticisms Come At A Cost
800 students kidnapped in three months – IBP
Over 50 villages deserted in Niger – Governor Bello
Nigeria’s Buhari faces backlash over worsening insecurity
Insecurity still Nigeria’s biggest challenge – ISS Africa
Nigeria: Will insecurity, kidnapping and crime get worse?
British envoy laments Nigeria’s worsening insecurity
These headlines show vividly the worsening state of insecurity in the country and some Nigerians have gone as far as warning that the country was on the brink of another civil war and called on the federal government to stop the current drift to anarchy.
Apart from these demoralizing headlines, local media reports said that in April 2021 alone, more than 600 civilians were killed across the country and more than 400 abducted by armed groups. The reports added that President Muhammadu Buhari has come under mounting pressure from critics and allies alike as the country reels from multiple security crises that appear to have overwhelmed the Nigerian authorities.
For instance, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, APC, lamented recently on the floor of the Senate that “The security infrastructure that we have today cannot cope with what we are facing. From the north to the south nobody is safe, nobody can travel 50km in our nation.”
In addition the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, caucus in the National Assembly had warned that the lawmakers would not hesitate to take lawful legislative measures in tackling the worsening insecurity in the country if the federal government fails to act and rescue the country from the current drift to anarchy. The group frowned against the inability of President Buhari’s government to effectively address the rising insecurity in the country and its drift to anarchy.
Speaking on behalf of the Caucus, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said they were concerned about the ineptitude and the inability of the All Progressives Congress-led government to arrest the country’s drift to anarchy.
The Caucus lamented that despite the promises made by the APC before and after it was elected to tackle the problem of insecurity in the country, the nation’s security situation had rather deteriorated under its watch.
“This APC-led government, at inception and during campaigns prior to 2015 elections, made promises to the Nigerian public, the first of which was that they were going to deal with security challenges within their tenure.
“Sadly and most unfortunately, from 2015 to date, rather than resolving the security situation, the APC-led federal government had rather broaden the security challenges. So, from the problems of the northeast, it has spread to other parts of the country. Virtually all parts of Nigeria is now beset with one security challenge or the other.
“We, therefore, as a caucus, suggest that immediate steps should be taken by governments at all levels to set up proper security infrastructure whether in the mode of state police and other constitutional reforms to arrest the drift of the nation, ” local media reports quoted the caucus as saying in the resolution issued after its meeting recently in Abuja.
Recently, the minister of defence, Major-Gen. Bashir Magashi, retd, lamented that Nigeria was currently bleeding as a result of insecurity in the country. The minister, whose remarks captured the spate of daily killings in the country, disclosed in Abuja that the government was compiling a comprehensive list of identified enemies of the country. While noting that the incidents of domestic terrorism has reduced due to measures put in place by the government, other problems arising from intolerance has heightened. Citing the emergence of herders/farmers clashes, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB issues, banditry, among others, the minister explained that such violence was legitimate alternative.
He disclosed that some individuals, who fund Boko Haram had been arrested, particularly in Kano state and that some of them had contacted him for his intervention, but he turned down their request, insisting that due process had to be followed. Magashi said the military would not be deterred, but would focus on eliminating all perceived threats and expressed the hope that this objective could be achieved with the deployment of new military assets that would soon arrive.
Undeterred by the labelling of any critic of the huge governance deficit, especially insecurity, Prof Wole Soyinka called on the federal government to seek help to tackle insecurity in the country and ‘stop the blame trade’.
According to the Nobel laureate, the federal government should seek help where necessary to regain peace in Nigeria and chart a way forward without using Nigerians as victims.
Reacting to the daily killings across the country by bandits, terrorists and other gunmen, Prof. Soyinka said that these gunmen had sacrificed and traumatised the country’s youths beyond their capacity to cope.
For Soyinka, the country is at war and that it is time to stop pretending and that the government should put in more efforts to stop the killing of youths, who are the future of the country.
While in an optimistic note, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, assured Nigerians that insecurity won’t consume Nigeria. Obasanjo said during a valedictory and commendation service for the retiring President of Nigerian Baptist Convention, NBC, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, that he remained an “incurable optimist” that a better Nigeria would emerge despite the escalating security challenges.
Obasanjo, who has been critical of the failure of the current administration, especially its failure to maximize the country’s diversity, stated that Nigeria would surmount all the current problems.
In the same vein, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has also appealed to Nigerians to put the brakes on the spiraling violence that has pushed Nigeria to the edge of a precipice as the nation cannot afford another civil war now.
Speaking at the meeting of the All Progressives Congress, APC, leaders from the South-east in Abuja, Osinbajo urged the elite to speak out against forces of division in order to preserve the unity of the country.
“We cannot afford a war in this country…it is the political elite that will determine what will take place. If we keep quiet, if we say nothing and hope that things will just normalise, we may be wrong. And we may find ourselves heading for something much worse than we are seeing today.
“If the political elite do not speak up, if we don’t see anything wrong with what is going on, if we allow it to continue to slide, we will endanger ourselves and endanger the future of our country. I know that every conflict is a result of elite failure, the elite failure to speak up and tell the truth to their communities, that’s the cause of every one of these civil conflicts.
“So, I would urge that we speak up. I would urge that we stand for something. Sometimes it’s dangerous to stand for something. But the greater danger, of course, is to keep quiet,” he said.
Meanwhile, after being assailed by unrelenting insecurity across the regions of the country and yielding to calls for international collaboration, President Muhammadu Buhari has sought the help of the United States government to contain the precarious situation in the country.
During a virtual meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, Buhari stressed the need for the US to consider relocating its Africa Command, AFRICOM, from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa, nearer the Theatre of Operation, while urging the international community to support Nigeria and the sub-region in tackling growing security challenges to avoid spillovers.
“The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central, and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes. The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation,’’ he said.
But the US has just rejected the request by Buhari to relocate its Africa Command, AFRICOM, from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa, which is nearer the Theatre of Operation. The US had last week ruled out any plans to relocate AFRICON headquarters, citing huge costs associated with such an exercise.
While Nigerians are grieving over to spate of insecurity in the country, the federal government should strive to address the socio-economic challenges, which analysts believe are fueling insecurity, distrust and disenchantment against the authorities since the APC-led federal government has failed to fulfil its campaign promises. The officials of government should realize that life has become increasing hard for Nigerians. With two recessions in five years, rising inflation, high unemployment, poverty, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and daily killings, surely the federal government has failed to meet the expectations of the people. Indeed, Nigerians do not deserve what they are going through today.
– May 09, 2021 @ 16:55 GM