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In The Face Of Overwhelming Insecurities

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Can We Have 'No Victor, No Vanquished'?

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

It was nice to see the former President Muhammadu Buhari again in public programme, along side his wife, Hajia Aisha. He was physically present at the launching of two books written by his former appointees while in office. One was written by Mr. Femi Adesina, with title: “Working With Buhari- Reflections of A Special Adviser, Media And Publicity (2015-2023).” Another volume of five books, edited by Dr. Udu Yakubu titled “Muhammadu Buhari: The Nigerian Legacy (Volume 1-5).”

The hall was packed with important personalities like President Tinubu, former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, former Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who we also saw publicly again since leaving office. It is interesting to hear that it was the first time Buhari would be visiting Abuja in almost eight months of leaving. He has ‘retired’ to his abode in Daura, since he could not ‘escape’ to Niger Republic again due to border closure, like President Tinubu joked about while delivering his speech.

Reactions have continued to trail that book launching, especially some comments made by Buhari while delivering his address that touched on some salient and burning issues currently. One was the issue of Emefiele. He gave reason while he did not sack him, which many found very laughable, if not irresponsible of a leader. It was a public knowledge that Emefiele bought presidential nomination forms, printed posters that dotted Abuja landscape and around the country, bought numerous campaign vehicles already branded with his pictures.

He even went to court to preempt anyone from stopping him from contesting, all these, while still a sitting governor of the CBN, the only thing Buhari could say was that he did not take any action because Emefiele did not come to inform him that he was contesting. In other words, if Emefiele or anyone was doing things that put the country in jeopardy, the president would not take action once the person did not report themselves personally to him that they were doing wrong. That was typical of Buhari, a man who hardly takes responsibility.

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As Yorubas would say “ti a ba ni a ko ni se oogun ika mo, eniti yio jewo a beere.” As a person, after God has saved us from those eight harrowing years of Buhari, I believed that was past tense and we should only be forward looking. Fortunately too, the current administration, for obvious reason of coming from the same party, chose to move on, focus on rescuing the country, rather than engage in blame game of the past administration. This took our minds, substantially, off the past.

Although, like Senator Shehu Sani wrote in his reaction to Adesina’s book, he asked if we even need any book to remind us of Buhari’s time since we are still living its impacts. That was profound, though sounded cheeky. Aren’t we? Even if we try, can we forget? Not with the many negative footprints all over. The revelations about series of humongous thefts that kept popping up won’t allow us to forget. Many unprecedented level of corruption that took place under him, with same Emefiele as a “gang leader”. A man, who illegally acquired four big banks using his office. I guess Buhari couldn’t sack him for such since he didn’t report himself to him that he did so. Ludicrous!

I wonder how Femi Adesina was comfortable to write and publish that book while he hears and sees all the things coming out about that government now. Well, there is a practice by loyalists or sycophantic subordinates to leaders to try excusing them from wrongdoings under them. Even the devil has his own advocates. They tend to claim that it is because someone is not close to the leader, that is why they don’t know his true ‘wonderful’ nature and personality. I ask, must everyone personally get close to a public leader before they can feel their true character and nature? When God sees you, let humans see you too. Saying someone is great in private when he is perceived otherwise in public is ridiculous.

Aldolf Hitler was said to be of pristine personality in private. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t womanise, devouted to family and very religious or spiritual, as the case may be, but what did his public personality exude? He was accused of killing six million Jews (might have been exaggerated actually, based on hindsight of the real characters of the Jews themselves). Major Hamzat Al-Mustapha (Rtd.) still tells us till tomorrow that the late General Sani Abacha was the best thing that has happened to Nigeria and Nigerians. Will majority of Nigerians agree with him? So, no one should tell us that a man in public office has good intention and is a kind person in private, when all their outward public actions were to the contrary.

Among many other catastrophic legacies he left is the current high level of insecurities that we are experiencing across the country. Let me make something clear, I am not saying that insecurities started under Buhari. No, far from it. In fact, insecurity is natural to human beings since there will always be some rogues who will always break the law. The current challenges started since the coming of the Fourth Republic. What later became boko haram terrorists started around 2002. However, they were not terrorists at the time.

Their violent side started in 2009 after their leader, Muhammed Yusuf was killed extrajudicially by some police officers in Maiduguri, Borno State. All hell was let loose as his more dangerous and violent deputy took over. We have never recovered since then. The matter got worse under former President Jonathan when they became full-blown terrorists, annexing territories, declaring self rule, collecting taxes, attacking military formations, public infrastructures and private institutions. They declared war on the country. That was the first time Nigerians began to experience bombings in different locations. They grew from the small dissident organisation to a formidable terrorist group with affiliations to international ones.

While this started gradually, the leaders of the north, which were supposed to rise up to the occasion to nip it in the bud while still small, did nothing, to public knowledge. In fact, I felt they indulged them, especially the political class then, who were unhappy that Jonathan, another southerner, was using their northern slot of the late Yar’adua, after the south had used eight years by Obasanjo. I was living in the north all through this period and I did not see any concerted effort by northern leaders to stop boko haram’s expansion. It was unfortunate because they became monsters that started consuming all, irrespective of tribe, religion, political interest or social status. “Agba ti ko kehun soro, a ketan sare.” This continued till 2015 when Buhari was elected.

As a retired General in the army, one of the major reasons why majority voted for him was to help crush the terrorists. Did he live up to that? The jury is out there. For few months, we actually saw massive improvement in the fight against the terrorists. They were dealt deadly blows and pushed back from their southward spreading, up to Abuja then, where they previously bombed some locations, to Borno state. They were also cleared out from the two other states where they operated; Yobe and Adamawa. We all jubilated and praised the president and his administration. How did we then get here, where another level of terrorism took over, not just the north this time, but across the country?

Since that time, another terrorist group called bandits have been wrecking more havocs than boko haram. In many instances, they collaborated with boko haram in carrying out deadly attacks on innocent citizens in various communities in different states. We saw of mass kidnappings and killings that continued to take place all through that administration till it ended on May 29, 2023. A Vanguard report on May 20, 2023, had it that about 63,111 people were killed under Buhari’s administration alone. That’s reported cases. There would have been thousands of unreported ones. Imagine that, when Nigeria did not go to war.

This banditry has continued up till date carrying out deadly attacks such as the recent massive attacks in Plateau State on the eve of Christmas, which left about 150 people dead. About 17 communities were simultaneously attacked within 48 hours. How did we get here?

In the last six years, I have written many articles about insecurities across the country, with over 80% of them concerning the ones that took place in northern Nigeria, under President Buhari, a northerner. Why was I so bothered? In the course of working in those years as an employee, I had the opportunity of living, working, and travelling across the country. I am from South West, born, bred, schooled and worked in the region for few decades. I spent almost a decade of my adult life within South East and South South. I travelled to all the states.

I was subsequently transferred to Abuja, where my second journey started that took me to many states in the north as well. I spent another decade there. All those years, I can authoritatively say that Northern Nigeria was the safest region to live, work and travel around. It was such a great adventure having to travel on those seemingly endless stretch of roads, driving myself and at any time of the day, even at night. The usual fear of highway robbers we used to have down south was not common in the north. At home, you could sleep and leave your doors open. In fact, many guys sleep outside, just to take fresh air, because of the heat that is perennial there. All these without any fear. What then went wrong?

After my resignation and return South West, whenever I hear news of bandits taking over highways, city roads, and communities, I could not fathom it. These were roads I drove on countless times. Imagine the very critical Abuja-Kaduna Expressway becoming impassable at some points in time because bandits had taken it over. That was unbelievable to me. So, I always felt so sad. That has discouraged me from travelling to the north regularly since. At least, no by road again.

While all these were going on, what did the leaders of the north do? Nothing or not much. At that time, it was ‘their son’, Buhari, who was the president. So, they didn’t want to criticise him despite that their people were at the receiving end. Mass kidnappings of students became rampant. Mass attack of villages and communities was so frequent that we lost count. Bandits took over roads at will and abducted full loads of vehicles of travellers. They became so bold and attacked Kaduna Airport, Abuja-Kaduna train and abducted many, after killing many others. They attack jails to free their members regularly.

The southern parts were not spared. Regular news about kidnappings along the roads and towns happened. The case of IPOB, ESN and unknown gunmen in South East region was a different kettle of fish. The barbarism with which they executed theirs was worse. They were not even claiming to do it for money but as agitation for the realisation of Biafra. How did that make sense when the very people who were suffering from their brutality were majority from same region where they planned to establish Biafra; the ‘propective’ Biafrans? This was how we lived through Buhari’s administration.

Fortunately or unfortunately for the present administration, like President reiterated at the book launching that he inherited both the assets and liabilities of Buhari’s administration. Painfully, the liabilities seem overwhelming. Thank God he doesn’t complain but takes them as what he signed up for. While Tinubu’s government has its responsibility to tackle the challenges facing the country under him, it is made worse and more difficult because of how terrible things have gotten to.

It is important that Tinubu’s administration keeps the heat on the criminals as it seems they are recovering and reenergising more to take on Nigeria, with the series of disheartening incidents that have been happening recently. With immediate change of the service chiefs after taking over, Nigerians witnessed a substantial improvement in security situations across the country. Most highways and express roads suddenly became cleared of bandits and passable.

Many communities were rid of them. The ceaseless bombardment of their enclaves and strongholds by our gallant security agents shattered their organisations and scattered them. In the south, most visible was the stopping of the stay-at-home imposed and violently enforced on the South East region on Mondays for the past three years. Normal life returned and business activities resumed. That was a great achievement. This needs to be sustained.

However, the bandits are coming back. They now target the federal capital territory, FCT. In the past few weeks, kidnappings for ransom have become a daily thing. The more scary dimension to it is that they don’t only attack on roads alone, they go to peoples’ houses and kidnap the entire family. These have happened in places like Lugbe, Bwari, Karu, Dei-dei, Kubwa, Gwagwalada and other satellite towns. There were reports that these are also happening within the main city like Central Area, Maitama, Garki, Gwarinpa, and so on.

The case of Nabeeha, her family members, and others, who were kidnapped few weeks ago is still hot. The other dangerous dimension is the killing of some of their victims when the relatives have not been able to pay ransom within a short period. This is done to put pressure on the relatives to pay for the rest of their family members in their captivity. That is different from the past where they held the victims as long as the family has not paid. They might not feed them well but they were not killing them.

This was what happened to Nabeeha, Folorunso Ariyo and another girl, who were killed and their corpses dropped where their families would see and pick them. There are five other sisters of Naheeba still with them, which they threatened to kill if their family does not pay up. Same as others. These new dimensions are worrisome and require more drastic actions. President Tinubu and the security agencies cannot be seen to be dropping the ball now.

As a responsible and responsive government, we saw President Tinubu summoned the security chiefs to a meeting few days ago. We saw the Minister of FCT, Nyesom Wike had security council meeting with the heads of security and all the local council chairmen within FCT. We saw the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, constituted a Special Intervention Squard (SIS). We saw Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Taoreed Lagbaja visited the various army formations. All these were geared toward reenergising the fight against insecurities.

These were departures from the past, when serious issues like that, would be made to fester. That was how we got here in the first place. Abuja is the seat of power. It cannot be perceived to be unsafe, not to talk of it being the reality. Same as all parts of the country. Governments at all levels must live up to their responsibilities. All security is local. State governors can’t be collecting security votes but expect the FG to do all the jobs alone. That’s criminal. Tinubu hinted on establishing specialised police units for marine, solid minerals and forest security. That will be great and will go a long way to curbing this menace.

The promised increase in the personnel of different security agencies has started with the ongoing recruitments. The process needs more scrutiny to avoid recruiting criminals into the security agencies, as alleged by Governor Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State, who said there are fifth columnists now in the security circle. Also, continous training of the personnel on modern policing and warfare is critical. They should be well equipped and well motivated. “Inu didun, lo n m’ori ya.”

The people should also collaborate with the security agents for effectiveness by providing intelligence, which they should also act upon. Few years ago, the mass incursion of bandit-looking strangers were seen moving into Abuja environs. Video of it circulated on social media but nothing was done about it then. It could be that they are the criminals wrecking havocs now. That’s the price we are paying for the negligence of the last administration. May we never witness such again.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole
Email: [email protected]
Whatsapp: +2348036034685

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January 27, 2024.

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