BUHARI’s LAST BATTLE

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Just two weeks after his inauguration for a second term in office, President Buhari, winner of the February 2019 Presidential election in Nigeria, faces challenge of grave insecurity and widespread clamour for State Police and declaration of State of Emergency.

By Tobs Agbaegbu and Victor Ugborgu

Muhammadu Buhari, President and Commander in Chief of Nigeria’s armed forces had a date with history. He emerged number two, in the list of former military heads of state who later emerged at the centre stage of politics as two term president. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is number one in the list. Buhari is number two, after taking his oath of office, Wednesday, May 29, two week ago.

Buhari mounted the seat of power, to govern and administer Nigeria at a trying moment. His promise in his first term in office, to secure life of the citizens, their properties and territorial integrity of the country was not an absolute success. Indeed, at the twilight of his regime in the first instance, feeling of insecurity was self-evident, in virtually all geo-political zones.

Insecurity, the state of being subject to danger or threat,is real in Nigeria. Incessant attack from Boko Haram terrorists,  Killings,kidnap and rape by armed herdsmen, and most recently, mass murders by bandits in many parts of the country,now regular occurrences. The raw fact about the situation is shocking indeed.

As Buhari gets to take his oath of office next week, two things are high in expectation from Nigerians. First, the President should promise and begin immediately to wage a fierce battle, to crush all forms of terror and insecurity in the country. As a General of the Nigerian army, though retired now, this is expected to be one last battle he must win for the country.

The Second item in the list of high expectations from Nigerians is a pronouncement on the issue of StatePolice. Last week, Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy President of the Senate, brought the issue into the front burner, fordiscussion, in a public statement. He spoke the mind of many Nigerians who had earlier canvassed for the creation of state police in many parts of the country.

Ekweremadu urged Buhari to “throw his weight behind the creation of state police” as a panacea to rising security concerns in the country. Ekweremadu’s call was contained in a statement issued on his behalf by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu at the opening of a two-day conference on the implementation of the autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary.

The Deputy Senate President blamed the rising security challenges on the unitary police system prescribed by the constitution, noting that the best option was not to run away from decentralised policing. He added that the best option was to ensure appropriate checks in terms of recruitment, appointment of police chiefs, control, logistics, funding, among others, to guide against possible abuse by state governors. He suggested the establishment of a National Police Service Commission (NPSC) that would exercise a level of oversight over the activities of the state police.

According to him, the oversight should include maintaining common facilities for all police services in the country, including training, criminal intelligence data bases, forensic laboratories, among others.

“The NPSC should also run a system of inspectorates and certification such as supervision of recruitment, training, supervision of standards, and annual certification of every state police service.

“There should also be a body known as State Police Service Commission for the states and should comprise a representative of the Executive to be appointed by the governor and representative of the Federal Government to be appointed by the NPSC.

“It should also comprise two independent experts in security matters to be appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the state house of assembly, and a representative each of the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) and the Trade Union Congress(TUC).

“Others are a retired police officer not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, representative of the Nigerian Bar Association, representative of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, and representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and other relevant civil organisations, as the case may be.

“The body should be responsible for the recruitment, appointment and disciplining of the members of the state police force.

“Importantly, the funding of state police should be a first line charge on the state account or it can be deducted at source from the Federation Account and paid to the Police Service Commission for onward disbursement to respective state police service commissions.

“There should be an Act of the National Assembly stipulating the type of arms that can be acquired by a sub-national police and also unacceptable conducts, which can lead to the sanction of a sub-national police command,” he said.

On affordability, Ekweremadu explained that state police would not be compulsory as those with the resources could establish one, while those without the resources could continue to rely on the federal police until they were able to establish one.

In the same vein, calls have been made for declaration of state of emergency by the President, as a quick avenue to stop the rising spate of insecurity in the country. Abdulaziz Yari, Governor of Zamfara State re-echoed this call recently when bandits carried out serial killing of indigenes of the state, a few months ago. TheGovernor said he was even ready to quit as governor if a state of emergency is declared to solve the security problem in the state.

Governor Yari, who is the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, also lamented the shortage of police personnel in the state, stressing that with the presence of security men, banditry, kidnapping and insurgency which had become the order of the day in the state would become a thing of the past. Briefing State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the governor explained that his readiness to vacate his position, if President Buhari should declare a state of emergency in the state, is the culmination of the value and importance he attaches to human lives, adding that without the people, he would not be governor.

Calls on the President to declare state of emergency and also support creation of state police in Nigeria, is borne out of genuine concern for safety for all. Insecurity is fact about its existence, in various locations, forms and shapes.

Report by the Northeast of Nigeria, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) recently said a total of 41.3 million people are displaced inside their own countries as aresult of conflict and violence.A statement from Frankie Parrish, Head of Communications, IDMC for NRCsaid, the number of people living in internal displacement worldwide as of the end of 2018 is the highest it has ever been, according to the Global Report on Internal Displacement. “This is an increase of more than a million since the end of 2017 and two-thirds more than the global number of refugees.

“The record figure is the result of years of cyclical and protracted displacement, and high levels of new displacement between January andDecember 2018. IDMC recorded 28 million new internal displacementsassociated with conflict, generalised violence and disasters in 2018”, the statement said, adding that “on-going conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria, and a rise in inter-communal tensions in Ethiopia, Cameroon and Nigeria’s Middle Belt region triggered most of the 10.8 million new displacements linked to conflict and violence. Internally displaced people (IDPs) who tried to return to their homes in Iraq, Nigeria and Syria during the year found their property destroyed, infrastructure damaged and basic services non-existent.

“This year’s report is a sad reminder of the recurrence of displacement, and of the severity and urgency of IDPs’ needs. Many of the same factors that drove people from their homes now prevent them from returning or finding solutions in the places they have settled,” said Alexandra Bilak, IDMC’s director.

The security challenges in Nigeria took a dangerous dimension in 2014 when over 200 school girls were abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State and a year to the 2019 election over 100 school girls were taken away by the same Boko Haram in Dapchi, Yobe State.

The military and other security agencies were assumed to be in control of the situation at the moments these abductions took place. The Dapchi abduction took place months after the administration claimed to have degraded Boko Haram and that the terrorists no more constituted a fighting force. If Chibok remains a national tragedy, Dapchi is now a national disgrace. As President Buhari himself rightly put it “That is not a story of progress in the war efforts; it is a nationaldisaster”.

Borno and Yobe states are listed as crisis-ridden states with military and security operations in place, yet, terrorists found it easy to invade aschool and take away girls in trucks. This brings sharply into focus the lack of public accountability on the part of the Buhari security team. Many Nigerians including foreigners believe that the output doesn’t justify the enormous resources and hope invested in the security of those areas. They blame the lack of the reflection of federal character in Buhari’s security appointments as part of the problem.

 Boko haram insurgents have continued to wreak havoc on the lives andproperties of Nigerians. For over a decade since the advent of the dreaded sect, it is assumed that close to 200,000 lives including soldiers have been lost with millions internally displaced.

OF recent, reports had it that gunmen believed to be Boko Haram members,on Tuesday, May 7, staged an attack on a convoy of travellers near Molai, a village at the outskirts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.The convoy of travellerswas reported to have been guarded by soldiers, but this did not deter the insurgents.

The gunmen reportedly travelled from Damboa to the outskirts ofMaiduguri before they began the attack near Molai village.  Molai is acommunity known for such frequent attacks. Residents of the community said the attack started at about 6.30 p.m. when Muslims were about to break their fast.

According to eyewitnesses, the attackers were in their large numbers driving in more than a dozen vehicles. No one suspected that they were Boko Haram until they were about entering into Maiduguri. People wondered where the soldiers were when such a large number of gunmen invaded their convoy.

One eye witness was reported to have explained how it happened thus: “Suddenly we saw one of the vehicles pull out in full speed and ram into a military escort van and a bomb went off.

“From then on, the other gunmen who wereembedded in the different parts ofthe convoy started shooting at the passengers as everyone scamperedinto safety.

“The gunmen made their way to Molai where they continued to shootwhile setting houses and vehicles on fire. From the way they attackedusing car bomb, there is no doubt there would be many casualties. Manypeople may have been killed in the attack”.

Like the Boko haram crisis, government is helpless with the herdsmenissue.  While Nigerians were faced with how to tackle the dread sect,another one in the guise of herdsmen sprang up. This latestterror group has embarked on a wanton killing spree. Hundreds of lives havebeen wasted by the marauding killers.

Herdsmen and farmers have been having clashes in different parts of the country like Kaduna, Plateau, Enugu, Benue, Taraba and Adamawa states, leaving scores dead.The killings in Benue, Taraba and Zamfara and other parts of the country have become alarming.

Abdulmumini Usman, the Emir of Katsina on May 6, 2019 lamented the security situation in his state.According to him, “Every day, I receive reports of kidnapping and Killings from the district and village heads”.

Musa Umar, the Daura district head, was kidnapped from his residence by fourunidentified gunmen recently. Security operatives claim that keysuspects had been arrested and that those behind the heinous crime would be brought to book.

The worsening insecurity in the country took an alarming turn recently, when Nigerians woke up to hear the news of murderous banditsinflicting terror wantonly on communities in Zamfara State. The horrendous banditry which has been going on for some time withdevastating consequences for indigenes of the state got to a headwith the killing of over 50 people and the sacking of villages.

As the Federal Government was trying to quell the situation andrestore the confidence of embattled Zamfara citizens, unknown gunmen were said to have invaded Birnin Gwari, a Kaduna suburb.  Five peoplelost their lives.

The incidences of armed banditry and kidnapping in Zamfara specifically were attributed to a thriving business ofillegal gold-mining in the affected areas.Foreign miners scavenging for gold and other precious stones, incollusion with some unscrupulous Nigerian elite, includingpoliticians, business tycoons, retired army officers and traditionalrulers, were alleged to be at the centre of these manipulative anddespicable activities.These ugly incidents coincided with the activities of bandits andkidnappers in some communities in Katsina State during which eightlocal governments were devastated with 40 people dead.Recently too, troops killed two bandits and recovered some weaponsafter they raided one of their den in Gonan Bature East of Rijana and Kasarami farm house in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Sagir Musa, a colonel and Army Spokesman said the bandits occupied the abandoned Kasarami farmhouse and used it as shelter and a place tokeep kidnapped victims.Musa listed the recovered weapons as two AK 47 rifles, two AK 47magazines, 51 rounds of 7.62 mm Special ammunition and two Techno cellphones. He pledged that the Nigerian army are committed and determined to protectlife and property of the citizens and urged the public to alwaysprovide useful information to tackle terrorism, banditry and othercrimes in the country.

Nigerians have been reacting angrily at the unfolding state of helplessness in the country. Among them are Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former Vice President and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in the 2019 presidential election who recently admonished President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, to take responsibility for the increasing rate of insecurity in Nigeria.

He said it was very unfortunate that the Buhari administration instead of finding a way to restore confidence in Nigerians would be busy fabricating false news through “a faceless international Non-Governmental Organisation” to explain the insecurity in Nigeria.

Specifically, Atiku was actually reacting to a report published on Monday, May 6, 2019, by, the Centre for Diplomacy and Democracy,CDD, an organisation based in Washington DC, United States of America. CDD alleged that Abubakar has a hand in the killings across Nigeria.

In a statement signed by Paul Ibe, his media adviser, Abubakar said such reports could cause further division and instability in the country. The presidential candidate of the PDP said his checks indicate that “no such body called Centre for Diplomacy and Democracy exists,” adding that the “Americans will never write ‘Centre’. They will write ‘Center’ in conformity to American English usage.”

This is the deepest low that MuhammaduBuhari administration has gone in causing further division and promoting instability in Nigeria.

Ibe explained thatanyone versed enough in the protocol of international NGOs will discern without much ado that the particular report by a faceless, Insipid organisation known as ‘Centre for Diplomacy and Democracy’ was contrived with express mobilisation from officials of the Buhari administration in a shameless and disingenuous attempt to find a jejune explanation for the rising rate of insecurity in Nigeria.

According to him, it is so distasteful that the Buhari administration, rather than have a self-introspection and admit to the world that its policies and actions are responsible for the divisions in the country with the manifestation of all manner of crimes such as banditry, kidnapping and wanton killings across the land chooses to employ the service of a faceless NGO to blame the opposition for its own ineptitude.

He urged the president to stop the “infantile style of looking for who to blame for his failures will not obliterate his abysmal record of performance in the past four years.

He also took a swipe at Buhari’s comment that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammad Adamu, has lost weight due to his efforts to keep the country safe. “The Buhari administration and the ruling APC are renowned for propaganda stunt and double-speak. Sadly, it does not matter to them the disturbing number of criminalities happening on a daily basis in Nigeria. In their warped thinking, the performance rate of security chiefs during times like this is determined on how much weight the Inspector General of Police has lost. The question to ask is: how would the APC have reproved a president who makes such careless remarks on national security at a time when insecurity in the country has assumed epidemic proportions?”

Atiku said President Buhari and the APC have shown without equivocation that the job at hand is overwhelming for them. And because they lack the basic clue of how to tame the bogey that they have created, they now scamper around like school kids who have caused an upset in a highly sensitive science laboratory.

“Nigerians don’t pray for a president who passes the buck. All they want is a president who can hold the bull by the horn and get the job done. After all, President Buhari took an oath to defend the lives and properties of the citizens, which is the primary responsibility of every government.”

Atiku is not alone in the call for a proactive action against insurgents in the country. Many other Nigerians have decried the insecurity situation in the country which if not checked could worsen the situation.

Professor Ango Abdullahi, convener of the Northern Elders Forum, in a press conference recently described the situation as a “cataclysmic collapse of security” and “sanguinary” … “colossal threat to life and property.”

Abdulrahman Dambazau Lt. Gen. (retd.) and Minister of Interior hadlast year lamented that indiscipline and poor attitude to work amongpersonnel of the security agencies were the challenges contributing toinsecurity in the country.He stated this in Abuja during an emergency security meeting withpersonnel of the police, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the army and other agencies. He noted that the country was also faced with poor logistics, including weapons and ammunitions, to tackle insecurity.

Dambazau also mentioned that the trafficking of drugs and arms, aswell as the spread and access to smuggled weapons, particularly theAK-47 assault rifles were other factors fuelling insecurity in the country. He explained the situation thus:

 “There are many challenges contributing to insecurity andimpeding the optimum performance of the security agencies. There is ageneral problem of command and control, indiscipline, poor attitude toduty, and poor welfare among the personnel of the security agencies inthe field.

“The prevalence of porous and poorly managed borders also makes it easy for transnational crimes, especially trafficking in drugs and movement of terrorists. In the same vein, the spread and access to smuggled weapons, particularly AK-47 assault rifles, aggravates insecurity.

“We are not dealing with conventional threats, but peculiar threats that are laced with terrorism, sabotage, and efforts to manipulate our society’s religion and ethnicity. There are indications that some of these threats are politically motivated from within the country: some are induced from outside of the country by those who are not comfortable with Nigeria’s potential; while others are as a result of outright criminal acts or violent extremism or both.”

Dambazau, however, noted that the government was currently pursuingthe implementation of a tripartite agreement for the voluntary returnof Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, Niger Republic and Chad.“Currently, there are very large swathes of ungoverned forests that are inter-connected, covering Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states, serving as sanctuaries for bandits andcriminals,” the minister said.

Kayode Komolafe, a columnist said the administrations best wascertainly not good enough when mass burials are routinely reported inplaces where bandits are on the prowl and unchecked. “Glaringincompetence is on display, yet nobody accepts responsibility for thestate of things. The matter is made worse by the seeming arrogance andinsensitivity in a complex country such as Nigeria with highlyinflammable fault lines of ethnicity and religion. No patriot canafford to pretend to be unaware of the brewing bitterness in Benue,Taraba and Southern Kaduna. The feeling of helplessness in Zamfara and threats in Edo and Delta cannot be ignored by anyone who wishesNigeria well”.

Frank Ijege, a public affairs analyst believes that the administrationneeds to put mechanisms in place to console and compensate victims ofconflicts and other sundry matters. “When crisis occurs, people lose their lives, living behind grieving families. Properties are also lost. Because of our laxity in compensating these people; they feel abandoned and neglected and always seek an opportunity to avenge their loss on the system and also on people who they feel are related to, or share an affinity with the villain. We cannot continue to look the other way, while the list of victims grows”.

He said Security agencies should live up to their billings as they have been “sleeping on their duties, chasing imaginary things rather than things that matter. They can prevent these attacks and killings if they want to”.

“Our justice system is another contributing factor. Many people have no hope in the judicial system of our country. They believe justice is for the highest bidder. The judiciary is no longer the hope of the common man; he has therefore, decided to help himself. This is why violence continues to be on the rise”, he opined. Some Nigerians believe that some of the major causes of insecurity in Nigeria include unemployment; Poverty and government’s lopsided appointments.

 The Guardian Editorial of April29, 2019, also captured the mood of the people. Undoubtedly, the editorial is the conscience of the nation at present.

The Guardian wrote:  “Given the frequency of these fatal events, the westward movement from religious terrorism to greed-driven banditry, the casual reaction of the security operatives, the seeming desensitization of the populace to violent deaths, and the ominous silence of the presidency, one canassume that tragedy has become so routinized that the country is undersiege. “Correspondingly, the people, awfully accustomed to abject poverty andpenury, are so disenchanted by the lopsided geopolitical structure, suffused systemic indolence and incurably unjust distribution of national dessert, that they feel very hopeless and helpless. It is a combination of all these, and the systemic failure of the economy, social system, education, health that are symbolised by the current insecurity. This is a sad commentary on Nigeria and a low vote of confidence on the leadership of this administration”.

‘’Unfortunately, the Buhari administration seems not to understand the enormity of insecurity in the country. There seems to exist a manifest and deliberate lack of political wills, a moral deficit observed in leadership insincerity; a nauseating silence and lethargy bordering on obvious incapacitation. This government needs to be told that security is not merely the ubiquitous presence of gun-wielding operatives in crises-ridden areas, or the imprudent disbursement and monetization of terror and banditry. Beyond that, it is the satisfaction and feeling of safety by the people, of the Nigeriancollective being thought about and being cared-for by those who represent and serve them.

“National security is not success in killing a handful of insurgents and bandits, but the result and centre-point of other sectorial forms of security: food security, health security, economic security and even security in the family; with the result that people would not be wolves onto themselves. To curb the indiscriminate pillaging of natural resources and the recurrence of violent exploitation of the Nigerian masses, the issue of restructuring has to be sincerely addressed.

‘’The dubious, fragmented relationship between the national government and federating units (the states) has to be constitutionally re-evaluated in terms of managing resources domiciled in the states. The idea of reposing the prerogative of prospecting certain resources, such as petroleum or solid minerals in the exclusive legislative list runs contrary to fairness and justice, even as it is preposterous”, The Guardian said.

In a bid to find a lasting solution to the question of insecurity, President Buhari on May 9 presided over a security meeting during which security personnel briefed him on the security situation after his short vacation abroad. Ibok-EteIbas, Vice Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff said the security agencies briefed the president on what had been happening across the country with particular emphasis on the proliferation of small arms and what they were doing to curtail the consequences.

 The President has also given directives that the agencies should do more to ensure that Nigerians go to bed and wake up feeling healthy and confident that their security is guaranteed. “The heads of security agencies who met with President MuhammaduBuhari on Thursday briefed him “on what has been happening, with particular emphasis on the proliferation of small arms”.

On the rising spate of kidnappings across the country, the Navy chief said the acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had been directed to tackle the menace. He said consequently, various operations were set up by the police.

“With the setup of the operations, there has been a remarkable dropin the number of kidnappings. What normally would attract attention iswhen a key person in government, perhaps,is kidnapped. On the whole,the number of kidnappings has dropped and generally I think thesecurity situation is improving,” Mr Ibas said. However, Ibas did not provide any data to back his claim of reduction in kidnap incident as kidnapping for ransom has become rampant in many parts of Nigeria.

Apart from kidnappings, there have also been attacks by armed persons,bandits and ethnic/religious conflicts in many parts of Nigeria.

The Federal Government, also on Tuesday, May 7, in Abuja inaugurated a15-man inter-agency committee to study the implementation strategieson strengthening internal security framework and community policing inNigeria.

Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF), said the inauguration of the committee was part of efforts bythe government to tackle security challenges in the country.

Truly, the state of insecurity in Nigeria is worrisome.  With the Boko Haram in the North east, Kidnappers and cultists in parts of the South East and South South, Militants in the North West and Herdsmen in the MiddleBelt; Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder.

But there is a clear leader in place, who, as President, has constitutional mandate to mobilise resources to fight and defend.  President Buhari, the commander in chief of the armed forces in Nigeria is in charge. He is a retired Major General in the Nigerian Army and previously served as the nation’s Head of state from  December 3, 1983 to August 27, 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état. He has fought battles before. This is his last chance to win the hearts of Nigerians, by winning the war against insurgence and all causes of insecurity in the country.

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