It’s now all too obvious. The ostrich has nowhere to bury its head. The blame game has ended. The blamers can’t manufacture further excuses and fibs. The nation’s security system has collapsed. The security agents are themselves looking for who will secure them. The bandits, terrorists, kidnappers are having a romp. And guess what? Our president is in shock. Yes, President Muhammadu Buhari says he’s shocked at the current level of insecurity. The ragtag army of goons has shocked the retired tough General. Prickly paradox!
Like a man jarred from deep slumber, Buhari has just realized that he has pushed Nigerians into a pit. He’s just realized that criminals have completely mapped the nation, carving it into bits and portions of conquest. Buhari is in shock. But I’m not shocked that he’s shocked. I’m not shocked that a President who boasted of terminating the garrison of terrorists and bandits in months is just realizing that the cancer of insecurity has insidiously spread to everywhere. I’m not shocked that the man who told the people that Boko Haram has been technically defeated is the same still expressing shock at the bestiality and potency of the bloody jihadists.
And you know why I’m not shocked? Buhari is the master of excuses. He’s the only president whose mantra is ‘I’m not aware’, ‘I don’t know’, ‘I’m surprised’, I’m shocked’. Is he pretending? I guess not. He’s simply not aware. He’s not in a position to be aware of anything going wrong. And his aides and cabinet members are helping him never to be aware. They are quick to answer on his behalf. “’The President is not aware”, they tell us. He was not aware that in the height of the mindless pogrom in Benue by armed Fulani marauders in 2018, the then Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, flouted his directive to relocate to Benue and arrest the drift to anarchy.
Buhari is not aware that Boko Haram which he worked so hard to defeat technically has raised the bar of fatality. He’s not aware that it is suicidal to travel by road from Abuja, the seat of power, to Kaduna, the stronghold and armoury of the Nigerian Army, a journey of barely two hours. He’s not aware that thousands of Nigerians have been abducted in different highways and at different times by a growing army of ransom hunters. He’s not aware that Nigerians have paid out billions of naira to these abductors in ransom.
I agree with Mr. President that the growing banditry is antithetical to development; that it’s targeted against the nation and its citizenry, irrespective of religion. Insecurity cuts across political parties, across ethnicity and does not recognize religion. But he should stop expressing shock and surprise. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The buck stops on his table. He should roll up his sleeve and deal with insecurity. He hasn’t done that. Simplicita!
But if I’m not shocked at the amnestic attitude of the President, I’m shocked that the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, a man who had sworn to approve any request from the President, is just realizing that national security has collapsed. Lawan had been living in Mars. Despite effusive and intelligent presentations on the floor of the Senate by his colleagues these past years and months, Lawan is just getting over his own hangover of amnesia. But why, really, should I be shocked. Lawan is a self-confessed lackey of the Executive. He has voiced it at various times. So, he has to wait for Mr. Buhari to express his shock before he shocked Nigerians with his own verdict.
The Nigerian constitution is very clear on this: security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. The same constitution also states that “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority.”
This means in a democracy such as we have, the people have a voice. They have the licence and liberty to tell the government how they feel, how they want to be governed, and what they expect from government. It means that the people must not be gagged or muzzled in any way. This is where I fault the Presidency. When Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe asked the Buhari government to resign for its ability to protect the lives of Nigerians, he was not speaking for Ndigbo, the PDP or Christians. He was voicing the frustrations of the people.
In 2014 and early 2015 ahead of the general elections, Buhari and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, both chieftains of the APC, then the biggest opposition party, called for the resignation of then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Their call was well in order. Insecurity had set in and Jonathan appeared sufficiently incompetent to handle it. Today, the situation is far worse despite the empty denials by the Presidency and its defenders. Buhari need not resign. We don’t have such leadership values here to resign when we have obviously failed the people. But Buhari should stop living in the moon. He should get down to work. We are daily hunted and hounded by criminals and killers. It was bad under Jonathan but it is worse now. Yet, Nigerians had thought that given his military background, Buhari would be the man to reset national security and engender peace and order. If Abaribe is wrong, is the entire Senate and House of Representatives also wrong? Buhari should sack the service chiefs. They are the reason Buhari is not aware of the dangerously perilous state of insecurity in the country. I doubt if they tell the President the real, hard truth about their failings at their regular security briefings.
There is security emergency in Nigeria. That’s a fact. And it is made worse by Buhari and those who politicize the matter. The politicians who can’t stand a rebuke of their party on matters of growing insecurity are the real enemies of Nigeria. They are worse than Boko Haram and the band of bandits. Those who attack Abaribe for treading on a dangerous ground of criticizing Buhari and calling for his resignation but saw nothing wrong with the same Buhari and Tinubu doing same to Jonathan in the past are enemies of the people. You cannot have the entire bi-cameral, bi-partisan legislature calling for the dismissal of service chiefs on account of their manifest incompetence and not be worried.]
I still think Buhari and indeed the Nigerian security apparatchik can tame crime, insurgency and banditry in the country. The President only has to change his strategy. The strategy of having service chiefs sleep on the job is unacceptable. We lose men and women in the battlefields. The Commander-in-Chief must act like a true commander.
Some people have decided to unleash war against Nigeria, the government of Buhari should rise to the occasion and secure our lives and property. It’s the basic it can offer the people. And for the sake of the dead and the bereaved, the Presidency should temper its language. It’s caustic and rancid and only goes to nudge our pain a couple of Del (units for pain) higher. Away with such astringent language.
THE SUN, NIGERIA