Aso Rock, on one hand, as well as Afenifere and Ohanaeze cultural groups, have been wrong-footing themselves in the all-important matter of national security. Miyetti Allah, easily, one of the most ardent sympathisers of President Muhammadu Buhari. Equally, even if mischievously, the same group is the most unhelpful to Buhari in matters of security such that the man (Buhari) had to pay heavy price in the 2019 presidential election.
Otherwise, Buhari would not have lost in Benue, Adamawa, Plateau and Taraba states. Despite that expensive electoral price, Miyetti Allah is still not helping matters with continued killings of fellow Nigerians in parts of the North. And for such unprovoked violence, Buhari is blamed by critics. There was, therefore, no surprise that discussions took place between representatives of Federal Government and Miyetti Allah leaders. But the hope of peace emanating from the talks was dented by the allegation that Nigerian government paid a whopping sum of N100 billion to Miyetti Allah to purchase peace.
The allegation was grave enough to rattle Aso Rock and force a denial. However, in attempts to dismiss the allegation of paying N100 billion to Miyetti Allah, the Presidency likened the talks with the group (Miyetti Allah) to occasional discussions with Afenifere and Ohanaeze leaders. That comparison would infuriate any Nigerian political/cultural group like Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Northern Elders Forum or Arewa Consultative Forum. All of which have never been associated with violence or even support for violent elements in society. Hence, whenever the need arises, Aso Rock engages them each as a body or all of them as a group.
There is also no record of any of these four groups being negotiated with to assist in ending any violence from their group or in their part of the country. It was also significant that, in justifying the talks with Miyetti Allah, the Presidency compared the group to only Afenifere and Ohanaeze. If, however, no money was paid to Miyetti Allah to purchase peace, the more reason the Presidency should not have been rattled in denying the allegation.
If, on the other hand, Miyetti Allah collected any amount, especially scores of billions of naira as the price for peace to end the murderous activities of Miyetti Allah, Aso Rock should still not have been rattled. Nigerians cannot forget that Miyetti Allah openly and continuously bragged that the group would render all anti-grazing laws of Benue, Adamawa, Plateau and Taraba states unworkable. It turned out that it was not an empty boast, as their killings continued in various parts of the North. In moments of desperation, Nigerians were told that killings in the northern parts of the country were being carried out by foreigners from neighbouring African countries.
Despite all these, including the alleged purchase of peace from Miyetti Allah, the fact of Nigerian history is that before Buhari became a tenant of Aso Rock in 2015, his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan set the precedent in paying for peace from daring violent groups. Those spear-heading bursting of oil pipelines in Niger Delta were awarded contracts by ex-President Jonathan to protect the same pipelines and to supply patrol boats for security in the creeks and the Atlantic Ocean. Contracts for militants to protect Nigerian oil? That was the state of Nigeria’s helplessness.
The cost of the contract for security of pipelines and the high seas awarded to Niger Delta militants of various groups was tens of millions of dollars (yes, dollars) every month. When Buhari assumed office and there were fears the multimillion dollar contracts might be cancelled, violence resumed again in Niger Delta and it fell the lot of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to visit the place and obviously (to) guarantee sustenance of the contract.
Equally, late Frederick Faseun’s faction of Oodua Peoples Congress and the other faction also made a case before Goodluck Jonathan for securing half a billion naira contract to ensure peace in Yorubaland. Accordingly, the only link of Miyetti Allah is to Niger Delta murderous militants and Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).
On the other hand, Ohanaeze, Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum and Arewa Consultative Forum all operate within laws under Nigerian Constitution. They agitate, they criticise government, they demand social/political rights to assemble, associate, etc, all enshrined in fundamental human rights guaranteed in Nigerian Constitution.
New state governors unenviablec
Ordinarily, governance at national or local level in any part of a country is largely aimed at omnibus development of citizens and society. Like everything, it seems to be different in Nigeria. Indeed, if anything, governance at zonal (state and local) level seems to be deliberately aimed at settling scores. With the 2019 elections, the tenure of some state governors ended. That should have been smooth-sailing enough for transition processes.
Instead, it seems to be back to the pattern of political bitterness and desperation to make life uncomfortable for newly-elected governors, especially from rival political parties. The pattern was established eight years ago when some governors failed in their bid to install their preferred favourites who were defeated. Another factor was that while the governors were still in office or hoped to choose their successors, there was wage rise for workers. Most of the governors moaned and groaned that their states would not be able to foot the bill. Their resistance or unwillingness to pay the new minimum wage was aimed at making life easy for their preferred successors. But as soon as their plot failed and especially that the outgoing or defeated governors would be succeeded by political rivals, they turned round at the last minute to accept the new minimum wage mainly to create financial burden for the new governors.
In Oyo State, the then defeated governor Alao Akala accepted the new minimum wage, leaving in-coming governor Abiola Ajimobi to face the task. It was also the same story in Ogun State, where outgoing governor Gbenga Daniel suddenly accepted the new minimum wage with the full knowledge that that task of footing the bill would be that of new governor Ibikunle Amosun. It was, therefore, to be expected that the current out-going governors would make it smooth-sailing for their obviously unpreffered successors.
Rather, states are awash with identical stories, even if in different style. If an in-coming state governor is only weeks away from the grand day, what is the hurry for an outgoing governor to embark on withdrawal of huge sum of public funds for whatever purpose? What is the idea of rushing to conduct local government elections aimed at filling councils with their sycophants, all aimed at undermining an incoming governor? In Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, as a newly sworn-in governor, reportedly inherited some 2,000 newly-recruited civil servants from his predecessor? Why were these emergency civil servants not recruited the previous four years? East or West, there had been reports, in fact, alarms on large-scale virtual emptying of the treasury. For what purpose?
There might be the need for promoting or appointing more than 10 new permanent secretaries as was in Ogun State only weeks ago. In which case, such sincerity should have been displayed by involving the in-coming governor or even allowing him to make the announcements.
If the treasury is empty, if the new governor is to foot the bill for the new minimum wage, if all councillors have been elected for the in-coming governor, if key policy thinkers – permanent secretaries – have been imposed on him, what type of state governors? Figure heads or indeed decorations?
The guy at the Institute of Nigerian Bankers must be a foreigner. According to him, out-going state governors must not be inhibited in any way, since the out-going governors have the right to spend state money till the last day in office. Does he know the state governors he was talking about?
The lot of the new state governors is unenviable.