From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Dr Salihu Moh Lukman, has declared that nothing else could have confirmed that bandits are terrorists than the recent attack on Abuja-Kaduna train.
He angrily chided Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, for; “irresponsibly mobilising opposition against declaring bandits’ terrorists, emphasizing that bandits like terrorists are people that threaten the lives of innocent citizens.
In a statement he issued, titled; Nigeria’s insecurity and communication problems’, Lukman also frowned at the damning publication in London magazine, The Economist, arguing that there were several misrepresentation of facts.
“The whole speculation about the so-called agreement between Nigeria and US Government on the use of the A-29 Super Tucano jets is insulting to both Nigeria and US governments. There are so much interesting coincidences from the speculation about the so-called agreement between Nigeria and US governments on how the A-29 Super Tucano jets will be used, the attack on Abuja-Kaduna train and the report in The Economist.
“It is as if somebody, somewhere want to discourage Nigerian Armed Forces from fighting bandits in the North-West and therefore want to halt any progress that is being achieved. Recent public debate in the country would seem to be targeted at demoralising Nigerian Armed Forces from fighting the bandits in the North-West and the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train is being used to emphasise the sophistication of the bandits.
“If there is anything that truly confirms that bandits are terrorists, the attack on Abuja-Kaduna train is it. Afterall, are terrorists not people who threaten the lives of innocent citizens? What is more threatening than the activities of these bandits in the North-West?
“Interestingly, apologists and self-appointed counsels to the Bandits, such as Sheikh Ahmed Gumi are becoming more confident, and are irresponsibly mobilising opposition against declaring bandits’ terrorists. All the studies about insecurity and banditry in Nigeria only confirmed that the bandits operating in the North-West and North-Central have all the characteristics of terrorist groups,” he argued in the statement.
Reacting further, the PGF DG warned that; “it is very easy to reduce these challenges to commentaries and opinion analysis. Those who aspire to use the security challenges facing Nigeria to gain cheap recognition or political advantages may want to create doubts about the ability of Nigerian Armed Forces to fight bandits or effectiveness of the current strategy with all its successes.
“Commentaries and opinions that have the objective of gaining cheap recognition or political advantage tend to dismiss or ignore all the body of knowledge generated in the country about the national security challenges, which is mostly by patriotic non-partisan and non-state actors.
“A careful review of all the new body of knowledge will for instance recognise that resolving the problem of trust between citizens and the Nigerian Armed Forces is a critical success factor,” the statement read.
While challenging the leadership of his party and the federal government, he wrote: “Criticisms and campaigns against APC and President Muhammadu Buhari is hardly supported with alternative proposals. This is the main reason any defense of APC and President Buhari’s policy initiative is being equated to supporting ‘imposition of Fulani hegemony on Nigerians’ even by some supporters of APC leaders. Public debate then become highly toxic. The fundamental question, which must be asked is, how is APC responding to these developments?
“This is not about propaganda. It is about the future of the country and about commitment of APC leaders to facilitate initiatives that can support Nigerians to restore citizens’ humanity based on application of knowledge to shape public debates in the country.
“Unless and until, APC, both as a party and government, can roll out initiatives to direct public debates in the country based on application of contemporary knowledge about existing problems, highly negative interpretation of government initiatives or so-called lack of it will continue to drive public conversation in the country. Inability to take advantages of existing body of knowledge in the country is also responsible for why some leading public officials of government could make illogical statements claiming so-called differences between bandits and terrorists. With all the knowledge that bandits kill at least six Nigerians every day, what could be more terrifying?
“The reality is that information management in the country is taken for granted and capacity to create the right messages that inspire citizens to believe in APC and its government is weak. What initiatives should APC take to strengthen the capacity of appointed and elected functionaries to be able to create the right messages and efficiently disseminate them?
“Is the party and government information protocols and their functionaries knowledgeable about the operative strategy being used to address the country’s security challenges? Is such a knowledge driven by strong coordination through which both the party, government structures and functionaries at all levels are driven by the insatiable quest to find solutions to every manifest problem?” Lukman highlighted in the statement.