Wilfred Eya and Fred Itua, Abuja
Political leaders have expressed divergent views on President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of the festering state of insecurity in the country.
Last week, there were reports of attacks on villages in Borno State in which scores were reportedly killed and many others injured.
Bandits have also increased attacks in states in the North West and parts of the South East in recent weeks.
Worried by the development, stakeholders have called on Buhari to rejig the security architecture.
Senator Shehu Sani, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Junaid Mohammed and Dauda Birmah, in separate interviews, agreed that insecurity was becoming worrisome and urgent steps needed to be taken to end the menace.
While Sani and Mohammed criticised what they termed Buhari’s poor handling of the situation, Birmah said attention should be shifted from the federal government to state governments.
Ahamba expressed regrets that government had lost grip of the security situation and urged the Federal Government to change the service chiefs. He said government had not done enough to check the drift.
Ahamba said: “I do not want us to get to the stage of South America at a particular time when people had to have private armies in order to survive. May God not allow us get to that level!
“Insecurity is everywhere and it is terrible. Wherever you see two responsible Nigerians sitting now, what they are certainly discussing is the insecurity situation.
“The situation is horrible. On Friday (August 23), I went to Port Harcourt and we were delayed a long time by armed robbers on the Owerri/Port Harcourt road. The officers of the Nigerian Customs Service came and the people ran away. And between Owerri and Port Harcourt they have more than 20 checkpoints, but the armed robbers took over one of the checkpoints and mounted their operation in that place.”
He claimed that the poor state of the economy was the major cause of the increasing rate of insecurity in Nigeria and cautioned that the problem should not be politicised or given ethnic colouration.
“People are complaining everywhere and nobody should pray for an armed conflict in this country. It would be devastating. I have said it that, if it happens again in Nigeria, what happened in Rwanda would be a joke, considering the depth of anger in the country now. May God not allow it to happen and government should be conscious of it,” he said.
In his reaction, Sani slammed the President for his inability to protect Nigerians, which he said was a sign of failure.
He also averred that the Buhari administration had repeatedly proved that it lacked the ability to protect Nigerians, as prescribed in the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“For every blood that has been (spilled) of Nigerians, it is a sign of failure of government. Insecurity in northern Nigeria shouldn’t only be addressed from the security point of view. Some other fundamental issues need to be addressed.
“The government should listen more and explore the possibilities of dialoguing with insurgents. Dialogue would have been easier seven or eight years ago. Today, our local terror groups are now affiliated with international terrorist organisations.
“In many parts of Niger, Kaduna and Katsina states, they are still under the siege of kidnappers and bandits. It is commendable that President Muhammadu Buhari has deplored troops to most of these places. But that’s not at all.
“I believe that political and traditional rulers, including northern leaders, need to come together and fight the poverty in the region. The government needs to do more to lift many people out of poverty, fund education and develop agriculture. Northern states must come together and address these issues,” the Kaduna-born member of the Eighth Senate said.
Mohammed, a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, said the Buhari administration was not sincere.
He also questioned the purported refusal of Buhari to sack his service chiefs, despite mounting pressure from stakeholders across the country.
“The Federal Government is not sincere about the security situation in the country. Spokesmen of the government are always trying to convince us that security is better now in the country. But we are not blind and can see things for ourselves.
“The most dishonest among them is the army. They are not telling the President or people in government the truth about the true state of affairs regarding the insurgency in the North East and how far we have gone.
“As you know, there is an international dimension now to the issue of security. You see Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram fighters using different sophisticated weapons. These weapons are not from Nigeria. They are smuggled into the country through our porous borders and we are not doing anything about that.
“We also have service chiefs who have outlived their usefulness and the President has refused to change them.
“I don’t know why he’s still keeping them. But for whatever reason, it is not helpful to the country, and something needs to be done about it. The people in government and those around the President must be patriotic enough to tell us the truth about what is happening.”
Birmah, former minister of education in the late Gen. Sani Abacha regime, said state and local governments should be questioned on how they spend their monthly allocations.
“I think we should begin to ask our state and local governments what they do with the money they get every month.
“If local governments are working well, for instance, it would go a long way in fixing the security problem. Local government chairmen know people at the grassroot level and they need to do more.
“I also think that those calling for the removal of service chiefs are getting it wrong. You can’t change the people supervising the operation against Boko Haram,” he said.
On his part, rather than play the blame game, Capt. Rasheed Adesokan (retd) urged Nigerians to cooperate with the Federal Government to urgently end insecurity in Nigeria.
Adesokan gave the advice during the 13th biennial conference of the Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association (UNIFEMGA) in Ibadan, Oyo State, yesterday.
He said the issue of Boko Haram, kidnapping and other problems confronting Nigeria could only be tackled when citizens cooperate with the government.
He said there was nowhere in the world where citizens hate the government and expect security challenges to be solved.
“Nigerians are so hostile to government and complain about whatever the government does. Nigerians must be patriotic and cooperate with the government, in order to end insecurity in the country,” he said.
Adesokan also called on government to play its part by increasing the manpower in the armed forces and police to cover the whole country, adding that the 250,000 in the armed forces and 300,000 in police were inadequate to provide security for the country.