The task of reclaiming the small enclave of kidnappers and bandits who have been laying siege to the Southwest has been a cause for concern to both individuals and government in the region.
In this interview, a leading Yoruba voice in the Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, raged and fumed over the seeming conspiracy of silence of the concerned authorities and inability of security operatives to apprehend the culprits. Excerpt:
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Y. Buratai, has said that Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram are not showing enough discipline and commitment in the battlefront. What do you have to say about this?
It shows the incompetence of the army officers themselves and the incompetence of the Commander-in-Chief himself. Who recruited the soldiers? Who is in charge of discipline? That is the result of all the crises we have been having. And that is why people have been asking the Commander-in-Chief to change the army officers for the past four years. He should have sacked the army officers for all the crises we have been having because they are unable to do the job for which they are employed. How can the Army Chief be talking of indiscipline in the army? Who is to get them committed? What type of training did he give them? It means the Commander-in-Chief has been having wrong army chief officers at the helms of affairs. If they have shown such incompetence, they have no moral right to be there. It is a shame that the chief of army officers is now telling us that his people are not committed and indiscipline. Are we the ones to discipline them or the man who swore to protect lives and property? If he has shown such incompetence, then he has no moral right to be there. My view is that the Commander-in-Chief should sack the Chief of Army Staff. If he fails to do that, he too has no moral right to be in the office.
But he has just renewed their appointment?
(Cuts in) It means he is congratulating them for their inefficiency. It also shows the incompetence of the Commander-in-Chief himself. Nigeria is in a mess. God will deliver us from the tyranny of the Buhari administration.
How do you see the development in the Southwest where kidnappers and bandits have been laying siege to in recent times?
We have said it earlier when they were doing all inequities in the Middle Belt. When they killed Christians in Southern Kaduna, didn’t we shout? When they struck in Benue and Buhari sent the Inspector General of Police there and he didn’t know whether he went there or not until the public compelled him to sack the man. He is the one condoling incompetence. Now again, we thought that he would change the army officers, but he didn’t. Instead of changing them, he is now renewing their office as a reward of their inefficiency. It is an unfortunate thing for us. And that is why it is very important for the states to have their own police, as a component part of restructuring. But he doesn’t want to restructure and he is showing incompetence. With all the kidnapping that is taking place in the Southwest, he has not uttered a word on it. God is in control, he will deliver us from the tyranny of the administration. The greatest shame is the Yoruba element in APC. Vice President, Tinubu, Akande and others have sold out for their own interests. And god of Oduduwa will give judgment on them. They see Yoruba being slaughtered and yet they can’t raise a word and they are claiming to be representing us. They will come and tell you that restructuring is not as important as fixing the economy. You fix up economy for people already in the grave. I want them to come and arrest me for fake news, if all that have been saying are fake news because anything against the government is treated as treasonable felony. Is it not strange that not a word has come out of the president about all that is happening in the Southwest? Is it not strange that the security operatives have not got the culprits arrested since the location of kidnapping is known?
What approach would you suggest to the Southwest governors as a way to confronting the new security challenge in the region?
There is no special way for the Southwest. What can they do without having control of the police and the army? The only way is for the country to restructure for true federalism. The instrument of protection is in the hand of incompetent president. That is why it is important for restructuring to take place now. The more you delay restructuring of the country, the more you see the country drifting. The man at the helms of the affair doesn’t understand the seriousness of the situation. Can you imagine a president not uttering a word about the security situation in the Southwest? The area where kidnapping is taking place has been located for months, yet they haven’t cordoned off the place and there is no single arrest and so the action continues to take place there. The kidnapping is taking place in a locality between Akure and Ilesha. All the people who have escaped have told us that they have a training ground there in the bush. And yet our army and police can’t locate and arrest them. Can you imagine Yoruba going to Maiduguri kidnapping and raping without being apprehended?
In spite of all these, the Inspector General of Police recently came out to say that criminality in the country is declining. Is that in tune with the current reality?
When the president of the country is promoting inefficiency, what do you expect the Inspector General to say? That statement is the greatest joke of the year. God saves Nigeria.
But in his approach to deal with the situation, the same IGP recently sent a delegation to the Are Ona Kakanfo, Generalissimo, Otunba Gani Adam, trying to seek his cooperation with the police on security. Is that a better alternative to state police?
It is not an alternative; they are just begging the issue. They have no solution to the security situation in the country other than the state and local government police in a society of this nature. And it is not a question of financial viability; it is a sine-qua-non of federalism. When you devolve power to create state police, then allocation to the federal devolves with them.
In addition to internal security challenge, Nigerians in Diaspora are also becoming objects of attack in foreign countries. Just last week, a Nigerian was killed by the Southern African police in the bid to effect his arrest. Is government really doing enough to protect lives of its citizens?
What can you say about the countries where they live when they know that you are not protected in your country? How can you accuse the government of those countries of not protecting your citizens when you are not capable of protecting yourself? That is why our passport is a subject of suspect everywhere we go. They know that your government at home is nothing to write home about, so they kill you anyhow. What happened in South African is a reflection of what we have at home. We are living in denial of an incompetent government. There is a complete chaos in the country. Shall we now call international community to come and protect us when the man in charge says those who are fighting insurgence have no commitment?
Part of the agenda of the South and Middle Belt Forum is security. Have you people given up on the security challenge in the country?
We have not given up. Until we restructure the country, we have no country. The way things are going, every unit of the federation has to take care of itself. The people in charge of protection have already told us that they are no longer capable of doing so after they have drawn a lot of money from the treasury to buy equipment.
There is a little ray of hope now from the recent statement made by the president saying he would support federalism?
(Cuts in) Are you still trusting that man? When he said he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody, how far has he demonstrated that? Until he does it, you can’t trust him. The military imposed constitution makes our president the most powerful president in the whole world. By restructuring the country, all those powers will be removed. Every unit of the country will be able to protect itself. When you ask a Fulani man to go to Akwa Ibom to protect the people or you ask an Akwa Ibom man to go to Sokoto, what does he know about the terrain? All these have been repeated over the years to justify the creation of state police. There is now where in the federal world where there is a central police. In America where we copied our constitution, there is no Inspector General of Police. It is only in Nigeria they concentrate powers at the centre. Look at the security architecture of the country, how many non-Fulani are there? When Obasanjo said there is Fulanisation, did he not show evidence?
Are you expecting anything different from his new appointment?
I don’t believe we have a government. I don’t believe in his presidency. And the constitution allows me to say so. That is why we are in court. When you don’t believe a government, whatever he does cannot stand. How do I expect something good from someone I don’t believe in my own heart? Buhari has not come to office to rule the people, his interest is to dominate and Islamise the country.