It is no longer news that, in the last three months, our security situation in Nigeria has taken a turn for the worse. Things are so bad that most Nigerians no longer flinch when they hear news of killings or kidnappings of schoolchildren and other innocent Nigerians, or of women being raped and impregnated by outlaws or whole towns being sacked by terrorists or bandits.
During plenary in the Senate of the Federal Republic earlier in the week, a weeping Senator Smart Adeyemi justifiably said what we are passing through at the moment is worse than the civil war the nation fought over four decades ago. And this is for a government that has made, and has indeed continued to make, national security a top priority, with President Muhammadu Buhari visiting all our neighbouring countries to seek their support immediately after being sworn in as President in 2015.
If there is one thing that has proven that the security architecture as obtained today has broken down virtually irretrievably, it is the revelation by Niger State Governor earlier in the week that Boko Haram is in control of 50 towns in the state, and that the outlawed group is hoisting its flags in these towns. And, what is more, the Governor told a shocked nation that all his passionate appeals on the federal government to come to the aid of his people have continued to fall on deaf ears.
Three weeks ago, on these pages, I concluded a series started two weeks earlier, in which I enumerated the clear and potent threats posed to our national security by no less a personality than Major General Babagana Monguno, the National Security Adviser (NSA), since 2015. In that piece, I enumerated the fact that Monguno was in fact the last person that should be appointed an NSA, in the first place, given that he was Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) a few months before Boko Haram, composed mostly of people of his own tribe, took up arms against the Nigerian state. He was in office from July 2009 to August 2011 when President Goodluck Jonathan justifiably removed him from office, obviously seeing how deeply ineffective the man had been.
Under Monguno’s watch, Boko Haram grew from strength to strength, from a ragtag army of a few individuals, to the monster described by American intelligence services as the most callous in human history. I do not, by mentioning that Boko Haram composed (they still compose) of Monguno’s kinsmen, mean to denigrate the Kanuri tribe that he belongs to. Some of my best friends are Kanuri, and that tribe has some of the most industrious patriots Nigeria has ever had. The point I am trying to drive home is that when troublemakers are members of your own tribe, it is easier to deal with them, even if you were not holding a sensitive office, like that of Nigeria’s CDI that Monguno held for the first two years of Boko Haram’s existence.
Sadly, perhaps through a sleight of hand, the very Monguno that failed woefully in curtailing Boko Haram at the very beginning when its members were not even up to 100 in number was saddled with the bigger task of containing them when they were in several thousands, after they acquired deadly weapons and were attacking Nigeria from different fronts. Perhaps to be fair to Monguno, he really wants to help Nigeria win the war, but no one can give what he does not have. And so, no matter the love some of us might have for the man, the fact remains he doesn’t have what it takes to run that sensitive office. Period.
There are discerning Nigerians who believe, and rightly so, that, from the very beginning in 2015, the Buhari administration built its efforts to restore Nigeria to peace and prosperity on a very weak foundation, because the man it saddled with the task of serving as the chief coordinator of the security operation was one who failed in tasks that were far smaller before then. Those discerning Nigerians are, therefore, not in the least surprised that in spite of the administration’s best efforts, we are still fighting Boko Haram, and indeed the group has become far more daring and stronger in the past three months, with Monguno, against all the odds, still in office as NSA, while those who served under him, the former service chiefs, were retired.
But if our security challenges were limited to Boko Haram, perhaps we could somewhat heave some sigh of relief. Only three months ago, Nigeria was being confronted largely by terrorism in the North East and banditry in parts of the North West. But from that time till now, we got added into the mix the deadly operations of the Eastern Security Network, the armed outfit of IPOB, with non-state actors unleashing one mayhem or the other in the South East. So audacious was the ESN that it reportedly almost took over the Government House, Owerri, Imo State, after sacking the state police headquarters and the prison facility. The group has now named the Imo Government House after one of its commanders, killed last week by the military. IPOB has also reportedly placed all the governors of the South East on its hit list.
Vice-President Osinbajo was right when he said that, unless the elite speak the truth about the state of our insecurity, the monster could consume all of us, God forbid. It was Edmund Burke who correctly said that the “only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
It may be risky to say the truth about holders of sensitive, high office like Monguno but you cannot be a supporter of President Buhari, or someone who wishes him well, and look the other way about the glaring inefficiency of this man. When the governor of Niger State complained about his pleas to the federal government falling on deaf ears, he was perhaps inadvertently saying in other words that the current holder of the office of the NSA has failed woefully in that duty. Come to think of it: whose job is it to coordinate our security and intelligence services but the NSA? He should be the one giving direction to those units of our security architecture, moving those that are necessary to Niger and other states, making sure that the embarrassing situation we now have at our hand, with Boko Haram audaciously hoisting its flags of evil in 50 towns in just one state, did not come to near happening.
It has been one embarrassment or the other, daily, for three whole months now. And we keep begging the issue, perhaps because we fear that speaking the truth about someone holding the instruments of coercion could translate to serious harm being visited on us. As VP Osinbajo rightly said, no society can grow if those that should speak the truth allow cowardice to rule over them.
And it is the reason some of us have decided, even at great risk to our lives, to say the truth and damn the consequences.
Now, owing to inefficiency of key functionaries of government like Babagana Monguno, even those whose support for President Buhari had been total, are now calling for the father of the nation to be impeached for failure to curtail the nation’s descent to the abyss. We have heard Father Mbaka, a core Buhari supporter, openly lamenting the horrible security situation, and going as far as asking his good friend, the President, to either resign or be impeached.
But what Mbaka and all those asking for the President’s head always ignore is to also give him the alternative of sacking all those whose inefficiency has brought us to the terrible mess we are all in, as a nation. To save his head, and indeed his legacy, President Buhari should, without any more delay, relieve people like Monguno from duty and appoint a capable replacement. It is not only about saving the President’s legacy, it is also about saving the hundreds of innocent Nigerians who continue to get killed or kidnapped almost on daily basis.
Another functionary of government inadvertently embarrassing the Buhari Administration through the failure of his office is the Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA). I have never met the man, but those who know Dauda Abari say he is a very decent gentleman. Many others see him as a patriot. But it seems to me that either he does not fully grasp the heavy responsibility saddled him by the law, in his office as head of the NOA, or he is deliberately adding to to the problem.
At a time different parts of the country are calling for a total dismemberment of the country, we have not heard the NOA vigorously reorienting Nigerians and returning them to contribute their quota to the development of the country. At a time the terrorists have since April last year set up a propaganda unit to bring down the Buhari Administration and divide our military, we have not seen the efforts NOA is making to defeat these enemies of Nigeria, on that score. Even if NOA is making these efforts, it has been of no impact on Nigerians, which means the approach is wrong and must therefore be changed.
A few people I have spoken to say the NOA is being under-funded, and that the hands of Dauda Abari are tied. But I wonder whether holders of public offices complaining of being underfunded know about the existence of a word called resignation, in the dictionary. If you cannot do the work assigned to you for whatever reason, complain to your employer, and if he refuses or fails to address those concerns, simply throw in the towel and save your good name. Dauda Abari is still sitting at the helm of NOA. We expect him to either up the ante in his campaign or resign from office immediately. Only by so doing would the integrity people tout about would be saved.
There are several other top functionaries of government whose inefficiency are helping in bringing the Buhari Administration to serious disrepute. Brass Tacks is going to beam its searchlight on them so that Nigerians could see where key parts of the multifaceted problems confronting this nation lies.
It is necessary for President Buhari and all those who care about him remember that at the end of the day, history will not remember Monguno and all those whose inefficiency keeps bringing this administration to disrepute. Posterity will only remember President Buhari, because he was the one entrusted by Nigerians to pick the right kind of people for the right kind of job. Years from now, those characters will at best be footnotes in some sad chapters of our history.
If, therefore, Mr. President, whose patriotism and love for Nigeria is beyond question fails to see the embarrassment some characters are bringing to his government, those who truly and genuinely love him, and who have access to him, should tell him the truth and get him to save the all the bloodshed by getting rid of all those whose failure continue to bring us to the terrible mess we have been in.