By Ayo Oyoze Baje
“Our country is in a deep mess. Whoever thinks it’s ending any time soon is deceiving himself/herself. We’re now suffering the full blown effect of leadership failure all over the years since independence.”
– Peter Obi (Ihiala, Anambra State).
This is the way the cookie crumbles! Nigeria is currently bleeding. That is according to the Minister of Defence, Major-Gen. Bashir Magashi( retd). One cannot agree any less. The state governors are wailing, with some relocating to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, in search of the safety they can no longer guarantee their helpless citizens. In fact, to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state Nigeria has “totally collapsed”. He has raised serious concerns about his counterparts rushing to the FCT at the drop of a hat, while decrying the wanton wasting of human lives in Zamfara, Niger, Yobe, Benue and Imo states. Down south in the Eastern states the war drums are already beating faster, with deafening decibels.
Even Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, of all people, wants President Muhammadu Buhari impeached! Wonders will never end. This was the same man he sold to the gullible electorate as the saint and the messiah Nigerians had been clamouring for. That was back in 2015. We have moved from the military days of “unknown soldiers” to today’s “unknown gun men” in the 21st century Nigeria!
The bitter truth of forcing the wills and wishes of a few power-poaching, self-righteous and chest-beating group of individuals against that of the national interest, in terms of political appointments, policies and programmes has come back to haunt us all. So also is the slapping on the wrists of self-confessed, blood-sucking terrorists, bandits and kidnappers and telling them to sin no more, by the powers that be.
For the Minster of Defence to confess that “Nigeria is bleeding” on a day bandits attacked the General Hospital in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, abducting two nurses on duty, barely 24 hours after bandits invaded Greenfield University in same Kaduna, killing a staff and abducting 23 students calls for urgent action.
As for the state governors, that of Niger State, Governor Abubakar Bello recently stated that: “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State, here in Kaure. They have hoisted their flags here, meaning they have taken over the community”. He warned that the terrorists’ presence in his state may endanger the security of the nation’s capital Abuja, some 140 kilometres (87 miles) away. Close to 3,000 citizens of the embattled state have so far fled the region.
In a similar vein, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, has raised his voice against the killing of over 70 persons in two weeks in Makurdi local government area of the state. He was addressing protesting youth at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Abagena village.
“If the federal government had taken a proactive step, we will not be where we are. You recall that I alerted the entire nation when Fulanis from 14 countries met in Yola and declared that except we review the prohibition of open grazing law, Benue will not know peace.” He said he had written to the federal government to arrest the leaders of Miyetti Allah that hosted that meeting but nothing was done! On his part, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state has cried out over recent attacks by suspected bandits that left at least 83 persons dead and hundreds of others, including women and children, injured. He has directed security agencies to demolish the houses of informants and those supplying arms to bandits in the state while asking the citizens to rise up and defend themselves!
In fact, it is no longer news that Auwal Daudawa, the notorious kidnapper responsible for the abduction of over 300 school boys from Kankara in Katsina state a few months ago has abandoned Governor Matawalle’s Amnesty Programme. He has picked up arms again and returned to the forest!
As Senator Ali Ndume once cautioned against amnesty for the terrorists, they hardly turn over a new leaf, all over night! Recently, he warned against treating the serious issue of the 400 Bureau De Change operators funding the Boko Haram as confidential.
He stated that: “When I was wrongly accused, I was tried publicly and I was vindicated. The trial lasted six years in an open court. If there is any criminal act linked to anybody, no matter how highly placed, let the evidence be placed before the public, there should be no secret trial.”
Unfortunately, here in Nigeria of today members of the Myetti Allah and Sheik Gumi remain the untouchables. They talk with audacity, verve and bravado as if their words are law. Surprisingly, Mister President, who happens to be their kinsman has not made a statement of caution against their infuriating and inflammatory statements.
Such a situation of clear injustice has informed the call by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) charging President Muhammadu Buhari to classify the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) as a terrorist group, similar to what it has done to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The credible way out of this morass of insecurity bedeviling the country is for the president to rise above ethnic and religious sentiments and muster the political will to deal with killers, no matter who is involved. Also, the National Assembly should quickly enact and pass a bill to restructure this country in terms of the political, economic and security architecture.
As a concerned citizen, Ariyo Atoye rightly suggested with such features in place, each state should be divided into strategic combat sections and carry out sector by sector clearing by motivated youths. In addition is the need to use modern technology by deploying the drones with the assistance of aerial surveillance tech companies and the story would change for the better.
Apart from seeking foreign partnerships, requesting relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart in Germany to Africa, our leaders should learn from the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly held in September 2017. With the theme of “Global cooperation- tackling the root causes to fight against terrorism”, they agreed that terrorism has become a global phenomenon that should be addressed comprehensively.
For instance, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Prime Minister of Pakistan who expressed concern that the principles of the United Nations Charter were being eroded stated that: “We took the war to the terrorists. We have paid a heavy price. Thousands had been injured or killed, and the country’s economic losses were estimated at over $120 billion. Nevertheless, it remained committed to fully implementing its national action plan against terrorism and extremism”. So did President Abdrabiuh Mansour Hadi of Yemen whose country fought against Houthi coalition.
President Michel Aoun of Lebanon stated that the solution lies with economic and social intervention measures because: “World War 3 has taken a new form as countries suffering from religious or ethnic extremism now reject each other’s right to exist”.
Crown Prince Al Abdullahi 11 of Jordan lamented that the world that has spent $1.7 trillion on arms could not raise the shortfall of $1.7 billion to take care of refugees. While President Tommy Remengesau of Palau warned that many more storms or “ticking time bombs” like what is currently transpiring in Nigeria, President Moon Jae-In of the Republic of Korea stated that peace was his calling and his historical duty. So, should that of other world leaders.
Eradicating terrorism requires addressing its root causes, which are not only poverty and ignorance but real or perceived political or other grievances — including foreign intervention — as well as oppression and injustice. We have had enough of bloodshed of innocent citizens here!
Baje writes from Lagos