Boko Haram and the Audacity of Senator Garbai

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RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

For those who don’t know him, Senator Baba Kaka Garbai represents Borno Central in the Senate. But for him, we would not know the true situation of the war against Boko Haram in the state. The sleek deception by President Muhammadu Buhari about the situation in Borno State would have remained concealed. Our President was going around telling the world that “no inch of Nigerian territory is under the control of Boko Haram,” while Borno indigenes groan under terrorism. Many pro-government propagandists gleefully circulated this position. The Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima also insulted patriotic Nigerians with glib comments about those who insisted that some Nigerian territories were still under Boko Haram’s control.

But Senator Garbai, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress drew global attention to the deceit in the war against the terrorists. He countered them with facts and figures, showing that his state is divided in equal measure between the terror sect and the Nigerian military. Many of us will not forget that historic declaration by this senator about two months ago. “The truth must be told that both Boko Haram and the Nigerian nation each have full control of three local government areas in the troubled Borno State and both have a level of dominance in 21 other local councils. Mobbar, Abadam and Kala Balge LGs are 100 per cent occupied by the insurgents,” declared Garbai in February.

This honourable senator was threatened and called unprintable names for being honest about the situation in his state. Chieftains of the APC were expecting him to join in the big cover-up, but he refused to be intimidated. Events unfolding in Borno State in the last few weeks have confirmed that Garbai was after all, correct. He was spot on. The military has in the last few weeks been amusing us with stories about “recaptured” towns and villages in Borno State. Yet, we were hitherto told that no territory was under Boko Haram’s control. Garbai’s statement clearly motivated the military. With the truth staring them in the face, thanks to the alarm, our gallant soldiers went into action, “capturing” some of the territories listed by Garbai as being under Boko Haram.

Just on Wednesday, the military told us that Alargano, the spiritual headquarters of the sect had been successfully captured by troops. The head of the counter-insurgency operations in the North-east, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor told the nation that the troops’ offensive to capture Alargano since March 18, 2016, was successfully concluded on Monday. He said during the operations, troops had to clear Yajiwa, Joba, Mosa, Ariwuzumari, Missene Sansan and Kagalmari villages, all on the fringes of the forest. Haba! Is Alargano and all these villages not Nigeria’s territories? Irabor said in the last one month, troops also captured Kumshe. Check out the word, “captured” used by Irabor. “Captured” means to take something hitherto not in your possession. Towns and villages captured of recent included 13 in Kala-Barge LG and Rann town, the headquarters of the local government. Garbai mentioned all these areas in the alarm he raised in February.

Even the Minister of Defence, Muhammad Mansur Dan-Ali became born again and for once told the truth about the situation in Borno. On Wednesday, he must have stunned his boss (but not Nigerians) when he confirmed Garbai’s position that the terrorists still control some parts of Nigeria. In a chat with Voice of America (VOA), Dan-Ali stated that “two or three local government areas of Borno State are still controlled by the terrorists.” By Thursday, apparently under pressure from his boss and APC loyalists, this minister amended his statement, saying he was quoted out of context, as he did not imply what was reported.

A confused Dan-Ali
said what he meant was that “only two local governments were having some remnants of Boko Haram activities and not under their complete control.” So, what is the difference between this and his previous remarks?
Dan-Ali has apparently chosen to continue with deceit. Regardless, we are waiting for our gallant soldiers to capture Abdam and Mobbar local governments from these bastards.
Again, I am always depressed whenever I remember Buhari’s statement shortly after he was inaugurated; confidently declaring that Boko Haram would be defeated by the end of that year. Before that year ended, he announced that he had succeeded in his pledge, claiming that the terrorists had been “technically defeated”.

The attacks continued with close to a thousand Nigerians killed in the last three months. We can’t win this war with propaganda and deception. There is a limit to the evils of propaganda and deception. Veracity is already biting. We must be very honest in this war against the terrorists; otherwise, we will be doing a great disservice to the ill-fated people in the affected communities. Only the truth can get us out of this mess. The government must stop telling us that the terrorists have been weakened while attacks occur virtually on a daily basis. We cannot continue like this and expect positive result.

Garbai is truly a patriot and a man of integrity that should be celebrated. He is honest and fearless. While virtually everybody involved in the war against Boko Haram chose to be economical with the truth, Garbai refused to be part of the charade. This country needs men like Garbai if we are to actualise our potential as a nation. The legion of sycophants around our president will not allow any progress in this country if not dismantled. Just as I advised a couple of months back, Buhari must learn to listen more to his opponents than his friends and supporters who will only tell him what he wants to hear. May Allah continue to protect our dear Senator Garbai.

Gang up against Shehu Sani
The Kaduna State chapter of the All Progressives Congress has obviously teamed up with Governor Nasir el-rufai in the battle to crush Senator Shehu Sani. The chapter recently upheld the suspension of Sani at his ward, as a member of the party and from participating in party activities for a period of 11 months. This Senator’s offence was having the effrontery to challenge the “anti-people” policies of the el-rufai administration, particularly the demolition of building and inadequate response to insecurity challenges in Southern Kaduna. Sani also spoke out against the “marginalisation” of those who worked for the success of the APC in Kaduna State. He has been having a running battle with the Kaduna State governor over these and many other issues in the last 10 months. The Kaduna APC had to cook up all sorts of funny things to justify Sani’s suspension.

I was not surprised when the state’s acting publicity secretary of the party, Salisu Wusono said “the serious security threat Sani caused to the fragile peace of Kaduna State when he incited the youths of Southern Kaduna to challenge and irritate the APC state government,” also accounted for suspending the senator. Which security threat? In a democracy, opposing views must be tolerated. This is one of the ways we can deepen our democracy. Senator Sani’s opposing views about the el-rufai administration is seen as an attempt to bring down el-rufai. The instruction from above is that Sani should be crushed. Obviously, they will only succeed in the short-term. This senator looks good to laugh last. He clearly has the people of the state behind him in this battle against el-rufai.

Tinubu Vs Kachikwu: My Take Away
The dust raised by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s criticism of our junior minister for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu over the piercing fuel scarcity in the country is yet to settle. Some people think the APC chieftain just wanted to score a cheap political goal by taking on Kachikwu. For these people, this former governor of Lagos State should have quietly passed across his message to the party’s leadership instead of going public. But for me, Tinubu’s action and the way he went about it was just, fair and pragmatic. He needed to escalate the suffering of our people in order to jolt this docile regime into action.

My take away from Asiwaju’s statement was the part he talked about Kachikwu’s facetiousness for remarking that he was not trained as a magician. “Kachikwu’s flippancy was out-of-line. He was basically telling Nigerians that they should be lucky that they are getting the inadequate supply they now suffer and that they should just be quiet and endure the shortage for several weeks more. It insulted the people by its tonality. He spoke with the imperious nature of a member of the elitist government the people voted out last year and not the progressive one they voted in.

“Kachikwu must be reminded that he was not coerced to take this job. He accepted the job and its responsibilities knowingly. He also must remember that he does not own NNPC. This also is not a private company that owes nothing to the public except the duty of fair dealing. He is a public servant. The seat he sits upon is owned by Nigerians, not by him. The company he runs is owned by Nigerians not by him. They are his boss. He is not theirs. Power is vested in the people. He is a mere custodian or agent of their will. In talking to us in such a manner, he committed an act of insubordination.”

I fully support Jagaban on this battle. Smooth-talking Kachikwu is always covering his incompetence with “big grammar”. The task at hand goes beyond this. Just as I said last week, this junior minister should just resign and return to Mobil. However, I believe that Jagaban should have also included Buhari in this lashing for months of epileptic fuel supply. Aside from being the petroleum minister, the buck stops on the president’s desk. So, Asiwaju should also hold Buhari by the jugular to deliver on all his promises, including improved electricity supply, job creation, roads, health, education and so many others.

Governor Ajimobi and Oyo Civil Servants
Like many other states across the nation, Oyo State is also in a mess over months of unpaid salaries to civil servants. Virtually everything is at a standstill in this state, while civil servants have been turned to beggars. Governor Abiola Ajimobi is accused of squandering the bailout fund meant to clear the outstanding salaries. The organised labour in the state looks set to tackle the governor from next week. They say he must settle over five months arrears of salaries owed workers, for peace to reign.

The state’s NLC Chairman, Waheed Olojede said unpaid salaries had pauperised the workers, adding that their productivity, diligence and absolute commitment had also been affected. It is a shame that Ajimobi reneged on previous agreement on how to settle the salaries. Oyo State which has Ibadan (former capital of the defunct Western Region) as its capital has no business being in a mess if well-managed. With a pragmatic governor, monthly Internally Generated Revenue alone should be able to cover workers’ salaries. But this has not been the case. Ajimobi is only interested in frivolities. The other day, he went to hold the wedding ceremony of his daughter in Dubai, while the state suffers. There is hardly anything to show for his five-year rein in Oyo. There is massive decay of infrastructure in Oyo State. If a man has been given a job and he can’t do it, he should resign. Ajimobi should step aside.