RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: 07013940521 (text only).
The night of July 29 was one of the most traumatic for me this year, following the killing of 69 oil explorers/soldiers in Borno State by Boko Haram. I spent hours shedding tears and rolling continuously on my bed, before reaching out for sleeping pills. Eventually, I struggled to sleep in spite of ingesting a cocktail. Every attack by the terrorists leaves me angry and depressed.
The attack in Jibi village was horrendous. All the dubious stories of having defeated the terrorists came to naught. For me, things have deteriorated a great deal because the leadership of the military is handling the war in the North-east in an insincere way. I was not surprised when Boko Haram suicide bombers stormed the IDP camp in Dikwa and killed eight people, just three days after the Jibi attack. These monsters were also in Madagali on Wednesday where they razed a village and killed several people.
Thousands of innocent Nigerians have been killed in the last two years by Boko Haram under Buhari’s watch. I stopped counting in May, 2016 after tallying 3000 deaths. Hundreds of our soldiers have needlessly lost their lives. In sane societies, the key men leading this battle against Boko Haram would have resigned. I am upset that the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai and Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar are still holding on to their jobs. These men must take responsibility for the slide in the war against Boko Haram, and resign or get sacked. The slide in this war is, to a large extent, a failure of leadership in the military. Well, some may say that these men are doing their best, but it is not just good enough for this war. They have to make way for others with fresh ideas.
One fact we can’t run away from is that the situation was not this bad when Olonishakin, Buratai and Abubakar took over the war against Boko Haram in 2015. The terrorists had been pushed to Sambisa forest before the Jonathan administration handed over power. Now, the terrorists are everywhere in Borno State and are unrelenting. This must not continue in a country with a legitimate government and a military backed with huge war chest. How can a country with a well-trained army be losing grounds to ragtag terrorists? President Muhammadu Buhari must wake up and halt this slide into lawlessness. If this government fails to act promptly and decisively, these terrorists may start flying fighter jets to bomb people in the North-east. Already, they are fully in control of two local government areas in Borno State – Marte and Abadam. Moving forward, the top echelon of the military must be purged. How can they be assuring Nigerians of their ability, when things continue to deteriorate? We all know that the only language these terrorists understand is superior and deadly firepower. The military needs fresh leadership to attain this status. The current military leadership must give way to more proactive and result-oriented generals. There should be no sentiment here. The wages of failure in an assignment like this is sack. There should be no room for sentiment. This country desperately needs result in this war against terrorists. For us to get the right men for this job, we must consistently sack those who can’t do it.
The unpleasant scorecard of our military chiefs has been corroborated by the 2016 report of the United States’ Bureau of Counter-terrorism, which stated that the Nigerian military was unable to hold some areas cleared by it in the North-east. The 2016 Country Report on terrorism released by the United States Department of State on July 19, 2017, contradicted the claim by the federal government that it was on top of the situation in the North-east.
One other person that should be swiftly fired is the Army spokesman, Brigadier Sani Usman. This Director of Army Public Relations thinks his job is all about concealing the truth. Public Relations is not propaganda. It should be a deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. This is the global standard. Brigadier Usman does not seem to understand this. This is why he is always regaling the nation with phantom clearances and successes on the war front. He finally shot himself in the foot, with his dubious press release on the “rescued” oil explorers. Even when the lives of our gallant soldiers are involved, this army spokesman goes about showboating. Brigadier Usman has no regard for the lives of our soldiers and other victims of this war. That was why the Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Professor Abubakar Njodi lashed out at the military over its initial claims that it had rescued the ambushed crew of geologists and their aides from the university. A livid vice chancellor, whose brother was among those killed, said he still could not understand why the Nigeria Army chose to mislead the world with the spurious claims. “I wonder the recovery of corpses was referred to as a rescue,” he said.
Brigadier Usman eventually pushed out one scruffy apology letter after the fiasco. For me, this is not enough. Usman has no business staying a day longer in his position. Credibility is vital in this business of Public Relations. We have been regaled with enough war propaganda in the last two years. This is the time to switch to credible information management in the war against Boko Haram. This is the time for genuine change. Again, I am reiterating what I said last week about shutting Maiduguri for 48 hours and conducting a massive house-to-house search for Boko Haram members/weapons. We also need to bring back the mercenaries for precise aerial bombardment. I am yet to see any action in this direction. There is an urgent need to put the military back on track in this war.
The Game of Death in Kaduna APC
The Kaduna State Command of the Nigerian police must show more seriousness and fairness in the tussle for the control of the All Progressives Congress in the state, else, we will start witnessing the destruction of human lives. Already, the battle is getting a bit bloody. Last week, armed thugs almost lynched Senator Othman Hunkuyi and Senator Shehu Sani, among other prominent members at the secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Kaduna. However, a cameraman with a private radio and television station, Liberty Radio and Television, was battered while their camera was destroyed. Several mobile phones and recorders belonging to other journalists were destroyed by the thugs who invaded the hall while Sani was addressing the press.
The controversial election of Kaduna delegates to the impending APC National Convention triggered this current crisis. Sani and Governor Nasir el-Rufai have been at loggerheads over the control of the party in the state. Many alleged that the Special Adviser to el-rufai on Politics, Mallam Uba Sani was the mastermind of the mayhem at the Kaduna NUJ secretariat. They say he controls the thugs that unleashed terror on the politicians and journalists. Uba’s response has not been convincing. The Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State Command, Abah Agyole must dig in before Kaduna APC combatants start killing innocent people. I am shocked that he is yet to make any arrest. Agyole must ensure that all those responsible for the mayhem at the NUJ hall are arrested and prosecuted. As for el-Rufai and the APC chieftains, let them continue their dance of shame in public. This is clearly the Change the party promised Nigerians. The good people of Kaduna State must rise and change these impostors in 2019.
Governor Ugwuanyi and the Bolstering Tales from Enugu
In an age where the performance of statutory responsibilities is becoming a huge challenge for governors, even with the release of bailout funds and Paris Club refunds to states by the federal government, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is increasingly standing out as a true exemplar in the deployment of public resources. Even more gratifying is the fact that he is doing so without the typical pomp that would normally be stirred in some states for the mere execution of insignificant projects. This inclination to stay off the limelight is the reason not many Nigerians outside Enugu State are aware of the brilliant governance scorecard being notched regularly by the governor. This governor needs to market his strides so that our numerous failed governors can learn from him.
One of the potent indicators of how governors have performed could be gleaned from their relationship with trade unions. As is often the case, the commemoration of Workers’ Day offers a perfect example to gauge this. The story across many state capitals few months ago when workers held rallies to mark the day was not a pleasant one. The situation was mostly similar as civil servants denounced their governors over unpaid arrears of salaries and pensions, announcing a strike or threatening to embark on one. But it was a markedly different experience in Enugu State as the workers lavished encomiums on Ugwuanyi and conferred him with the “Most Labour-Friendly Governor in Enugu’s History” award.
Proof of the governor’s remarkable accomplishments further emerged few days later at a symposium on good governance organised by the Enugu State arm of the Trade Union Congress. The validation was made by the respected President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who commended him for constructing a bridge across the Inyaba River. For decades, the lack of this bridge left many communities in Nkanu East Local Government Area literally cut off from their kith and kin. Locals had to traverse a number of local government areas to access their council headquarters, roughly 800 meters away. There are, as a matter of fact, some communities in these areas where a vehicle had never driven through. Such sordid memories have been erased by this bridge built by the Ugwuanyi administration.
It is quite instructive that these feats, as well as many other milestones, were accomplished despite Enugu’s status as one of the least recipients of the monthly federal allocation to states. Equally significant is the fact that the state has never had any difficulty fulfilling its obligations to civil servants and pensioners even in the pre-bailout era when the situation was particularly bleak across nearly all states, a point evident in a BudgIT report last year which listed Enugu alongside Lagos and Rivers as the three states in Nigeria with the capacity to meet statutory recurrent obligations. Such comforting tales should serve as a model for other governors whose states are better endowed and enjoy a substantial share from the federal purse, yet, fail to impact on the lives of their people. I sincerely hope that some of our numerous rogue governors will learn to treat civil servants with dignity as being done in Enugu State.