RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale, Email: email@example.com. 07013940521 (text only)
For how long shall this administration continue to delude itself about progress in this war against Boko Haram? For how long shall they continue to allow these monsters to take innocent lives? For how long will the hapless people of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states continue to bury their loved ones slaughtered daily by Boko Haram? My heart bleeds for the hapless people of these states. As usual, the attack on a mosque in Mubi by Boko Haram suicide bomber on Tuesday morning left me devastated. The killing bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram, whose terrorism has left about 20,000 people dead and more than five million others homeless since 2009.
As at the last count, the attack on the mosque located in Kunu Araha, a suburb of Mubi, left over 50 worshippers dead. Families of victims spent most of Tuesday burying loved ones. Women have been widowed and children have been orphaned. What a tragedy. Many tears will clearly not dry. The Mubi attack was an accident waiting to happen. Boko Haram fighters are conspicuous in the Mandara Mountains, to the east of Adamawa State, leading to persistent attacks on towns like Mubi, Gulak and Madagali. Curbing attacks on soft targets require high level intelligence and technology. These are largely lacking in our security formations.
This administration is not making progress in the war against Boko Haram because of its tactics of being economical with the truth. The truth that must be told is that these terrorists are still roaming unhindered in many communities in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. The truth is that they still hold territories and control at least three local governments in Borno State, from where they launch attacks on soft and hard targets. From here, they train and unleash suicide bombers on communities in the North-east. Adamu Kamale, representing Michika/Madagali Federal Constituency of Adamawa State in the House of Representatives, recently joined the few patriots punching holes in the lies the military leadership has been propagating about the war against Boko Haram. Kamale, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, is now in the club of few Nigerians courageously telling President Buhari the truth about the war.
Kamale declared: â€œThe Nigerian military often fed President Buhari with the wrong information on the capacity of Boko Haram to carry out deadly strikes in the North-East.The truth remains that the group is still very active. The situation in Madagali had been grossly under-reported in a series of security reports filed by the military to Buhari. No week passes without one ugly incident or another taking place in the border communities. I am from this place (Madagali) and I can authoritatively tell you that my people are not safe. The military are always feeding Mr. President with the wrong information that things are normalising; itâ€™s not true.â€
This is the reality, which I have been hammering on in the last two years. Boko Haram terrorists are still very much potent and occupy territories in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Hundreds of towns and villages are still not safe. This is why over two million IDPs canâ€™t return home. Our gallant soldiers are willing to fight, but they are ill-equipped and ill-motivated. Army Chief, Tukur Buratai recently confirmed that troops on the war front have not been paid operational allowances for three months. So, where is the motivation to fight Boko Haram? Where is the high technology equipment to tame the terrorists? This is why Boko Haram strolls into military formations and kill soldiers with ease.
I canâ€™t forget the attack on a military post in Sasawa (Yobe State) last month, during which 18 soldiers were killed. What about the attack in Magumeri town, Borno State, in March during which the military outpost in the town was sacked? An armoured vehicle, a block of office and the communication room of the military were also set ablaze. The terrorists overpowered the soldiers, with most of them fleeing. What about the killing of 69 oil explorers and soldiers in Borno State few weeks back? What about the terrorists boldly showing the video of 14 women abducted in Dalwa village on June 20? What about the humiliation of our soldiers in Gashigha and Malam Fatori? In the last eight months, the University of Maiduguri has been repeatedly attacked, resulting in the death of innocent people, including a professor of veterinary medicine, Aliyu Usman Mani. Never in the history of this institution has this much pain been inflicted on its staff and students. The list is endless.
The Buhari administration must show sincerity in this war against Boko Haram by first sacking Buratai and other service chiefs who have obviously failed our gallant soldiers. If our President is desirous of progress, he has to retire those in the top hierarchy of this war and appoint fresh hands. The likes of Gabriel Olonishakin, Buratai and Sadique Abubakar are doing what they consider their best, but it is just not good enough for this war. They must make way for new hands in the interest of Nigeria.
On the Mubi attack, Buhari was quoted on Tuesday, assuring the people that his government would do everything required to secure the state from the deadly menace of Boko Haram. Please, we have heard enough of this rhetoric. Nigerians want result. Under Buhariâ€™s watch,thousands of innocent Nigerians have been killed in the last 30 months by Boko Haram. Our President has to show, in practical terms, that he is committed to this war. It is germane to make the welfare of soldiers on the war front a priority. They are, at present, getting a poor deal from their commanders. I have also persistently clamoured for the return of South African and Israeli mercenaries. We all saw their impact when the Jonathan administration used them. Buhari came and unwisely sacked the mercenaries. This country must employ the best fighters from anywhere in the world to end this trauma called Boko Haram.
Prickly Presidency Proposals in Budget 2018
Some bits and pieces on what the Presidency will spend in 2018 contained in the budget presented to the National Assembly few days back are upsetting. I find some of the expenses listed for the operation of the Presidency ridiculous. I was waiting for Buhariâ€™s legion of media aides to issue denials, but none came. The first thing that startled me was the N17.4 million to be spent on buying household and kitchen items like crested plates, tea cups, cutleries and serving basins for the Vice President. Haba! They must be golden kitchen items. Do we need to remind the Presidency that there were budgetary provisions for these same items last year? What happened to the items? Or, is it that such household and kitchen items are thrown away at the end of every financial year? Why should they be buying tea cups, cutleries and plates every year? Something is clearly shifty somewhere. I am still searching for the figures allocated to President Buhari for household and kitchen items in 2018. It will surely also be boggling.
Another proposed Presidency expenditure that attracted my attention was the N1.001 billion Buhari will spend on travels in 2018. Of this sum, N751.3 million would be used for international travels, and N250.02 million for local travels. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will spend N301.04 million on general travel – N217.06 million for international travels and N83.97 million for local travels. Put together, Buhari and Osinbajo are jointly proposing to spend N1.3 billion on travels in 2018 amid hunger in our land. This is aside the cost of maintaining the 10 aircraft in the Presidential fleet for these travels.
Again, the Presidency is always buying vehicles yearly. It seems vehicles in Aso Rock are used for just a year and discarded. This is why the Presidency proposed to spend N907 million on acquisitions of new vehicles and spare parts in 2018. An additional N83 million will be spent on tyres for the vehicles in Aso Rock.
The budget sets aside N986.91 million for â€œmiscellaneousâ€ expenses in the State House, while general utility services will gulp N476.87 million. Electricity charge is N274.79 million and N67.11 million is for internet. Why should almost N1 billion be set aside for â€œmiscellaneousâ€ expenses. For me, this sum proposed is huge and should not be captured as â€œmiscellaneousâ€ expenses. These expenses should be clearly situated for transparency sake. Using the term, â€œmiscellaneous expensesâ€ has always been a tactics for hiding questionable things. Things have clearly not changed in the Presidency with the sustenance of this tactics.
I am also worried that the notorious State House Medical Centre has N1.03 billion set aside from it in budget 2018. This is the same medical centre that could not account for about N3.6 billion allocated to it in 2016. It could also not provide ordinary syringe despite the funds allocated to it in 2017. For all its inefficiency, it got a pat on the back with N1.03 billion allocation in budget 2018. What a country. Since Buhari, Osinbajo and their families donâ€™t use this clinic, this administration ought to spend quality time overhauling this centre instead of allocating more money to it.
Letâ€™s flip to repairs of Aso Rock buildings. The Presidency will spend N4.86 billion for â€œannual routine maintenance of mechanical/electrical installationsâ€. Yes, almost N5 billion to maintain mechanical and electrical installations. So, how much was initially spent to install the mechanical/electrical installations, to warrant an expenditure of N4.86 billion for maintenance? There are so many questions begging for answers. There is still profligacy in the Presidency as can be seen in budget 2018 proposals, despite this administrationâ€™s orchestrated war against corruption. Our dear President has to show conspicuous commitment to this war against corruption. Things have not changed in the Presidency.
Frightening Crisis in the Health Sector
Authorities in our dear country have to take pragmatic steps to curb the persistent exodus of our best medical doctors. Hospitals, both public and private, are battling with inadequate doctors. I am shocked that Health Minister, Isaac Adewole, is yet to respond to the frightening statistics reeled out by the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association on this crunch. According to the gory data rolled out almost two weeks ago, more than 40,000 of the 75,000 registered Nigerian doctors are now practicing abroad while most of those still in the country are working on getting jobs abroad. The NMA went further to inform the nation that over 100 doctors resigned from the University College Hospital, Ibadan, this year. About 800 doctors resigned from Lagos State public hospitals in the last two years, and over 50 this month alone.
The Chairman, Lagos NMA, Olumuyiwa Odusote laments: â€œKebbi State has been unable to employ a single doctor in two years despite multiple adverts for employment; over 200 doctors and nurses have resigned from Ladoke Akintola Teaching Hospital this year. Seventy per cent of Nigerian doctors are making plans to leave for foreign lands and are taking exams to that effect. The health crisis in Nigeria is unprecedented as the mass exodus hits an alarming proportion.
â€œOur healthcare system has been neglected for an extended period, evidenced by lack of funding, under-supply, inefficiency, decrepit equipment, poor quality, needless deaths and unhappy workforce. Today, many of the countryâ€™s general hospitals are not in good condition and are breeding grounds for infectious diseases. Many also do not have sufficient beds; so, corridors are turned to sleeping wards. The fatigued and overworked doctors are committing errors. The nation needs 303,333 medical doctors now and 10,605 new doctors annually to provide good quality patient care.â€
Clearly, exodus of doctors from Nigeria has reached an alarming proportion. Our hospitals are bleeding. To keep our doctors, NMA recommended better facilities and work environment, higher remuneration, career progression and professional advancement. The Lagos NMA also recommended an increase in the number of public health centres, fully equipped with adequate drugs and modern facilities and manned by specialists.
Unfortunately, those who should be taking note are unperturbed. These people in authority care less because they travel abroad for medicals. That was why allocation to the health sector in the proposed 2018 budget was a paltry 3.9 per cent. The majority who canâ€™t afford foreign medicals must rise and fight coldblooded politicians running Nigeria.