Musings on Imbalance in Key Security Appointments

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Ring True 

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

On February 8, precisely 16 days ago, the leadership of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria visited President Muhammadu Buhari and bluntly told him that his enormous goodwill was being depleted by some glaring failures of his government. They declared: “Many saw you as a person of integrity who would be able to bring sanity into a system that was nearly crippled by endemic corruption. Nearly three years later, however, one has the feeling that this goodwill is being fast depleted by some glaring failures of government which we have the moral responsibility to bring to your notice, else we would be failing in our duty as spiritual fathers and leaders.”

One major area I have been having a running battle with the Buhari government is the lopsidedness of his appointments. This was also properly addressed by the catholic bishops, who demanded that Buhari should address the inequity in his appointments and distribution of amenities by respecting the federal character principle as enshrined in the constitution. The bishops said the situation had created a loss of a sense of belonging in many parts of the country, hence the constant cries of marginalisation, agitation for secession and calls for restructuring. Unfortunately, our President was very economical with the truth, when he responded that no ethnic group or political zone had been deliberately marginalised in the appointments made so far by him. However, I am happy that Buhari added that he would take a second look at areas in which issues had been raised, when a compendium of all government appointments is submitted to him.

For me, it is either our dear President still does not understand the importance of Chapter 2, Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), or he has chosen to persistently mock this section of our constitution. As a reminder, this section states that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”

Unfortunately, Buhari has been stoking our fault lines in the last 33 months with his skewed appointments. The crooked appointments of heads of military and para-military sectors of his government have been most infuriating. First, I will like our dear President to retire into his study and spend quality time reading a list I have compiled for him.
Mr. President, here we go: Director-General, Department of State Security Services, Lawal Daura; National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Burutai; Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar; Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Retired Colonel Hameed Ali; Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Mustapha Abdallah; Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mohammed Babandede; Chief of Defence Intelligence, AVM Mohammed Usman; Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Muhammadu; Inspector General of Police, Idris Abubakar; Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, Minister for Interior‎, Abdulrahman Dambazau and Controller General of the Nigeria Prison Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed.

Mr. President, how does this list smell? Does it smell pan-Nigeria? It is bad enough that they are all from the north. It is even worse that they are all Muslims. In a country where religion remains an issue, concentrating the security apparatus in the hands of one tribe and one religious group is a betrayal of trust of those Christians and southerners who voted for you and an affront on our constitution. My dear President, those around you won’t tell you this. They are largely bread and butter politicians. Just as you promised the catholic bishops, take a second look at these security appointments and make amends. These skewed security appointments are largely responsible for the raging insecurity in Nigeria.
On the flip side, our dear President needs to read more of what his opponents are saying than that of his supporters and cronies. Buhari, your worst enemy could be your best friend, and your best friend your worst enemy. A former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi-Okogie, is one of such “worst enemies” whose literatures I believe Buhari should persistently read. My take away from the recent epistle of this former Lagos Archbishop of the Catholic Church to Buhari are:

“The truth is that Nigerians are not happy; Nigerians are hungry and angry. They are not happy because their lives and their belongings are not safe.  They work so hard while the value of the money they earn cannot make them enjoy basic things of life. Nigerians are unhappy because the economy has been so mismanaged that some cannot pay the school fees of their children.  Nigerians are unhappy because they have not got jobs. Nigerians are unhappy because, instead of hope, they are offered propaganda and insults by the President’s men. Nigerians are angry because their loved ones are butchered by herdsmen while the response of government is woeful.
“The issue at hand is more serious than getting re-elected. It cannot be resolved by way of a facile intra-party reconciliation. Before it can succeed, this government must admit it has failed. Before it can retrace its steps, this government must admit that it has strayed from the path of keeping the promises it made, promises that made Nigerians to vote as they did in 2015.

“Apart from seeking intra-party reconciliation, this government must first reconcile with Nigerians by treating them with respect. There is anger in the land.  Many voices are echoing it. These voices of anger are so deafening that it can no longer be denied. The level of discontent in Nigeria at this point in time is like the proverbial boa sighted by even more than two persons.  It would be unwise to mistake it for a piece of diamond. Those who are shielding Buhari from the truth, while insulting those who tell him the truth, are his real enemies. By insulting well-meaning Nigerians who happen to disagree with policies of government, they are not winning friends for the President. They are in fact helping to grow the rank and file of the angry. Whoever loves this President would want him to succeed. Whoever wants him to succeed must tell him the truth. For if he fails, Nigeria fails.”

I very much doubt if those around Buhari will allow him read this epistle, but I take solace in the fact that history is always a good judge.

Anguish in Dapchi, Konduga 
Distressed parents in Dapchi, Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe State, are still weeping. Boko Haram attacked the town on Monday, spent hours looting the place and eventually entered the premises of Dapchi Government Girls Secondary School where scores of schoolgirls were abducted. A teacher who escaped said: “They shot sporadically and forced the school’s food store open. We and the students ran into the bush for safety.” As at press time, a hunt was on to rescue the abducted girls. The state’s Commissioner of Police, Abdulmaliki Sumonu, said security operatives had been reinforced in the area to ensure total security. Only God knows what this policeman is talking about. What are they securing after the damage had been done? The point here is that the terrorists spent hours unchallenged in this town, yet, our security operatives say that they are on top of this Boko Haran crisis.

Dapchi is just about 100 kilometres from Damaturu, the state’s capital. The military claimed the attackers were “fleeing Boko Haram” members. These so-called “fleeing” terrorists still had time to ransack Dapchi for hours unchallenged. A resident, simply identified as Ibrahim, said the attackers stormed the town, shooting sporadically. “They forced some shops open and stole food items. We are yet to know if there are casualties because everyone in the town scampered for safety. Some fled to bush, others into their homes. They also attacked the military location at the town’s entrance bridge.”

The hapless residents of Konduga in Borno State are also counting their losses following the multiple suicide bomb attacks by Boko Haram at Kasuwar Kifi on the outskirts of the town last week. The bombers shattered social activities in this spot, killing 18 persons, aside from the three bombers. Several others were also injured; most of them are still receiving treatment at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. Commissioner of Police, Borno State Command, Damian Chukwu, confirmed the casualty figures. As usual, so many families in Konduga are directly or indirectly affected by this latest attack. Some of the injured in the hospital are battling for survival. So sad; they may also not return home alive.

Kodunga has been repeated bombed in the last nine years by Boko Haram. There is hardly any family in this town without a grisly story to tell. Just like many towns and villages in Borno State, the residents of Kodunga are perpetually living in fear. In this part of the world, human blood is so cheap. The next attack could just be in a matter of hours. For how long must this continue? For how long shall this country allow the shedding of innocent blood? Terrorists are evidently very much on ground in many towns and villages in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Things have just got to change about this sagging war. The leadership of the military must make way for result-oriented people.

Corruption War: So Much Noise, So Little Result
For almost three years, we were regaled with stories of how some Nigerians stole so much in what has become the $1.1bn Malabu oil scandal. Names of several Nigerians were dragged in the mud in this orchestrated media trial. Some were even arraigned in court. Our Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has now realised that the alleged $1.1bn fraud was a ruse. He has even written a letter to President Buhari, asking for the termination of the charges instituted against the immediate-past AGF, Mohammed Adoke, and others, in respect of alleged scam.

The EFCC had filed three sets of charges of fraud and money laundering against Adoke, a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, and others between December 2016 and March 2017. The anti-corruption agency had alleged that the Nigerian government was defrauded in the alleged shady transactions in the chain of transfers that later gave away the ownership of the OPL 245 to oil giants – Shell and Agip. Malami says it is a cock and bull story because he has evaluated the case and realised that the investigation which led to the filing of the charges against Adoke and others was weak and could not earn any conviction. “The letter was written within the context of the available investigation report on the basis of which the charges were filed which I find inadequate to earn a conviction.”
In an earlier letter to the EFCC, Malami said the agency lacked sufficient evidence to prove the allegations of fraud and money laundering against all the accused. “There is also nothing in the proof of evidence to support the charge of money laundering,” he said. So, they knew there was no case, yet, made so much noise with their usual media trial and dragged the names of so many in the mud, just to show that there is a war against corruption. What a country. What a skewed war against corruption.

This is a government that condones corruption by its top level officials. I was not surprised when Transparency International reported on Wednesday that corruption was getting worse in Nigeria under Buhari’s watch. While Nigeria scored 27/100 and was ranked 136th in 2016, the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by TI, scored Nigeria 28/100, and ranked the country 148 out of 180 countries surveyed. This is 12 places below 136 which Nigeria was ranked in 2016. Indeed, the war against corruption is on.