Governor, Abdulaziz
Gov. Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum and Zamfara State

Ring True

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

The grumbles of Governor Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State about the recalcitrance of our security chiefs and President Muhammadu Buhari’s safety sluggishness can’t be waved aside. Yari is embattled because for almost two years, bandits have been moving from one local government to another in his state, killing hundreds of people, unhindered. The latest is the attack at Birnin Magaji Local Government Area on June 13, which claimed 38 lives. Clearly, Buhari and his security chiefs persistently fail the people. Yari, a key member of the APC-led federal government could no longer bear the torment and spilled the beans few days back. This governor told Nigerians that the likes of army chief, Tukur Brutai; Air chief, Sadique Abubakar and IGP Ibrahim Idris no longer obey the President. I concur. For me, these men stubbornly shove aside Buhari’s instruction because they have become too powerful and hardhearted. Our service chiefs have become too big to lead wars.

Yari has his facts and figures intact. According to him, weeks after the President directed that more security personnel be deployed in Zamfara, to stem the killings by bandits, not one reported to the state. He holds the security chiefs responsible for the worsening security situation in Zamfara State. The Birnin Magaji attack occurred nine days after the President ordered the deployment of more security personnel in the state. Even the few security men on ground just watch while the bandits continue to terrorise innocent citizens. “It is disheartening that these killings have continued in spite of President Buhari’s order to security agencies to end the incessant blood-letting across the country. We cannot keep quiet while our people are killed daily,” lamented Yari.

The Zamfara governor has since “resigned” his responsibility as Chief Security Officer of the state since he has no control over Zamfara security machinery. His decision stemmed from the seeming helplessness of the state government and the people over the recurring killings in the state. Yari deplored the prevailing situation where, as the chief security officer of the state, he could not take decisions on strategies for protecting the state and its people, and have them implemented: “We have been facing serious security challenges over the years, but in spite of being governor and Chief Security Officer of the state, I cannot direct security officers on what to do nor sanction them when they err. As Chief Security Officer, the nomenclature is just a name,” he said.

Honestly, Yari has not said anything new about our “powerful” and inept security chiefs. We all won’t forget in a hurry how IGP Idris disobeyed the President’s instruction to relocate to Benue State to curb attacks by killer herders; he was not sanctioned. Buratai and Abubakar have also failed to curb rampaging Boko Haram and killer herders, without sanctions. The truth that must be told is that our security chiefs, with some other guys in this government, constitute a cabal that runs the show in Nigeria. The likes of the Director General, Department of State Security, Lawal Daura; Minister for Defence, Mansur Dan Ali; Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau and our Attorney General, Abubakar Malami are members of this powerful cabal. These people are seemingly above the President and above the laws of Nigeria. That was why, despite the glaring ineptitude of the security chiefs, the President persistently renew their tenure.

For now, the likes of Fura Girke, Majira, Kanawa, Yargeba, Takoka, Bargaja, Bundungel, Bantsa, Unguwar Matanda and Makera have become ghost villages in Zamfara State. Most of the inhabitants are too scared to return. A large number of Internally Displaced Persons are now streaming into neighbouring Katsina State. As at yesterday, the IDP camp in Kankara Local Government has over 3000 people. It is a shame that this troubled Zamfara State that produced the current defence minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, is struggling with security issues. It is also a shame that Yari, who is frequently on presidential delegation to foreign countries with Buhari, can’t get the President to act decisively on the security problem in his state. Clearly, the rest of the country should not expect anything good in terms of security from our President.

On the flip side, Yari has also been an absentee governor; this has compounded the insecurity of the state. He is hardly in Zamfara. You will regularly find this governor in Abuja, London or Dubai. That was why elder statesman, Saidu Dansadau, petitioned Buhari in 2016, asking him to declare a state of emergency in Zamfara State. Things have not changed one bit.

Dansadua, a Second Republic Senator, remarked then: “The governor hardly stays in the state as he prefers to travel all over the world at the expense of the state resources and safety of the people. He has spent only about 20 per cent of that whole period (five years) in Zamfara State. He had utilised the other 80 per cent junketing from one part of the country to the other and shuttling around the globe. All matters of state that require action are kept waiting until he returns to the state. Consequently, intelligence and security reports are kept in abeyance. For instance, at a period, out of 60 straight days, the governor spent only two days in Zamfara State.”

Many will not forget in a hurry how Yari viciously killed moves by legislators to impeach him last year over his maladroitness. He simply got operatives of the Department of State Service in Abuja to harass and detain the leaders of the revolt. The DSS detained the Speaker, Sanusi Garba Rikiji, his deputy, Muhammad Abubakar Gumi, the Majority Leader, Isah Abdulmumini and the Chief Whip, Abdullahi Dansadau. The remaining 20 members of the Assembly fled to Kaduna to avoid arrest. Prior to this, Yari allegedly used miscreants to attack the Speaker. The intimidation worked, with the lawmakers withdrawing their impeachment notice. Unfortunately, Yari could not use this power and influence to end the killings in his state. What a country!

NCC Should Allow Nigerians Enjoy MTN’s 800MHz Spectrum

Over two years after MTN Nigeria acquired 100% equity of Visafone Communications Limited for $200 million, the Nigerian Communications Commission has refused to approve the transfer of Visafone’s operating and spectrum licences to MTN. The same NCC that approved the acquisition has stubbornly denied MTN optimal use of the spectrum. What a contradiction!

Competitors are apparently pressurising NCC. They are concerned that the 800MHz spectrum will allow MTN to dominate the mobile data market. This is preposterous because this market is already effectively competitive as confirmed by NCC itself. Has NCC suddenly forgotten that it has competition regulations in place? Recall that 9mobile instituted separate legal actions against NCC, MTN and Visafone, seeking an injunction to prevent MTN from accessing the 800MHz spectrum and a judicial review of NCC’s decision to approve the acquisition of VSF by MTN. The demand for a judicial review was struck out by the court. Suddenly, NCC is talking about holding a public inquiry in respect of this same application by Visafone to transfer its licence and resources, including spectrum in the 800MHz band to MTN.

For me, this public inquiry is absolutely unnecessary. The NCC should just do the needful. The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta and his team should be more concerned about the benefits to Nigerians if MTN is granted access to the 800MHz spectrum, instead of playing politics with the issue. Evidently, Nigerians will be the biggest beneficiaries. The utilisation of the 800MHz band will provide Nigerians better data experience and ensure that the country meets its national broadband target. The 800MHz spectrum also has distinct characteristics, particularly in supporting rural coverage. The cost benefits will be enjoyed by Nigerians. So, let’s go Danbatta! Show courage and leadership on this issue.

Tears Still Flowing in Damboa

Tears are still flowing in Damboa, Borno State, where many lost their loved ones in a gory Boko Haram attack in Abachari area of the town last Saturday. The tears of many will probably never dry. Scores of people were killed in the massive suicide attack. The terrorists followed up with rocket-propelled grenades attack on the crowd helping victims of the suicide attack, leaving no less than 31 persons dead on the spot. Some of the injured ones have also died in the hospital. Shocked by the massive destruction of sacred human lives, the United States government had to issue a formal statement on Tuesday, condemning the barbaric attack on innocent people.

he Damboa attack did not come as a surprise to those who have been honest about the state of the war against Boko Haram. The Buhari government has simply been deluding itself about having degraded the terrorists. Boko Haram is still very potent in many local government areas of Borno State and still controls territories. We should be courageous enough to ask questions on why about two million Internally Displaced Persons can’t return to their homes, if indeed, the terrorists had been defeated as claimed by the government. The truth is that the towns and villages of these IDPs are still not safe. The terrorists are roaming unhindered in many of these places. The Buhari government must face this reality and take pragmatic steps to end unceasing shedding of innocent blood. As a first step, our gallant soldiers must be properly equipped and properly motivated. Quality intelligence gathering is also key to success in this war. Unfortunately, this is antiquated in this part of the world. It is pertinent to bring in Israeli experts to block this hole. The final volley is that those leading this war must be sacked for fresh hands to take charge.

Nigeria’s Voodoo Inflation Figures

I have noticed that in the last 16 months, inflation data released by the National Bureau of Statistics no longer gel with realities on ground. These figures are evidently being manipulated by some powerful forces to deceive Nigerians and score cheap political goals. It is so difficult to understand how and where the NBC obtained the data indicating that inflation for May in our traumatised country dropped to 11.61% from 12.48% recorded in April, “marking the 16thconsecutive decline and suggesting sustained traction of economic recovery”. Nigerians were also told that food inflation dropped to 13.45% as against 14.80% in April. Haba! This is absurd.

Somebody somewhere is playing politics with figures. Just visit any market around you and you will understand what I am talking about. Nigerians are still struggling with unending increase in the prices of food and vital commodities in the country. Prices of main foods such as yam, rice, b, garri, semovita, wheat, palm oil and vegetable oil are still on the rise. For example, a 50 kilogramme bag of rice is now between N15,000 and N16,500 depending on the brand as against N14,500 few weeks back.

Market research by Realnews reveals further that the price of 50kg bag of garri (white) is N7,000 as against N6,500 in April, while yellow garri is sold for N7,500 as against N6,500. It also found out that a gallon of red oil 25 litres was N9,000 compared to N8,500 in April. So, who is fooling who? NBS beware.