A MOST RECKLESS MINISTER

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Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence, is increasingly becoming a liability to the government

After his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari last week, following the Plateau State killings, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, hinted of a plan by the federal government to restructure the nation’s security architecture so as to put an end to the security challenges in the country. While this is long overdue, we doubt if any Nigerian is holding their breath given the tardiness with which this government has treated security issues in the past three years. Not only are the security agencies working at cross purposes, the heads of some of them have outlived their usefulness yet they keep their jobs for reasons that can neither be considered altruistic nor in the national interest.

Aside the charge of lop-sidedness in the appointments of the security chiefs in a diverse society like ours, there is also the issue of competence on which some of them fall far short. It would seem that regime protection and loyalty to the political aspiration of the president are the main yardsticks for appointments and retention in some critical government positions. Otherwise we fail to understand why the Inspector- General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris and the Minister of Defence, Brigadier-General Mansur Dan-Ali, are still doing in their respective offices, given the damage they have already done to national security by their partisan slants on critical national issues. It is on this score that the Defence Minister is most notorious.

In one of several gaffes, Dan-Ali recently berated the enactment of the anti-open grazing law by some states and called for the suspension of the laws. The anti-open grazing laws are currently operational in Benue, Taraba and Ekiti States. At his level, Dan-Ali manifested sickening ignorance that the states Houses of Assembly derive the powers from the1999 Constitution to make laws for their people. On what basis is the minister calling for the suspension of the laws meant to reduce clashes and frictions between herdsmen and farmers? What does Dan-Ali have against the laws? What is his solution to the clashes that are still sending many to their untimely graves? Is anti-grazing law responsible for the killings in Zamfara State where he hails from?

Unfortunately, that was not the first time Dan-Ali would make ill-advised and slanted statement which is capable of stoking anarchy and compounding the already escalating tension between the nomadic pastoralists and sedentary farmers in many communities across the country. Incensed by the remark, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, last week publicly scolded Dan-Ali. “I wonder if the Minister of Defence has time to read newspapers, watch and listen to electronic media. If he did, he would have felt the feelings of Nigerians on these killings. He should not be the mouthpiece of Miyetti Allah in a conflict involving Nigerians, especially when it is not directly under his technical supervision”, said Ortom.

Dan-Ali cannot claim that he was motivated by national interest. If he was not inspired by mischief as we suspect, what is the logic behind his call for the suspension of the implementation of the anti-open grazing laws in some states while openly negotiating safe and unrestricted grazing routes for the herders? As a minister, Dan-Ali is fond of making flagrant and unguarded remarks that have turned him into a laughing stock and a liability for the administration which he is part of. Whenever he speaks in public in defence of the government, he ends up inflicting more damage on the public perception of the administration.

We see no reason why the president should continue to keep a man like him in the Federal Executive Council.