Jonathan Zwingina

Bayo Akinloye

As violence by killer herdsmen continues to increase in Nigeria, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and former Director General of the MKO Abiola Campaign Organisation, Sen. Jonathan Zwingina, has accused the country’s security chiefs of sabotaging President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to stem the rising tide of insecurity in the country.

Zwingina, a former senator representing Adamawa South Senatorial District, noted that the security chiefs “are giving Buhari inaccurate information. Insecurity has worsened under the current administration.”

He said this in an exclusive interview with THISDAY, stating that while he was not absolving Buhari of any blame, Nigerians should hold the security chiefs for the wanton killings going in the country.

According to him, many of the security heads portrayed the current violence as clashes between herdsmen and farmers but to him it “was an invasion of people sleeping in their homes.”

The two-time senator said, “I will say he is not being assisted to do enough. No one president alone solves problems. They don’t give him accurate information, by not giving the real narrative and changing the language to make the situation look less threatening.
“For example, you hear there was a clash but what we had really was not a clash. It was an invasion of people sleeping in their homes. I will blame the ring – security ring – around him for that perpetuation of inadequacy.

“I am not absolving him (Buhari). I am saying that the commander-in-chief is not being fed with adequate, accurate and realistic information to take the right decision. Before the commander-in-chief goes to the field he has to take the right persons. He has trusted the security chiefs to do that and some of them obviously are not doing that – they’re not doing enough of that.”

Zwingina said it was important for the president to rejig the nation’s security architecture in order to effectively address the worsening insecurity, urging Buhari to get people who have the right ideas and approach for a positive change in the current security crisis.

He noted that it “is the greatest challenge the APC government is facing. I agree entirely. Even as an APC chieftain I do agree that insecurity has not got the attention from the security chiefs as expected and that it is unfortunately getting worse.

“This, the security chiefs should admit as much themselves. “Therefore, we are throwing this challenge to the government to rejig and change the narrative of how to resolve the security situation even if the attackers are coming from outside of Nigeria. It is the duty of the government to block them and stop them – we cannot shift the blame at all,” the senator argued.

In assessing Buhari’s administration in the last three years and whether he deserved a second term, Zwingina said: “I will say I am favourably disposed to the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari.”

However, the APC leader said there “are some challenges that even those of us in the party are worried about. We believe that the president can do more and he should pressurise the security chiefs to do more.

“This is one challenge I do not think anybody – including his family – feels that enough has been done. Much more needs to be done; it’s a big daily matter – not even a weekly matter now. While we’re contending with security challenges in the country, we’re also contented with the achievements recorded so far. It is a mixed bag really.”

He also explained why Ambassador Babagana Kingibe was considered a traitor of the June 12 struggle.
According to him, even though it was a collective decision that some of MKO Abiola’s close associates should join Gen. Sani Abacha’s government, Kingibe appeared later to have jettisoned the June 12 mandate.

Zwingina explained: “I think the reason is because he appeared to have moved much closer to Abacha than the other members of Abiola’s close team. Secondly, he was the most visible and sadly, he was part of the ticket – in the sense that it was a joint ticket.

“There couldn’t be a presidential candidate without a running mate. So, it was thought that constitutionally once your principal decided to withdraw from any discussions then it followed that at least his running mate should also follow suit. That is why there was so much rancour.

“But like I said Kingibe did not just run away alone to join the government – it was part of a collective decision. But his leadership in that discussion and in those early days appeared as if he had so much in common with the military than Chief Abiola and the other leaders.”