Ring True with Yemi Adebowale; email@example.com; 07013940521 (text only)
The embarrassing invasion of a military base in Garunda, Mobar Local Government Area of Borno State, by Boko Haram 13 days ago is a confirmation that the terrorists still have the capacity to wreak havoc anywhere and anytime they so desire. All the talks that they had been decapitated are mere propaganda.Heavily armed Boko Haram members, riding in trucks stormed and looted weapons and vehicles from the Garunda military base. During the attack, at least 17 soldiers were feared killed while unspecified number of soldiers is yet to be accounted for. It is pertinent to state that this is the third attack on a military base by Boko Haram in the last five weeks.
Last month, Boko Haram ambushed a military convoy in Bama, Borno State. In the ensuing fight, scores of soldiers from the 21 Brigade and some Civilian JTF members were feared killed. Military authorities also confirmed the Bama attack but the casualty number is hazy.
Also, on July 14, the terrorists attacked a military base in Jilli village, Geidam, Yobe State, killing dozens of soldiers, with many others injured. Boko Haram simplyoverwhelmed men of the 81 Division Forward Brigade located in the village. Military authorities confirmed the attack on the base in Jilli but as usual, did not give a death toll. They only said that the “troops reorganised and successfully repelled the attack and that normalcy had since returned to the area.” This strange, impervious method negates global best practices for military operations. Nigerians may never find out the number of soldiers killed in the Garunda, Jilli and Bama attacks. Besides, it is perturbing that the military are the ones doing the repelling instead of attacking the terrorists.
Globally, military bases are fortresses. They are supposed to be impenetrable. But the reverse is the case in Nigeria where Boko Haram strolls into military bases and slaughter our ill-equipped and ill-motivated soldiers. This is unacceptable. A very recent confirmation that soldiers on the war front are not motivated could be seen in the protest at Maiduguri Airport by aggrieved soldiers who claimed they had overstayed and resisted redeployment to Marte, one of the towns exposed to Boko Haram attacks.
The protesters are part of the special force deployed to provide air defence and enhance security at the airport. The distressed soldiers barricaded some sections of the airport and fired shots in the air, causing pandemonium, as passengers scampered for safety. One of the soldiers said the planned deployment was against the directives by the Army Headquarters.
That aside, we are persistently confronted by the hypocrisy, ineptitude and corruption dominating the war against Boko under the Buhari administration. The peak of this recklessness was the wild celebration of a fantasy victory over the terrorists in December 2016. A former US Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, was apt when he stated that the Nigerian government had not been transparent about Boko Haram war and that the terror group still had the capacity to operate freely in the country. Evidently, this government is stupidly running away from the fact that the terrorists are still roaming unhindered in many communities in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Our gallant soldiers are willing to fight, but they are ill-equipped and ill-motivated.
Just as I remarked in an earlier article, the Buhari administration must show greater commitment to this war against Boko Haram by first sacking Tukur Buratai and other service chiefs. He must retire those in the top hierarchy of this war and appoint fresh hands, so that we can have fresh ideas. The managers of this war have obviously failed our gallant soldiers. Our war commanders have become businessmen. This is why military posts are regularly attacked by Boko Haram.
Additional challenge Nigeria is facing in this war against Boko Haram is that most of those managing the war don’t want it to end. These heartless people are profiting immensely from the blood of our gallant soldiers and that of innocent Nigerians. This is why soldiers on the war front are cruelly denied operation allowances, ill-equipped and ill-motivated. As long as the war is on, there will be more money for these coldblooded war managers. This is the truth that must be told about this war.
I have persistently clamoured for the return of mercenaries. We all saw their impact when they were briefly used by the Jonathan administration. Buhari came and unwisely sacked them. This country must employ the best fighters from anywhere in the world to end this trauma called Boko Haram. The ultimate aim is to genuinely decapitate Boko Haram.
We are yet to see the impact of the $1 billion war chest Buhari gave the military. This money ought to have been used to hire the best mercenaries from Israel, South Africa and Russia. These mercenaries would have stormed the North-east with highly sophisticated war manpower and war machines. Any leader that is genuinely interested in ending the Boko Haram madness must look in this direction. If our President is patriotic enough to take this decision, within few months, Boko Haram will become history.
Is Buhari Not Embarrassed by EFCC’s Shenanigans?
The recent placement of a “Post No Debit Order” on some accounts of Benue and Akwa Ibom state governments is the most disgusting action taken by the EFCC under the Buhari administration and a massive discredit to President Buhari. Though, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ordered a reversal, the damage done to the image of our anti-graft agency and the federal government by this unconstitutional and brutal action by the EFCC is irreversible. It is a direct attack on the masses of these states.
Immediately Governor Samuel Ortom defected to the opposition PDP, EFCC suddenly discovered thatbetween June 30, 2015 and March 2018, the governor ordered dubious withdrawal of N21.3 billion from four banks for security purposes. This is preposterous. The EFCC did not investigate the governor’s security spending when he was still a member of APC. Similarly, immediately Senator Godswill Akpabio defected to the ruling APC, some accounts of the Akwa Ibom State Government were frozen by the EFCC, apparently to put Governor Udom Emmanuel under financial pressure. These actions confirm insinuations that the EFCC is being used as an attack dog against perceived political opponents of President Buhari.
Just as the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State pointed out, EFCC’s action is simply aimed at shutting down the governments of the two states and setting the people against their governors.
The Benue Liberation Front (BLF) added: “The EFCC under Magu has lately conducted itself in a very low esteem that makes mockery of its anti-corruption fight. Magu has also clearly taken sides and compromised his office in the discharge of his duty… The anti-grant agency is fast losing its moral right to even prosecute alleged corrupt public officials.”
There is no section of the Nigerian constitution that allows any agency of government to freeze the account of a federating unit of Nigeria. EFCC’s action is clearly an illegality; all forces of good must fight against this impunity.
23 More Political Parties for What?
Nigeria now has 91 political parties and this is official. The Independent National Electoral Commission registered 23 new political parties on Tuesday. This country does not deserve this crisis at this crucial moment of our history. is evidently creating problems for itself and the voting populace. Our election umpire does not even have the capacity to monitor the 91 political parties. During elections, ballot papers are also clogged with all manner of political parties, as seen in the recent Ekiti State governorship election when over 30 parties appeared on the ballot paper. 91 political parties appearing on a ballot paper will be horrendous.
Yes, in a democracy, people have a right to form political parties but fielding candidates for elections must be regulated. There should be clearly defined conditions for fielding candidates at every level of elections. I can’t understand why a party that can’t produce ordinary local government councilor will field candidate for presidential election. Our lawmakers must look into this. For me, only political parties with at least a seat in a state legislature should be allowed to field candidates for federal positions.
Again, in this part of the world, our political parties think they are registered sorely for the purpose of contesting election. This is outrageous. Political parties should also exist as pressure groups, serving as a check on government.
Rising Debt Profile
Nigeria’s rising debt profile should be of concern to genuine patriots. It rose by 3.01 per cent in the last six months and now stands at N22.38 trillion. This is according to the Debt Management Office. The N22.38 trillion encompasses the domestic and external debt stock of the federal and 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory. The $2.5 billion Eurobond issued by the federal government in February contributed greatly to this rising debt profile. Nigeria’s debt has been on the rise in the last three years, amid so much poverty. This country has very little to show for this binge borrowing.
The federal government, which accounts for over 60 per cent of this debt profile, has been very reckless, within the last three years. The Buhari administration is evidently looking good for the unenviable record of being the most notorious for binge borrowing in the 57 years’ history of this country. Within its first 29 months, it took foreign loans of almost $7 billion. It ludicrously celebrated the $150 million loan approved by the World Bank for our mining sector.
There was also a $1.25 billion in budget support from the World Bank last year. This is aside the $575 million approved by the same bank for the rehabilitation of the North-east. There is the $1 billion loan approved by the African Development Bank. Of this amount, $600 million had been drawn. There is $1 billion Eurobond, with an additional $500 million expected from the Global Medium Term Note Programme. The China Exim bank is expected to provide $5.8 billion. There is the $300 million raised through a Diaspora Bond issued in June 2017. Perhaps, the debt would have been higher if the Senate had not truncated plans to borrow another $30 billion last year.
I can clearly remember the Chairman, Senate Committee on Debts, Shehu Sani, remarking that if Nigeria must borrow, it must borrow responsibly: “If we must bequeath to the future generation a pile of debt, it must be justified with commensurate infrastructural proof of the value of the debt. The payment plan of this debt will undoubtedly last the length of our lifetimes and possibly beyond. We must leave behind a legacy that will appease and answer the questions the next generation of Nigerians will ask.”
This administration and indeed previous ones have imposed a heavy debt burden on the country without commensurate development projects or programmes to justify the loans and to aid repayment.
The burden of these loans on our star-crossed generation and indeed future generation is weighty. The IMF estimates that Nigeria spends 66 per cent of its tax revenues on servicing debts. It also projects that Nigeria’s indebtedness would climb to 24.1 per cent of its GDP by 2018.
Many of the states have accumulated foreign and domestic loans far beyond their repayment abilities. This is one of the reasons many can no longer meet basic obligations to their citizens. Osun State is struggling with N147 billion domestic debts as at December 2016. The poverty in this state is frightening despite taking huge loans.
The way governments celebrate these loans often leaves me crestfallen. They create the impression that it would be a quick fix for all our problems. Unfortunately, it does not often turn out that way. What hapless Nigerians have been gaining from these massive borrowings are poverty, hunger, disease, malnutrition, unemployment and infrastructure decay.