Buhari Must Engage Scary ISSA Report 

Muhammadu Buhari

Ring True 

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

I have spent quality time reading the recent Defence and Foreign Affairs report on the Nigerian military, published by the United States-based International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA). The long and the short of the special analysis released late last year is that massive corruption among top military chiefs appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari is responsible for the sagging war against terrorism. The intensity of Boko Haram assaults across villages and towns in the North-east in the last few months is a further confirmation that this report is on point.

The leadership of the Nigerian military has been doing everything possible to discredit this report, but result from the war front waters down these moves. My message to President Buhari this morning is a very simple one: If he is genuinely interested in ending the bloodshed in the North-east and parts of the North-west, he should get a copy of the ISSA report and engage it proactively.

Washington-based ISSA is a non-governmental organisation with a worldwide membership of professionals involved in national and international security and strategic policy. It also provides strategic information and analysis to governments worldwide. ISSA incorporates the Global Information System (GIS), an encrypted on-line intelligence service for governments. So, it can be trusted to deliver unbiased report.

My take away from the report was where it stated that at present, the Nigerian government had completely and comprehensively lost control of the engagement with Boko Haram and could show no instance when the government presently had tactical, theater, strategic, or information dominance of any aspect of the conflict.

“The insurgent groups grow stronger, and the government forces grow weaker and more beset by morale collapse. It is fair to say that the Nigerian intelligence community itself is no longer sure what groups even comprise ‘Boko Haram’, nor has it addressed the international logistical, ideological, and support aspects contributing to the ongoing viability of the groups.”

It states further: “Despite this, the only significant engagement which the Nigerian military leadership – up to and including the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. (rtd.) Mohammed Babagana Monguno – seem to prioritise is the fight to stop the leakage of information about massive corruption, running into the equivalent of several billions of dollars, in the purchase by senior military officers of major military capital goods and military consumables, including the troops’ own food. The conduct of the war in the North is tied to the corruption in the military, and Buhari – ring-fenced by his own team – is unable to tackle the issue.

 “It is significant that Buhari, who received the findings of the commission (investigating defense procurement) as much as a year ago, has refused to allow it to be made public and he, through National Security Adviser Monguno, has attempted to have the commission disbanded. However, it is believed that Monguno and Buhari are aware that copies of the report are beyond their reach and could be released unofficially if further attempts are made to assassinate commission members.

“The commission, investigating defense procurement from 2007 onwards, made significant strides which were initially accepted by the Buhari government, until the scope of the inquiry went beyond the period relating to the former government of President Goodluck Jonathan, and began to show corruption patterns extending into officers still serving under President Buhari.”

The report stated that the death of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal (rtd.) Alex Badeh (who became Chief of Defence Staff), and that of a former Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army, Major General Idris Alkali, on September 3, 2018 were not a mere coincidence.

It said, “Given the upsurge in momentum by ‘the highest levels of government’ to stop the findings becoming public from the corruption commission on defense procurement, it is plausible that the attribution of a criminal ‘kidnapping-attempt-gone-wrong’ against the Air Chief Marshal was a convenient excuse to ensure that the victim – Badeh – could not divulge in court the pattern and details of corruption which has grown even more rampant in the current generation of defense leadership.

“On September 3, 2018, the retired Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Idris Alkali, was also killed, ostensibly by a gang of youthful protestors who set up a roadblock near Jos, the capital of Plateau State. His body was discovered on October 31, 2018. And his death was blamed on ‘an irate mob’, protesting in the Du-ra-Du community against the September 2, 2018, killing of 11 members of their own community.”

Our dear President claims to be worried about the anguish in the North-east and North-west. So, why is he not acting on this report? Any serious government would have ensured a robust engagement of this bang. Nigeria is now the 3rd most terrorised country in the world, no thanks to Boko Haram and killer herders. Unfortunately, the military has been unable to contain these terrorists. This insignia of disgrace should task our President.

On the flip side, hundreds of Baga residents and surrounding towns are still fleeing to Maiduguri following insurgents’ attacks. A faction of Boko Haram, ISWAP, which split from the main group in 2016, had attacked a military base in Baga, few days back. The fight to control Baga – a strategic town as it borders Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon – forced hundreds to seek safety in Maiduguri, some 200 km to the south. The military and insurgents also clashed in Monguno, a town close to Baga.

The influx of men, women and children into Maiduguri, as well as reports of many dying on the way, have triggered tension in Borno State, with people calling for drastic action to be taken by the federal government against the terrorists. It was good seeing Governor Kashim Shettima convening an extraordinary security meeting of stakeholders. Unfortunately, nothing will happen if the President does not act appropriately. Boko Haram and ISWAP are beyond the capabilities of Nigerian military. Nigeria needs to seek help from developed countries. Nigeria surely needs mercenaries from Israel, Russia and South Africa. This is the only way forward for our dear country.

Terrorism is also raging in Katsina State. For the first time, Governor Aminu Masari was honest to acknowledge that the gunmen were about overrunning his domain, with little resistance from the military.

He said: “The citizens are on daily basis being harassed by bandits and kidnappers. Our state is currently under serious siege by armed robbers, kidnappers and armed bandits, who arrest rural people at the grassroots at will and demand ransom, which if not paid, they kill their victims. The people of Katsina in the 34 local governments now sleep with one eye closed and the other opened. Our state is in a dangerous situation. Travelers are afraid of being stopped on the highway and arrested by kidnappers who demand ransom.”

It is a big shame that Masari is just coming out to acknowledge the crisis in his state. The Katsina governor and his likes have kept quiet for this long for political reasons. These sycophants prefer to remain silent while bandits and killer herders slaughter their people. What a country!

The Lucky Lad Called Nuhu Ribadu

I watched the former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, on television, inaugurating 40 vehicles donated by his support group, Black Cap Revolutionary Movement, for the mobilisation of voters in Adamawa for President Buhari. Yes, 40 vehicles; that’s what the anti-corruption czar, Ribadu, mobilised for Buhari. Even if they are fairly used vehicles, what I saw could be in the region of N80 million. This great guy called Ribadu fought corruption so well while at the EFCC, and the beneficiaries are reciprocating. What a lucky chap; they now donate generously to his movement. This guy is great.

Ribadu has also vowed that Buhari would get double of the votes he got in 2015 in Adamawa State. I guess he is already into the voodoo vote game: “If Buhari won Adamawa by over 600,000 votes in 2015, by the grace of God, we are going to give him over one million votes in 2019. Adamawa is 100 per cent for Buhari; we will make sure Buhari is re-elected, because he deserves it. Let’s help Buhari so that he can continue to work for Nigeria.”

Ribadu is already adept at conjuring votes. Yes, he has promised one million votes for Buhari in Adamawa. No wonder he was made Director of Field Operation of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council. Ribadu clearly understands his mandate. He has the capacity to deliver voodoo votes based on his brilliant performance as EFCC boss.

The powerful Ribadu has also told Governor Abdullahi Bindow to forget about 2nd term in Adamawa State. He said his campaign structure would not campaign for his reelection. The Black Cappers believe Bindow is working for Abubakar Atiku and have decided to “deal” with him. All hail Ribadu, the new Adamawa power broker.

Yari’s Senseless War against Wakkala

When Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara State was going on holiday last month, he handed over to the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly,Sanusi Rikij. Apparently, Yari illegally made Rikij acting governor to spite theDeputy Governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Wakkala. Those keenly following the dirty politics in Zamfara State were not shocked. The vindictive Yari has persistently humiliated Wakkala for indicating interest in succeeding him and for belonging to G8, a group opposed to Yari’s leadership of the APC in the state. As a result, the governor denies Wakkala his rights and privileges.

What offence did Wakkala commit? When did it become a crime to aspire to become governor without the approval of the incumbent? Wakkala told newsmen in Gusau: “For months now, several of the legal funding that are supposed to be made to my office were stopped and I have been completely sidelined by the state government. This attitude against me started when I indicated interest to run for the governorship of the state on the platform of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). I know that nothing stops me as a citizen from contesting for any elective position, so I want those concerned and responsible for the interpretation and implementation of the constitutional provisions that accorded me rights and privileges to explain to me why I am being treated this way.

“If my crime is my declaration, then what about my supporting staff made up of casual staff, feeding of security personnel, fueling and services of vehicles attached to my office, what have they done to have their allowances stopped? My concern at the moment is to see that Zamfara is free from all these security challenges where the killings, kidnappings and animal rustling have taken charge.”

Constitutionally, only the deputy governor can act in the absence of the governor, except if the deputy governor had been impeached, removed from office by court order or death. None of these is the case at the moment in Zamfara State. So, why is Yari disrespecting the constitution of this country? This governor has already browbeaten the state’s legislators, so, they can’t check him. I urge Wakkala to continue the fight (with his G8 friends) to free Zamfara from the shackles of Yari.