• Jonathan calls for new strategy to address security challenges
• Nigeria collapsing under your watch, PDP tells president
Chuks Okocha and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday launched broadsides against those criticising his administration for allegedly not doing enough to protect lives and property. He labelled them unpatriotic.
The president, at two separate occasions in Abuja, dismissed his critics’ allegations, saying his administration is doing all it could to stem the wave of killings, banditry and kidnapping ravaging the country.
However, former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not share his views that his administration is doing enough in tackling the security challenges confronting Nigeria.
While Jonathan called for a new strategy to stem the tide, PDP said the nation was collapsing under Buhari.
The president took on his critics a day after former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in an open letter to him, accused him of lapses in addressing the security challenges facing the country.
Obasanjo, in the letter, expressed concerns over the spike in cases of killings and kidnappings in Nigeria and called on Buhari to pull back the country from the edge of the precipice.
Obasanjo called on the president to take urgent steps to find lasting solutions before Nigeria witnesses the Rwandan-like genocide or turn to another Yugoslavia.
But Buhari, who dismissed allegations of tardiness against his administration in addressing the security challenges facing Nigeria, said there was no nation without security problems.
However, the president who spoke when he hosted the national executive body of the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) in Abuja, made no reference to Obasanjo’s letter or issues raised in it.
According to him, the Nigerian situation is not unusual as challenges bordering on banditry and kidnapping are global issues.
He said: “Every country in the world has security challenges. While we have made significant progress in the fight against terrorism, we acknowledged that there are also new and emerging challenges like kidnapping and banditry.
“I assure you and Nigerians that we will not relent in our efforts to secure the country from criminal activities. Those who politicise the isolated cases of insecurity are not patriotic Nigerians.
“I’m confident that this administration uses all resources at its disposal to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians and not just prominent Nigerians or those who make headlines.”
He also said his administration would continue to fight corruption in the country.
“We will continue to be tough on the cancer of corruption. As you may be aware, the African Union (AU) in its deliberations last year appointed me as African Corruption Champion for the continent.
“This is because other countries have seen our dedication to fighting corruption and are keen to emulate our approach,’’ the president added.
The president, at another forum in Abuja, said criminals took advantage of the focus on the North-east to unleash crimes on other parts of the country.
According to him, notwithstanding the challenges, security still remains his top priority.
He said successes recorded in degrading terrorists in the North-east would be extended to various parts of the country experiencing challenges.
He spoke when executive members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), led by its President, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, visited him at the State House.
He said anyone who could not secure a country, would also be unable to manage it.
“If you cannot secure a country or institution, you cannot manage it,’’ a statement by one of the presidential spokesmen, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted him as saying.
Buhari also told his visitors that efforts were still being made to improve employment rate, despite the success in getting many into the agricultural sector.
According to him, opening up the economy for investments and getting the youths engaged would help in controlling crime rate.
The statement also said Buhari spoke on health and education, imploring states and local governments to play stronger roles in complementing the efforts of the federal government, especially in getting more children into classrooms.
“The issues of health and education are constitutional. If there are too many almajiris in a state, then the government is not following the constitution.
“The states also have elite who are educated enough to remind their governments about their responsibility to almajiris,’’ he said.
The statement said Faduyile had earlier congratulated Buhari on his re-election for a second term in office, saying it is the reward for his government’s efforts in repositioning the country, especially the health sector.
PDP to Buhari: Nigeria Collapsing Under Your Watch
But the PDP disagreed with the president’s assessment of his efforts in addressing the security challenges facing the country, saying his performance is underwhelming.
PDP National Chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus, told journalists at a news conference in Abuja that Nigeria is gradually collapsing under Buhari’s watch.
He called on the president to declare a state of emergency in the security sector or he should resign if he can no longer guarantee an end to the banditry, killings and kidnappings.
Secondus said; “The security in the country has failed. If it is in other countries or climes, the president ought to have resigned. He should resign and allow other competent hands to handle the affairs of the country. People are being killed all over the country.
“He should have resigned. Let him resign. The country and the government are going from bad to worse. We should not underplay this or term it as politics. There are a lot of bloodletting. We should not trivialise what is happening in the country.
“We are running away from the truth. There is lot of injustice in the country. One injustice begets another injustice. Former President Obasanjo has spoken well and we in the PDP supports him. It is not political, those abusing him are just beating about the bush.
“Before Obasanjo’s letter, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, had warned the president of what he called “the cloud of destabilisation hovering over the nation.” Also the country’s only Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, had to declare that the problem of Nigeria has gone beyond President Buhari.
“Respected elder statesman and former Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Balarabe Musa, also joined his voice to that of these compatriots to urge Nigerians not to be afraid to tell the government the truth that they have failed woefully.
“This government of Buhari is the worst in the history of Nigeria, every patriotic Nigerians should come out and talk to Buhari and save the country from war.
“The PDP wholeheartedly associates itself with the positions of these patriotic Nigerians and urges President Buhari to respond appropriately to their timely advisories by declaring a state of emergency on security in the country and go further urgently to address the issues raised in Obasanjo’s letter.
Jonathan calls for new strategy to address security challenges
Amid the recriminations over the state of security in the country, Jonathan yesterday called for a new strategy to address the situation.
The former president said in Akure, the Ondo State capital, during a condolence visit to leader of Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, over the killing of his daughter, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, said no one could continue doing old things the same way and expect new results.
“The issue of security must be approached from a different dimension. We cannot continue the old way because it is getting out of hand. We hope the federal and state governments will do something about it.
“Every generation faces problems and this generation must find ways to solve these problems. Every government faces problem. The first commercial kidnapping, because it involved money, happened in 2006 when I was the governor of Bayelsa State. From that time, it moved to terrorism in the north. Now, it is a major problem in the country.
“The federal government in conjunction with state government must design a different approach to this issue. I was there as president and security challenge was there but now, it is getting worse everyday and we can’t continue to use the same old method,” he stated.
The former president advised the federal government to create a special security unit to fight banditry and kidnapping.