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Spokesman of the Defence Headquarters, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, sounded like a broken vessel at a press briefing in Abuja last week while countering Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State’s avowal that Boko Haram terrorists control three local government areas in the state. That is what happens to people who try to turn the truth on its head. Nwachukwu speciously dismissed Zulum’s call on the military to recapture the affected local governments, saying, contrary to the governor’s claim, “no Nigerian territory is under the control of terrorist groups – Boko Haram and ISWAP.”
The DHQ spokesman added: “I want to make it very clear that Boko Haram has been pushed to the Tumbus, the islands within the neighbouring countries of Chad and Niger Republics where they are hibernating and from where they launch attacks on soft targets. He also stated that the military was relentless but cautious in rescue operations to liberate Leah Sharibu and other hostages held by the terrorists, in order to ensure their safety.
Nwachukwu has suddenly forgotten that Zulum is the governor and Chief Security Officer of the state, who gets undiluted information from all the nooks and crannies of his state. Zulum would love to govern and access all local governments in Borno State in conformity with his mandate. So, he has no business with turning the truth on its head. The governor, who listed the local government areas controlled by Boko Haram as Marte, Kukawa and Abadam, appealed to the military authorities to reclaim the seized territories from the terrorists.
The governor had also raised concerns over what he described as the rising wave of attacks by the terrorists,
especially the attacks on six Borno villages within three weeks. They had attacked Chul village after similar attacks on Rumirgo, Lassa, Mussa, Kufa and Gwandam. This is the truth the military must respond to appropriately.
I guess Nwachukwu is unaware that Zulum courageously made his assertions in the presence of his superiors – the Defence Minister, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd); the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique. His superiors did not raise any objection while with the governor. Nwachukwu is also unaware that thousands of people displaced in Marte, Kukawa and Abadam, by Boko Haram are now in IDP camps, unable to return to their homes. This DHQ spokesman should move his office to Abadam for just a day if he truly believes in all the gibberish he has been propagating.
The biggest drawback to the war against Boko Haram is the persistent lies that the terrorists had been technically defeated and degraded. As I pen this piece, there are over 700,000 traumatised people in 33 IDP camps in Borno State. These people can’t return home because their towns and villages are under the control of the terrorists. I wonder why these hapless persons would choose to remain in these dehumanising camps, if their towns and villages are safe. In these IDP camps, people struggle for a meal a day, while scores die daily of hunger, disease and malnutrition. Zulum was right when he told General Magashi that keeping thousands of people in IDP camps with no source of livelihood “is like building material for Boko Haram insurgents on recruitment missions in villages.”
The same “technically defeated” Boko Haram daringly invaded Damaturu, Yobe State’s capital last Sunday with scores of fighters. The military and other security forces had to struggle to push them back. A terror group strong enough to attack a state’s capital has clearly not been “degraded.” Only last Sunday, several aid workers were abducted by Boko Haram in an ambush along Monguno-Maiduguri Road. The guerrillas are roaming freely in many areas in Borno State, after successfully dismissing military bases. Borno State is facing an unprecedented mess, with 22 of its 27 local governments either fully or partially controlled by the terrorists. Aid agencies can’t access many local governments in Borno. Thousands of people are also living in squalid conditions in Borno IDP camps.
This other talk by Nwachukwu that the military had been cautious in its bid to rescue Leah Sharibu and other hostages held by the terrorists, “in order to ensure their safety”, is balderdash. That was what they were telling us until five of the aid workers abducted near Damasak, in Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State were killed. It was so painful that these people were in the dungeons of the terrorists for almost six months with little effort to secure their release, until they were executed. The relief personnel could not be rescued because the Nigerian military lacks the equipment and manpower for such. This is the truth. The Nigerian state failed these patriots who were working on a project for traumatised residents of Borno State. The only woman in the team abducted in Damasak, Grace Taku, runs the risk of being killed by the terrorists. Alice Loksha, a nurse and a mother, who was abducted during an attack in Rann in March 2018 is also still with the terrorists.
Well, our gallant soldiers are doing their best but lack the capabilities to end the war. My submission has not changed: We must hire the best brains from anywhere in the world to assist our military to end this war. The ultimate aim is to decapitate Boko Haram. The strategy for getting result against Boko Haram is largely through aerial power. Technology, quality equipment and quality manpower will be needed. It requires quality fighter jets and quality armoured attack helicopters. Our gallant military lacks the competence and equipment for these. So, our President must hire Israeli or Russian mercenaries to finish this war. This is the only way forward.
That Fire from Buhari’s Kitchen
Whenever First Lady Aisha Buhari fires her usual salvo, for me, what resonates is the failure of leadership at the top. The man at the top is clearly not leading members of the kitchen cabinet aright; this is why the kitchen is persistently on fire. Only burnt meals will come out of such kitchens. This is precisely what we are getting in this hapless country. The burnt food coming out of this kitchen to Nigerians is not edible.
Aisha’s latest bombardment accused the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media, Garba Shehu of making a mess of communication from the presidential villa, meddling in the affairs of her family and messing up her marriage. In a statement she personally signed, she accused Shehu of handing himself to the cabal that runs Nigeria and “presented himself to these people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President. This should not be so.”
Aisha’s struggle is a just one. Those we did not elect are obviously running Nigeria. They are ostensibly making appointments and smiling to the banks. The man voted for is standing aloof. This is why there is so much commotion in Buhari’s kitchen. This is what Aisha is waging war against and I stand by her in this struggle.
It is also for this reason that I am not a fan of Mamman Daura, the man they call power behind the throne. Daura has one of his sons and his son-in-law as aides of the President. One of his daughters (Fatima) dragged Aisha in the mud over the movement to “House 8”. The video of the “fight” circulated by Fatima was mischievous. The interview she further granted was ludicrous. Call Mamman Daura the head of the cabal running Nigeria and you would be right. He has his men all over the Presidency. If this cabal is not extinguished, this country will not make progress. This is the truth that must be told.
Nepotism, Buhari and Father Kukah
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Dioceses, Reverend Father Matthew Hassan Kukah, was on point, chastising President Buhari for nepotism. Kukah, during a press conference at Saint Bakhitha Catholic Secretariat in Sokoto, last Tuesday, explained that the behaviour and attitudes of the president was causing tension and anxiety in the country. He said: “I’m not speaking because I’m a Christian but because I’m a Nigerian. Some appointments made by the president are lopsided, even some northern elite are not happy with some of his decisions.”
Our president’s clannishness is evidently unprecedented. People from just a section of the country now dominate key departments and agencies. I doubt if Buhari can ever amend his ways. However, it is heartwarming seeing people like Kukah adding their voices to the clamour for the President to respect our constitution. Buhari has shown so much disdain for the Federal Character law. Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution emphatically states that the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect federal character and the need to promote national loyalty. This constitutional provision is to ensure that there shall be no predominance of a few states or a few ethnic groups or other factional divisions in government or any of its agencies. Unfortunately, our President cares less about this crucial section of the constitution.
Ganduje Should Stop Harassing Emir Sanusi
The decision of Northern elders to set up a committee to reconcile Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi ll does not make any sense to me. There is really nothing to reconcile. These elders should be courageous enough to call Ganduje to order and tell him to stop harassing Emir Sanusi. They should show nerve by telling Ganduje to face his job as governor and end the “pull him down at all cost” mission against the Emir.
This governor has been going about this mission childishly. Few days back, Ganduje’s aide told the world that the governor had received a letter from 35 fictitious civil society organisations calling for the immediate dethronement of the Emir “for disobedience to constituted authority”. The aide added that Emir Sanusi was making efforts to create “a state within a state.” Haba! This is preposterous. I won’t be surprised if Ganduje goes ahead to charge the Emir with treason. This governor is becoming extremely desperate.
Ganduje believes Emir Sanusi must be punished for allegedly backing his opponent during the last governorship election. This is the crux of the matter. This governor is on a vengeance mission. After being sworn in for a second term, he took steps to whittle the influence of Emir Sanusi by creating four questionable new emirates and appointing so-called “first-class” emirs for them.
Before the new law, Sanusi was the only first-class emir in the state. The court invalidated the law and the emirates so created. Ganduje quickly went back to the state legislators with a fresh bill, to create new emirates, got them to pass it within four days and signed it into law same day it was unanimously passed by the state lawmakers. What a country! This too cannot stand the test of time. I expect the court to also invalidate this. Ganduje should stop his juvenile politics and let Emir Sanusi be. Plotting to reduce his power or to dethrone him is just a waste of time. My advice to Ganduje? Please, concentrate on governing Kano and stop chasing shadows.