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Deceit. This six letter word aptly describes the biggest hindrance to the battle against insecurity in Nigeria. Until the Buhari government is ready to end all the deceits surrounding enforcement of security in this country, the senseless killings and insecurity across the country will persist. Just imagine Army Chief, Tukur Buratai coming up with a preposterous tale that his men had killed 1,428 terrorists and the Commander-in-Chief is not asking questions. His employers did not ask him when, where and how? The other day, when the Chadians killed hundreds of Boko Haram fighters, we all saw it. Nobody queries Buratai’s fantasy successes. It’s so depressing. We are persistently told stories of thousands of Boko Haram fighters killed, their meetings disrupted and their logistic suppliers slayed. Nigerians are shown aerial bombardments with footages of terrorists scampering for safety, without ground troops mopping up. They follow up with suspicious figures of terrorists killed after the offensives. The dead bodies are hardly seen. That has been the trend in the last five years.
The Boko Haram terrorists “slaughtered” by our soldiers, often turn around to kill thousands of Nigerians, unhindered. That was how the “degraded” terrorists entered Zowo village in Gubio LG of Borno State few days back, operated for over three hours, leaving 89 people dead. They also invaded Monguno and Gajiram for hours, killing and maiming, unimpeded. Boko Haram, obviously emboldened by the tactics of our ill-equipped and ill-motivated military, consistently takes the fight to them. I find this difficult to comprehend.
These attacks expose the deceit of the Buhari administration about having decimated the terrorists. The peak of this reckless falsehood was the wild celebration of a fantasy victory over the terrorists in December 2016 by Buhari. I shed tears on that day that Buhari, a retired general, accepted a flag and Quaran purportedly captured from Shekau, as a symbol of victory over Boko Haram from the Army Chief.
On Thursday, the President remarked that the service chiefs had underperformed. The story ended there. The truth that must be told is that our gallant soldiers lack leadership, equipment and motivation to destroy Boko Haram. The leadership of the military persistently fails them. The service chiefs have outlived their usefulness and should be sacked. The Commander-in-Chief apparently knows this, but still wants to keep his boys for personal reasons. A forward-looking government would have overhauled this sluggish military leadership.
What about the persistent falsehood that no Nigerian territory is under Boko Haram’s control? This government knows it is not true but keeps repeating it for selfish reason. I quivered when the President last week said, “all the local government that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa have been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.”
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State once confronted the service chiefs with the fact that some local governments in his state were not accessible. The state’s Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation And Resettlement, Mustapha Gubio, provided more facts and figures on these deceitful claims on Tuesday, saying, claims by Buhari that all local governments had been secured and are now inhabited is false. Gubio said five local government areas – Guzamala, Kukawa, Abadam, Marte and Abadam – were totally inaccessible and largely uninhabitable due to the presence of the Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters.
Gubio expounded: “In Guzamala Local Government, the army base has been destroyed and the security forces dislodged. We cannot go to Guzamala to execute any project until when there is security presence. Even last month, we moved 50, 000 blocks to Guzamala to start work but we still could not work due to insecurity. Abadam is another town destroyed by Boko Haram; it has the most difficult terrain in Borno State. As for Kukawa Local Government, there hasn’t been the presence of the Nigerian Army in the area until last month. For now, there is no single person in Kukawa as I am talking to you.”
Our soldiers can’t eliminate Boko Haram alone. This is another truth we must accept. They are doing their best but lack the capabilities to end the war. My submission has not changed: Government 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 also 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.
Let’s flip over to the issue of rampaging bandits in Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna states. In these places, it is largely the Fulani militias killing Hausa farmers. To stop these killings, the Fulani militias must be dealt a crushing blow. But this government is unwilling to do this. It is so painful that the Buhari government has been treating them with kid gloves. That was why hundreds of youth across Katsina State staged a protest against killings and wanton destruction by bandits in their respective localities.
Nigerians are eager for a truly decisive action against the bandits. That was the same message sent out by protesters last week in Yantumaki town, Damusa Local Government Area of Katsina State, when they burnt a campaign billboard of the All Progressives Congress with the pictures of Buhari and Masari. The district head of Yantumaki, Atiku Maidabino, was among those killed by bandits recently. The Chairman of the APC in Batsari Local Government Area, Abdulhamid Duburawa, was also killed. Residents of Yankara, in Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State also staged a massive protest last week to express their displeasure with the unending killings by bandits in the state.
Residents of Rafi and Shiroro local government areas of Niger State are likewise seething. The Senator representing the area, Mohammed Musa, laments: “My heart is pained seeing the bloodletting in my constituency. Women are raped and killed. Men are maimed and children rendered fatherless. This development is really sad; especially that it has remained a recurring decimal. We have made several appeals to the federal government, we paid courtesy visit to President Buhari on our predicament, but no end as they keep killing and maiming our people.”
The Special Adviser to the Minister of Police Affairs and former Chairman of the Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State, Idris Gobir, in whose constituency 70 people were recently killed, insists the bandits are Fulani militias. Idris Gobir hit the nail on the head. His expose is another fact those in government today are running away from. Gobir said: “Quote me anywhere, they are Fulani. I do not mean the legitimate herdsmen, who rear their animals, but the criminal elements among the Fulani. Everything about the bandits terrorising our areas is Fulani. You can easily deduce from their outward appearance, their accent; even when they negotiate for ransom, they speak the Fulfulde language. Worse of all, their operations know no brotherhood; they rob, kidnap, maim and kill their fellow Fulani whenever they strike. These bandits are no stranger to the people; the people know their exact locations.”
As usual, the Buhari government pushed out a statement on Tuesday saying the nation’s armed forces “are fully capable of dealing with the challenges of banditry and terrorism.” The presidency stated that the military “is taking appropriate steps to block gaps being exploited to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens,” adding, “President Buhari has approved a joint military and police operation specifically targeted at combing Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states to rid the areas of bandits,” and that surveillance would be improved, with more night vision aircrafts already deployed under Operation Accord. It was the usual rhetoric.
For how long shall Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers continue to suck the blood of innocent people in this country? Nigerians are tired of rhetoric. They want pragmatic actions that would end terrorism and banditry.
WTO’s Top Job, Okonjo-Iweala and Egypt’s Shenanigans
With Nigeria’s former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the race for the World Trade Organisation’s director-general’s position, Egypt knows its candidate, Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, stands no chance. Not even the slightest chance because of the pedigree of Okonjo-Iweala. Her record of accomplishments in international development and finance is intimidating. Even the Financial Times and US-based Politico wrote about her candidacy, calling it a formidable one. Beninoise’s candidate for the position, Eloi Laourou, has also withdrawn for Okonjo-Iweala.
These are the realities Egypt is struggling to accept. As a result, the Egyptian government has been creating a lot of crisis in the build up to the WTO election.
Earlier, in its reaction to Nigeria’s substitution of Yonov Agah with Okonjo-Iweala, Egypt sought the country’s disqualification from the African Union (AU) endorsement process. It argued that the nomination of Okonjo-Iweala came well after the due dates and that she was not one of the three candidates considered and shortlisted within the period stipulated. All these turned out to be a ruse.
The latest Egyptian prank is the Note Verbale from the office of African Union’s Legal Counsel to Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to the AU in Addis Ababa, saying the candidature of Okonjo-Iweala “is not in line with extant rules.” The Legal Counsel acted on Egypt’s dispatch.
It was good that Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to the AU replied fittingly thus: “the Mission wishes to inform, in simple, clear and precise term, that the Government of Nigeria categorically rejects the content, ownership and conclusion drawn in the same Note Verbale, as it has failed all parameters of objectivity, academic rigour and unbiased submission, a high standard for which the African Union is to be held.”
The truth is that the AU during its Ordinary Session in February could not agree on a consensus candidate for the WTO’s top job. So, Egypt should stop seething. For now, the WTO has named Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala among the three candidates “whose nominations have been accepted” to compete for its top job. The WTO’s General Council Chair, David Walker of New Zealand, who announced the shortlist, listed Mexican representative, Jesús Seade Kuri, and Mamdouh of Egypt, as the other candidates. The Egyptian government should stop creating needless crisis and allow WTO voters pick the best candidate for the job; Okonjo-Iweala is evidently the best for this job. The rest of the continent aligns with this. Majority of WTO members are eager do the needful on D-Day.
Who Killed Dr. Enoch Okpara?
For those not following the story, a quick recap: Dr. Enoch Okpara was a Consultant Obstetrics/Gynecologist with the Federal Medical Centre, Gusau, Zamfara State. He returned to his residence in Mareri area of Gusau on Friday June 12 after putting in a hard day’s work; but that was the last time Okpara stepped out alive. Some beasts attacked him at home – he was living alone – killed him and his remains burnt beyond recognition. His coworkers raised the alarm when they did not hear from him by Saturday afternoon. Okpara’s burnt body was discovered in the courtyard, while bloodstains were seen on the walls of his room. That was how citizen Okpara who was serving his fatherland at the Gusau Federal Medical Centre was brutally murdered. His family, friends and colleagues are asking for justice; they want Okpara’s killers unmasked. In response, the Zamfara State Police Command said investigation was on into the gruesome murder. The Commissioner of Police, Zamfara State Command, Usman Nagogo, promised to fish out Okpara’s killers. In this part of the world, we hardly get such result. So, we all have to put pressure on Nagogo and his men to do the needful. Okpara’s killers must be unmasked.