I spent most of last Monday pondering about the declaration by Army Chief, Tukur Buratai, that the nation’s security situation is now better than what it was last month after President Muhammadu Buhari gave the military marching orders to tame insecurity. Tukur made the declaration after briefing Buhari on efforts by the military to tame raging terrorism, banditry and kidnapping across the country. Buratai claimed the military had successfully contained insecurity with different operations in the Northwest and Northeast. According to the Army Chief, “kidnappings, serial killings and cattle rustling have been brought under control and people in affected parts of the country could now go to their farms without fear.”
Coldblooded Buratai added: “Some of the insecurities are as old as history itself. It is not today that we have been contending with armed robbery, as far as I know, armed robbery has been existing in this country even before we were born and it’s still going on.
Kidnapping too is as old as the history of the country but it all depends on the level it’s been perpetrated at a particular time…If all Nigerians continue to do is to complain and criticise security agencies, the situation may not get any better.”
Haba! Buratai! The military has successfully contained insecurity? The security situation is under control and it’s not like what was happening a month or two ago? This is coming from an Army Chief, who, few days before this speech, lost three officers and 12 soldiers to bandits in an ambush in Faskari, Katsina State. The bandits attacked the gallant soldiers of 72 Para Battalion while on patrol. Buratai must learn to show some respect to the souls of hundreds of soldiers killed by terrorists across our country. Daily, we are losing grounds to Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers because of the ineptitude of our security chiefs exemplified by Buratai. The Army Chief is even angry that Nigerians are complaining and criticising heads of security agencies over raging insecurity. So, we should just fold our arms and continue to watch our brothers and sisters butchered by terrorists?
I am shocked that Buratai briefed the President about his questionable progress and the Commander in Chief did not raise pertinent questions. The truth is that terrorists, bandits and kidnappers have evidently not been contained. Buhari’s marching orders to heads of security agencies have not achieved anything. No aspect of the task given to them has been accomplished. The Northwest and the Northeast are still very much in a big mess.
Killings by terrorists, bandits and kidnappers pour. I need to run through just the last 21 days of terrorism for our President. I know that the legion of sycophants around him will make it difficult for him to read it. But, perhaps, something miraculous could happen in this direction. I will open the account with the story of traumatised residents of Gora Gan village, in Zango-Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, where 10 persons, including the village head, were butchered last Monday by Fulani militias. A seven-year-old boy was among those killed. A day earlier, the militias attacked Kukum Daji village, in Kagoro chiefdom of Kaura LGA of the same Kaduna State, killing 21 people. Hundreds of people from Gora Gan and Kukum Daji are now living under dehumanising conditions in Zonkwa IDP camp.
Earlier in July, 24 people were killed by the militias in three other communities in Zango Kataf Local Government – Chibob, Sabon Kaura and Ungwan Audu. The Chairman of the local government, Elias Manza, confirmed that the attackers were Fulani militias. So, 55 people slaughtered in Chibob, Sabon Kaura, Ungwan Audu, Gora Gan and Kukum Daji, this month alone, and the killers are still roaming freely. What a country!
Killings by Boko Haram and ISWAP are unending; yet, Buratai told the President last Monday that they had been tamed and Buhari believed him! The fact is that they still roam freely in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. This week, they stuck another knife into the heart of the nation by killing five abducted humanitarian workers in Borno State. The dreadful 35 seconds video featured five hooded Boko Haram members standing behind the five abductees who were kneeling before them and eventually killed them.
The murdered workers were from the Borno State Emergency Management Agency, Action Against Hunger, Rich International, and International Rescue Committee, abducted last month. As usual, Buhari condemned the killings, pledging that his administration would implement measures to prevent a reoccurrence. Our President sympathised with the families of the five aid workers, assuring them that his government would continue to do all it can to ensure that every remaining vestige of Boko Haram is wiped out from Nigeria and that the perpetrators of this atrocity would face the law. I was waiting to see a line where Buhari would mandate security agents to fish out the killers within a given number of days. It was not there. It was just the usual rhetoric; so sad. With this style of leadership, security will continue to deteriorate in my beloved Nigeria.
The same Boko Haram terrorists are asking a 75-year-old blind IDP, Ndarfa Jato, to pay N20 million ransom for the release of his daughter and niece abducted by the group. Jato is staying at the Christian Association of Nigeria camp in Maiduguri alongside hundreds of others displaced from Gwoza since 2014. The old man fled his village, Gava, in Gwoza LGA in 2014 when Boko Haram raided it, killed over 100 villagers and burnt several houses. His daughter, Lami, a 25 year old graduate of Sir Kashim Ibrahim College of Education Maiduguri and his niece, Renita Bitrus were abducted by Boko Haram two weeks ago in company of a tractor driver, while on a farm at Tungushe village, in Magumeri LGA of Borno State.
This blind man is desperate for the release of his daughter and niece because they help him with his needs. He lamented: “I told them that as an old man of 75 years and blind, living in an IDP shanty camp, there is no means for me to raise the N20 million ransom.” Who will help citizen Jato?
In Kano State, the daughter of Murtala Kore, the lawmaker representing Danbatta Constituency in the state’s Assembly, was abducted last Sunday. It happened around 2am at his home in Kore village. The abductors were after him but took away his daughter, Juwairiyya, when they did not find him at home. The lawmaker had to part with an undisclosed amount of money to secure the release of the 17-year-old SS II student of Government Girls Secondary School, Jogana.
Kidnappers operate freely in many of our highways. The Abuja-Kaduna and Abuja-Lokoja are most notorious. It’s big business here. Daily, they maim and abduct, unhindered. What kind of a country, with a government, would allow these to continue to happen?
The likes of Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State have also been playing politics with our raging insecurity. Imagine this governor attributing kidnapping, banditry and Boko Haram insurgency to politicians who want to contest the 2023 general election. Masari, who spoke earlier this week, said “such politicians believed that by sponsoring violence and other acts of criminality, they would be blackmailing the Buhari administration to contest in the forthcoming general election.”
He added that most of the terror attacks in the country were sponsored by politicians. Masari has been the weakest link in the war against bandits in his state by covertly supporting Fulani against Hausa. I guess he is one of the politicians supporting terrorism. Let’s leave Masari to continue with his treachery. Judgement day is around the corner.
On the flip side, the Senate’s resolution on Tuesday asking the service chiefs to step aside, following the endless killing of soldiers fighting Boko Haram and banditry, is a welcome development. Of course, the service chiefs won’t heed the resolution, but the point has been made. The representatives of the people have concluded that the service chiefs are hopeless. That is the point made. These guys have been holding this country by the jugular. They have to step aside for Buhari to appoint new ones with fresh ideas. Kudos to the courageous Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, who engineered the resolution. The Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, Ayo Fadahunsi, proposed that additional prayer demanding the stepping aside of the service chiefs. He also deserves commendations.
Just as I said earlier, we often hear of our President issuing statement to commiserate with victims of terrorism. But we hardly hear him mandating the security chiefs to get the killers within a time frame. Things have just got to change.
The Joker Called Godswill Akpabio
Last week, I rightfully referred to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, as a clown, following the manner he messed up as a governor, a senator and now, as minister. I guess nobody is still in doubt about this, following his volte-face at the House of Representatives over his earlier allegation that the lawmakers got 60 per cent of the contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission. This jester, who made the claim on national television, has turned around to deny it, few days after he was told to provide the list of the profiting lawmakers. He went back crawling to the lawmakers, saying he referred to old contracts awarded by the NDDC which had not been paid for, and some of which are part of the constituency projects of the lawmakers. This minister is believed to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of NDDC contracts. So, he was only showboating few days back.
Akpabio’s volte-face is disgusting. Can you imagine this minister denying something that was recorded? This is a remark we all heard clearly. Well, I was not surprised. This is the true character of Akpabio. It tells you how warped he is and can’t be trusted with anything, right from his days as commissioner in Akwa Ibom State. Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila scornfully read Akpabio’s response, which came after he threatened to sue the minister for failing to prove that NDDC awarded contracts to them, and said it would still be referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges for scrutiny.
Akpabio has no business remaining a day longer as minister. He is responsible for the bulk of the mess at NDDC in the last nine months. With a man like this, Nigeria will continue to lag behind.
Sani-Omolori’s Folly is over
His folly is finally over. I am talking about the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, who was scheming to serve for 40 years as a civil servant. His 35 years ended in February, but he sat back, claiming the 8th Senate amended the terms of service for civil servants in the National Assembly to allow them to do 40 years. With millions of people jobless, this man and 148 others spent months scheming to do 40 years in the civil service. Wonders will never end in Nigeria.
Even when the Head of Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, asked him to go, Sani-Omolori rebuffed her. Yemi-Esan had clearly explained that the extension of service of the Clerk of the National Assembly was illegal and urged the leadership of the National Assembly to reverse it. She stated: “The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) classifies the clerk and other staff of the National Assembly as public servants whose conditions of service are guided by the public service rules which derives its existence from Section 169 made pursuant to Section 160(1) of the Constitution.
“In specific terms, Section 318(1) of the Constitution states that ‘public service of the Federation means the service of any capacity in respect of the Government of the Federation and includes as (a) clerk or other staff of the National Assembly or of each house of the National Assembly. The public service rules prescribe attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years of service for an officer to retire, whichever comes earlier.”
Yemi-Esan’s memo was clear enough, but Sani-Omolori scorned it and even battled the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC). He went further to give contrary orders to other disengaged staff of the National Assembly that had clocked 35 years. Thanks to the insistence of the Chairman, NASC, Ahmed Amshi and Yemi-Esan, the desperate Sani-Omolori was eventually pushed out.