Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, last week, said the nation’s security situation was under control. But he probably meant a different Nigeria. Shola Oyeyipo writes
One cannot but wonder at the level of insensitivity of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, to the plights of Nigerians, when he claimed that the security situation in the country was under control. You can’t but wonder if there was a different Nigeria.
Even more disturbing is the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari would sit at any time and accept the lies that the hopeless security situation in the country was under whatsoever control, when his state and hometown, Daura in Katsina are constantly under attacks. But the big question for the president and his COAS is, can they honestly say to themselves in their solitary moment that Nigeria is safe and secure?
In what was simply playing to the gallery, Buratai, on Tuesday told State House correspondents that there was improvement in the Nigerian security situation compared to last month’s. He briefed journalists after holding a short meeting with the president on what the military was doing to curb the tide of insecurity in the country.
Curiously, no one appears familiar with the criteria for Buratai’s evaluation of the security situation within one month before he came to his conclusion, but he said the improvement was traceable to the successes recorded by military operations in the terrorist-decimated North-East region following a recent marching order given the military by President Buhari.
Somebody close to the president needs to sing it loud to his ears that his administration has failed Nigerians woefully in the aspect of insecurity and even the fight against corruption. Despite sustained calls for a replacement of the Nigerian service chiefs due to their failures to effectively address insecurity in the country, he turned deaf ears and instead, is issuing futile marching order to the military.
Buratai told State House correspondents that the series of killings, kidnappings, cattle rustling and of course, the threats to prevent the people from going to their farms this season, have all been addressed, but barely 24 hours after, terrorists released a video in which five aid workers abducted last month in northeastern Nigeria were slayed.
Recall that a Boko Haram splinter group threatened last month that they would start targeting Nigerians, who work for international aid groups and others, who help the military.
That does not signal that insecurity is by any means under control, hence is plea to journalists to underplay the report of terrorism because it thrives on publicity holds no water. The appeal should rather go to the army chief. He should ensure a safer Nigeria, where there will not be incessant terror attacks and killings.
President Buhari himself should desist from is usual promise that his government would do everything it could to ensure that “the perpetrators of this atrocity face the law.” That has become a singsong – a mere lip service, because the perpetrators of all the sinister attacks on Nigeria are walking free and government is even begging them to come for amnesty.
Still in the month of July, contrary to the COAS’s assurance that insecurity was under control, Boko Haram terrorists fired a United Nation aid helicopter in North-east Nigeria. Two civilians lost their lives in that attack.
Finding excuses for the attack, President Buhari said: “Boko Haram terrorists are clearly on the back foot and their increasing attacks on innocent civilians, including U.N. humanitarian workers, is part of their desperation to prove that they are strong in order to cover up their dwindling fortunes.”
Clearly, the president and his army chief are not just ready to face the reality that they are not securing the lives and property of Nigerians. The continued hostilities that claim lives of innocent people while those behind it are not brought to justice only point to the fact that the people are not secured and insecurity is not under any form of control.
There have been increased attacks on Nigerians in recent times and several lives have been lost in these coordinated attacks. The families, who lost their loved ones in some of these recent attacks are appalled by the news that insecurity was under control, because they knew, more than others, that it was far from the truth.
On June 10, in what was suspected to be retaliation for their resistance against an assault, no fewer than 81 residents in Foduma Kolomaiya village in the Gubio area of Borno lost their lives in an attack by Boko Haram extremists. Earlier in April, persons believed to be Fulani herdsmen killed 12 people and kidnapped a couple from their church wedding ceremony in Tegina Kabata village, Niger State.
Kaduna has not known peace lately as scores of lives are being lost in attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen. Shamefully, the president’s home state is not spared. It has become an epicenter of dastardly attacks lately.
In fact, at the tail end of the month, Buratai himself relocated to Katsina to coordinate the new Operation Sahel Sanity in response to sustained killings of innocent residents in Katsina communities by bandits and the entire North-west region, which has been under terror attacks lately.
Though for reasons best known to him, President Buhari will not change his service chiefs despite their less than impressive performances in securing the country, the nation’s leader and his security chiefs must at least find ways to feel the pulse of the citizenry, especially, when they come up with provocative statement such as “insecurity being under control” when obviously it is not.
The twitter however provided concerned Nigerians an opportunity to react to Buratai and there is hardly anyone, who shared his opinion on the state of insecurity. There were actually a number of unprintable things said about the army boss that are worth his attention. Patrick Okolie said: “Insecurity is under control said by my Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai yesterday. And Buhari doesn’t want to sack the service chiefs only because he is the chief of the armed forces. This is annoying, I beg.”
Chuks Nwachukwu was of the view that the killing of the aid workers was “Boko Haram response to Buratai’s briefing to Buhari that insecurity in Nigeria is under control. It is a way to boo the Bus,” he said, adding that it is “Tragic for hapless Nigerians.”
On his own part, Ehi Okupa queried the rationale behind Buratai’s claims, asking: “When exactly did this insecurity get under control? Was it before or after the meeting? So, Nigerians finally agreed that the insecurity should end as advised by Buratai. It is good. I can now accept that job offer in Maiduguri and move there next week. Thank you Bu(ratai/hari)”
Annoyed by the state of affairs in Nigeria, a twitter user, who gave his name as Sir Asika noted that, “I am officially dropping everything that made me a Nigeria this night with burning my international passport and national ID…there is no hope for the nation again.” Also reacting to Buratai, David Akpan opined that, “When Boko Haram keeps slaughtering innocent people while Buhari keeps releasing any captured Boko Haram members back to the society, you can really tell that Buhari is working for Allah but a reward is coming very soon.”
Oyeledun Mutiu corroborated this, when he said, “That is what I am talking about. They’re all hypocrites. This government is worse than PDP’s 16 years in my opinion.”
President Buhari and his security chiefs must therefore desist from helping the people describe what they feel about the security situation in the country, because it is only the wearer of a pair of shoes knows where it pinches. Only Nigerians can say when the security situation is under control.