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Opinions of Saturday, 2 April 2022


Buhari is flippant about taming terrorists

President Muhammadu Buhari President Muhammadu Buhari

When terrorists strike and there are no consequences, they are emboldened. This is exactly what has been happening in almost seven years of the Buhari government in Nigeria. Six days after terrorists bombed a train heading to Kaduna from Abuja, killing eight people; injuring and abducting many, not even one of the bastards has been apprehended. The terrorists operated for about two hours unhindered. The military claimed to have engaged them, without a single one killed. By Thursday, the military regaled the nation with sham stories of success against the terrorists in Kaduna State. We hardly see dead bodies when soldiers kill insurgents. Ground troops hardly mop up when Nigerians are regaled with stories of air strikes against the terrorists.

It took the federal government another 24 hours to react to the train attack. Even after reacting, there was no clear deadline attached to the directives to security agents to smoke out the terrorists. Not even a threat to sack their heads if the terrorists are not apprehended. I can no longer be shocked by the ineptitude of this federal government in all sectors. But the pains of unending killings of the innocents are becoming unbearable. My pillow is often soaked in tears whenever the terrorists strike; tears for the victims and a country operating on auto-pilot.

Our gallant soldiers are doing their best but their best is not enough to end these killings. Technology, intelligence and high quality manpower are necessities for taming terrorists. Our soldiers lack these; they lack capacity to even effectively monitor the movement of terrorists. This is why these guerrillas move around in hundreds undetected. The advanced world is an era of fighting with drones. The drone that destroyed late Muammar Ghadaffi’s convoy was fired from a station in Alabama, United States. Our security agencies are not in any way close to this. So, this country needs help from climes that can provide these necessities. The service chiefs won’t admit and accept this because of ego and personal interest. This is where the Commander-in-Chief, President Buhari ought to step in based on the results from the battle field. Unfortunately, for almost seven years, he has failed to do this. Buhari has refused to dispassionately scrutinise these very poor results in the battles with terrorists and seek help from abroad.

It is pertinent to highlight some unpalatable terror attacks that took place (without consequences) in last March alone, to justify my persistent campaign to seek help from abroad. Perhaps, these stories would touch the heart of our President and make him do the needful. We must be talking about using military contractors now.

Airports are supposed to be high security zones. But Security at the Kaduna International Airport located in the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State was breached last Sunday. The terrorists, according to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria attacked Runway 05 axis of Kaduna airport, disrupted operations and killed a security personnel of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency. Those behind the attack have not been smoked out.

The Garrison Commander of One Division, Kaduna, Brig-Gen. Uriah Opuene, later told a baffled nation that the terrorists were just passing through the back of the airport when they sighted and killed the security man engaged by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to watch over their metrological equipment around the axis. This is preposterous. Firings were heard at the airport terminal for a while, forcing airport workers to run for cover. According to FAAN, a VHF Omni-Directional Range equipment site at the airport was damaged while a Lagos-bound AZMAN aircraft scheduled to take off at 12:30pm on that day was grounded. It’s a shame that an International Airport can be left exposed.

Few days before the Kaduna Airport attack, terrorists in hundreds invaded nine villages in the Giwa LG Area of Kaduna State killing no fewer than 50 people. While the attack lasted for several hours, the so-called Special Forces were nowhere near Giwa LG.

The terrorists returned to Giwa LG last Tuesday night and again killed 23 people in different villages.

On March 7, no fewer than 63 Yan Sakai vigilantes were killed in Zuru, Kebbi State. On March 13, 37 deaths were recorded, two soldiers inclusive, when terrorists attacked four communities within Kagoro Chiefdom, Kaura LG of Kaduna State.

On March 21, no fewer than 20 people, including the village head, were killed in Ganar-Kiyawa, Bukkuyum Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

Yet again, 28 days ago, terrorists killed 22 soldiers when they ambushed the convoy of Kebbi Deputy Governor, Sama’ila Dabai in Kanya, Danko/Wasagu LG of the state. Nothing has happened in terms of ensuring the killers pay a heavy price. Our gallant soldiers were overwhelmed by the guerrillas roaming in hundreds in Kanya. Besides, the guerrillas were equipped with much heavier weapons than AK-47. Morale is evidently low among officers and men of the 223 Light Tank Battalion, Zuru, the camp of the slaughtered soldiers. The policeman attached to the Kebbi Deputy Governor, ASP Idris Libata was also killed in the Kanya attack.

Likewise, 32 days back, the Divisional Police Officer of Nasko Station in Magama LG of Niger State, CSP Umar Dakingari, and six of his men were killed by terrorists without consequences.

The terrorists were also at a tomato processing company in Ngaski Local Government Area of Kebbi State in March and killed four policemen at the premises. The tactics of the terrorists is to operate in hundreds. They did so in Ngaski LG with not less than 200 men. Yes, terrorists are able to raise this large number of fighters for attacks without appropriate response from heads of our security agencies.

I have listed some of these terror attacks in March alone, without appropriate response from our security agencies, to remind the President that the report card of our security agencies is appalling. From this report, no fewer than 300 innocent lives were lost to terrorists in Nigeria in March this year alone. So, why should the service chiefs continue to tell Buhari that they don’t need help from abroad? The Commander-in-Chief should unflappably reexamine this March report on killings, and if indeed he wants an end to terrorism, seek help in fruitful climes. Our gallant soldiers lack the abilities to end terrorism.

Another thing I find bizarre is that President Buhari has not declared the known leaders of these terror gangs wanted. They are known to all, yet, there is no deliberate attempt to take them out. The biggest terror kingpin operating in Zamfara and Katsina states is Ada Aleru. Security agents can claim to be unaware of Aleru’s whereabouts.

Also, right in Zamfara State is the notorious Fulani militia leader, Dogo Gide, who controls the southern part of the Zamfara forest and further into Niger State, killing civilians and security agencies. There is also the blood sucker called Bello Turji. He is active in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi states. Are these terror gang leaders enjoying official protection? Nigerians need an answer.

Growing Poverty in Nigeria

How I wish those running the show at all levels of government in this country would spare some time to read the World Bank report titled, “A Better Future for All Nigerians: 2022 Nigeria Poverty Assessment,” released this week. The disapproving report noted that poverty reduction had stagnated in this country since 2015, with more Nigerians falling below the poverty line over the years.

This is a serious indictment of the Buhari-led federal government that has been running the show at the centre since 2015 and the state governors of this era. This report simply declared that the various poverty alleviation programmes at all levels of government in beloved Nigeria since 2015 have been mere greasepaints. Lives in the real sense of it are not being affected.

The report states: “Since the back-casts provide yearly estimates, they also suggest that poverty may have started declining in the first part of the 2010s, but that this trend halted and then reversed around 2015.

“The COVID-19 crisis is driving up Nigeria’s poverty rate, pushing more than 5 million additional people into poverty by 2022. With real per capita GDP growth being negative in all sectors in 2020, poverty is projected to have deepened for the current poor, while those households that were just above the poverty line prior to the COVID-19 crisis would likely fall into poverty.

“Given the effects of the crisis, however, the poverty headcount rate is instead projected to jump from 40.1 per cent in 2018/19 to 42.0 per cent in 2020 and 42.6 per cent in 2022, implying that the number of poor people was 89.0 million in 2020 and would be 95.1 million in 2022. Taking the difference between these two scenarios, the crisis alone is projected to have driven an additional 3.8 million Nigerians into poverty in 2020, with an additional 5.1 million living in poverty by 2022.”

This World Bank report simply backed an obvious fact across Nigeria. Just look around your community. More and more people are being pushed into poverty by rising prices of food, fuel, health care, education, transportation and the falling value of earnings. Unending terrorism and falling Naira have also pushed many into poverty. Numerous Nigerians have lost their jobs in the last seven years, with manufacturers struggling for survival; all due to the hopeless economic policies of the Buhari government. So, many now go to bed without dinner and wake up not sure of breakfast.

The recent passionate appeal of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar to the federal government to address the hike in food prices across the country is instructive.

The Sultan told political leaders that they were elected to serve Nigerians and not Nigerians serving them, and charged the federal government to work towards improving the economy.

I doubt if the Sultan will get any pragmatic response.

Governor Zulum and IDPs in Monguno

Virtually all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) forced back to Monguno LG of Borno State by Governor Babagana Zulum, after he shut their camps in Maiduguri, have abandoned their “rebuilt communities” and scampered to an IDP camp on the fringe of Monguno town. This is authoritative. Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters are still roaming freely in these communities contrary to claims by Zulum that they are now safe. At present, no fewer than 12,000 of such “resettled persons” have relocated to the Monguno camp.

An official of Intersos, an NGO operating in the Monguno IDPs camp affirmed that the Monguno LG has about 13 wards, out of which only three are accessible. “The remaining 10 wards are not accessible because of the activities of terrorists. This is why you have the IDPs running to this camp. We are still struggling to contain them in the six camps under our management as there are not enough shelters to accommodate such a large number of households,” declared the official.

The NGO official adds: “12,486 individuals constituting about three thousand households who were sent out of the IDPs camps in Maiduguri returned to the camps in Monguno. This is besides the other IDPs we already have in the camps we manage in Monguno. We manage six camps and we have 96 thousand IDPs already before these 12 thousand persons came.”

The Borno State Government is yet to react to this development in Monguno, days after it was made public. Of course, it is the truth. Most of the communities where IDPs were relocated by force are still dominated by Boko Haram and ISWAP. Zulum simply decided to expose these hapless people to peril. Again, most of their communities are yet to be rebuilt in the real sense of it.

In any case, I don’t expect any reasonable person to be executing resettlement programme when security issues have not been fully addressed. Relocating unfortunate IDPs to trouble communities is awful. This is inhumanity to fellow human beings. Zulum has to amend his ways.