O n Saturday November 28 this year, Nigerians woke up to very disturbing news. In Zabarmari community in Jere Local Government of Borno state, Boko Haram terrorists stormed the rice farms where farmers were harvesting, tied them up and slit their throats. According to the state governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, more than 70 farmers were slaughtered, but 43 bodies were recovered and buried on Sunday November 29. Outrage greeted this barbaric act both from local and the international community. In his immediate response to the massacre, President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killing but declared that he had given all the needed support to the armed forces to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s population and its territory
On Friday December 11, the terrorists struck again, this time in Katsina state, the home state of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, General Muhammadu Buhari and on the same day the president arrived the state on a visit where they abducted 520 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara. They were in captivity for six days before they were eventually released on Thursday following the intervention of Miyetti Allah cattle Breeders Association. This was a sad reminder of how more than 200 girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State as well as secondary school students of Dapchi, Yobe were similarly abducted by the terrorists.
Following the recent abduction, Kaduna, Zamfara and Kano state governments ordered immediate closure of some boarding schools for fear of bandits’ attack. The Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, on its part threatened to embark on a nationwide strike if the Federal Government does nothing to ensure the security around schools across the country.
The nation appears to be under siege. Whether north or south, no part of the country can claim to be safe with terrorists, bandits and kidnappers having a field day. Concerned residents have therefore cried out arguing that the primary responsibility of any government is to protect its citizens but it is obvious that activities of the bandits and insurgents are overwhelming security agents of the state. They argued that terrorists and bandits appear to be having upper hand, strongly saying that the government must wake up to its responsibilities. We can no longer continue like this, they maintained.
Mr Ledum Mitee, lawyer and former President, Movement For Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) said, “the primary purpose of government, by Section 14 of our constitution, is the security and welfare of the citizens. Where a government admits failure in providing security and welfare of the citizens, that government has failed. It is not a brilliant excuse for a Commander-in-Chief to make claims that he has given support to his subordinates who have not performed, for the buck stops at his desk”
Darlington Nwauju, spokesman, Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA), said, “insecurity anywhere is fuelled by poverty which comes with hunger. In the North where Boko Haram terrorists are daily becoming a source of concern, poverty has made the youths there susceptible to hunger and therefore candidates for radicalisation by the sects that dangle all manner of promises before them. In the past, kidnapping for ransom was not a common crime in the North but today, it has become cash cow for all manner of criminal sects. Therefore, my immediate suggestion is for the membership base of the civilian JTF to be expanded to engage these criminals since the nation cannot afford to be recording losses of manpower in terms of the security personnel because of the cost of training even one personnel.
According to a political analyst, Zadok Akintoye; “it is important for the President to realize that Nigerians have lost hope in the capacity of his government to provide good governance or promote justice. Indeed, the Buhari presidency gave Nigerians one final hope in 2015 that things might become better but the president has shown that he cannot be trusted to meet the ideal desires of Nigerians.
Segun Showunmi said, “It is hard to accept that Nigerians are the ones killing themselves on this scale. No, this is not who we are; there is no reasonable justification for this. Whatever may be the case, a globalised world cannot look on, while this barbarity is taking place in full world view. Humanity has more than enough resources to deal with this once and for all. Honestly, it is heart-wrenching to take in this type of news daily. Farmers slaughtered on their farms in such large numbers? In such gory fashion? May peace envelop the hearts of the relatives of the victims and may the world be inspired to hurry up and come to the rescue of Nigeria; this nation must not sink. We cannot continue like this.
Ayo Fadaka, former South West Zonal Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party said, “Some few years back, Buhari himself told us that Boko Haram had been degraded and technically defeated. Our nation today has all the trappings of a failed state and unfortunately Mr President does not seem to know. They are not telling him the truth. The Nigerian military, once feared across our sub region continues to degenerate and have indeed become a laughing stock, nothing can excuse this prolonged battle with Boko Haram insurgents. The seeming incompetence of the Service Chiefs certainly continues to embolden dissidents of all colors to wage their own wars against the nation. Life has become so cheap that people die in dozens everyday from unnatural causes, principally from the activities of bandits and Boko Haram, this is sad.
Dr Thomas-Wilson Ikubese, Convener, YesWeFit Revolutionary Movement: “President Buhari can reinvigorate the confidence Nigerians had as promised during the run up to the 2015 presidential election by convening a security summit. He must allow the stakeholders in the security sector to discuss frankly during the summit in order to proffer solutions to the insecurity challenges in Nigeria.
Chief Sola Ebiseni, former commissioner in Ondo state said the killing of those Borno farmers, just 20 kilometers outside Maiduguri, is a clear message from Boko Haram to the effect that they have taken over many places. Herdsmen killings, banditry, kidnappings and other related violent crimes for which the military is deployed for several internal operations, have left the military fatigued and demystified.
Benue CAN Chairman, Rev. Akpen Leva, said “it is very unfortunate that people are being killed in a manner that suggests that we have no regards for life in this country. As a matter of fact, nobody is safe anymore in this country. Over 43 farmers were slaughtered in Borno in gruesome manner as if nothing happened. Regrettably anytime any of this happens the military would say they are on top of the situation but the killings persist. I would advise that since the Service Chiefs have so far done their best and their best is not enough, I think there is every need to inject new blood into the system. We have tried several strategies that did not work. And if the armed forces are overwhelmed we should also seek the assistance of other countries because it gets out of hand.
Chairman of Benue Tribal Leaders, Chief Iorbee Ihagh said: The President is not fair to Nigerians to have claimed earlier that Boko Haram had been defeated yet people are still being killed everyday and it doesn’t bother the president. Americans can go to war because of one life but that is not the same with us in this part of the world. I personally feel that it is time to fire the Service Chiefs and bring in new hands because they have nothing to offer any more.
Speaking on the issue, Dansaaki Samuel Adeleye Agbede a member of the Senior Elders Forum of the Yoruba Council of Elders, said President Buhari should not hesitate to seek assistance from outside the country. When people get into problems that seem intractable, they seek help because our level of intelligence gathering is very low and also the level of cooperation by the inhabitants of the area is very low because they are subjected to intimidation, harassment, they are petrified with fear. If they should say anything to Nigerian army, the insurgents will descend on them.
In his own comments, the Chairman of Yoruba World Assembly, Chief Taye Ayorinde wondered the kind of umbilical cord that is tying the president with the Service Chiefs that has made it difficult for him to sack them as requested by the National Assembly and several Nigerians. “He (President) is not willing to do anything, he is not listening to the cries of the masses, he is turning this country into a unitary one. The Northern Elders have asked him to sack all the service chiefs but he has refused. What is he afraid of? Are they the most qualified in the country?
A former member of the House of Representatives, Hon Johnson Abolagba said “. To say the least, the terrorists, the bandits, the herdsmen have overwhelmed Nigeria and the truth is we wonder whether Nigeria still has leaders. People are being killed, either by bandits, kidnappers, herdsmen or by Boko Haram, it is as if Nigeria is not being led by anybody at this point in time.
According to Hon Paul Ohonbamu, former Commissioner for Information in Edo state, ,”if Buhari says he has done all he has to do for the armed forces, it means in terms of logistics and other needs he has done well, but I think he should heed the call of many people that the Service Chiefs should be changed so that new ideas could be generated.
Dr Enoch Malachi, a pastor and medical doctor said Nigeria needs external support and the president should not shy away from making such requests. He said: “I want to say that if we are not able to deal with this evil in the nation I think we need assistance, the government should not shy away from the fact that these terrorists are making the country ungovernable, inhabitable so there is no shame in seeking assistance from the United Nations.
Comrade Ibrahim Garba Maryam, policy analyst observed that “it is enough for President Buhari to say he has given all the needed support to the armed forces to take all necessary steps to protect the country and its territory. Has he taken time to find out if the money was utilised for the purpose it was meant? There is no administration that has not claimed to have spent billions of naira for security. The problem with this country is that corruption will not allow those in power to do the right thing. If the government is able to monitor those responsible for the security of this country, things will be better.
Malam Ustaz isyaku an Islamic scholar, said if president said he has given those in charge of security the necessary things they needed and yet our innocent farmers and villagers are being killed and kidnapped then nobody is safe.
Sir Chimezie Nwalozie, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Imo State, said: “it is part of our nature sometimes, as humans, to wait for others to tell us exactly the same thing we know we should do. It is obvious that they have failed us woefully. In better developed countries, the security situation in Nigeria is enough to make the President resign. Nevertheless, if the President is really sincere, he should know that the time to rejuvenate the security apparatus is now. The heads of the security agencies have been there for over five years and in the present circumstances, we all know that they have exhausted their strategies. We need fresh minds with fresh zeal and a new approach to tackle the menace before the terrorists begin to think of expanding their acquired territories.
Mazi Shedrack Nzediegwu, social crusader, described the growing insecurity in the land as “a rampaging cancer that is about to swallow Nigeria”. His words: “What we are seeing is the shadow of the true cancer, about to swallow Nigeria. A faulty foundation cannot stand for long, the foundation of this country, Nigeria, was faulty from the beginning.
In his own reaction, Dr. Imma C. Ikoro, an educationist, said: “personally, I don’t believe that the President has done all he needs to do, so long as he remains adamant about rejigging the security apparatus in the country. Also, how were the monies budgeted in billions for security, all the years, spent? This needs to be addressed first.”
Ikechukwu Ukaegbu, an Owerri based electrical engineer, believed that Nigeria’s problems were more than the citizens think.”Nigeria’s problems are more than what we think. Again, nobody can solve any problem by denying that it exists. I have not seen anything that will convince me that the Federal Government believes that insecurity in the land is a huge problem”.
Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (Retd), former military governor of Akwa Ibom state, and National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) stressed the need for the president to reorganize the entire Armed Forces. His words, “If he (president Buhari) has given the Armed Forces all the support they need and they are not doing anything, and the whole country is saying change your Service chiefs and he is not doing it, don’t you think there is something wrong? If the Armed Forces were not doing what he told them to do he would have sacked them. The Armed Forces is under the president, let him reorganize the armed forces. Even if it is to sack everybody in the armed forces and build a new one, let him do it, people are being killed everyday. We have voted him into power so that he can protect this country, he cannot put blame on the Service Chiefs. The work of protecting the country as the Commander-in-Chief falls on his table”
In his contribution, a former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Nduese Essien, said “What we need to do is to go back to the basics and correct the ills in the society that have made no institution or government function effectively in Nigeria. The recruitment process into the police or the military is faulty. We have people who get into the military but are working for Boko Haram. So, when they get there, their first allegiance is to Boko Haram. So they are in the Nigerian military to fight against Nigeria in order to accomplish the objective of Boko Haram.
Similarly, Mr. Saviour Akpan of the Foundation for Justice and Peace Building, said manpower in the Nigeria Police Force must be increased. The insurgency in Nigeria is what we call ‘provocative theory’ in terrorism. For example Borno farmers who were recently attacked and killed had been friends with Boko Haram over the years. And our security architecture doesn’t have the confidence of the public so the farmers could not relate any information to the security agencies because they will not properly manage it.
Eric Omare, immediate past President, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide posited: “The President’s statement demonstrate signs of surrender and I don’t think that is good enough coming from the Commander in Chief. If the C in C has given everything to the security agencies and there is no change in result then the logical thing is for him to rejig the leadership architecture. This we all know he has deliberately refused to do despite calls from well meaning Nigerians. In any case as the President, there is no room for him to complain. The only option is for him to deliver on the assignment he took upon himself. So what I expect the President to do just as so many Nigerians have said is to rejig the leadership of the security architecture and also take personal responsibility for the management of security issues. The idea of proxy leadership through the Chief of Staff as it was in the past and present is not doing Nigerians any good. We elected Muhammadu Buhari and he should lead personally and indeed from the front as he promised during the 2015 elections.”
Joseph Ambakederimo, Convener South South Reawakening Group, said: “at this point I will urge the Federal Government to as quickly as possible secure the services of private military contractors to deal with this menace once and for all. This will not in anyway invalidate our own military prowess. The Americans use private military contractors all the time and they get the job done faster with precision. The country cannot afford to continue to lose her citizens in the hands of a few fanatical blood thirsty elements. We must all come together as one people and give the President all the necessary support he deserves to get this job done. It has become imperative for the government to engage the services of private military contractors.”
Surveyor Furoebi Akene, environmentalist and chairman, Centre for Environmental Preservation and Development (CEPAD) said: “the security architecture has failed woefully so the leadership of all the arms of security should be changed. For the military to blame the locals for not supplying information to them is another admittance of failure. In this age of advanced technology, with the use of geo information and GIS technology, the perpetrators can be located, identified and arrested so long as the time and location of the crime is ascertained.”
Alagoa Morris, renowned environmentalist, said: “if he has done all he thinks were doable and things are still getting worse in terms of protection of lives and property; he should honourably resign and allow another Nigerian to step in, or let him heed the call for the replacement of the service chiefs and convene a national stakeholders conference on security to take a holistic approach on the issue. Nigeria has never been in such a sorry state of insecurity before. And the torture Nigerians are going through in the hands of those who have taken to violent crimes, the death and other losses incurred by families are more than enough reason to have an emergency declared in the security sector. It is shameful that we are having tens of Nigerians slaughtered and kidnapped daily for years now. Some of us thought that, as a former military General things would be better in terms of security when Buhari took over. But we were very wrong in that assumption; six years after Buhari became President; things have gone from bad to worse. If America can come to West Africa to rescue one citizen; the fact that Nigerians are being killed daily and have remained captives in kidnappers dens should have been enough to give whoever is occupying Aso Rock sleepless nights until practical solutions are found. Mr President should replace the Service Chiefs or resign as the protection of lives and property is number one responsibility of all legitimate governments all over the world.
Isaac Wadak, said, “The president needs to listen to Nigerians and what they have been saying for long. Restructure and devolve the polity and the economy for growth and stability. That is the surest way to grow the economy and reduce poverty. Poverty and its inherent consequences are what we are experiencing as insecurity.”
An activist, Alex Sankara noted, “There is an urgent need to upgrade the Nigerian Military platforms. It is on record that Nigeria’s military hardware were recently upgraded, but there is need to upgrade further. There are 21st Century Weaponry, 21st Century Surveillance Capabilities that can be controlled from miles away. The war can be won without military casualties. Armed Drones can identify enemies and eliminate them with precision and minimal error. Remember the US showed that it was possible by eliminating Solemani of Iran without casualties. It is time to sincerely engage the war against terrorism using technology, it saves lives. The Nigerian Armed Forces are well trained. The problem is sabotage from within and without. There is need to upgrade further.”