President Buhari And Nigeria’s Incubus Security: Before Anarchy Sets In

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NEWS COMMENTARY President Buhari and Nigeria’s Incubus Security: Before Anarchy Sets In The current tragedy bedeviling Nigeria is quite predictable. As you lay your bed, so you lie on it. With the sluggard which Mr. Mohammadu Buhari started his administration in 2015; one can easily predict the president’s deficiency in rational decision making and what awaits Nigerians. Mr. Buhari did not begin on a good note. That he contested for the office four times before he finally won gave Nigerians the needed motivation that he would do well. But he did not. As his tenure unfolded, signs that he was unprepared and that his administration would not be different from the previous ones became apparent when he was unable to constitute a cabinet after six months in office. His excuse for the delay was that he needed time to select the right people for the job because he desired to appoint individuals that were untainted by the endemic corruption typified in the Goodluck Jonathan administration. When Mr. Buhari finally constituted the cabinet, it soon became clear that his administration would not be radically different from Jonathan's or would be worse off. His cabinet was made up of some individuals who had corruption allegations hanging on their shoulders. Others were persons who were known more for being his political bedfellows than for their technocratic qualifications or achievements. Baffled, Nigerians reasoned why Mr. Buhari delayed for about one hundred and eighty days only to select his friends and cronies? After "serving" his first term and winning the controversial 2019 presidential election, one would expect that Mr. Buhari now understands the problems of Nigeria, and how to overcome them; correct past mistakes, and deliver on his campaign promise, but that was never to happen. It took Mr. Buhari another fifty-four (54) days to send a list of ministerial nominees to the Nigerian Senate for screening after he began his second term. Nigerians observed with disappointment that the big change that delayed the ministerial list in his second term was that Buhari elected to expand cabinet positions from 36 to 43 with no clear-cut directives on priorities to achieve value. Why then did Mr. Buhari wait for 54 days just to expand a cabinet? Investigations by Premium Times in 2015 and 2019 revealed that the day-to-day operations of the different ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) were weakened during those times, while coordination of important government policies and programmes became a mess due to the delays. Several pieces of evidence and documented accounts attest to the fact that Nigeria's current predicament is not because of the president's nepotic leaning but because he is often clueless when faced with making critical decisions. And when he does, it is as good as nothing. Several examples will prove this point. Recall that following allegation of forged NYSC certificate against a former Minister of Finance, Ms. Kemi Adeosun, irrespective of the public outcry, Mr. Buhari refused to fire her until she resigned from her appointment. Same with the current Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Alhaji Isa Pantami who was alleged to have had extreme views and softspot for terrorism. Nigerians called for his sack or resignation but Mr. Buhari came out to defend the minister. After weeks of agitation by Nigerians that Mr. Buhari should address the country following #EndSARS protests against police brutality, Mr. Buhari finally did but made no mention of the troubling events at Lekki toll gate, Lagos, on October 20, when numerous witnesses said Nigerian soldiers fired into a crowd of peaceful, unarmed protesters who had remained at the toll gate following a hastily announced curfew. Another instance that is still fresh in our memories is the embarrassing withdrawal by Nigeria from signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) in 2018 after an initial commitment to sign them. Following delays that it wanted to consult stakeholders; Mr. Buhari withdrew from signing the document. The ACFTA proposed creating a single market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments across 55 countries. The deal promised to redefine trade relations among African states and beyond and was expected to aid the coordination of trade liberalization and improve interactions within existing regional economic communities. Another encumbrance on Mr. Buhari's neck was the delay in sending the name of Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation as substantive CJN. It was unprecedented in the history of Nigeria to have an Acting CJN, occasioned by a president's delay because, in the first place, it was not the prerogative of Mr. Buhari to reject Onnoghen as substantive CJN, but that of the Senate. Worth mentioning is the delay of Mr. Buhari to relieve former service chiefs of their duties after getting to their retirement age including the former Inspector General of Police Mr. Mohammed Adamu, who clocked the 35 years retirement age, by virtue of the Police Act. After many months of unnecessary delay, Mr. Buhari still took same action that he would have taken long before that time. With the killing of civilians and security personnel in many parts of the country by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, Bandits, and Unknown gunmen, Mr. Buhari has kept his usual cool, not moved by the outrage generated by the killings. He has failed to take any serious action to halt the killings or address the nation that is in dire need of leadership. As Mr. Buhari continues to delay, the killers are growing in confidence, becoming well organized and wreaking havoc by the day. Mr. Buhari's inaction against the blood-sucking marauders especially herdsmen has led many to suspect ethnic undertone, warming up to self-defense and calling for the country's disintegration. The call to disintegrate is being championed by youths of various ethnic groups. IPOB is leading the charge from the South East, fronted by Nnamdi Kanu, a British-Nigerian activist according to Wikipedia, has established the Eastern Security Network (ESN), followed by the Oodua Defence Force (ODF) led by the likes of Sunday Igboho, Dr. B.J Olowo, Koiki with active support from major stakeholders in the West who desire Oduduwa Republic. Other regions are forming their militia security outfits since the Nigerian state can no longer protect or guarantee their safety. Facts are there to speak. Besides Boko haram and banditry, the present regime has failed to address the threat associated with killings by Fulani herdsmen, fueling speculation in many quarters that they are government-sponsored and protected by the president. Under Mr. Buhari's administration, "the Fulani herdsmen have been lionized into a killer squad. At the last count, they have massacred over fifty thousand Nigerians in cold blood in the last five years. Communities have been sacked, farmlands ravaged, people kidnapped, and women raped. It is made worse that nobody has been arrested or tried for this ugly state of affairs. The body, Miyeti-Allah, that heads the killer herdsmen has been talking tough in support of their members, the new service chiefs are trying to settle down to their jobs. All that Nigerians hear daily is that “the culprits would be brought to book." The highways have been turned into a death trap. Abuja/Kaduna Highway, Lagos/Benin Highway, Abuja/Benin Highway and other major highways in Nigeria are no-go areas because traveling on our highways is now like embarking on a suicide mission. Armed bandits that have been financially empowered by the government through payment of ransom are now the monarchs of the highways. Nigerians are inundated with gory tales of how savage, barbaric dare-devil bandits would emerge from their den in the bush and with relish and without provocation spray innocent travelers with bullets. People now observe special fasting, prayer sessions, and night vigils to secure their journey before traveling. The situation is bad! Reuters reported that the Nigerian parliament insists that "the nation is on fire," calling Mr. Buhari to take decisive action on the security crisis. But will Mr. Buhari heed to the call or continue to "flunt" his delay trademark, till the country go into flames? As Nigeria continues to announce its unofficial lead as the new killing-field of the world, after Syria, Iraqi and Afghanistan, Mr. Buhari should wake up from slumber and act as the president of this nation. Nigeria needs leadership, he should give one and remember the oath of office he took, and confront Nigeria's incubus security problem with all the powers given to his office by the 1999 Constitution, Section 218 sub-section 1. Mr. Buhari should shun sentiments when taking action and deal with anyone, group or persons fermenting crisis. He should as a matter of urgency work with the legislature to reorganize the security forces, motivate them and call for external help if the need arises. He should be aware that he cannot preside over a country in flames. Nigerians are doing all they can to avoid another civil war but wouldn't want to be taken for a ride. If Nigeria must continue to live as one indivisible entity, there is no better time for Mr. Buhari to act, than now. Dr. Tom FredFish is a journalist and lecturer at the International Institute of Journalism, IIJ, Uyo.

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