Nigeria:  Any Hope Left?

Nigeria:  Any Hope Left?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 12:22 pm

Cover design

Gradually, many aspects of Nigeria’s national life (security, economy, and others), are on life support. Revival can still be achieved
By Richard Elesho
Since the forced amalgamation in 1914, the entire Niger area has never been this unsafe and miserable for its inhabitants. Not even the birth pangs of 1960, nor the bitter acrimony of the three-year civil war between 1967 and 1970 generated the level of trauma as those being threatened by today’s anarchists. Everywhere and anywhere within the federation, the loudest voices are those of hunger, hatred and hostility. Insecurity walks on all legs in the land. Unity and love mongers are far in-between. Shouts of ‘to your tent oh Israel’ are so loud that even those opposed to the Exodus agenda, may well be packing their suitcases. That Nigeria is on the brink, dying slowly is clear, even to a nitwit and other slow learners.
 But Nigeria is a giant paradox. Amid the uncertainties, it wobbles towards a general election, due in less than a year. Convoys of branded vehicles of politicians snake around the communities, scavenging for votes. Preparation for the elections is perhaps the only comic relief that jolts the mind of the citizenry away from insecurity and the other strives, that daily assail them.
 The situation is so serious that Dr Chris Anyokwu of the University of Lagos put it this way: “For the Nigerian living-dead, life has been interminable obsequies of sorts, an endless cortege of botched dreams, shattered hopes and amputated ambitions.  Happiness for them has always been the Biblical hope deferred … Year on year, it’s been an unprepossessing avalanche of tragic events, horrendous national disasters and socio-economic fiascos.  As soon as you start remonstrating over one mind-bending existential tremor, another one, more bone-chilling in its apocalyptic proportions, hits you between the eyes, ad nauseam.  It, thus, matters pretty little who is at the helm or in what habit of privilege and power he’s clad-khaki or brocade, or whether his imperial feet are encased in jackboots or designer Italian leather shoes.  The outcome is always unvarying.  It’s always sorrow, tears and blood.  Just barely three months and a few days into the New Year 2022, it has not just been “raining”, it is been pouring pure tragedy.  A low-down of the many tragic occurrences which have befallen the nation would only serve to remind us of the people’s collective mishaps and reopen their cicatrix of horrendous existence”
 A depressed economy, two decades old Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast, blending into amorphous banditry in other parts of the north and organized criminal groups in the south are signs that the biggest African country is on life support. The Centre for Democracy and Development in a report says, not less than some 30,000 strong, gunmen split into 80 groups are operating as bandits, dispensing fear, tears and death to an already traumatised population.
Train, Airport Attacks/ Insecurity

 The train attack of Monday, 28 March, with its colossal losses is the peak of the insanity in recent times. A 960-capacity AK9 passenger train departed Idu station in Abuja, at 6 pm, for a two-hour journey to Kaduna in the Northwest. Manifest provided by the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, showed the train had 362 people on board. Many Nigerians think the figure might be higher, because of the tendency of public officials to tinker with figures.

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport, left, and the Abuja-Kaduna train that was attacked by bandits

 The journey however turned out awry. At about 7.45 pm, the train suffered two rapid explosive attacks around Katari village. Immediately it was demobilized, a large troop of armed robbers arrived at the scene on motorbikes and opened fire on the hapless travellers. Pandemonium broke loose as people scampered in all directions to dodge the flying bullets. By the time a semblance of normalcy returned, several people had been killed, wounded or abducted.
 The dead included Amin Mahmoud, a youth leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Chinelo Megafu Chinelo, a medical doctor, Tibile Mosugu, a rising lawyer and son of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Barrister Musa Lawal-Ozigi; Secretary-General, Trade Union Congress, TUC; Sgt. Haruna Mohammed Funtua who was shot in the head bled profusely and was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, the medical efforts could not save him, as he died a few days later.
 According to official sources, 186 people made it to safety. The casualty figure was put at between 9 and 60, while about 170 others could not be accounted for. Most of the missing persons were abducted by the gunmen.
 Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amechi said the train disaster could have been avoided, had the government accepted his proposal for digital security apparatus on the rail lines. He and Governor Nasir El-Rufai, separately acknowledge having security reports on the attacks, long before it was carried out.
 Mr Alwan Hassan, Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, BoA, and sixteen members of an extended family were among those the gunmen whisked deep into the vast northern jungle in the train attack.
 After making contact with families of some of their victims, asking for ransom, on Wednesday 6 April the bandits in a video footage threatened to kill them if the government did not succumb to their yet to be publicised demands. Those conversant with the environment revealed the video was shot at the Forward Operational Base in Polwire, Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State, which was attacked a week after the train disaster. An Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) that was burnt during the attack was used as a background in the video.

Mr Alwan Hassan, Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, BoA, and sixteen members of an extended family were among those the gunmen whisked deep into the vast northern jungle in the train attack

 Hassan was their poster child in the short video. The less than two minutes, video shows four of the bandits clad in military uniforms with the bank’s top Executive. One of the gunmen who spoke said the MD was about to be released out of pity for his age and in the spirit of Ramadan!
 “We are the group that kidnapped passengers on the train a few days ago. Among them is this man that was pleading with us due to his old age and we have pardoned him due to the month of Ramadan, so, we want to give him back to his family.”
 “But the government should not misunderstand this, as it is a gesture we made because of the pity we had on him.”
 The bandits then asked the MD to make some remarks. Speaking briefly, Hassan confirmed that he was released out of pity.
 “I want to witness to everyone that they took pity on me due to my old age. I was told to go out but I want to assure everyone that I left a huge number of people behind and they are in a situation that requires help for them to be released fast. I hope that government will meet the head of this group to release them as soon as possible,” he said
 One of the bandits added, “I want to reiterate that what he said is true. Don’t try to investigate us immediately or to rescue them because killing them is not an issue for us. We don’t want your money, if we want money, we wouldn’t have carried out the attack. You know what we want,” he said. Contrary to their claim to compassion and religious piety, however, it was gathered that commerce was at the centre of their operation. The terrorists allegedly collected a whopping N100 million as ransom before Hassan regained freedom, after spending ten nights in their captivity.

 Principals in junior secondary schools in the Federal Capital Territory were reportedly asked to contribute N20,000 each as part of efforts to raise the N50 million ransom demanded by the gunmen for the release of another high profile victim of the train attack Dr Sule Alhassan, Chairman of the FCT Universal Basic Education Board (FCTUBEB). Management of the FCTUBEB reportedly sent out a circular to all junior secondary school principals requesting them to contribute the said amount to raise the ransom.

Sheikh Nuru Khalid

 One of the Principals who claimed to have received the circular sent via WhatsApp messaging said the bandits-terrorists had contacted Alhassan’s family and demanded N500 million before reducing the ransom to N50 million.
 “We were told that the adductors initially demanded N500 million to release the board chairman but later agreed to take N50 million after a lot of bargaining,” he said, adding “we were asked to support his (Alhassan’s) family to raise the money because the terrorists are threatening to take his life if his family fails to act fast.”
 The railway attack was the second major assault on a public facility in Kaduna State in three days. The first was on Saturday, 26th March, as members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, congregated in Abuja for their National Convention. Some 200 bandits or Fulani militia on about 100 motorbikes, disrupted operations at the Kaduna International Airport in two separate attacks.
 The first attack occurred about midnight. When it was repelled, the gunmen in greater number, launched an audacious comeback hours later. They seized the runway, hijacked the airport’s flight system and confronted military troops. They killed a staff of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, identified as Shehu NaAllah. He was on patrol when the terrorists mowed him down.
 The Nigerian Army said the gunmen did not target the airport. Uriah Opuene, Brigadier-General and Garrison Commander of the Kaduna Division 1, explained that preliminary findings showed that the terrorists were in transit to Riyawa village when they shot the guard. He said the army in conjunction with the air force killed no less than 12 of the attackers, while the vast majority escaped.
 Sheikh Nuru Khalid,  Imam of Apo Legislative Quarters Mosque, spoke out in a sermon after the Kaduna attack. “We have your video telling Nigerians that the military is capable. It has all the requirements to tackle this insurgency and if you are voted into power, you are going to make sure that happens in a short time.
 “You have been given four years and an addition, yet people are dying like fowls, killing is becoming the norm in Nigeria under your watch Mr President.
 “If there is no Nigerian to tell you, I will take the responsibility of telling you and I will take the responsibility of telling you and I will take the responsibility for the consequences because the lives and properties of Nigerians are above all.
 “Let me tell you, Mr President, under your watch, bandits are demanding, are taxing Nigerians — is that the provision of the constitution of Nigeria. Under the constitution of Nigeria, no one has the right to tax any Nigerian except being authorised by the federal government.”
 Consequently, the management of the Apo Legislative Quarters Juma’at Mosque disengaged Sheikh Khalid from his position as the Chief Imam of the mosque. It was a follow-up to the mosque’s steering committee’s earlier suspension of the cleric.

Was Khalid, alias Digital Imam, discouraged? No. In a short video clip obtained by BBC Hausa service, Mr Khalid announced that he will be leading a congregational prayer at a new Juma’a mosque behind the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Quarters, in Abuja.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Amaechi separately acknowledge having security reports on the attacks, long before it was carried out

Brigadier General Uriah

 Mr Khalid said: “My sack is a reflection of how Nigeria is today. Many people are hiding under the cover of religion to perpetrate all manner of unwholesome acts.
 “Such people would stop at nothing to take away people like me.
 “This is the price we pay for aligning with the people and identifying with their sufferings.
 “By the Grace of Almighty Allah, I will be leading my new congregation this Friday, because as clerics we need a platform to operate.
 “There’s a Jum’mat mosque we built behind the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Quarters, in Abuja; I will now be leading the congregation there.”
  Also, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) was so worried that he, uncharacteristically spoke with anger: “You can’t go to Kaduna by road or airplane (airport) because you may be attacked; why Kaduna?, who is working to isolate Kaduna? After Kaduna which state is next? From reports, more than 80 per cent of our crude oil is being stolen. Who is stealing the oil? Where is the money going? What do they want to do with the money? What are the foreign nations buying the oil?
“More than 90 per cent of our income is used to pay interest on the money we have borrowed, we are borrowing more, we are moving steadily to bankruptcy, and your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren will be paying debt.”
 The preacher said he is not a politician and would “never be one” while stressing that he does not support any presidential aspirant ahead of the 2023 general elections.
 Adeboye said his clarification on this became necessary because of the criticisms against the church’s creation of a Politics Directorate and the instruction to members to be politically involved in the 2023 electioneering process.
 Adeboye said, “Listen to me carefully and if you are going to quote me, quote me correctly. I am talking to those of you who are my children. Do you want to know the truth? And nothing but the truth? I am talking of myself now.
 “As of now, as I am standing before you, I still don’t know whether or not there would be an election next year. Don’t say that Pastor Adeboye said there would be no election next year; that’s not what I said. Adeboye does not know yet, put the word ‘yet’.

 “How come you don’t know? Because my father has not talked to me about it yet. The last time we had an election, He (God) spoke to me about the election by June of the previous year and this is April. So, it is not late but He hasn’t told me yet.”

Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer, RCCG

 The octogenarian thereafter threw a challenge to the congregation seated before him. Adeboye said, “He (God) must have told you – some of you who are prophets, you are closer to Him (God) but is there anyone of you here who can raise your hand to heaven and say without any doubt, there will be an election in 2023. If you can tell us, stand up and we will clap for a prophet.
 “I don’t know yet. Remember to put the word ‘yet’,” he emphasised.
For the Catholic Archbishop emeritus of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, only sincere and urgent steps can stop Nigeria’s quick movement from a failed to a collapsed state. He said the Buhari administration has failed and called for urgent steps to reverse the trend.
“The country is in a state of emergency  which requires the political class to adopt a concerted action to wrest it fromcollapse.
“May I state that if we were to start talking about the state of the nation we have a whole catalogue of complaints and frustrations but what is worrying to me is that we have one crucial year between now and April 2023 and we can do something.
“My  fear is that if we do not do something serious and just allow things to continue to go we may end up from failed state to a collapsed state and if our state collapses you can forget all about elections.
 “It is time for the government to admit that they’ve not done well as one of the newspapers said if the government continues to be in denial,saying things are good when things are obviously bad…it is terrible. I don’t think the APC government of Buhari  can sincerely say we’re in control…
“The government doesn’t want to admit that they have lost control.
We need to see if it is possible for the government to come out and be truthful and also request the help of the people to move Nigeria forward

“We should be able to tackle this insurgency, banditry; we should be able to do something about collapsed social services,  ASUU strike going on indefinitely leaving our youths roaming throughout the entire country.”

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah

Another priest and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Dr. Mathew Hassan Kukah said the Buhari government has divided Nigerians more than any of his predecessors.
“The greatest challenge for Nigeria is not even the 2023 elections. It is the prospects for the reconciliation of our people. Here, the Buhari administration sadly has divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in a way that we have never witnessed in our history.
 “Years of friendships, cultural exchange, and collaboration built over time have now come under serious pressure from stereotyping. Notwithstanding these challenges, religious leaders must recover and deploy their moral authority and avoid falling victim to the schemes of politicians and their material enticements.”
 Gunmen everywhere
 What may be termed a macabre prelude to the bandit’s rage was set on Tuesday, 7th December last year. Nigerians at home and abroad were treated to a bizarre spectacle, that took criminality to a new low. At about 9 am that day, a 42-seater bus, conveying people from Sokoto to Kaduna State was set ablaze with its content, by bandits. Notorious kingpin Bello Turji who has been most active in the Northwest was a suspect in the attack.

 The gangsters had ambushed the travellers at Gidan Bawa, a village in Sabon Bimi Local Government Area, shot at the bus, and promptly set it on fire. The Police and Sokoto State government confirmed 23 deaths, while unofficial sources put the casualty figure far above that.

Bandits operating in Nigeria

 The victims included 30-year-old Shafa’atu who later died in hospital. after recounting the banality:
 “They kept firing at our vehicle until it somersaulted three times and burst into flames. Only one passenger and I miraculously came out of the bus but the other passenger later died from gunshot injuries.
 “I lost my four children, three girls who were grown up and my 10-month-old baby. I watched them, including my mother, maternal uncle, nephew and niece burn to ashes while the attackers were watching with delight.”
 Some days after the Kaduna attacks, bandits killed three people and abducted scores in a Mosque in Taraba State. The victims were part of worshipers who gathered to break the Ramadan fast at Baba Juli village in the Bali Local Government Area of the State.

 All over northern Nigeria, Islamic militia made up of bandits, Boko Haram insurgents and their variant the Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, have killed thousands of people in the last ten years. Many more have either been wounded or displaced. Hundreds of school children have been abducted. An uncountable number of homes, farmland, food stores, churches, schools, and mosques have been ruined by the rampaging fanatics.

Terrorists brought down a Nigeria Airforce Alpha Jet at a border between Kaduna and Zanfara states

 A recent report by Jihad Analytics, a consultancy outfit that processes data on global and cyber jihad, indicates that Nigeria has taken a dubious title as the country with the highest jihadist attacks. It achieved that feat by displacing Iraq on the medals table.
 According to the report, half of the attacks claimed by IS since the beginning of 2022 were in Africa, while ISWAP, an affiliate of IS, is now more active in Nigeria.
 “Since the beginning of the year, the Islamic State has conducted half of its attacks in Africa,” Jihad Analytics wrote in a recent tweet.
 “For the first time in the history of the jihadi group, Iraq is no longer the country where IS claims the highest number of operations: the group ISWAP is now more active in Nigeria,” it said.
 There is one small good news, though. As of March, Nigeria ranked sixth on the 2022 global terrorism index, GTI! The ranking was viewed as a relative improvement as the country dropped two places from the fourth position — a position it had been since 2017.
Overwhelmed security agencies
 Although security violations predate the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, they have become worse under the retired Major General’s watch. Citizens mourn their loss of sleep due to rampant abductions, arson, cattle rustling and other symptoms of insecurity.
 The security agencies which seem overwhelmed, are not insulated from the situation. Indeed, they have been victims. To borrow the language of an editorial, ‘under Buhari, not even the military is safe.’

 On 18 July, 2021, terrorists brought down a Nigeria Airforce Alpha Jet at a border between Kaduna and Zanfara states. The jet was on interdiction in the area, when it came under intense enemy fire. The Pilot, Air Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, managed to escape death by the whiskers. That was the fourth military air crash in Nigeria in seven months.

Air Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo

 Probably emboldened by the serial military jet crashes, the terrorists became more daring. In August 2021, they took their provocation to the Nigeria Defence Academy, NDA, Kaduna killing two officers and abducting one.
 Ranked among the best in Africa and the 35th in the world by Global Firepower, the Nigerian armed forces, (with 223,000 personnel) the police (with 371,800 personnel) and other security agencies have been unable to contain internal security challenges. With a combined strength of far below a million security personnel, for the protection of its more than 200 million citizens, Nigeria is grossly under-protected
 Daily, the country loses many of its men of valour in battle with Fulani terrorists. The statistics are jaw breaking. In the first three months of 2022,  no less than 72 soldiers have been killed by criminals.
 A report by SB Morgen, a geopolitical intelligence platform, indicated that 642 military personnel were killed between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021.
 According to SBM, 322 police, 11 personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, five Customs officers, two operatives of the Department of State Services, two Immigration officials and an official of the Federal Road Safety Corps were killed by criminals across the country in the period under review. The report acknowledged the killing of 1,989 bandits and 973 Boko Haram fighters within the period.
 Another criminal group, the Eastern Security Network, ESN, the military wing of the terrorist group, Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, has also been unrelenting in attacks on security personnel, facility and formations
 The diary of attacks on the armed forces includes the one on April 6, 2022, when terrorists killed 17 soldiers in an attack on a military base in Pole Wire, Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

 Out of the 30 people killed between March 13 and 18, 20 were security personnel employed by the state while four were vigilantes; the other six were civilians. The 20 official security personnel consist of 16 police officers, two correctional service officers, one NDLEA officer and one soldier.

Eastern Security Network

 The higher number of security personnel killed continued from the previous week when 24 security officials – 18 police officers and six soldiers – were also reportedly killed. However, the total casualty figure of 30 people, killed by non-state actors that week, was significantly lower than the over 100 people killed the previous week.
 Four of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones reportedly experienced at least one killing. Only the South-west and South-south recorded zero incidents.
 On March 9, bandits killed 19 security personnel, including 13 soldiers, in Kanya, a village in the Danko-Wasagu area of Kebbi State.
 But the most ghastly week in 2022 so far was reserved for April 10 to 16, when armed men killed at least 215 people in various attacks. This implies that an average of 30 people were killed daily by armed persons in the country that week alone.
 The number of civilian casualties runs into several thousands. That is not all. There is an excess of two million refugees or Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, across the country. After each attack, the government was never short on promises to bring the perpetrators to justice. Sadly, the promises are always empty.
  Economy in ruins
 The spiral effect of insecurity is hunger and a collapsed economy. While the gap between the rich and the poor widens with time, the latter lives in misery. Armed Fulani herders have taken over invaluable farmlands in all parts of the country killing, maiming, or scaring farmers who dare challenge their rascality. This has caused famine in the land.

 The great momentum and growth which the Nigerian economy witnessed before 2015 has come to a halt and is now in reverse gear. The modest growth of the past and the visible achievements recorded then have been retrogressively wiped out. They are now only remembered as historical feats, not as enduring legacies.

A commodities market in Nigeria

 Inflationary trends have progressively and consistently gone up from about seven per cent in 2015 to over 15per cents, with the general price levels of commodities all up in the sky. A bag of imported rice which was N8,500 in 2015 is now N30,000 and above, while a bag of locally grown rice is between 23,000 and N28,000.
 Worse still, unemployment levels have widened over the years with industries operating under great strains and stress from ill-advised policies and a plethora of taxes.
 The long effects of these debilitating economic conditions on the manufacturing firms are reduced profit margin, unavoidable cost control in form of right-sizing, and, sometimes factory closure. It is now estimated that the unemployment rate in the country is a higher per cent from 10per cent, in the pre-Buhari era.
 Since the regime came on board, the naira has been in a free fall, going down from N180 to $1 in 2015 to N590 to $1 today. This has made import costs very high just as the local industries are not incentivised to be competitive and operate optimally. The results are high factor costs, high product costs and unbearable high cost of living.
 The intractable power crises have created king-sized holes in manufacturers’ pockets. The electricity supply is far adequate. The national grid with an installed capacity of a paltry 11,000 megawatts generates less. This is a far cry from the 40,000 megawatts national requirement.
 Worse still, the grid routinely collapses like a sickle cell victim. Manufacturers like other Nigerians are forced to result to generators for power supply. Even that became more difficult to handle with intermittent fuel and petroleum products scarcity. From January to date, further fuel supply in the country has been erratic.
 For honest parents who wish to send their children/wards abroad for further studies, the prohibitive cost of the dollar is their greatest nightmare and snag. It will cost an average family over $40,000 per annum to train their child in a foreign institution.
 Yet, the Nigerian education sector at best is comatose. University students are staying their second months at home due to a series of strikes by almost all categories of staff in the institutions. The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU is on three months warning strike over the government’s refusal to implement an agreement it signed with the teachers in 2009.
 Certainly, life is not all smiles under Buharinomics. Nigeria is back to the Hobbesian State of nature, where life is harsh, brutish and short. The only way out for many citizens is to embrace the borderless profession of begging. Streets are full of varieties of beggars- natural, artificial, corporate, professional and conditional. They are always soliciting for a dash or pittance, mostly money or food, to bridge earnings.
 International perspectives
 The danger signs are of a country speedily orbiting to oblivion. The insecurity advertises Nigeria as a failed or failing state. An international consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations, and NGOs during a recent investigation of Nigeria, lamented that the country is at a “breaking point.”
 The group which was on a fact-finding visit to the North Central was led by U.K. House of Lords Member, Baroness Caroline Cox, Independent Member of the House of Lords and Founder President of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART).
 The 35-page report was entitled, “Breaking point in central Nigeria? Terror and mass displacement in the Middle belt. It notes that “the cache of weapons employed by Fulani militia includes automatic weapons, laser sights, machetes, petrol bombs and incendiary chemicals used to burn houses.
 “Fulani militia encroach upon and sometimes occupy villages. They assert their right to the land by re-naming the villages and threatening anyone who seeks to return.
 “In addition to mass attacks, kidnappings for ransom have become rampant in the Middle Belt, as elsewhere in Nigeria, and appear to have an ethnoreligious dimension.
 “Targeted villages receive little-to-no military or police protection from these attacks; security forces usually arrive on the scene after the attack has ended.
 “Perpetrators of these attacks are rarely if ever, brought to justice.
 The report warned that “the security situation is highly volatile, as disparate groups of Christian and nonreligious vigilantes begin to undertake reprisals against Muslims. Religious tensions are expected to escalate in the run-up to the 2023 election.
 In a similar development, Nigeria has been rated as the 12th most fragile country in the world. The rating was given in the annual Fragile States Index, FSI, for 2021. The country’s score of 98.0, on a scale of 120 points, places it in the ‘alert zone.’ A total of 179 countries were rated. Yemen and Somalia are the most vulnerable states, while Norway is the strongest on the table.
 The Fragile States Index (FSI; formerly the Failed States Index), according to experts, is an annual report published by the United States think tank the Fund for Peace and the American magazine Foreign Policy from 2005 to 2018, then by The New Humanitarian since 2019. The list aims to assess states’ vulnerability to conflict or collapse, ranking all sovereign states with membership in the United Nations where there is enough data available for analysis
What to do?
 To pull back the State from peril, stakeholders and opinion moulders have advocated stiff penalties against terrorists and anyone compromising peace. They point at the government’s refusal to publicise and prosecute sponsors of terrorism after many promises as sending dangerous signals to the gunmen.
 The lack of safety attracted the attention of the Council of State, a policy advisory organ of the Federal government. During its meeting last week. The body asked Buhari to act fast and confront the situation headlong.
 Against this backdrop, the president held a meeting with heads of security agencies on April 19, 2022. It was the second in three weeks. That was against the background of the recent killing of 100 people in Benue and Plateau.

 Jigawa State Governor Abubakar Badaru, who spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting of the Council of State, said the president will discuss with the agencies’ heads the recommendations and comments by the council on the worsening insecurity in the country.

Buhari chairs Council of State meeting over insecurity

 Elder statesman and former Military Administrator of the old Western Region, Major General David Jemibewon condemned the rate of gun attacks and called for a probe of the situation.
 “The government should carry out a high-powered investigation and the military needs to raise the level of alertness. We must be alert and prepared to salvage our country from irresponsible people and we must take up that responsibility.”
 A Public Affairs Analyst, Moses Obajemu called for the immediate withdrawal of security personnel attached to politicians and other privileged individuals. He noted that since security operatives are in the deficit, those available ought to be on red alert and properly equipped with modern tools.
 Obajemu encouraged the government to put the right fiscal policies in place to revamp the economy. “Our economy is non-productive and import-dependent. Government must stimulate a conducive business environment.
In his essay, entitled, “That Sermon in the Mosque,” Professor Hope Eghagha of the Department of English, University of Lagos, wrote: “Government should encourage persons like Sheikh Khalid to speak up. The man has gained more following. I didn’t know him before. I didn’t hear the sermon in question until the fire-brigade attitude of the Committee brought it to my attention. Fix the security situation. Let our roads be safe. Let our homes be safe. Confront the scoundrels who have seized the road between Abuja and Kaduna and other roads in the country and exterminate them. Stop kidnap gangs from attacking homes and seizing people for a ransom in Abuja and elsewhere. Make the southeast governable. Except the government deals with the security situation, it is a no-no about winning in 2023. In a democracy, it has passed a vote of no confidence in itself for the 2023 elections. Listen to the message. Get your eyes and hands off the messenger.”
General John Sura (retired) described as unacceptable the rate of insecurity across Nigeria. He said the war against banditry and forms of insecurity is irregular and as such should be technology-driven. He called for strong synergy among all the security agencies and engagement of mercenaries as the need may arise.
 “The previous administration hired foreign mercenaries and they were almost winning the war against terrorists, but that approach was dropped when the present administration came on board. I think that rather than waste resources that may not get the desired results, why not bring these mercenaries back, pay them and let them trash the terrorists in Nigeria. They may be able to deliver on the task because they will be paid for it,” Sura added.
 A social commentator Dr Idris Akinwumi opined that the solution is for Nigerians to make informed decisions in the next election. He said with the right leadership the country would overcome her current challenges. “Nigerians should open their ears and eyes wide. They should vote all clueless politicians and vote people with the right skills for moving the country forward.”
 Will they?

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