By Dooyum Ingye

“Nigeria is on the precipice and dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold danger at bay”.

 

The above excerpt forms part of the letter written by former president Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammad Buhari in July, 2019. Olusegun Obasanjo had written this letter in the face of a fast deteriorating security situation in Nigeria. While the letter had ripple effect throughout the country, one fact remains evident; the level of insecurity has overwhelmed the capacity of the Nigerian government led by Muhammad Buhari.

 

Prior to 2015, the North Eastern region of Nigeria was ravaged by insurgency. Abubakar Shekau, the leader of JamāʿatAhl al-Sunnah li-l-Daʿawahwa al-Jihād (often translated as “Association of the People of the Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad” or “People Committed to the Prophet’s Teaching for Propagation and Jihad”) also known as Boko Haram via relentless attacks on the Nigerian state declared and hoisted its flag in fourteen (14) local government areas of Borno State signifying the establishment of an Islamic caliphate. At that time, the cluelessness of the previous government endeared Muhammad Buhari, presidential aspirant of the then newly formed All Progressive Congress to the people, as he promised to squash Boko Haram within six months, if elected.

 

Muhammad Buhari became the bride that dazzled Nigerians. I, like millions of other Nigerian youth gave out our support to the man whom we felt, with his military experience, spartan lifestyle, and passion for the rule of law would not only curb insecurity, but place the nation on a path of industrialization.

 

Today, having spent about six (6) years in office as the president and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, not only has President Buhari failed to squash Boko Haram, his administration has enabled the prominence of other forms of crime such as banditry and kidnapping in states such as zamfara, sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, etc where they were negligibly minimal, or non-existent. In the North-Central, Fulani herdsmen militia are having unrestricted pass killing people and destroying properties. Some of these herdsmen reportedly refer to the crops of farmers as ‘noddles’ for their cattle.

 

President Muhummadu Buhari enjoyed the goodwill, support (domestic and international), loyalty, etc of Nigerians and the control of all institutions, security agencies, public funds to wage a fervent war against the insurgents, kidnappers, bandits and herdsmen terrorists, however, he might have chosen to play the ethnic card seemingly because most of the acts and attacks are perpetuated by his Fulani brothers. From the North-East to North-Central, inhabitants are terrorized by either Boko Haram, kidnappers, bandits, or Fulani herdsmen militia.

 

At some point, Nigerians had to cease traveling via the Abuja–Kaduna road as kidnappers and bandits boldly robbed Nigerians of their lives and properties. As the wave of insecurity rises in these places, there has been little to no commensurate effort from the government to restore security. Rather, the Buhari-led administration appears to provide support and protection to these criminals, especially those of Fulani extraction.

 

Recently, well meaning Nigerians had to protest the benefits packaged by the federal government and extended to arrested terrorists in the guise of rehabilitation, while their victims are left to languish in pains, poverty, misery, loss and sorrow. In the North-Central, Fulani herdsmen kill, rape, and destroy at will, without repercussions.

 

Shortly after Fulani herdsmen killed seventeen (17) parishioners and two (2) priests at Mbalom, Gwer-East LGA of Benue state, instead of making efforts to bring the perpetrators to book, the Federal Government proposed the construction of ranches and cattle ‘colonies’ in affected states as the only solution to the crisis.

 

Most Nigerians, especially those from the affected states rejected it as a land-grabbing attempt, prompting the Presidency to ask those against the administration’s ranching and colony programmes for herdsmen to rethink, noting that such states and persons are better off living with the ranches and colonies than dying through the persisting conflicts. That was obviously another way of saying, ‘give the Fulani herdsmen your ancestral land or die’.

 

Some of us whose support for the President was fast dwindling, argued that it would be more generally acceptable if the government arrested and prosecuted such herdsmen militia before proposing its programmes on cattle colonies and ranches. This way, the government would have restored public confidence in its ability to manage the conflict objectively. However, since all opposing or critical views are regarded by the Presidency as distraction from the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, our views were ignored.

 

Given the suspicious manner which the Presidency has handled the increasing wave of insecurity caused largely by Fulani herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers, and Boko Haram terrorists, strong credibility has been accorded to the longstanding rumour that the Nigerian state not only shields these criminals, but the jihad waged in the North-East receives the support of the Presidency. Currently, it is common to find peasants who organize to fight this band of criminals and terrorists in prison than the criminals and terrorists themselves.

 

At the beginning of this year 2020, after much outcry and criticism from the public, on the 1st of February, while receiving guests from Niger State at the state house Abuja, the President expressed surprise over the rise of insecurity in the country, and the Nigerian polity was thrown into despair and shock. It was at this point that I completely agreed with Farooq Kperogi that, not only is the president incompetent and confused, he is “wracked by dementia and cognitive decline that he can not hold a meeting for more than 10 minutes, and has lost the ability to follow conversations in a meeting, and has zero short-term memory” (Farooq Kperogi, 2020) .

 

In a country where people are slaughtered, raped, robbed etc, it is shocking for the President to publicly feign ignorance. Such a man needs to leave office immediately. In fact, Buhari is so incapacitated that the only job he seems to do is to make rare appearances to show that he isn’t dead. He is an abstract president.

 

Whereas one would expect that a president who is surprised at the rising level of insecurity would sack the Security Chiefs to show preparedness, the President passed a vote of confidence on them. This came before the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, accused the former Chief-of-Staff, late Abba Kyari, of undue and dangerous interference on national security matters. Still, the President kept mute, or it can be rightly said that he didn’t know.

 

These killings have continued unabated with little concrete efforts from the executive to address it. Both security officers and poor Nigerians have been at the receiving end. In the home of the President today, people are killed on a daily basis by bandits.

 

Every day, I receive gory reports from friends who reside in Katsina state, saying, they are killed like animals. Sadly, these killings are under-reported by the media; it seems there are concentrated efforts to spare the President of the political embarrassment. The fact is, whether we talk about it or not, it will not change the ugly reality. History is writing too.

 

A Facebook user, Idris Ahmed, captures the Buhari Presidency succinctly, “For his inability, unwillingness or both to overhaul the Nigeria security apparatus and neutralize the Boko Haram terrorists, President Muhammadu Buhari will be remembered as the weak president who squandered the highest level of goodwill ever accorded to a Nigeria Head of State by the populace”.

 

PS… This piece is written to commiserate with the people of Sokoto State over the killing of sixty ( 60) people in three (3) villages by gunmen on the 27th may, 2020.

(c) Dooyum Ingye 2020