By Ochereome Nnanna
ADMIRERS of the President Muhammadu Buhari regime believe it has “done well” in its campaign promise: securing the nation. Added to the war on corruption and revamping the economy, it forms the tripod agenda of the regime.
Those who give this pass mark tend to look at “security” only in the partial dimension of the war against Boko Haram. Nobody will deny that this regime has dealt a heavy blow on the Islamist terrorists, confining them to their rocky enclaves in Sambisa Forest. The partial release of 21 out of 219 Chibok Girls is also a positive pointer to the fact that Nigeria has gained some ground in that war.
But I will not subscribe to the falsehood that Boko Haram has been defeated. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, insists that the enemies do not occupy “a single inch” of the Nigerian soil. As long as they retain their fortified fortresses in the Sambisa Forest and hold on to their hostages (including the rest of the Chibok girls) the war against Boko Haram remains an unfinished business.
Other areas of security concern which were either lying dormant or not there during the President Goodluck Jonathan regime include (a) the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta; (b) the Shiite uprisings in Kaduna State; (c) the pro-Biafra groups protests; (d) the upsurge of the abductions of (mainly) Christian teenage girls by Northern Muslims, their forced conversion to Islam and being married off without the consent of their parents; all these usually with the support of powerful traditional rulers or Islamic clerics; and (e) the rage of the armed herdsmen around the country.
The militancy in the Niger Delta is being tackled by the armed forces along with negotiations for a peaceful outcome. We see an effective application of the stick and carrot approach, and the positive result it is yielding in reducing the scale of economic sabotage. Perhaps, because of the need for more oil exports to feed the economy, the Federal Government has decided to employ best practices on this score.
But when it comes to tackling the challenges posed by the Shiites, it is obvious that both the Federal and Kaduna State Governments are teasing them to do their worst. The kangaroo panel set up by Governor Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna State, which functioned more like General Buhari’s 1984 Special Military Tribunals, SMT’s, has already rashly proscribed the Iran-sponsored Islamic Movement of Nigeria,IMN. Its members are arrested when they gather, even if peacefully. The lessons of how the Boko Haram sect was mismanaged into a monster of gargantuan proportions has not been applied. We are watching how this one will end.
The Biafra protests have been temporarily squelched, but of course, what we have is a peace of the graveyard. The leader of the nonviolent Indigenous Peoples of Biafra,IPOB, is still held in the Department of State Security, DSS, captivity in flagrant disobedience of court orders. Because of this security mismanagement, the “Biafra Rising Sun” which General Gowon had triumphantly declared as having “set forever” on January 15th 1970, has risen again. Biafra has become a trending topic in Nigeria, and this is a phenomenon of the Buhari political dispensation.
With various degrees of success or failure, we can see, from the above narrative, that the Federal Government under president Muhammadu Buhari, is tackling the Boko Haram terror, the renewed Niger Delta militancy, the Shiite (yet unarmed) insurrection and the nonviolent resurgence of Biafra separatism. But what about the abduction of under-aged, mostly Christian teenage girls by Northern Muslims and their crude, arrogant and brazen conversion to Islam? What about the Janjaweed-like raids by powerfully armed herdsmen?
These are the two issues that the Buhari Federal Government and its overzealous DSS have chosen to ignore in open disregard to their constitutionally-sworn obligation to protect the lives, property and citizenship rights of Nigerians and preserve the territorial integrity of the nation. Are these not security issues? Do the Federal Government and its agents have the right to pick and choose to deploy against so-called corrupt judges while ignoring the violation of the constitutional rights of Nigerians, either by fellow citizens or “foreign” armed intruders?
There have been widely-published media reports of Christian girls being abducted and hidden in the palaces of emirs or Islamic clerics in Bida, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Zaria, Abuja and other parts of the North. Apart from the case of Esther Oruru, who was abducted in Bayelsa and taken to Kano, impregnated and released to her parents only because the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi personally stepped in, the rest have remained in captivity, with their families told to keep off because their daughters have now become Muslim “wives”.
Everything about this trend of criminality resembles the abduction of the 279 Chibok girls, which we are hypocritically pursuing because the heat of the world is on our Presidency. The only difference is that those holding the non-Chibok girls have not officially been termed Boko Haram terrorists, though their crime and the religious logic behind it is the same as those of Boko Haram.
Also, armed herdsmen, who are invariably Muslims of Fulani stock from within and outside Nigeria, have been raiding, killing, robbing, kidnapping and dislodging communities around the mainly Christian Middle Belt and Southern States, with cows unleashed on the farming communities to destroy crops and render Nigerians to Internally-displaced persons, IDPs, in their own native lands. Their operations are Sudan Janjaweed-style, except that it has yet to be alleged that the regime arms them. But certainly, the regime has failed to take action to protect the people. All we hear from the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III and the Federal Government official sources is that the armed militias are not Fulani but “foreigners”.
Surely, the laws that established our Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, hot-shot DSS, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, NIA, the Nigerian Army and Air Force and others do not prohibit them from protecting Nigerians if arms-bearing foreigners infiltrate the country. These Federal agencies are set up, armed and empowered to protect the country and its citizens from internal threats and external aggression.
Why is the Buhari Federal Government playing deaf and dumb to the calls by the people of Southern Kaduna to save them from the armed herdsmen who are systematically conducting the ethnic cleansing of communities in the predominantly Christian Southern Kaduna to give unlimited access to their cows?
Recently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said it was not Buhari’s duty to protect Nigerians from these armed herdsmen! Why is he called the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces? Or, does Obasanjo mean that the states and the various communities are free to take up arms and defend themselves?
That is what may eventually happen when it becomes conclusively apparent that the state is no longer able or willing to do its sacred duties to protect the people. If we arrive at that sad juncture, where will we be as a nation? If Nigerians begin to retaliate by abducting people from the side, forcing them into marriage against their parents’ consent and forcing them into strange religions, what will be the outlook for the peace and stability of the country?
As long as the abductions and invasion of communities continue without let or hindrance, I will never give this government a security pass mark, even if they eliminate Boko Haram and return all the Chibok Girls alive. Securing the country must be a comprehensive package, not a mere political gimmick while insidious Islamisation of Christians and the forceful seizure of their lands are allowed to go on.