*If the President is surprised it means he is not in charge – MBF
*Buhari’s statement is a mark of sincerity – BMO
*It means they have not been telling him the truth – Benue leader
By Clifford Ndujihe, Anayo Okoli, Peter Duru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Dirisu Yakubu, & Marie-Therese Nanlong
The polity was awash with despair and shock, weekend, over President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment expressing surprise at the level of insecurity in the country.
On Monday, while hosting eminent and respected citizens of Niger State at the State House, Abuja, the President said: “I was taken aback by what is happening in the North-West and other parts of the country. During our campaigns, we knew about the Boko Haram. What is coming now is surprising. It is not ethnicity or religion rather it is one evil plan against the country.
“We have to be harder on them. One of the responsibilities of government is to provide security. If we don’t secure the country, we will not be able to manage the economy properly.”
Reacting to President Buhari’s comment, a host of eminent Nigerians and groups, across the country, said they were shocked by the President’s surprise. According to them, the surprise meant that the security chiefs were not telling Buhari the true state of affairs in the country, and the presidency has not followed or ignored media reports, which have been replete with accounts of heart-rending security breaches on daily basis.
Those who spoke on the issue with Saturday Vanguard include the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Middle Belt Forum, MBF; the Middle Belt Movement for Justice and Peace, MBMJP; Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI; South-South monarchs and leaders among others.
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Meanwhile, the Presidency, on Thursday, lamented that mischievous people were twisting Buhari’s comments on insecurity and advised the traditional media, and commentators on social media, to keep fidelity to the truth, and not concoct narratives to suit some sinister motives.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, in a statement said that the reportage of Buhari’s comments was slanted to mean that President Buhari said he was unaware of the security challenges in some parts of the country.
“Far from it, except to the mischievous mind. The President is fully aware and fully in charge of all that is going on. The statement by the President was clear enough, and these are the salient points:
“In 2015, we knew there was Boko Haram insurgency, particularly in the North-East, and we mentioned it in our campaigns. There are clear economic and cultural factors behind the clashes that sadly rocked many of our communities, be they the Fulani-Tiv or Fulani-Berom conflict, the Tiv versus Jukun and so on. By now, these conflicts are fairly under control.
“By 2019, banditry had surfaced in the North-West. It was surprising, as the area is almost homogeneous, made up of Hausa-Fulanis. The combatants are largely Muslim. This is what the President said he was surprised about.
“The point he made was that what is happening in the country is not about ethnicity or religion, it is plainly an evil plan against the nation.
“It is disingenuous that the earlier and later parts of the statement were downplayed, and the middle part misinterpreted to mean that President Buhari was unaware or surprised by the security situation in the country.”
Buhari’s statement is a mark of sincerity — BMO
Indeed, Mack Ogbamosa, a lawyer/journalist and the Lagos Coordinator of the Buhari Media Organisation, BMO, said people should not misconstrue the president’s sincerity to weakness or failure.
He told Saturday Vanguard: “The President’s expression of surprise at the level of insecurity in the country is not borne out of weakness or failure but out of honesty and sincerity.
Unlike many of our political leaders, who play to the gallery, here is a man who tells his people the truth. He is not a typical Nigerian politician. He admits his challenges and works towards tackling them.
He is saying that even though we have achieved a reasonable level of success in fighting insecurity, the various forms of insecurity we are experiencing today were not envisaged.
“Before he became president in 2015, the only major form of insecurity in the country as Boko Haram. Soon after he was sworn in, Nigeria in collaboration with the Multi-National Joint Task Force involving Cameroon, Niger and Chad chased Boko Haram out of the communities they occupied in the North-East. Boko Haram forces were forced to run to Sambisa Forest.
“Eventually, while Boko Haram appeared not to be a major threat, other dimensions of insecurity like kidnapping, herders/farmers clashes, banditry and communal clashes unexpectedly came up. As if these were not enough, other security threats from a faction of the Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, and another faction of Boko Haram loyal to Abubakar Shekau sprang up.
“These are monumental challenges which even bigger countries than Nigeria cannot easily surmount. The solutions to some of these challenges go beyond the President of the Federal Government. States and local governments have a role to play. The private sector has a role to play in providing employment opportunities for our restive youths, who are easily deployed for these crimes.”
My heart bleeds — Maren
However, Hon Maren, the lawmaker representing Mangu/Bokkos Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, said he was shocked by Buhari’s comments.
“I am in shock too. If the President actually said that, it means the insinuations that the cabal is in charge is true. Because it is amazing for a chief security officer of a country to claim ignorance of his most important responsibility (security and welfare of the people) of which he took the oath of office for. It is most unfortunate that we are going through this as a nation. My heart bleeds.”
After surprise, he should do the needful, sack service chiefs — Ohanaeze
The Igbo apex socio-cultural organization, Ohanaze Ndigbo while backing the call by the National Assembly for President Buhari to sack the service chiefs as they could not provide security to Nigerians, said Buhari’s expression of surprise was not enough.
Publicity Secretary of the Igbo apex body, Prince Uche Achi-Ogbaga, said when the President himself was reported to be shocked at the level of insecurity, there was no need reminding him to do the needful by changing the service chief as they may have exhausted their idea.
Achi-Ogbaga said there is an urgent need to engage people with new ideas to tackle the security crisis in Nigeria. “You see, the concern crept from the corresponding media report to the effect that the President is shocked at the level of banditry or insecurity in the country.
One would wonder because if the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces is in shock then the defenceless Nigerians should be in a severe coma. “If after five years at the helm of affairs of Nigeria as President
all he could offer is to still express shock one should be able to say that he has no solution to the threat without being controverted by any rational and apolitical mind.
“Recall that the government has demonstrated in many fora that Boko Haram has been defeated. Today, Boko Haram is still attacking ferociously, killing innocent and defenceless citizens and more. “Other deadly criminal outfits, including the daredevil, kidnapping and massacre-infested Fulani herdsmen, are springing up here and there. The implication is that the government is not living up to its responsibility of safeguarding the lives and property of its citizens because nothing is more precious than life and if is not given priority of protection everything is lost. “
It means he is not in charge ― MBF
In like manner, the President Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr Pogu Bitrus said the Buhari’s comment was a clear indication that the President was not in control of the country.
His words: “It is a huge surprise that the President who is the Commander-in-Chief, who has the highest level of information, because nobody in this country has the kind of information the President has, could utter that kind of statement.
“We know that all the security agencies give him information. Even the Department of State Service, DSS, man does not have that kind of information because the President gets additional information from NIA and all other security sources including international bodies that have links with him.
“So it is unfortunate that Mr President would make such a statement. It just means that he is not in control. It means a lot for the President and Commander-in-Chief to say that.
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“It is also discouraging. When such a statement is made by the Commander-in-Chief it means we are in trouble because it then means that we are moving on autopilot, no government, it is unfortunate.
“We have cried out over and over, and thank God the National Assembly is also putting pressure. The fact is that security architecture is faulty.
“We have the wrong people heading our security network. It appears there is no agreement and synergy between the Army and the Airforce in fighting insurgency, crime and Boko Haram and the killer herdsmen are also roaming around doing what they feel like doing without being checked.
“The kidnappings and banditry have gone out of control. So it is time the President sought and took the advice and wise counsel now coming from the National Assembly to re-jig the security architecture.
“Of course people like us support the emergence of Amotekun which is a necessity since the federal government cannot protect the people, the state governors have now taken the responsibility of protecting the people because all of them swore to the same constitution.
“Moreover the primary responsibility of government is the provision of welfare and security to the people. Where the federal government fails the state governments have to do their job and provide security and welfare to the people.
“So in that regard, Amotekun is hundred per cent supported and other state governors need to have similar outfits to protect their citizenry or indigenes of their states.
“I am in support of Amotekun and I believe any right-thinking Nigerian unless the person is part of the problem itself, would have to support such an initiative which is noble, patriotic and which will secure Nigeria from these people who have taken us hostage.