By Sola Ebiseni
Over the weekend, the Director of Public Relations of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, virtually rolled out the drums celebrating the command style of the present Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, which he said “has up-scaled Nigerian Army operations and enhanced its operational successes, adding that Yahaya had since assumption of duty on May 28, 2021 encapsulated his command philosophy anchored on four cardinal pillars: Professionalism, Readiness, Administration and Cooperation.
He treated us to some kinetic and non-kinetic stuffs which have become some kind of clichés, even among all kinds of civilian commentators, on the Nigerian security matters, of which virtually everyone has understandably become an expert. According to him, the neutralisation of high profile terrorist commanders and their foot soldiers, including some of their notable commanders, such as Abubakar Shekau and Musab Al-Banarwi, has substantially degraded the terrorists’ fighting capability, the resultant effect of which is the unprecedented manner several members of the BH & ISWAP terrorists have surrendered.
Only yesterday morning, even as this column was being put together, we were reminded not only of the multiple explosions that rocked Maiduguri over the weekend, but also that the persistent and prevailing situation was that it was impossible to travel five kilometres outside Maiduguri without military escorts. The terrorists who hold the North West and the Middle Belt by the jugular have not relaxed their grips.
In spite of this perilous situation, it cannot be denied that the last one month has witnessed some positive signs of the readiness of the Federal Government to tackle insurgency honestly. This new postures,borne out of the embarrassment to government, from its hitherto compromising stance on insurgency is responsible for this positive development.
In other words, the Buhari administration has always danced to unknown tunes over insurgency in a way that its dancing steps and body language in that regards, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has left the troops, at best, confused.
Thus, the glimpse of hope now is not necessarily as a result of any magic by any of the Chiefs of the three components of the armed forces. It is because both the forces and the insurgents are aware that Nigeria is appropriately determined to enforce its sovereignty and deal with the threats thereto which we all know but in denial of which government dwells.
On this page and precisely on on August 3 this year, we wrote a piece titled: “The Armed Forces and the Buhari Administration”. We lamented the incalculable damage that the Buhari administration was doing to the military as the last bastion of hope for a nation utterly distraught.
We reminisced on the Nigerian military of yore which was the toast in international peace keeping and enforcement in the Congo, Lebanon, Namibia or as the backbone of our country which made Nigeria a thorny scourge on the flesh of Apartheid in South Africa and the veritable catalyst of liberation struggles in Southern Africa generally, so much that we were enlisted, with honour, into the league of the front line states, notwithstanding our geographical distance therefrom.
We remembered a military which, even at its infancy, executed the civil war and successfully pulled Nigeria back from the brink, which they pushed it into within the first six years of the nation’s sovereignty. We remembered with justifiable nostalgia our exploits as the indisputable leader and police- nation of the West African sub-region through the instrumentality of the ECOMOG commanded and largely funded by Nigeria. Our exploits, particularly in Liberia and Sierra Leone, will not be lost sight of by the international community.
We regretted such loss of prestige as we are now compelled and dictated to by hitherto innocuous neighbours in the efforts to maintain our territorial integrity and safe our country men and women from the carnage associated with terrorism by largely local miscreants. Not even during a full scale civil war did we find such an embarrassing situation where the barracks, hallowed military formations and institutions, were such easy prey as being now laid waste by ragtag unschooled local boys.
In our piece under reference, we insisted that in spite of these developments, the Nigerian armed forces remain sophisticated and well trained, which members would still hold their heads anywhere in the world. If you are in doubt, please read the account of Flt Lt A. Dairo; how he ejected mid-air and escaped when his fighter jet was shot and downed in Zamfara State. Such bravery, recounted in a typical James Hardley Chase fashion, was only possible in James Bond films of those days. Like most Nigerians, Dairo had wondered why such a group more ruthless than Boko Haram terrorists, was still being called bandits.
Many proposals have been made to the Buhari administration to preserve the military as the only symbol of national unity and save it from internal conflicts which are replete with inter-ethnic politics that may comprise its patriotism. After much pressure, which has virtually torn the nation apart and rendered it comatose, the Federal Government is said to be contemplating declaring the rampaging bandits terrorists.
Whichever tag is worn by the miscreants, the Federal Government has a constitutional and indeed a natural duty to save the rest of us from these marauders with no defined philosophy. This is the reason it is so wrong to compare the rampaging terrorists, of no identified nationality, with the Niger Delta whose cause, parents, communities, states and nationalities, are unhidden and therefore easy to talk or negotiate with.
The steps being taken on insurgency and rehabilitation of the people by Governor Zulum of Borno State is highly commendable. These he did while putting his life at risk. He is one Governor who does not play politics with development, particularly the issue of security. In a true federation, Borno State should have its own Police for effective internal security.
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At the inception of the Boko Haram insurgency, the incapacity of the Nigeria Police to deal with the threat was so manifest that the people hurriedly packaged what they called Civilian Joint Tasks Force, CJTF, which the insurgents dreaded more than the Police because of their peculiar understanding of the terrain for effective intelligence. In spite of the unnecessary opposition by the Federal Government, the Amotekun is making a credible difference in the South West.
Let the country be restructured with multi-level policing and internal security mechanisms and spare our armed forces the errands that tend to diminish and demystify them and the nation.
Kanu and Keyamo’s Rhetorics
The screaming headlines of Festus Keyamo (SAN) saying that President Buhari had no power to release Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, first came as a shock until the real story emerged which turned out as mere political rhetoric.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment who, no doubt, has the requisite courage of his conviction is not a man to scream except based on his well-considered opinion. That he is right or one agrees with him is another matter entirely.
Obviously, Keyamo was speaking from his political perspective, and he is entitled to play to the gallery, impressing his boss in the process when he was quoted to have said: “The president has no pow er to release him (Kanu). Is he in the judiciary? On the one hand, people say there should be in dependence of the judiciary, on the other hand, they are saying the president should in tervene in the judicial process. So, what do Nigerians want?
“On the other hand, when there is a small indication that executive is interfering in judicial matters, the whole country will go up in flames because at that point, they will feel that because of their political interest, the president is trying to intervene and pro mote one political interest over another.
Now, being a respecter for the rule of law, the president has allowed the judicial pro cess to go on and, yet, people are still complaining and go ing to him to interfere. I don’t understand. There is a matter in court. You can’t tell the pres ident to go and intervene in the judicial process”.
The interesting thing is that Keyamo knows much more than he was quoted to have said. It goes without saying that the Minister is very much aware of the powers of the Attorney-General under Section 174 of the Constitution to discontinue any criminal proceedings instituted by him. Thus, the withdrawal by the Attorney General of the charges preferred by him against Nnamdi Kanu is not an interference with the judicial process.
It is quite different from disobedience to court orders for which this administration is notorious. How many can we count in the cases of Sambo Dasuki, El-zakzaky or the recent one of Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho) where the Buhari administration neither appeals nor respects the order of court. How many were those whose cases were discontinued by EFCC for joining the ruling party or out rightly by the Attorney General entering nolle prosequi.
Let the President and his men spare us this born-again rhetoric of not wanting to interfere with the judicial process by freeing Nnamdi Kanu. It is a lame excuse for doing the right thing, even belatedly.
Nigeria, we hail thee.
*Ebiseni is the Secretary General, Afenifere.