By Sola Ebiseni
THIS Easter Sunday evening, as I strolled into the kitchen for something to munch before my usual pupuru and orugbo main cause and racking my brain on what to write for this column, I saw the boys also converge around the dining in the waiting game for dinner singing our Ilaje folklore song.
It is a song made popular by my multi-talented egbon, Ben Omowafola Kasta Tomoloju, dramatist, poet, newspaper editor, television producer, musician, songwriter, etc. Waxing much like the late Ras Kimono and lacing the song with “under pressure “, introduced to the lyrics by the late Reggae star and using spoons, plates and the dining table as instruments they were singing:
Àjà kubo, kubo yeee / Whither oh whirlwind,
Àjà, ku bo, kubo yeee/ Whither oh whirlwind
Àjà, kubo, kubo me ri, me mà/ Whither oh whirlwind, I see or know not !
Me ma mubo y’ àja gb’oma ree o!!/ I know not where the whirlwind has taken the child!
This ancient Ilaje folklore song had its origin in the days of trouble when society was in a state of flux and helplessness in the likes of a whirlwind snatching a child. Where in similitude a helpless situation demands tact and patience in absolute sobriety, you are told, in the wisdom of our elders, to allow the storm complete its task of carrying the atioro, a very light but mostly airborne bird, not exactly in the family of hawks, but appears usually helpless in the storm which blows it hither and thither. It is in this milieu of miniature concert stirred by the pressure of waiting for dinner that mummy, trying to calm our hunger nerves, quietly reminded us that even in Nigeria there were pressures everywhere and from which our title today is derived.
Nigeria is under pressure of insecurity and the Buhari administration has lost control of the country. It’s so worrisome that even the most loquacious spokespeople for the administration have shamefully lost their voices and, in fact, routinely ignored by the people. Truth is that the provisions of Section 14 (2) (a) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution that “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from which government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority” and that (b) “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government” are a restatement of the philosophical basis of the existence of the state.
Thus, when the state loses the capacity to ensure the security of life and property, as it is the situation with the Nigerian state under the present Buhari administration, it is the existence of the state that is in question and not necessarily the tenure continuity of the extant political actors. It is in the above context that some of the recent suggestions or proposals on the hopeless state of insecurity in Nigeria needs be examined. Only two weeks ago, did the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Ahmed Nasir el-Rufai threaten that he and some of his unnamed colleague state governors would invite mercenaries to defend their states in the reality of the incapacity of the Federal Government.
Nigerians easily remember that it was El-Rufai who created the air of invincibility around killer herdsmen when he declared that whoever touched them, including members of the armed forces, would pay, as debt, with his life no matter the length of time.
It was El- Rufai as governor of Kaduna State who commenced the abominable practice of paying foreign killer-herdsmen with money from the coffers of the state government, assuring them of a conducive atmosphere “now that a Fulani like them is Governor”.
Like we said on this page two weeks ago, specifically on April 10, the sour grapes that El-Rufai and others who think like him planted have fully grown and his bite thereof is setting their teeth beyond the edge. In the final analysis, his thesis of inviting mercenaries as a state governor is unreasonable to say the least and most treasonable in its very essence.
During the past the week came the call by the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, for the immedidate resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari, over killings across the country, especially in the North. The Forum’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said: “The administration of President Buhari does not appear to have answers to the challenges of security to which we are exposed.
We cannot continue to live and die under the dictates of killers, kidnappers, rapists and sundry criminal groups that have deprived us of our rights to live in peace and security”, adding that “our Constitution has provisions for leaders to voluntarily step down if they are challenged by personal reasons or they prove incapable of leading”.
Continuing, NEF said: “It is now time for President Buhari to seriously consider that option, since his leadership has proved spectacularly incapable of providing security for Nigerians. Our Forum is aware of the weight of this advice, and it is also aware that we cannot continue to live under these conditions until 2023 when President Buhari’s term ends.”
NEF lamented that killers and other criminals appear to have sensed a paralysing vacuum at the highest levels of leadership, and they grow more confident and acquire more competence in subverting the state and our security, adding that “Nigerians have shed enough tears and blood without appropriate response from those with responsibilities to protect us.”
In its report, a national newspaper recalled that “on December 1, 2020, NEF had made the call on President Buhari to resign for failure to combat increasing insecurity in the country after the beheading of over 67 farmers in Zabarmari village, Jere Local Government Area of Borno State, declaring that the Federal Government had breached Section 14 (1), which made security and welfare the sole purpose of its existence and that life had lost its value under the present administration due to the absence of political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as banditry, rustling and kidnapping”.
In their Easter homilies on Sunday, two Bishops in the North, Timothy Yahaya of the Diocese of Kaduna, Anglican Communion and Mathew Manoso Ndagoso of Kaduna Catholic Archdiocese were reported to have queued on the same line with the Northern Elders calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign over his failure to tackle the insecurity challenges facing the country. In the words of Bishop Yahaya, “if you cannot deliver as a leader in a civilised clime, the right thing and best thing to do is to bow out”.
Nigerians from all walks of life are justifiably seething with righteous indignation over the indescribable state of insecurity in the country. But some of the reactions and suggestions are hardly the solutions to the problem. Granted that no person or group of persons have a monopoly of knowledge or wisdom on matters of the state, many that have the opportunity to speak have chosen to abandoned it, beclouded by mundane and considerations.
The problem of insecurity and preservation of the state is the issue of structure and hardly al change or replacement of either political actors or regimes. Most unfortunately, those who have seen it all either as one time political actors in government or in its public service, are quick to reject suggestions which they fear, without scientific evidence, as being inimical to their ethnic or religious interests.
For instance, there is national consensus on the imperative of multi-level policing and specifically the constitutional provisions for each State to have its own Police for the security of life and property within its own territorial jurisdiction in the Nigerian federation.
The 2014 Jonathan administration National Conference made the point eloquently in its Report which the El-Rufai APC 2018 True Federalism Committee Reports concurred absolutely with. The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum sings the same song and even calls for national dialogue on the state of insecurity in Nigeria.
At the inception of Boko Haram, all efforts to nip it in the bud with maximum force by the Nigerian State was decried and frustrated in several respects by Northern leaders, including present President Muhammadu Buhari, who regarded such steps, among other objections, as attempts to decimate the Northern population and perceived electoral advantages.
The then Governor of Borno State, Shetima Ibrahim, was encouraged to take President Jonathan to the cleaners on all international media and opportunities to procure deterrent weapons blocked by propaganda suggesting abuses of human rights in dealing with the budding insurgency.
The terrorists were giving free reins by the Buhari administration and encouraged to dominate the entire territorial space of Nigeria with sophisticated weapons, not a available to the security forces under the guise of a culture of borderless nomadism.
Complaints by the indigenous population were tagged intolerance of their herder neighbours even when government excuses them as drivers for greener pastures armed with intractable weapons from the collapsed state of Libya. The steps by the South West Governors under a Joint Security Initiative codenamed Amotekun was vehemently campaigned against by the Northern Elders Forum and the Federal Government encouraged to deny them weapons. In Benue, Taraba and all the states of the South, the terrorist-herdsmen were encouraged by the Federal Government to openly disobey laws legitimately passed by State Houses of Assembly.
The resignation of President Buhari is not the solution to insecurity; restructuring of the state political architecture along the foundational covenant of federalism is the panacea. In this connection, every state will recruit its youths, knowledgeable of its terrain, residents and others. Up till now, the President is still in denial of terrorism in the Northwest which he deliberately and falsely regards as people of the same language, religion and culture.
Members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, have denied membership of or fraternity with the invisible and seemingly invincible unknown gunmen rampaging the South-East with reckless abandon. An effective and constitutionally backed Ebube-Agu regional security outfit will put an end to their nefarious activities.
Stripped of requisite weapons by the Federal Government, I bear testimony that Amotekun is working. Let Buhari stay and clear his mess to the end. Let it not be a political strategy to allow a Southern President who will only spend a term after completing the remaining months of this miserable administration. Nigeria, we hail thee!!!
Ebiseni is Secretary General, Afenifere.