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Insecurity: Obasanjo or Jonathan, who should Nigerians believe?

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I grew up in Ibadan, one of Africa’s most densely populated town, then, just few years ago, the sound and sight of bomb explosions were alien to us, except the ones we heard were happening in war-torn countries and the ones we probably watched in movies.

Today, terrorism and insecurity are right in our midst and those of our children.

Terrorism is incontrovertibly very deadly but the growing parlous insecurity situation is not limited to this alone; armed robbers are on the prowl, raping/gang-raping, maiming, cult violence and killing of innocent people on the roads, in their houses and even inside places of worship.

Killing for ritual purposes, political violence during which many Nigerians have been gunned down by the bullets of assassins to settle political scores. Kidnapping has become a lucrative business, maritime and airspace insecurity had claimed very many precious lives.

No place is safe, none is exempted; unborn babies, kids with promising future, helpless women, people of high and low status are affected daily by the insecurity malaise, in the only country they claim as their own.

Exactly when and how we got into this labyrinth is opaque but the effects stare us all in the face. Socio- economic implications of insecurity include loss of lives and properties, damaged psyche of the citizenry, rural-urban migration, dearth of skilled manpower and reliable data, more unemployment, low rating of the country, lack of foreign direct investment, negative effects’ on National Budget, distorted National Planning and myriads of other detrimental impacts.

As insecurity hit the nation, several solutions had been offered. These had included identifying, demystifying criminal groups, better policing with the use of intelligence reports, proper funding of security architecture, transparency and accountability in governance, food security, re-focused press coverage, dialogue and amnesty.

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As there exists strong nexus between unemployment and insecurity, unarguably, jobs must be created to engage the hordes of youths roaming the streets.
In a Cable News Network (CNN) interview recently, while responding on how to tame the Boko Haram insurgence, former President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) opined, “to deal with a group like that, you need carrot and stick.

The carrot is finding out how to reach out to them. When you try to reach out to them and they are not amenable to being reached out to, you have to use the stick”.

Ex- President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) had continued to give assurances to Nigerians that his administration would soon be on top of the situation. That culprit would soon be apprehended. Bla, bla, bla…

Is OBJ Right or can we trust GEJ?
The state of insecurity has worsened since President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan won the presidential election in April 2011. Many believe that the growing terrorists activities and sectarian violence in the land were caused by some of those who contested against Jonathan.

President Goodluck Jonathan is not oblivious of the insecurity challenges in the land. The much touted national transformation agenda of the Jonathan administration came to nought when there was no solution to the menace of insecurity ravaging the country. In fact, policy analysts had posited that the ability of the past administration to nip in the bud the problem of insecurity and improve electricity supply would be major indices to evaluate the Jonathan administration at the end of his tenure.

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GEJ had his good points; his rise to political ascendancy had not been, with any remarkable achievement in the area of good governance.

OBJ’s critics are quick to point out that in the first place, he foisted GEJ on Nigeria as President of Africa’s most populous country. That retrospectively, many of the factors responsible for insecurity now started during OBJ’s tenure and that some reached their peak when OBJ was President. Issues like corruption, super-ministers, assassinations and other malaise thrived under Obasanjo with reckless ignominy.

Nevertheless, OBJ as a statesman was right as he sure knows that security is central to development. His summation on Boko haram confirms this, “Boko Haram undermines security and anything that undermines security, undermines development, undermines education, undermines health, undermines agriculture and food, nutrition and security”.

From the vintage viewpoint of a country he had been opportune to govern over many years, for OBJ to posit that Nigeria has been caught in the web of high network insecurity and that obviously efforts to disengaged the nation from these social maladies had been futile are positions worth giving keen considerations.

The level of insecurity in the country is worrisome. Urgent steps need to be taken to address the problem. Nigerians had almost lost count of the number of terrorists’ attacks that had hit the country, in the last few years. Presidential condolences are not assuaging the pains; only a final stoppage can bring gain to the citizenry .

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The Nigeria Police Force appears to have a little or no control over the situation; a situation that has made the ordinary law-abiding, tax-paying citizen to lose confidence in the ability and capacity of the State to protect lives and property of the citizens. It is on this weight that some people had advocated the creation of state police to tackle the security problem in the land.

There is a strong sceptism that if the level of insecurity in our country is not scaled down, Nigeria’s vision to be among the best countries of the world may be a mirage. The generation of leaders to which OBJ, GEJ and Buhari belonged, would be in history of the country, a failed generation. This is a fact that OBJ, GEJ know; this is the reality Buhari must face decisively.

By Dr. Ajibola Esuola.

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National Issues

Evil Forests And Terror Gangs In Western Nigeria | By Oludayo Tade

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Living in terror spaces seem an apt description of what Nigerians encounter daily. The leadership of Nigeria has not live up to meeting what is contained in the National Security Strategy (NSS) released by the Muhammadu Buhari government in 2019. In this document, the Federal Government of Nigeria is said to be committed to the National values of “freedom, equality and Justice”. The National Interest of Nigeria is said to be “preservation of Nigeria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and welfare of her people”. It recognises that armed banditry, kidnapping, militancy, separatists’ agitations and farmers and herders’ conflict, and porous borders collectively account for 40% of Nigeria’s national security threats. However, insecurity thrives because government want freedom and equality but denies those victimised justice, and it mouths territorial integrity but continues to open her borders to transnational organised criminal gangs and transnational herders who continue to occupy ungoverned forests and wrecks havoc on livelihoods of indigenous Nigerian peoples whom President Muhammadu Buhari swore to secure and look after their welfare.

It was due to this obvious inefficiency of Federal Government controlled security agencies in taming mounting national security threats coupled with the experiences of victimisation in the hands of hellish terrorists who have turned highways and ungoverned forest spaces in western Nigeria to Kidnappers Bank of Nigeria (KBN), that southwest Governors harmonise their thoughts for the establishment of Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Amotekun to secure the region from external aggression. From Ondo, to Ekiti, Osun to Ogun and Oyo States, the cries of indigenous peoples whose relations have suffered victimisation due to kidnapping, and herdsmen lawlessness are thunderous. The experiences vary and cut across social status. It affects those in government like Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and those out of government like Chief Olu-Falae who has been serial victim of kidnapping and herdsmen farm destruction. The sad tale continues in agrarian communities of Ibarapa in Oyo State where farmers, residents and investors have been murdered allegedly by criminal gangs of Fulani extraction. The Federal Government asked people to diversify to agriculture but those who have embraced farming are being displaced by forests gangs, and criminal kidnappers operating under the umbrella of herdsmen. Igangan community leaders cried to their State government and security agencies but they were let down as kidnapping continued. When confronted with security dilemma with no help from State Government and the police, citizens are forced to employ self-up strategy which may be illegal but safety expedient.

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While Ondo State seemed proactive, the Oyo State government was reactive and allowed a non-state actor, Sunday Adeyemo also known as ‘Igboho’, who is not a stranger to top politicians in the region, in defiance to the law confront the palace of Seriki Fulani accused of mediating payment of ransoms and bailing arrested tribal criminals. Even if Igboho’s approach was crude, the opportunity for Governor Seyi Makinde and the police to arrest the situation was provided by the seven day ultimatum he issued. Rather than moving in to douse the tension and reassuring residents of their safety and bring perpetrators to book, they looked on until Igboho with his supporters moved to Igangan, addressed the people and the aftermath triggered forced reactive state mobilisation to speak with the affected communities. The meeting revealed that no fewer than 15 women had been raped with the payment of N50million naira to kidnappers. Some prominent investors from the communities were also killed by these violent criminal Fulani gangs.

While there are many law-abiding Fulani settlers who have co-habited peacefully for decades, the incursion of transnational Fulani gangs hibernating in forests in the name of herding but who later switch to kidnapping and torture of victims to pay millions threatens such historical peaceful relations. What the law abiding Fulani settlers ought to do is to expose the criminals straining their relationship with the host communities and not cover up for tribal criminals or mediate ransom payments. This is where profiling sets-in. Although there is sense in Governor Makinde’s approach not to label the Fulani ethnic groups as kidnappers, but the fact remains that victims of kidnapping debriefing unveiled the characteristics of their kidnappers and this data ought to have been used proactively in nipping the crime in the bud in the Ibarapa communities. Criminal profiling has been embraced as standard practice globally during which evidences from crime scene are used in identifying and predicting the personality of the offender. Criminological profiling assists in understanding the modus operandi, motivations driving crime, and offender characteristics with a view to preventing future crimes. Through it, we are able to know the geography of offending, likely victims, and time of offending and the character of victimisation.

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That said, the kidnapping and banditry in the southwest region cannot be entirely successful without criminal collaboration of insiders. There are those who supply information on movement of who to kidnap, their relations, routines among others. There are also corrupt traditional rulers who compromise the security of their communities by accommodating criminals and releasing their lands in exchange for insecurity. Such traditional rulers should be deposed by government of such a State to serve as deterrent to others. Each state in the region needs to track influx of foreigners into their transport sector such as those doing Okada business. They need to be registered to work. Transnational beggars also litter most urban landscape in the region and may constitute security risks. While playing national unity politics of reception, indigenous security must not be sacrificed. Residents must also be warned against employing undocumented live-in workers.

The nature of security dilemma confronting western Nigerian peoples stems from the politics of national security. Western Nigerian peoples have observed overtime that offenders of farm destructions, complaints about kidnapping and banditry do not get desired attention and response from government. They therefore read State complicity in their criminal victimisation. Further to this, there is mutual suspicion between indigenous peoples of western Nigeria and the Fulani nation. This suspicion is fuelled by the uncertainty which they nurse about the intention of the Fulani in the region while the Fulani are suspicious of the Yoruba intention towards them. With other words, Yoruba fears the Fulani of attacking its ancestral home and displacing her people in pursuit of expansionist agenda while the Fulani also fears their evacuation from the zone. Owing to this fear, each side is accumulating power and capabilities to defend themselves and this can lead to further insecurity through avoidable wars.

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Three critical elements of deterrence theory should be implemented to save the situation. One is SWIFTNESS. The response of the State (Federal and State Governments) must be swift and not allow things to degenerate to the level of destruction as witnessed in Igangan before acting. It does not show responsive and responsible governance. Second element is CERTAINTY that the offender will be arrested and punished. Resort to self-help is mostly precipitated when the victims of crime feel unprotected by those who should and see offenders being shielded by the State. How many victims of farm destruction, rape, kidnapping and murder have been served justice in the affected communities? The third is SEVERITY of punishment. It sees kidnappers, bandits, rapists among others as rational human beings who calculate the costs and benefits of kidnapping and banditry before venturing into it. This element is saying that it is not sufficient that the offender is arrested; he/she must be inflicted with punishment sufficient enough to deter future offending. Not doing this accounts for the festering of the crime. Southwest governors must network on their security policies and collectively enforce the ban on open, night and underage grazing and rout criminals hibernating in her forests.

 

Dr. Tade, a sociologist,writes from Ibadan, Oyo state

 

 

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National Issues

Buhari fires security chiefs, names replacements

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Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari has accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.

The top brass involved are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

Buhari thanked the outgoing Service Chiefs for what he calls their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country,” wishing them well in their future endeavours.

According to a statement signed on Tuesday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the new Service Chiefs are: Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff.

The statement added President Buhari congratulated the new Service Chiefs, just as he urged them to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities.

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National Issues

Pendulum: Who Shall Tell the President Nigeria is Dying? | By Dele Momodu

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Fellow Nigerians, please, take note of the title of my column this week. I did not say Nigerians are dying. That is stale news, as well as an understatement. My focus is that the country called Nigeria is dying. I do not know what sort of security briefing President Muhammadu Buhari, regularly or periodically, receives from his obviously reticent and incompetent security team. I doubt it includes the fact that Nigeria is speeding towards a monumental collapse, unless a miracle, or something drastic is done to stop this supersonic drift towards perdition. It might even be that the President does not receive any or proper security details, either because he does not want to hear or worse still, he assumes all is well. Whichever way one contemplates these last two scenarios, it is a calamity indeed.

Believe me, I’m not writing as a wailing wailer, or as a Prophet of doom. I am not writing as a clairvoyant or a seer. I merely write as a realist. The symptoms of a failed nation are just too palpable to be missed or ignored by a reasonable people. I am not talking about a State which has failed because of social and economic policies that even the authors and protagonists cannot decipher or fathom. This nation is on the precipice because its leaders are playing Russian Roulette with the security of Africa’s biggest and most important country. It is all now a matter of guesswork, that the gun is loaded, but the way we are going it is looking like every chamber is now full and not just one. Whatever shot you fire is bound to be the killer shot. Our leaders clearly know this but are in such an inebriated state that they have become oblivious, impervious and immune to all the danger signals.

I know power makes people blind. It intoxicates, addles the mind and takes full possession of the powerful, especially if they want to play God. This is why I’m shocked that some Nigerians are already daydreaming about becoming President in 2023, when they have no guarantee that Nigeria will still be alive by then. Or maybe I should not be surprised because what better can one expect from this bungling class of crass elements. The usual leading contenders, as typical of this confounding breed of persons, are pretending that all is well, although they know much better having been the contributors to, and cause, of the problem. They must not be seen to be criticizing the rudderless, directionless and visionless government of President Buhari lest they are marked down as enemies of the President. They know that elections are never held here, stricto sensu. What we have is a selection process with the hapless people being trundled out to deceive the unsuspecting international observers who can’t believe that what they are seeing is possible even in a Banana Republic. Simply put, elections are largely controlled from the very top, where the omnipotent President holds sway, and the outcome of the selection process is dictated by his whims and caprices.

If nobody has yet told the President, then he must hear this somehow. Our security situation is more than dire and grim. It is now catastrophic. Nigerians are now being killed, kidnapped and raped in places that used to know only peace. The orgy of banditry has since moved from the core North and middle belt to Yorubaland, previously considered a safe haven. The tales are unbelievably horrid and terrible. The situation in Ondo State is so critical that the Governor Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has now cried out that the “Fulani bandits” must move out of his State within seven days. I salute him for having the courage to say it as it is, being a member of the same party as our most reluctant President who seems unabashedly unaware of the bloody forays and operations perpetrated by some of his kinsmen in far-flung territories and domains outside their traditional space. The Governor obviously cried out in utter exasperation, frustration and, perhaps, fear. I knew him as a die-hard Buharist. But only a bastard would sit arms akimbo and watch his mother or daughter being raped by some monsters and say or do nothing! That is the situation in which Arakunrin Akeredolu has more or less found himself. As with the President, he has discovered, albeit tragically, that family comes first. Nobody will watch over yours, when theirs is also threatened by the same fate. As the Yorubas will say, “a ki so ori olori, ki awodi gbe t’eni lo”!

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Osun State has virtually become a major theatre of war involving series of killings and kidnappings. I don’t know if the Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, has been as vociferous as Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), but I am sure he is slowly being driven to come to the same conclusion. Akeredolu has nothing against the Fulani. There are many great and peaceful Fulani living in different parts of Nigeria. Some generations of Fulani people have fully integrated in those communities outside their sphere of influence without anyone raising eyebrows. But these bloodthirsty wanderers and vagrants, who are said to have meandered their ways from outside Nigeria, must be flushed out and ruthlessly dealt with regardless of whether the current President of Nigeria is their godfather, avuncular mentor, swami or whatever he represents to them.

The situation in Oyo State is just as scary. I have read the account from no less a personage than the highly respected and revered Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, another die-hard Buharist who now appears ready to part ways with Buhari if necessary. I have had the opportunity of sitting with Iku Baba Yeye, as we fondly call him, and I know how disappointed this esteemed traditional ruler is that the Federal Government has refused to act speedily and decisively on the matter of the gross insecurity ravaging and destroying the country. I was not surprised to receive his lengthy letter to the President days ago which I hope Buhari found time to read, or someone found the opportunity to read to him. I won’t bother to talk about very reserved and highly respectable and regarded Northern Leaders led by the spiritual monarch, The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, a cosmopolitan and cerebral leader I have come to love and adulate so much for his simplicity and forthrightness. Virtually every part of the nation is haemorrhaging to death while the Federal Government is watching helplessly and hopelessly!

The Alaafin has done well by properly documenting some of the dastardly acts of these merciless bandits and his public missive to our President, Muhammadu Buhari excerpts of which are worth repeating on these pages because the letter is one for posterity whatever fate befalls the entity presently known as Nigeria and whichever way the country goes in the end:

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“In recent times however, I am worried about the security situation in the country, especially in the South West geo-political zone, nay the entire Yoruba-speaking area of the country including KWARA, Kogi, and Edo States.

“This has to do with the incessant and increasing menace of Fulani herdsmen that have laid siege in almost all the highways of Yorubaland. Whether in Owo, AKURE, Ilesanmi/Ife-Ibadan Road or Ibarapa zone and Ijebu area of Ogun State, the story is the same.

“I have held series of consultations with opinion moulders and eminent Yoruba leaders across board about the menace of these cattle herdsmen with such assault like raping of our women and on some occasions in the presence of their husbands. That is apart from massive destruction of our agricultural lands; which ultimately points to imminent starvation…

“After due consultations with Yoruba leaders… we are worried by the audacity of these lawless people in effecting their illegal acts in broad daylight on our usually bushy highways without any arm of security being able to do anything…

“Now, we cannot even talk of parading suspects, when in actual sense, no major arrests have been made in this part of the country. Without arrests we cannot talk of their facing of the law.

“Unfortunately, and painfully indeed, in the face of the apparent helplessness of our security agencies, where do we go from here?”

It is at the wake of this manifest frustration of our people that our people have found it unavoidable, even though reluctantly to resort to alternative measures to safeguard their lives and property… Today, it is not merely infraction in the course of doing business, but blatant and criminal violation of the constitutional right to life and liberty of innocent citizens of Yoruba land. A few publicly known instances will suffice.

Certain individuals were kidnapped along Erio-Aromoko Road, Ekiti State. They were tortured and exposed to danger in the forest for upward of two weeks.

These victims included the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikole Branch, Adeola Adebayo, whose decomposing body was eventually found after a ransom price of four million Naira had been paid.

Two officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, both Yoruba, were picked up along Ilesa-Akure highway. In the process of this kidnap, an unnamed individual died.

Musibau Adetumbi, a legal practitioner based in Ibadan, was going to attend an Appeal Court session in Akure when he was kidnapped along Ilesa-Akure highway. Professor Adegbehingbe, a surgeon at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was abducted along Ibadan-Ile-Ife highway. Dr. Muslim Omoleke, the Administrative Secretary of the National Electoral Commission was kidnapped around Ilesa, Osun State.

Mr Ayo Oladele, an employee of Guinness Nigeria, and an Old Student of Christ School, Ado-Ekiti, was abducted and taken away and lately, Dayo Adewole, son of a member of your 2015-2019 executive council and Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole was kidnapped on his farm at Iroko, a village along Ibadan-Oyo Road…

As ugly as the picture above seems to be, the people of Yoruba land have remained generally peaceful and have resisted concerted efforts to push them into civil disobedience or adopting self-help mechanisms to protect themselves…

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I am therefore writing to you, as a concerned stakeholder in your administration, to alert you and demonstrate to you, the urgency of the need to quickly respond to these and other issues concerning Yoruba land….

There is a general impression among opposition group that you are not known to take decisive and proactive steps in many matters of national interest and that you are not usually too disturbed about the gale of insecurity in Yoruba land…

As no major arrest of Fulani pseudo herdsmen has been made till date in Yoruba land, suspects cannot be paraded, let alone arraigned…

I am aware that members of the Odua People’s Congress scattered all over the world are already being mobilized to stand in the defence of their land and are ready, willing and able to raise an army of volunteers as was done in 1968 by the Agbekoya…”

These are pearly words of wisdom and advice from a monarch who is practically deified in Yoruba land. The President has been stridently admonished and strongly advised in forceful, resounding and vibrating language which is reverberating all over the polity. Effectively, Alaafin Adeyemi is saying that enough is enough and that things will get pretty unpleasant and nasty, pretty soon, unless the President wakes up from his deep, almost comatose, slumber and does the needful by a wholesale revamp and reshaping of our security architecture and thereby protect his fellow Nigerian citizens. The President swore to uphold our Constitution, it is about time that he started upholding that oath by acting like a patriotic Nigerian and safeguarding all his people and preserving their property.

On a similar note, I have been watching the videos of a militant Yoruba man, named Sunday Igboho, from Oyo State and what I see is raw determination to unleash mayhem, if need be, to protect his kinsmen from the brigands and mosstroopers trampling on them and their rights. The views Igboho expresses are symptomatic and reflective of the views of most of Yoruba land. He is the latest Yoruba hero for his fearlessness.

I hope and pray that President Buhari would appreciate this authentic security briefing from The Alaafin, one of Africa’s most important custodians of tradition and culture and resist the temptation of sending his trigger-happy military against the people of Oyo State. They are obviously ready for a full-scale showdown and battle in order to redeem their manhood against the rampaging kidnappers, rapists, raiders and corsairs. I foresee a civil war and bloodbath if action is not taken soon.

May this cup pass over us…

 

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