The open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari supposedly came from Borno residents but in reality the authors of the poisoned chalice are closet supporters of Boko Haram terrorists and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) who, being fed up with the losses being suffered by their proxies, have decided to come out of hiding. The innocuous sounding “Borno residents” – the pseudonym under which they wrote – is sufficiently nebulous to not arouse suspicion and valid enough to confer legitimacy and locus for them to make their unwarranted claims.
The essence of the letter, signed by one Hassan Boguma, a traditional leader, was to appraise the President. Unfortunately, all it succeeded in doing was to make a weak attempt at lying and they did it poorly for that matter. They tried to create the impression that the Nigerian Army is not on top of the situation whereas in the same breadth they admitted that troops were doing a great job. They claimed that the army is losing the fight yet admitted that only a particular axis remained under attack from the terrorists.
The very position occupied by the author of the letter, a traditional ruler, is one that raises questions. Past analyses by independent security experts had blamed certain categories of leaders in Borno state for the persistence of terrorism in the region in spite of the sterling efforts being made by the military. These are politicians, religious leaders and business opportunists. The politicians support the terrorists as a matter of desperation to gain power, the religious leaders either fail to condemn the perversion of doctrine to radicalize youths and entrench extreme views in them, the traditional rulers – having vast local networks – conceal their subjects that have embraced terrorism while the business opportunists simply hang in the wings to benefit from the horror show created by the horror show supported by the aforementioned three categories.
Nigerians must be wary and know that the open letter to President Buhari is merely one front, one phalanx, in the series of attacks that will be directed at discrediting the military, particularly the army in a renewed push by those that do not want to see terrorism brought to an end in Borno even after other neighbouring states have attained comparative peace. The political arm of Boko Haram support will in a short while follow in the steps of the traditional leadership support while the religious component continues to use their sermon to recruit, indoctrinate and radicalize the youth to ensure that the terrorists do not run short of human fodder.
Further interrogation of the open letter reinforces this belief. It is easy to accuse the army of all the manner of shortcomings reported in the publication. But common sense demands that we begin to question the loopholes that exist in the document. For instance, the Borno resident made no mention of offering the military any strategic support like providing timely and actionable information. They did not speak of any social intervention to halt Boko Haram and ISWAP’s ability to recruit new fighters. Reporting such support would have strengthened whatever case they have against the army, assuming they genuinely have one.
The letter did not mention how some people in the state demoralize soldiers by introducing ethnic dimensions into the anti-terrorism war that the army is conducting in the region. They are the ones that frame any successful operation by the army as being targeted at exterminating members of a particular ethnic group that has most of the terrorist commanders. They use negative sentiments like this to compromise the ability of soldiers to get support from communities where they operate with the consequence that these communities rather back terrorists – supply them with intelligence, food and logistics – rather than support the troops that are laying their lives down for the nation.
They also did not mention if they had at any point in time raised the concerns they have with the military authorities without getting the desired response. To the extent that they did not bring their concerns to the attention of the people on ground doing the actual job, the letter to the President could only have been intended to blackmail, cause mischief and provoke an outcome in the anti-terrorism war different from what Nigerians want.
One must however blame the army for the failure that arose on its own part. This failure has to do with focusing on exterminating terrorists without doing much to go after terrorist supporters. The military has largely refrained from going after these ones that engage in activities that encourage the terrorists, a practice that is not unconnected with making political considerations like keeping mute when this malicious letter was written to the President. The military also appears to shy away from arresting non-combatant component of the terrorist infrastructure, for that is what the traditional institution, political leadership and the clergy that support Boko haram are.
The fight against terrorism has gotten to that stage where the combatant components of Boko Haram and ISWAP should receive a well deserved attention. The military must stop taking reputational damage from terrorists disguised as politicians, traditional rulers or clergy. The society will not criticize the military for actions taken in pursuit of neutralizing the threats posed by these set of people.
It is befitting to at this point appeal to the Nigerian Army, and the military at large, not to take this kind of letter to heart. Had the complaints come from upright citizens of Borno state that genuinely concerned about defeating terrorism then it would have been worth agonizing over. But in this instance it should be treated as a mere irritant that should be allowed to derail the focus needed to continue supressing the terrorists operating in the axis. The war efforts cannot and must not be truncated simply because some people are angry that their Boko Haram fighters are taking heavy damage.
Murphy is a security expert based in Calabar.
Nigeria’s Service Chiefs And Why Buhari’s Apple Is Sweeter! – By Richard Murphy
I have maintained intentional silence since the nauseating confrontation between the National Assembly (NASS) and President Muhammadu Buhari as well as Service and Security Chiefs (SSCs) shuddered the nation. In a rare disarming display of insensitivity on bubbling tensions on insecurity in the nation, NASS did the unthinkable.
At the plenary of both chambers on January 29, 2020, while debating on separate motions over renewed spate of attacks and killings in parts of the country, lawmakers went on the offensive. The parliamentarians called for the resignation of President Buhari; dubbed security Heads as failures; canvassed for the voluntary retirement of SSCs or their immediate sack together with all other Heads of the nation’s security architecture.
I found the hastiness of the extreme decisions unthoughtful and the condemnations completely outlandish. I may not necessarily be right in my presumptions, but I feel strongly about it. NASS appears to have retraced its apparently faulty steps after an indoor meeting with President Buhari.
Nevertheless, what has refused to free my psyche and keeps lingering in my sub-consciousness is the blatant display of lack of knowledge about security matters and a near arrogant sycophantic pandering to forces antithetical to national interests. In truth, I am not bothered by their refusal to see the positive changes in the management of the country’s litany of securities. Our people say, you can only force a horse to the stream, but cannot compel it to drink from its waters.
Though tension has been doused in this regard, but it is good to straighten the records for posterity’s sake. Everywhere, security issues especially when it affects the soul of a nation, like the case with Nigeria now is treated with a lot of circumspection. Its delicateness demands caution, consistent actions or policies from all actors and stakeholders, if the pursuit of peace is genuine and streams from the heart.
It has been the passion of President Buhari from the outset of his administration. It took the President a diligent search, energy and time to constitute the leadership of his security team because he met Nigeria deeply burdened by choking and multifarious security breaches. Those who were appointed leaders of the various arms of the Nigerian Armed Forces and other supporting security agencies were thorough breed, tested and trusted officers.
The Nigerian Military particularly has undergone impressive reformative metamorphosis. The SSCs met a debased military whose personnel shirked at their own shadows in public and at the warfront; they were objects of roadside gossips and ridicules. Therefore, the SSCs ensured the institutionalization of reforms and innovations in the Nigerian Armed Forces to reposition it, berth stability, entrench professionalism and reclaim the lost glory of this revered institution.
And Nigerians began to experience and feel the positive impact of a rebranded Nigerian Military, which posted results in courageous gallantry at the frontlines and blight of the multiple insecurity challenges which assailed the nation. We instantly saw it decimate and defeat Boko Haram insurgents; crippled armed bandits and cattle rustlers, castrated violent separatists’ movements and turned the blazing swords of mercenary killers into ashes.
Let’s ignore partisan interpretations of Nigeria’s security challenges, and assess the situation on its strength and impartially. Opposition unusually spin anything on insecurity and brandish before the public. I call it opportunistic opposition because most times their comments on matters of security are flat, fluid and mendacious.
But no rational Nigerian can look straight into the face of whatever he holds dear to his heart and be emboldened to claim, there is no progressive change and results in the security management of Nigeria under President Buhari and the serving SSCs. These are not conjured tales, but verifiable realities and facts domiciled in public domain for years.
I consider it very egregious for anybody to seek to topple the leadership of Nigeria’s Security architecture on the simplistic presumption and idiosyncratic excitement that SSCs and other Heads of Security agencies have not performed. Incidents of resurgent attacks and killings in parts of the country alone are not enough motivation to pass such a damning verdict on the President and SSCs.
Service and Security Chiefs are not political appointees. And since they function as apolitical appointees of the government, it harms immensely to decide their fate based on political expediency. As apolitical entities, the SSCs belong to different political persuasions in exercise of their civic rights and such rights should be respected in scrutinizing their stewardship. Sending the SSCs to Golgotha incited by political undertones as done by NASS days back amounted to rocking the boat for insane political permutations at the detriment of national security.
If we expect the best professional Military in Nigeria, then we must necessarily understand that stability of its leadership is very crucial to repositioning our Armed Forces. It mocks wisdom to crusade for the sack of SSCs because there is a surge in instigated armed criminalities. Nigeria is going through uneasy times, no doubt, but the panacea cannot and would never be sacking or changing the Heads of Security.
The world is replete with the finest examples of how a stabilized Military leadership nurture reforms to a level of deep entrenchment and excellence. And by this consistency, the Military is formidably honed to surmount seemingly intractable security challenges. The instance of America’s war veteran and diplomat, Gen. Collin Power comes handy for illustration. The Powell Doctrine was instituted during America’s most turbulent times with wars.
Powell’s headship of various top military commands saw him prosecuting 28 crises including the Persian Gulf War. In the crises era, he served variously as National Security Adviser; Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Commander US Army Forces. It is certain that America never had its upsets in the wars it fought; but it did not warrant the calls for Powell’s sack or claims that he was ineffective. He eventually won the wars for America.
So, the retention of SSCs by the President in war times is the best practice anywhere and a jurisdiction backed by antecedents in other climes. So, I do not subscribe to the obnoxious view that Mr. President has done something untoward or insecurity has resurged in Nigeria because the SSCs have overstayed in office. From whatever prism and nuance of consideration, the President or Commander- In- Chief looks at loyalty and usefulness of his SSCs to the country. This prerogative should not be violated by anybody.
Equally important is the need to realize that proper reforms can never be fully implemented in any organization within a span of four years as some have argued. Nigeria renders itself to this example in several agencies. To date and after four years, President Buhari is still finetuning the IPPIS in the federal service.
That our Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approximated perfection today; the Computer Based Test of Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) is taking shape and the African Development Bank (AfDB) is spreading its reach and meeting its core mandate is a product of the quality time availed the appointees of Mr. President. The Service Chiefs like every other appointee of Mr. President need time to institutionalize their reforms and for them to take firm roots in the system.
In the Nigerian Army specifically, the COAS and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. TY Buratai has raised the bar in reformations/innovations in the Army. There are ongoing reforms targeted at full professionalism in the Army, such as Army Female Corps, Human Rights Desk, creation of additional Army Divisions, resuscitation of Nigerian Army Artillery schools, Army Aviation School, the Nigerian Army University, Biu and introduction of numerous unique combat strategies in battling Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists.
The Army is also experimenting with innovations, as Gen. Buratai has embarked on Army agro-investments, welfare and empowerment schemes for soldiers, post retirement housing schemes, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives for host communities and lots more. These are not a day’s job. He needs more time to consolidate on these reforms /innovations and to finish the job. Therefore, sacking him or others now as wished by some Nigerians implies termination of these laudable projects mid-way.
Security is a vital aspect of our national life. It is as important as the oxygen we breathe. Therefore, it spares no room for trial and error. Truth be told, it is not everything done by the Service Chiefs to curtail the insurgencies has worked. But it is also outright falsehood to claim none has ever worked. The scenario is constantly monitored and improvements made for better performance as field operations intensify.
In life humanity perfects from experience. That’s why there was a time IDPs camp in Rann was mistakenly bombed by an Air Force jet. Lessons were learnt from the detestable incident and in the last four years, the Nigerian Military has not repeated the mistake. It means, the Military helmsmen have improved on the job.
We must discern clearly that what Mr. President has done to fish out these men and women as his SSCs must be exceptional and he deserves our commendation. I have no modicum of doubt that it is one area Nigeria has got it right under the Buhari administration.
Murphy is a security expert and contributed this piece from Calabar.
Is Nigeria Still Winning The War on Insecurity? – By Philip Agbese
Twine main polemics dominate national discourse on security issues in Nigeria. The first camp basically comprises ardent critics and opposition members who are hostile to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. To this club of Nigerians, enmeshed in a partial mindset, its more convenient to score the national government led by President Buhari and the ruling APC zero on security.
They claim since 2015, Buhari has proved pitiable helplessness in taming insecurities in the land, which in their perceptive view, rather escalates every day. This is altogether not unusual with opposition elements in any clime, which does not necessarily obviate the reality anyway.
There is another clan of people. They are the impartial and neutral set of Nigerians, who glowingly glorify President Buhari for impacting positively on the previously enervating insecurity in the nation. They argue most trenchantly that there is nowhere that insecurity in a country is completely conquered and the sense can only stick if it dawns on anyone that the United States of America, the United Kingdom and many others are still under the spell of terrorism.
It is utopian to think insecurities anywhere should end in a jiffy. Rather, it is reduced to the barest minimum as exemplified by President Buhari, if measured against the insecurity realities prior to his ascension to power in 2015.
These disparate and counter-reactive views on the insecurity situation in Nigeria have subsisted. However, all opposing camps accept that wild insecurity engulfed Nigeria and predated the administration of President Buhari. The anti-establishment analysts on security cite resurgent acts such as in Boko Haram/IWSAP terrorists; armed banditry, ethno-religious conflicts, organized and commercialized kidnapping and communal strifes to impulsively buttress their standpoint.
But the pro-establishment camp, whose voice aligns more to the truth, ancient wisdom and informed reason extrapolate that such erratic traces of insecurities are expected, normal and curbed gradually to ensure greater safety of lives and property. It is not difficult to discern the reality of an immolated insecurity by the ruling APC government led by President Buhari, despite intermittent resurgence of attacks and killings. Those who obstinately stick to views that nothing has changed on security in Nigeria under the Buhari Presidency deserve pity. It is certain that they are pretentious, prejudiced, sentimental or genuinely oblivious of its intensity before now.
The severity of insecurity threats to Nigeria was encapsulated in President Buhari’s 2020 New Year open letter to Nigerians tagged “Nigeria’s Decade;” He stated that “We have been fighting on several fronts: violent extremists, cultists and organized criminal networks. It has not been easy. But as we are winning the war, we also look to the challenge of winning the peace, the reconstruction of lives, communities and markets. The North East Development Commission will work with local and international stakeholders to help create a new beginning for the North East.”
The presidential perspective on insecurity in Nigeria is more clearly elucidated by the recent position of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) through its Secretary-General of ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani.
Appraising President Buhari’s administration on security of the nation, especially in Northern Nigeria where Boko Haram had engrained its reign of terror , the ACF said; “He, therefore, decided to confront the challenges and recorded some appreciable successes which consigned Boko Haram to fringes of the North East and their attacks were reduced to occasional suicide bombings using small girls. Consequently, the fears which hitherto overwhelmed the North gave way to hope and confidence that comes with normal life.”
Two elements can be deduced and denoted from the submissions of ACF, a body which also has Northern Nigeria as its primary constituency. The first is that Boko Haram and its later variation is no longer the severe nightmare of the entire North and, again, its atrocious activities have been consigned to the fringes of the Northeast equally being tackled. It is no less a reflection of the true reality. Truth be told that many Nigerians started enjoying this bliss from terrorism and allied criminalities as far back as 2016. There was a time armed banditry and cattle rustling sacked and permanently displaced natives in most states of the Northwest and same for monstrous militancy in the Niger Delta. The Nigerian Army’s series of special operations flushed out these criminal elements and restored peace and normalcy.
No one has ever argued that insecurity has deserted Nigeria terminally, but it is considerably tamed. Unfortunately, though, the relaxed tide in insecurities across the country has irked certain interests who believed the best style to de-market the administration of President Buhari is to infuse political dimension into security.
Therefore, apart from covertly recruiting and arming youths, while silently pursuing political ambitions, the consciousness of such plotters of breach of security has never reconciled with the reality of a changed scenario on the security trajectory.
As far back as 2016 signs to this effect manifested as trumpeted by the COAS and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai. He told an unsuspecting nation, which incidentally never spared a thought to his outbursts or acted appropriately that ”All these cries of insecurity which some groups and individuals are taking it as a political game I think they should have a rethink because it is no longer the case. ”
Interestingly, shadows of the induced and politically motivated insecurity in the country would later de-robe itself with public statements from prominent opposition members and their minions. In one of his campaign affronts on the Buhari Presidency in 2018, the 2019 PDP presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar gave the inkling of politically induced insecurities, in a somewhat blackmailing fashion of Nigerians to magnate undeserved votes.
Atiku was blunt that if Nigerians fail to vote him as their President in 2019, insecurity and herdsmen killings in the country will continue. The statement smacked of the insight of an insider. But as usual Nigerians ignored him. It was only when Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism and herdsmen bloodbath intensified in the months leading to the 2019 general elections that the full import of his utterances dawned on Nigerians. In protests to such devilry, Nigerians again massively reelected Buhari.
Nigerians were also appalled at the quantum of illegal/ smuggled arms and ammunition into the country in the build-up to the last general elections. Security agents impounded many of these illicit arms and ammunitions, at different points in the country. And to every sane mind, these arms in the possession of political thugs were actively used to cause electoral violence and killings in the few areas security vigilance relaxed. Most of those armed have retained these arms; after being abandoned by their masters.
They have turned the force and anger against innocent Nigerians by perpetrating all manner of crimes, attacks and killings. Last year, a bewildered President Buhari directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to mop us these arms, as indication of his perturbance.
In fact, each time these criminal armed gangs pull the trigger in mindlessly violent extermination of Nigerians, it is the opposition’s voice that is heard first. And it is usually rare in sympathy with victims of such attacks, but virulent castigation of the Buhari Presidency’s failings on securing lives and property of Nigerians. Even when external bodies which independently understudies the insecurity dilemma in Nigeria applauds Buhari’s efforts, opposition elements are quick to counter the narratives’ as false.
A recent report by the United States based Non-Governmental Organization by the identity, “Centre for Diplomacy and Democracy” praised President Buhari for standing up to the challenge of multiple insecurities. And Atiku again broke his silence.
After pouring invectives on the NGO, Atiku furiously stated that “President Buhari and the APC have shown without equivocation that the job at hand is overwhelming for them. And because they lack the basic clue of how to tame the bogey that they have created….”
A part from the jejune that drapes throughout the length and breath of the statement; the contents’ riled, rhymed, alluded and indeed, connoted the actualization of the plots on threats of insecurity Atiku reeled out before the general elections.
Whatever anybody thinks, and including the opposition elements, President Buhari and Nigeria are winning the war on insecurities. And like President Buhari remarked on 2020 New Year day epistle; “The Federal Government will continue to work with State Governors, neighbouring states and our international partners to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and the networks that help finance and organise terror. Our security forces will receive the best training and modern weaponry… We will use all the human and emerging technological resources available to tackle kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.”
Agbese wrote this article from the United Kingdom.
Who Will Save The Senate? – By John Madu
Since the commencement of democratic experience in Nigeria in 1999, the National Assembly being the legislative arms of government, has somewhat attempted to constitute its self as a parallel government in Nigeria. Right from the time of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, the National Assembly has been enmeshed in various controversies to the chagrin of Nigerians.
I recall that at some point, issues were raised as regards the usefulness and contributions of the legislative arm of government towards National development. This is aside from the fact that a large chunk of the resources is used in funding the activities of the National Assembly with little or nothing to show in return, and with calls for the scrapping of the National Assembly to conserve funds for infrastructural development.
There is no time as now that Nigerians indeed appear to agree that the country’s democracy isn’t working as it ought to. And at the root of it is the caliber of persons seating in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly, and the high running costs, which they say unless it is drastically reduced, the developmental dreams of the country would remain a mirage. I concur.
The crux of the issue at hand is how the members of the National Assembly have reduced the act of legislation to a child’s play in the sense that thier actions in recent times are nothing but against the interest of the country in general. This is quite unfortunate and calls for sober reflection from discerning Nigerians who are indeed concerned about the development and continued unity of the country.
They have carried on like kindergartens with little or no regard for the sensibilities of those that elected them into office. As it stands, a ticket to be legislator is simply an avenue for wealth accumulation and personal aggrandizement. I would take the call for the sack of Service Chiefs by some legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives as an example.
It is quite an unfortunate experience in the sense that it was apparent that the call wasn’t in the interest of the generality of Nigerians but that of a few whose pockets have been greased in the usual manner. However, there has been a curious twist in the whole episode as it seems there has been some rethinking by the House of Representatives that revolves around engaging in a more practical and pragmatic approach to the issue of insecurity facing the country.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, seems to be spearheading this rebirth. I say this for the fact that after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the speaker told Nigerians that there was a need to ascertain if the security situation falls within the purview of the armed forces or the police and sacking the service Chiefs will not do the magic.
He was somewhat right in the sense that the classification of the security challenges is already yielding the desired results. Secondly, after another meeting with the Service Chiefs, the speaker told the Service Chiefs that they are doing well but need to do more. I think that is rational and a subtle way to pass the message. If you would agree with me, I do not believe there is any employee that would not appreciate this from its employers
It is called morale boasting, which over time, goes a long in bringing the best out of every perceived bad situation. This fact has been proven in the fabric of human psychology, and history is replete with how things have indeed turned around for good. I stand to be corrected. I must not fail to commend the speaker for this line of thought.
But there is an irony. And it is the fact that the Senate of the National Assembly is still in dreamland and acting like a group of drunken sailors whose ship is sailing without direction. This is the perfect description of the position of the Senate on the insecurity situation in the country. The unfortunate thing is that whereas the House of Representatives seems to have gotten its house together, the Senate is playing an expensive Coronavirus prank on the citizens by inaugurating an Ad hoc Committee on Security Challenges to review and reorganize the Current Security Architecture in the country. Yes, you heard me right.
If this is not a child’s play, I don’t know what else to call it. It portrays a situation where a patient is inside a laboratory with a case of highly infectious disease, and the doctors are inside the laboratory, examining the patient to find a cure for the contagious disease. What will then be the fate of those inside the laboratory with the patient? Your guess is as good as mine.
Without mincing words, the inclusion of Senator Eyinaya Abaribe in the committee is a clear indication that the Senate is pursuing a personal agenda against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari with the curious inclusion of the “sack President Muhammadu Buhari, sack service chiefs” advocates who are all hibernating in the Senate.
There is everything wrong with the inclusion of Senator Eyinaya Abaribe in such a sensitive committee when it is a known fact that his allegiance lies somewhere else. In my opinion, this is an anomaly and quite an assault on our sensibilities as a people. This much the leadership of the Senate should know. But they have so decided to carry on in their usual despicable manner.
In essence, what the Senate is telling Nigerians is the job can never be done, and as such, they must constitute themselves as a clog in the wheels of progress in the country. If this is not the case, how could one then justify the presence of a man of questionable antecedents and character who stood in as surety for Nnamdi Kanu in 2017 in his futile attempt to destabilize the country and only recently called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign over security concerns.
This indeed defeats common sense if you ask me, but again common sense they say is not common. According to Faze, a member of defunct Plantashun Boys musical group, in his song, Common Sense, stated that “all we need to do is brings to our consciousness the fact that all we need to use sometimes is ‘common sense’ and drift from blaming the government for everything.”
I entirely agree with him because it is indeed common sense for the Senate to know that the security challenges in the country are indeed politically orchestrated by those who have lost out of the political equation and have vowed to sponsor violence in the country in a bid to discredit the present administration. My prayer thus is that may God deliver us from the mendacity of the Senate and also for God to deliver the Senate from the Senate before it gets too late.
Madu is a public affairs commentator and wrote this piece from Lagos.
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