Echoes of EndSARS protests in Nigeria will continue to reverberate. It is because an amazing blitzkrieg of fake news trailed it. The masterminds skillfully crafted it to divert attention from actualities. The killers and sponsors of the riotous mayhem in the guise of expressing public grievances were bent on compromising national security and therefore, twisted the narratives and incited Nigerians to self-ruination.
The protesters never wanted the intervention of security agents in order to intensify the killings of innocent Nigerians and destructions. Therefore, the protesters conspiratorially killed and blackmailed security agents, when they were eventually deployed to maintain public peace and security. Nigeria found herself in a quagmire orchestrated by veiled forces intent on discrediting President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Army as principal targets. But the script was poorly planned and weakened by its own deficiencies’.
Therefore, it was not surprising that DJ Switch screamed killings at Lekki Toll Gate; human rights lawyer, Femi Falana chorused Army shootings and thundered his might of prosecuting Lt. Gen. TY Buratai, the COAS at the International Criminal Court (ICC); proscribed IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu saw the protests as a platform to revive his failed violent agitation for a Biafran state; street activist Deji Adeyanju and hordes of others cursed the Army and President Buhari over the Lekki incident. They branded him a “civilian dictator” and the soldiers as siblings of a killer Army. Disparate devious interests mingled incredibly and the perpetrators went berserk.
Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu spoke in confusing tongues about the alleged shootings and killings’ at Lekki Toll Gate.The narrations of Gov. Sanwo-Olu and DJ Switch were particularly humorous and infantile. Sanwo-Olu initially saw no one killed by soldiers at Lekki neither were any blood stains at the scene at the incident as practical evidence of the alleged mass slaughter protesters by soldiers. But Sanwo-Olu would later inform the world of dead persons from the shootings, perhaps, after he dreamed of it.
The Governor responded to public pressures by searching the Army Morgue in Lagos where sponsors of the protests claimed the corpses of the slain persons were concealed for secret burial by soldiers. But to his disappointment, he found no corpse. It is a vicious cycle of public deception.
Nothing shocks anymore in Nigeria. Some people are gifted in freely inventing and peddling lies, regardless of their status. DJ Switch who claimed the on-the-spot eyewitness to the massive murders of Nigerians by soldiers and the only sane person in a multitude of protesters, defiantly pushed forward fake narratives and hazy recollections of the incident. She personally claimed to be one of the undertakers who lifted the dead bodies of the protestors killed by the Army and placed them at the feet of the soldiers who sniffed life out of them. Obviously, a fat lie.
Human lives are important. So, since the eruption of the #EndSARS protests around and the confusion which sprouted on Lekki Toll Gate incident, considerable time has been spared to follow the unfolding events. It is not an exaggeration to say this writer has gone extra miles to carry out forensic analysis of the Lekki shootings hence it attracted national outrage.
And emerging facts consistently contradicts earlier claims that soldiers shot and killed protesters at Lekki or anywhere in Lagos state. The more one sees the videos and continues with the researches on the incident, the Nigerian Army notches a step higher in vindication.
Although, the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State Government to probe the incident, discredited as it now appears, is still sitting; but no shred of evidence so far supports the wild claims of killings by soldiers at Lekki as marketed to Nigerians and the world. It’s apparently a farce and a smear campaign against the Nigerian Army.
Interestingly, it was not only DJ Switch who was present at the Lekki Toll Gate on the day of the incident. A seasoned BBC reporter and a Nigerian of Southern ancestry, Ms Damilola Banjo stationed in Lagos was emphatic in her later accounts of the incident which also clearly vindicated soldiers.
The BBC reporter recounted that “The sight of the Army got the protesters angry and agitated…I was there with my editor and we saw the Army open fire; of course, not on the protesters, but in the air.” Ostensibly, the protesters became tensed up and panicked when they saw soldiers and probably, a stampede occurred.
There was confusion when gun were shot in the air to disperse the threatening protesters. And only one person who obviously out of shock, fainted and slumped may be, from some subsisting internal ailments. People suffered panic attack which is very possible in any outing of that magnitude. This does not translate into soldiers shooting at the protesters.
It is very normal for security agents to fire into the air to disperse obstinate protesters. On October 20, 2020, when the Lekki incident occurred, the #EndSARS protests which were initially peaceful had been hijacked by hoodlums and miscreants. Therefore, it morphed into killing of policemen, rape of women, mindless acts of arsons, destructions, looting and vandalism in many parts of Lagos.
Sometimes, it is necessary to abide by the dictates of morality. What was the motivation of protesting into the night, when the State Government had imposed a curfew? Why were the protesters angry at the sight of soldiers, if they were not on an evil mission? The greatest irony now is that none of the parents, relations or even friends of the 12-78 persons claimed to have been shot and killed by soldiers at Lekki Toll Gate is stepping forward for identification. Or the dead have no survivors?
Truth is evergreen. Soldiers under the COAS and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Gen. Buratai are sticklers to professionalism, discipline and Rules of Engagement (ROE) consistently. In the last five years, soldiers of the Nigerian Army have excellently conducted a dozen Internal Security (IS) operations without records of human rights abuses.
The soldiers drafted at Lekki Toll Gate to maintain public peace and security, disrupted by riotous protesters could not have turned beastly overnight and opened fire on armless civilians. Time is gradually vindicating the Nigerian Army by all emerging facts on the blackmailing Lekki incident. The conspiracy of the Government of Lagos State and sponsors of the #EndSARS protests to implicate the Nigerian Army is glaring. This is indisputable in all nuances.
Therefore, public confidence in the ongoing probe panel in Lagos has eroded irredeemably. However, if the probe panel wishes, let it conduct its sittings in the house of Femi Falana or the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, the Army will still be vindicated.
Gana wrote this article from Keffi, Nassarawa State.
Buhari: The General On The Verge Of Defeat By Bandits, Terrorists – By Abel Augustine
Appreciating Ibrahim’s Compassionate Leadership At NYSC – By Philip Agbese
One of Africa’s globally celebrated novelist and erudite scholar, Chinua Achebe spewed this timeless maxim in one of his novels; “The man of the people is not about Harvard or Cambridge degrees; but the man that speaks and understands the language of the people.” Achebe’s wisdom sparkles with a timeless relevance in leadership on the African continent and Nigeria today, just like yesterday when the words were uttered.
The Director-General (DG) National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim has indubitably discerned and applied the wisdom of Chinua Achebe wherever he has rendered service to his country. His admirable philosophy resonates in the extra premium he attaches to the people he serves. The NYSC boss is synonymous with selfless service and the development of others, a leadership trait, which hardly shadows in most Nigerian leaders.
Ibrahim, a pioneer Registrar of the Nigerian Army University, Biu is a famed Military historian, scholar, administrator, pragmatist, teacher, pacesetter, innovator and workaholic. He knows his leadership destination and how to excellently navigate his path to success. Ibrahim is a perfect example of one of Nigeria’s genuine and committed leaders.
When the ideal marksman for a job is located, it is easy to notice. Since Shuaibu Ibrahim, the Nasarawa state-born Army General sauntered on stage at NYSC headquarters Abuja, the shining ambience of performance has been inescapable and a cynosure of all eyes.
For the NYSC boss, his current assignment is merely the return to a familiar turf, having served as a Military Assistant (MA) to a former Director-General of the scheme years back. It implies, he has a vast knowledge and experience of the internal operations of the scheme, which has been converted to a rewarding leadership asset for the discharge of formidable service to young Nigerian graduates.
From North to South and from Sokoto to Bayelsa, NYSC members ululate in unanimous tongues their endearing delights and joys with Ibrahim’s persona in his barely two years leadership of the scheme. For the Nigerian youth corps members, Ibrahim is one unforgettable and outstanding administrator of the NYSC.
And like in the catchy aphorism of Achebe; the NYSC boss understands and speaks the language of the people. He does not dispense it from the prisms of bossiness; but the people are excited because he shadows in a unique servant-leader style for the present and future prosperity of the Nigerian youths.
The NYSC DG’s personage embodies a humane, kind-hearted, compassionate, loving and generous personality to a fault. He has a palpable and enduring affection for progress and development of the Nigerian youths. Barely weeks after his appointment in 2019, Brigadier Gen. Ibrahim’s instincts and passion for work manifested. He paid a surprise working visit to the NYSC’s Sagamu Permanent Orientation Camp, in Ogun state in the wee hours of the morning.
The NYSC boss inspected facilities at the camp to ensure they were up to a standard that can guarantee at least minimal comfort for corpers. He gave fatherly counsel on discipline and obedience to constituted authorities to the 2019 Batch B Stream One. But what amazed corp members most in the early morning visit by the NYSC boss was that he gifted various groups of the corps members with memorably fanciful gifts.
Ibrahim, a doctoral degree holder in history and a resourceful military researcher of repute is not a friend to failure. So, he launched a vigorous campaign to terminate the reign of temporary orientation camps for NYSC members as soon as he assumed office. He frowned at the subsisting practice of some states which have converted schools into camps.
Therefore, as part of his focus on welfare of corpers, he engaged State Governors still operating in temporary sites to build permanent, and standard NYSC Orientation Camps. Excitingly, the tide has started changing very rapidly, with NYSC permanent camps in almost 32 states of the federation now. In tandem with these campaigns, several states in the country with dilapidated structures in their Permanent Orientation Camps have had them renovated with upgraded facilities for the comfort of NYSC members.
Ibrahim has his mind fixated in attracting extra stipends for Corp members from all the states of the federation to complement what is uniformly paid all corpers by the Federal Government. He has worked assiduously to ensure; every State Government generally pays a token to corpers posted on national assignments in their respective states as incentive for the national service to fatherland.
And to smoothen the path, domesticate and deepen the campaigns, Gen. Ibrahim has persuaded and lured some Governors to crusade for better welfare for youth Corp members. The strategy is working rewardingly, as excited corpers in states that have complied endlessly glorify the NYSC boss.
Gen. Ibrahim is seen by by corpers and Nigerians as one NYSC DG, who immediately implemented a new Federal Government approved allowance for corps members, which stood at N30,000. But he also, magnanimously added an additional N3,000 on the FGN’s approved N30,000 per corper.
These welfare initiatives by Ibrahim are to provide an elaborate window for prudent serving corpers to save part of their allowances, which they could invest into productive ventures after the one-year mandatory service. It’s a very commendable philosophy and the best way of expressing fondness to secure the growth and development of young Nigerian graduates.
Also intricately linked to the welfare of serving NYSC members, Ibrahim has prioritized the security of corpers wherever they are posted in Nigeria for primary assignment. The NYSC boss is mindful of the pervading insecurities in some parts of the country and has adopted water-tight security strategies and administrative protection measures for corpers.
In Borno, like in other states, where insecurity as induced by Boko Haram insurgency is prevalent, the DG has given a standing order that no corper should be posted to volatile or potentially risky areas. He has sustained an evergreen collaboration with security agencies to ensure the safety, security of lives and property of corps members are neither threatened nor comprised in any circumstance.
To this end, the NYSC DG is very strict against night journeys by corpers and has consistently persuaded the sick to always report to the authorities for prompt medical attention by the handy Corps Medical Personnel of the scheme. He is also passionate about protection of female corpers from exploitation while serving the nation under the scheme. He has never failed to warn female corp members not to compromise their dignity and womanhood for gratifications and has contrived secret ways to monitor such blackmails which leads to abuses of the womenfolk either by NYSC staff or employers of corpers.
When the Coronavirus pandemic broke out in Nigeria and caused nationwide panic, Brigedier Gen. Ibrahim immediately swung into action to protect the beloved graduate children of Nigerians entrusted in his care. After a prolonged closure of NYSC camps; but the necessity to reopen them in order not to stagnate the future of Nigerian graduate youths, Gen. Ibrahim did the needful to secure the lives of the youths entrusted in his hands.
He immediately secured all NYSC orientation camps throughout the country by putting in place essential measures endorsed by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to prevent Covid-19 from invading the camps. He traversed the country on surprise visits to ensure its implementation.
Instantly, NCDC officials were deployed to NYSC camps for testing of prospective corp members and the officials before admission into the orientation camps. Hand sanitizers and reduction in the number of admitted corpers for each stream of the orientation exercise; spacing of hostel beds in consonance with the prescribed physical distancing regulation, compulsory use of facemasks and all other ancillary protocols of Covid-19 were strictly enforced.
Undeniably, Gen. Ibrahim is demonstrating to youths of Nigeria a kind of special fatherly love, which those who passed through the scheme before now never had the luxury of the experience. Nigerian youth corp members are convinced and indeed, sing eulogies of the DG for a rare exhibition of leadership, which they have admitted as close to their hearts.
The NYSC DG speaks to corpers in a language they have clearly decoded. Only a few leaders in the ilk of Ibrahim are prodded to speak the language of the people in Nigeria. What has remained unique in Gen. Ibrahim’s leadership style is his mastery and implementation of the techniques capable of changing the life fortunes of Nigerian young graduates within a year of his encounter with them under the scheme.
Agbese is a human rights activist based in the United Kingdom.
COVID-19 And NPHCDA’s Rescue Mission – By Philip Agbese
At last, salvation from the asphyxiation of the COVID-19 pandemic for Nigeria looks very certain now. Like the popular idiomatic cliché, there is now light at the end of the tunnel. A bright hope and reality of the total freedom from the sickening torments of the global coronavirus pandemic on Nigerians stares in the face and patiently waiting to proclaim its victory.
Soon and very soon, the COVID-19 induced deaths; agonizing days and months of illness and treatment of victims and the lonely burial of beloved ones like recluses will be forgotten. In the nearest future, the multiple public social restrictions would begin to gradually ebb out of life’s boring routines imposed by the epidemic in Nigeria, like elsewhere.
Nigeria has subscribed to COVAX vaccines, which is spearheaded and co-led by Gavi, the vaccine alliance, and the World Health Organization, (WHO), with UNICEF as an implementing partner. It is free globally and Nigeria is not an exception.
On March 2, 2021, the Nigerian Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari took delivery of 3.94 million doses in the first batch of the global scheme, COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX), developed by the University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca. Nigeria is only the third African nation to receive the COVAX vaccines for the inoculation of her populations against global contagion.
Interestingly, the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has tested, certified and approved it for use by Nigerians. Worldwide, the newly developed COVID-19 vaccines are in short supply.
But the battle against the disease has started and there is no need to panic anymore. So, in a few months from now, Nigeria would take delivery of 16 million more doses of COVAX vaccines in batches and a projection of inoculating 40% of its population in 2021. Progressively, the figure would add by another 30% by 2022. COVID-19 threats are real in Nigeria, with a frightening confirmed case of 155, 657 and a total of nearly 2,000 deaths nation-wide by the latest official figures.
The onus of national coordination, distribution and inoculation of Nigerians for the COVID-19 falls on the shoulders of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA). It is an arduous task, no doubt and basically because of the limited dosages of the COVAX vaccines, the estimated population it must cover; the conscious measures required to avoid crowdy platforms which might cause further spread of the disease in the course of distribution and the delicate nature of the vaccines as well as other incidental problems that might arise in the course of the exercise.
It, therefore, requires focus, shrewdness and perceptiveness from the administrative leaders and managers of NPHCDA to successfully discharge the sensitive national assignment. Fortunately, from the outset, its Director, Mr Faisal Shuaib by words and actions has proven to be a brainy administrator, who is competent and perfectly abreast with the briefs and intricacies of the national assignment.
To this end, NPHCDA has adopted multi-layered approaches for the distribution and administration of vaccines. It has launched a self-registration portal online for individuals, who would be processed and notified for the inoculation through the personal data provided by the client. Also, there is the house-to-house electronic registration segment by its staff in preparatory to the vaccine rollout to the target audience.
In essence, the NPHCDA’s boss is conscious to avoid the reality of the maxim, which alludes to creating more problems in the attempts to solve one. Therefore, to avoid crowding by immunization seekers, he has structured the administration of the COVAX vaccines in a manner that guarantees individual and isolated inoculations. The COVID-19 vaccines would be delivered and administered to Nigerians almost at their doorsteps, and also, on a day and time convenient to the recipient.
The agency has also incorporated an elaborate public awareness campaign, including the use of traditional campaign models to penetrate the grassroots. Already, NPHCDA has kick-started explosive media campaigns to impinge the inoculation exercise on the psyche of Nigerians.
Furthermore, Shuaib has ingeniously streamlined and prioritized the category of Nigerians to first have the COVID-19 inoculation. Topmost on the initial and urgent list of focus are healthcare workers.
And there is wisdom in conceding the priority to medical personnel because they are responsible for treating COVID-19 patients and prone to its infection easily in the course of discharging their professional duties. Hence, it is thought that healthcare workers must necessarily be insulated from the threats and their confidence restored to place them on a pedestal to take full control of public health.
In the wisdom of NPHCDA, the next batch of prioritized Nigerians to receive the COVID-19 vaccines are those the agency has recognized as “frontline workers.” It covers the military, police, oil and gas workers, customs workers, and strategic leaders. These are people whose jobs expose them to contact with multitudes daily.
Quite sensitively, the preservation of the COVAX vaccines to sustain their potency and effectiveness is also very crucial. And so, despite logistics difficulties, the NPHCDA’s boss is distributing the COVID-19 vaccines by air to all states of the federation. However, those devoid of functional airports will have the vaccines delivered from the nearest airport by road, through vans with fitted cold cabins to prevent exposure to heat or extreme temperatures capable of destroying them.
These steps have assured Nigerians of a success story in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccines. Mr Faisal Shuaib has planned the immunization with COVID-19 vaccines excellently. He has set out for the journey and knows how to dodge or avoid the drawbacks to arrive at his destination unhurt, delivering the national assignment fabulously.
Nigerians must support his initiatives for a smooth immunization exercise so that the pandemic can be defeated in the country by all means. Nigeria must be rescued from the grip of the pandemic and, with Shuaib on the frontline, leading the assault, victory is sure and certain.
Agbese is a UK-trained human rights activists and public affairs commentator based in London.
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