These days, every Nigerian has noticed the loud silence of the usually garrulous human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana and his clan of minions over preachments on the propriety of the #EndSARS protests in Nigerian. Or even, the inappropriateness of Government actions on the protestors to tame the tide of the destructive violence.
The silence has become very pronounced in the aftermath of the confusion which trailed the alleged shooting and cold-blooded murder of harmless protestors by soldiers at the Lekki toll gate. But Falana and his apostates should make themselves and Nigerians proud by further advancing their claimed authentic polemics before the probe panel.
Initially, almost all Nigerians, including leaders in the country endorsed the exposition that #EndSARS protests was contrived and started as a genuine expression of public anger against the brutality and extra-judicial killings by members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). President Muhammadu Buhari also peripherally sensed and interpreted the grievances of the protesters as genuine and immediately commenced actions on the five-point demands forwarded to the FGN on the fifth day of the protests – October 11, 2020.
President Buhari’s instantaneous action was his leadership responsiveness and solidarity with the protesters to assuage the anger and pains of the Nigerian youths in order to halt the protests. But quite unacceptably and thoughtlessly, the #EndSARS protestors were satanically influenced and misguided by the Presidential quick reaction to task their conscience to stop the protests.
The protests now shifted to demands to #EndBadGovernance. Thereafter, the actions of the #EndSARS protesters also changed. It unreasonably mutated from peaceful democratic demonstrations to awesome violence, killings and destructions of public/private properties in some states in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, something betrayed the concealed anti-democratic motives or did some disservice to the demonstrators and exposed the planned evil agenda against Nigerians and the Government. It was the protestors sudden and unwise resort to violence; the gruesome murder of security agents and innocent civilians as well as appalling destructions, looting and arsons in parts of the country. National security was on the precarious verge of being compromised and the Government had the lawful obligation to immediately restore public safety and security.
Again, and expectedly ironic, the discovery of some masked powerful forces within and outside Nigeria, which secretly plotted to use the banner of the #EndSARS protests to pursue interests alien to the originality of the mission of the remonstrators was a serious setback. The design was smartly crafted to destabilize Nigeria, cause widespread anarchy, which magnitude would springboard the undemocratic dethronement of President Buhari. So, the incensed aggressors pushed the agenda of unabated insecurity, bloodbath and destructions aggressively even when Nigeria was sliding into complete anarchy before their very eyes.
These voices of dissent resonated on pulpits, within human rights circles, the opposition camps, disenchanted tribal groups, some media houses and foreign elements, disgruntled political merchants and in civilian coup plotters. While these groups relished and regaled in the bloodbath and destructions, they stoutly opposed Government’s intervention to restore public security sanity and consistently sermonized false narratives to the outside world claiming the #EndSARS protests were peaceful.
It gingered President Buhari to impose security sanity to bring the escalating and degenerating violence under control. Nigeria is a democratic state and the rule of law is supreme. Under President Buhari, the sanctity of the rule of law is paramount in all official affairs and dealings. The loud noises attracted by the Lekki incident compelled Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to unravel the mystery behind the impasse between protesters and the Nigerian Army over the alleged firing of live bullets at a protesting mob.
The #EndSARS protesters, sponsors, campaigners, promoters and claimed victims of the “massacre,” at Lekki gate are expected to channel their legitimate claims and grievances to the probe panel for interrogation. The probe panel has been sitting for over three weeks now. But shockingly, the leading campaigners or advocates of #EndSARS and those who shouted acerbically everywhere about gruesome murder at Lekki gate are hesitant to present their cases at probe panel.
Ludicrously, Nigerians who nicknamed President Buhari, a “civilian dictator,” and cursed the Nigerian Army over allegations of mowing down unarmed protesters now dread the premises of the probe panel to present their cases and also shed light on what transpired at Lekki. Those who threatened to drag the Buhari Presidency and the COAS, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai to the ICC over human rights violations of the protesters, like Femi Falana are afraid to make presentations at the probe panel.
The band of idle lawyers who sued the Buhari Presidency and the Nigerian Army over the Lekki shootings are scared to approach the probe panel. The undertaker mourners, the families of the alleged slain civilians at Lekki and the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who unanimously claimed an undemocratic clampdown on peaceful demonstrators at Lekki are now more comfortable in their private tents, than make submissions at the probe panel.
But the #EndSARS protestors, the sponsors, sympathizers, promoters, and campaigners dribbled Nigeria terribly through a dummy. Truly, at the surface of #EndSARS protests appears to be mere expression of anger and pains by some Nigerian youths who have long been abandoned and neglected. Therefore, by democratic rights, they were seeking the attention of Government to their plight for possible intervention and redress. It was permissible and decent enough!
Nonetheless, unknown to many, behind the seeming innocent faces of aggrieved youths, were piles of oblique interests, who were out to pursue disparate interests or agenda on the podium of #EndSARS. Under the auspices of #EndSARS and through the instrument of democratic protests, the subversive forces plotted a civilian coup that was meant to reduce Nigeria into debris and undemocratically enthrone surrogate leaders at all levels.
#EndSARS protests, offered a veritable platform for these sabs to exercise the harboured evil agenda on Nigeria. They desperately sought to unseat President Buhari through the backdoor and by crude means. So, expectedly, when the #EndSARS protests sprouted, they shouted hallelujah in their secret camps of darkness in celebration of victory ahead of the attack on Nigeria.
It was an anticipated opportunity for “crisis-prenuers” and crisis merchants to sell their wares. Unmistakably, on the foreign plank, it was the long-awaited golden opportunity that Amnesty International (AI), the other foreign conspirators and internal disgruntled political elements, which they excitedly utilized to cripple the country. Therefore, these combinations of overt and unground forces against the country, scrambled ravenously on who amongst them would deliver on Nigeria, the heaviest and dazzling blow of crisis and destabilization.
For them, it was time to burn down Rome to the admiration of her enemies. But God Almighty prevented it. He alone frustrated the unjustified plans and plots of the enemy forces against the country and Nigerians. It is now the break of dawn, and the losses are being counted.
And surely, the subversive elements behind the condemned #EndSARS protests are exposing themselves everyday by their actions and dispositions in the aftermath of the carnages and bloodshed. But to discerning Nigerians, those behind the hateful, resentful and discredited violent protests are already unmasked now even in their thick masks.
They are those who urged the intensity of conflagrations or arsons on Nigeria; they are those who fabricated imaginary shootings and killing of protesters at Lekki; they are those who sponsored the demonstrators, some of whom provided cash backing in millions of naira, food and medical supplies; they are the saboteurs who concocted lies, photoshopped pictures of fake news and circulated on social media, and later, contracted CNN to amplify the fake scripts; and they are the Nigerians, who threatened President Buhari and the Nigerian Army with ICC, but have shied away effeminately from making submissions at the Lagos State probe panel, an indispensable preliminary step.
And the evidence and signposts are everywhere today. They have held captives of their own conscience. They are the IPOB leaders/members; they are the foreign elements; disgruntled political merchants and civilian coup plotters. All are the haters of Nigeria’s democracy; but wished to be given a democratic platform to govern Nigeria. Time resolves all mystery and this deliberately contrived and dispensed demoniac punching of Nigeria would also pass away; whilst the dramatis personae would be left standing alone, nude in the darkness of day, deserted and despised by rational Nigerians.
Ibekwe is a public affairs analyst and wrote from Enugu.
NCPC And The Footprints of a Colossus – By Best Agbese
The appointment of the Plateau-born famed minister of the gospel, Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam as the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), on June 26th 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari attracted loud applauses within the Christian community in Nigeria. Rev. Pam emerged leader of the commission on the hills of the unceremonious exist of his predecessor, Rev. Tor Uja following faulty leadership outings and crisis of trustworthy leadership.
The NCPC is the apex national regulatory body for Nigerian Christian pilgrimages, an exercise for spiritual rebirth and deeper understanding of the Christian faith by worshippers. Additionally, it also, has a mandate to create platforms conducive for national inter-religious dialogue, harmony, peaceful co-existence, and development in the comity of the Body of Christ in Nigeria.
Issues of religion are quite thorny, sensitive, and explosive in Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria is always concerned with the constant frictions and altercations among the diverse religious sects in the country. So, it is incumbent on any leader of a national religious body to work towards vacating issues which propel disharmony and animosities in religious circles.
Therefore, the mandate of the NCPC leadership is hinged on exiting these unnecessary brawls, entrench inter-religious harmony and enhance the spiritual welfare of Christians in Nigeria. Presently, the NCPC coordinates and supervises activities of intending pilgrims to Holy Lands around the globe, including Israel, Greece, Rome, with the latest addition of Jordan by the Rev. Pam leadership in the 2021 pilgrimage exercise.
These were the onerous tasks placed on the shoulders of Rev. Pam when he mounted the saddle about a year ago, precisely in July 2020. In order to deliver to Nigerians, worthy services of a pilgrim’s commission, Rev. Pam ensconced his vision in battling corruption; rebranding the tainted image of the commission; changing the faulty perception and mindset of the people; strong synergy with the church and the establishment of an NCPC peace desk to resolve emerging disagreements.
So far, Rev. Dr. Pam who parades over 30 years of leadership experiences in the Christian community on the local and national stages, have armed him with enough wisdom to discharge his responsibilities honestly, conscientiously and with the fear of God Almighty.
In effect, Pam considered his elevation to the national leadership of the Christian community in Nigeria under the auspices of the NCPC as a golden opportunity to redeem the battered image of the commission and Christians, which also negatively affected the global reputation of the nation.
The NCPC boss has brought to the table his wealth of experience in promoting inter-religious harmony and conflict resolution, especially in Northern part of the country in the administration of the commission. These have not only been his weapons, but trusted assets in leading NCPC to its towering ambience at the moment.
Barely a year into office, Rev. Pam has admirably proved his mettle as a leader of the people. He has reorganized and repositioned the NCPC as the most organized and efficient pilgrimage body in the world, recognized for excellence in faultless services. These are driven on the principles of fairness, equity and justice as his anthem.
Ab initio, Rev. Pam was convinced that his failure to lead the NCPC on the path of glory will bring shame to the church and canvassed inclusive leadership from all stakeholders in Christendom in the country. Pam enthused that “There’s a need to bring out talents to build NCPC. The time has come to work together and collectively re-build the image of our country and the NCPC.” It has been his operative doctrine inspired by orderliness and commitment to a service which repulses all manifestations of corruption in the commission.
Pam is a team player and keeps constant touch with Executive Secretaries and Board Chairmen of States’ Christian Pilgrim Welfare Boards and other stakeholders in piloting the affairs of the commission. He has sustained synergy with disparate bodies for the smooth dispensation of the operations of the commission.
To get started, Rev. Pam trained staffers of the commission in Lagos for effective Pilgrimage operations and refreshed their memories on the discharge of official responsibilities at a three-day staff retreat in Jos. The NCPC under the leadership of Rev. Pam also organized the maiden Ministers Conference of Network of Gospel Ministers in Northern Nigeria (NOGMINN), in Jos, Plateau state as part of his deliberate policy of his inclusive administration of the commission.
This platform which assembled ministers of the gospel was utilized by Pam to sermonize to the church in Nigeria to assume complete ownership of Christian pilgrimage in Nigeria and the operations of the NCPC generally. With a mind always fixated on peace, the NCPC boss invited these ordained messengers of God to assist in restoring peace and unity in the Northern part of the country.
To his credit and the expansion of the experiences of Nigerian pilgrims, Rev. Pam has worked out modalities for the 2021 intending pilgrims to explore new Holy sites around the world, outside the routine sites. The Kingdom of Jordan has been added to the list of countries to be visited by Nigerian pilgrims because of its historic religious significance to Christian faithful.
And proactively, Rev. Pam embarked on an inspection and exploratory visit to the new sites; dialogued with the Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities in Amman and finalized the arrangements. It will be a novel experience for the 2021 pilgrims.
The NCPC executive scribe is also conscious of the Coronavirus pandemic and its effects. To ensure Nigerian pilgrims are protected from contracting the disease, Rev. Pam has kept in constant touch with the Israeli authorities to monitor and detect any unusual or awkward development that may endanger and compromise the health of Nigerian pilgrims.
And in consonance with one of his visions, Rev. Pam has introduced and vigorously pursued peace-building among religious sects in the country. His intervention in the perennial Southern Kaduna crises between Christians and Muslims tremendously assisted in brokering peace to warring factions. It terminated with a three-day peace summit, where the agenda of de-escalation of crises was extensively discussed and a report, containing recommendations on enduring peace has been forwarded to Governor Nasir El-Rufai for necessary action.
To expand the tentacles of the NCPC and bring its services closer to Northern Christians, the commissions executive secretary is currently in persuasive dialogue with the Northern governors for the establishment of pilgrim welfare boards in states with any such office. He is optimistic that the fruitful discussions would create more pilgrim boards in the North to deeply unite Christendom and generate progressive ideas for the development of the country.
Conversely, NCPC under Rev. Pam has intensified sensitization visits to State Governors as well as advocacy for sponsorship of pilgrims in Nigeria. Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam has demonstrated in all ramifications, an impactful leadership of the commission in a short while. At the expiration of his five- year tenure, NCPC would surely be transformed into an enviable national asset for both Christians and the nation through Pam’s purposeful and focused leadership. #
Agbese is a UK based scholar and wrote from Dundee.
Nigeria Army And War Against Insurgency Beyond Slogan – By Isaac Ikpa
I don’t know him; may be, only a few Nigerians might have encountered him in the sanctuaries of books and there is no possibility that any Nigerian would ever have a chance of knowing him personally, but Frederick C. Blesse is a living legend or a genius of wisdom by conquering the essence of existence with his timeless philosophy. Blesse told his generation and those who cared to listen that “No guts; no glory.”
So, Nigerians are fervently asking; where are the guts of the incumbent Service Chiefs barely three months after they sauntered on the turf of anti-insurgencies and insurrections as Nigeria’s chief sentinels worthy of a glory? Could it be physical and intellectual fatigue this early in office? Or, are some gods or invisible celestial forces chasing their shadows to the point of disarmament?
It is incredible to the discomforting reality that we are now tethered to the mercy of armed gangs, in ceaseless torments and wails. We are now operating on a frequency akin to a typical village market in the countryside, directionless and unfocused. We are forced to sleep, wine and dine with terrorists and bandits near Abuja. Is it the new glory the incumbent Service Chiefs wish to earn for us and the nation?
Peace and security have eluded us. Our enclaves are seized by gunmen, known and unknown. The unending fires in Southern Nigeria, specifically, Southeast region have felled both civilians and soldiers. The infamous leader of the outlawed IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has changed the configuration of his rogue armed gangs several times and boldly dare the Nigerian Military. Yet, we appear helpless and rather enter a plea of bargain for mercy? Nigerian Military Chiefs, where is the glory?
We are only searching for the glory in the number of our kidnapped or abducted children by bandits in the Northwest; we only sight a tainted glory in the dingy dungeons of terrorists who have held our people captive. We are forced to sing lullabies to sword-brandishing hoodlums and miscreants; the plain rogues whose only strength is the uncontrolled thirst for bloodshed, in the excitement of feasting on our soldiers.
Asking further, I repeat; where is the glory of our Military or they’ve got no guts anymore? What else can we remember in this quagmire? The ceaseless bloodbath, arson and ashes staring us in the face? We are now standing on rooftops and selenic heights to inspect the ruins brought upon us, as our military fumbles and trembles before deadly enemies. Like romantic poets, Nigerian Military chiefs now are inured to sloganeering and have turned deaf ears to the lamentations around them.
I reminisced on what the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru voiced out when he took the mantle of leadership from his predecessor in Abuja. Gen. Attahiru was stern and appeared like a ferociously devouring lion.
He told his eager audience and pledged to Nigerians on January 28th 2021 to sustain the giant strides of Nigerian Army as he experienced and inherited from his predecessor. Sadly today, Nigerians can neither sight the giant nor the strides in Attahiru’s actions. The spirit has waned unceremoniously. Sometimes, he appears more phobic than the civilian Nigerians he has the mandate to secure. Where are the guts, to transform into glory? Blesse was right!
The guts starts and ends with slogans of the Army Chief. Gen. Attahiru told another audience two months later in March 2021, at the opening of the Combined Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference and Nigerian Army Operations Retreat 2021 in Abuja that;
“I want to state that the Nigerian Army under my watch will remain resolute in decisively dealing with any threat confronting the country…I have directed that serious attention must be given to sustaining and improving the tempo in all ongoing Nigerian Army operations across the country…Commanders must therefore glean from my command philosophy to ensure that operational and administrative proficiency of Nigerian Army formations and units are sustained and improved upon.”
Sometimes, it is not good enough to overstretch limits of reasonableness in assessment of anybody on a hot seat, like where Attahiru has found himself. He is not in the game alone. His colleagues, other Service Chiefs are also there with him. But we cannot divorce the reality that Attahiru is the Chief honcho of counter-insurgency operations and together with his colleagues are absolutely lost on positive impressions in the terrorism combats in the country.
So, it’s a tedious task to attempt to discern Gen. Attahiru’s philosophy of “operational and administrative proficiency” now. Is it the proficiency which has allowed terrorists and bandits surround Abuja? Is it the proficiency of the everyday kidnapping of our children and adults all over the North or the closure of schools in Abuja because of the unexpected influx and infiltration of the capital city by truckloads of bandits?
In case Gen. Attahiru and the other Service Chiefs forget, I chose to remind them now. That at the point they took over from their predecessors, the Nigerian Military was only battling with Boko Haram insurgents/ ISWAP terrorists most dominantly on the fringes of Borno’s Lake Chad Basin area. Now, they are very close; the terrorists have come too close to us in courageous braggadocio.
We can no longer sight the guts to which any glory can be earned by the leaders of the counter-insurgency operations. Who will deliver us now? Nigerians now are only entertained with the barrage of slogans from the Military Chiefs than dexterity in warfare. Military Chiefs often assure us of protections from armed gangs; but the assurance consistently fails every time and everywhere.
Hesitantly, our Military Chiefs are compelling Nigerians to trust the haughty spews of Boko Haram’s factional leader, Abubakar Shekau more than their actions have so far espoused on the battlefield. Shekau boasted two days after these Military Chiefs came into office in a nine-minute video that the new Service Chiefs can’t outshine their predecessors in the fight against insurgency in the Northeast or elsewhere in Nigeria.
Shekau thundered; “(General) Leo Irabor, the head of the military, you should have sympathy for yourself, repent and convert to Islam. There is nothing you can do.” I am confused now! Whose words should I trust as stronger and bear any consequence on Nigerians? That’s why Generals Irabor and Attahiru must tighten their seat belts beyond sloganeering.
Nigeria is running out of patience with itself. Terrorists and bandits are making merriments; whilst Nigerians mourn and agonize in bloodshed, abductions and arsons. Shadows of bandits and terrorists loom large and freely roam our city centers, villages, communities, highways and every conceivable place. Courage has given way to numbing fear in our homes and offices.
One is infinitely perturbed watching the effeminate actions of the COAS and leader of the anti-insurgency operations, Gen. Attahiru and the new Service Chiefs in the theatre of war these three months. It is easier to conclude that Nigeria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are infinitely endangered. It has been donated to the terrorists under these new sheriffs or Military chiefs who initially, held so much promise, but have faltered terribly.
There is neither spark nor gusto in their deportments in the frontlines of the Northeast, Northwest or Southeast. Jubilant armed gangs have seized our peace and security, shattering dwelling places. We are pathetically tossed on bended kneels under these new masters of terror, as Gen. Attahiru gazes elsewhere.
Therefore, Nigerians make bold to demand that at this time in the history of insurgency in the country, there is the dire need for quick actions and not slogans; we want deafeningly positive results beyond the niceties of rehearsed speeches in the conference halls of Abuja and elsewhere. Will the slogans ginger the troops? Will it deliver the desired results? These and many more are the issues confronting us today as a nation. What ought to be done that has been left undone?
We abhor the demons of terror and the Nigerian Military should not foist them on us. We neither want to worship Abubakar Shekau nor bow to the praxis of the bloody swords of the ISIS-backed Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists commanded by Musab Al Barnewi. The armed bandits in the forests and caves of Zamfara, Katsina to Niger states have tormented us enough. Herdsmen should give us a break; and it is a break, which Gen. Attahiru must necessarily impose on them because he is not crowned for a feast of romance with insurgents in the theatre of war.
The rogues camouflaging as secession agitators in the Southeast must be reined in. We seek no protection from some gods; other than our Military. Gen. Attahiru and his colleagues, the Service Chiefs must wake up from slumber to redeem their names and salvage our fatherland in patriotic and true sacrificial service without further delay. We want to again, make bonfires of celebrations, as against the feasts of blood and whines. Like Blesse intoned, our Service Chiefs should immediately show us the guts and the glory now.
Chief Ikpa writes from Abuja.
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