The nosediving security situation in the country is increasingly putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as prominent Nigerians, among whom are governors, former political office holders, clerics and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, have started to speak out in condemnation of his alleged inaction.
The past two weeks have particularly been traumatic for the country, with killings, abductions and attacks on communities and security agencies, especially as killing of police officers continues unabated.
Within the period, bandits operating in Kaduna State invaded a private institution in the State, Greenfield University in Chikun Local Government Area, abducted more than 20 students and killed a staff during the attack. In a gruesome move, the bandits, who asked for N800 million ransom, have killed five of the students to show that they meant business.
During the period also, scores of innocent Nigerians were killed in Zamfara State as Boko Haram attempted to take over Geidam in Yobe State and Mainok in Borno State, with the Nigerian military fighting desperately to retake them, albeit at a cost, as some men and officers were lost during the battle.
Not done, bandits also attacked and abducted students of the Federal University of Agriculture, Markurdi, the Benue State capital, early in the week. Nothing has been heard about the fate of the students. This is apart from a revelation from the Governor of the State, Samuel Ortom that about 70 residents of the state have been killed in two weeks.
The situation in Niger State is fast becoming hopeless, as two LGAs, Munya and Shiroro, have practically become bandits’ killing fields. This was before a shocking revelation by the state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello that Boko Haram insurgents have infiltrated the state, hoisting their flag in Kaure in Munya LGA, an indication that they have declared a caliphate in the area.
Also down South, the situation in the South-East geopolitical zone is increasing calling for concerns, as no day passes without reports of attacks on the police formations and personnel. What makes the South-East situation more alarming is that the operation of ‘gunmen’ in the zone have mainly focused on security agents, in what reminds Nigerians about the formative days of the Boko Haram insurgency.
This has no doubt raised comcerns in several circles of an evolving insurgency in Igboland, a situation many believe Nigeria may not be able to cope with, especially with the current insurgency in North-East and banditry in the North-West and North Central.
Realising that the security situation in the country was practically spiralling out of control, prominent Nigerians decided to speak out, putting further pressure on the Buhari administration, which many Nigerians said has proven unable to proffer solution to the hydra headed security challenges in the country.
In a rather frustrated outburst, Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, who has constantly shown his disgust for the bandits operating in his state, pointedly declared that what the bandits and other criminal elements terrorising the country deserve is deaths. He said, “kill them all”.
According to him, no one staying in the forests is innocent and what they deserve is death, opening a floodgate of intervention, angry outbursts and advice from prominent Nigerians.
Respected Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, shortly after the killing of three of the abducted students of Greenfield University, pointedly told President Buhari to swallow his pride and seek for help!
“Seek Help. Stop Improvising with Human Lives. Youth – that is, the future – should not serve as ritual offering on the altar of a failing State”, he said in a statement on Saturday.
According to Soyinka, Nigeria is at war but the government continues to pretend that “these are mere birth-pangs of a glorious entity”. He however, said the current situation in the country suggests death throes, adding, “Vultures and undertakers hover patiently but with full confidence.”
“The dogs of war stopped merely baying years ago. Again and again, they have sunk their fangs into the jugular of this nation. The plague called COVID has met its match on the earth of some nation space once known as Nigeria”, Soyinka painted a scary picture of the Nigerian situation.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), perhaps to show that it is a party with a soul, admitted, albeit for the first time that insecurity is real in the country.
Before admitting what other Nigerians have always known in a statement by its National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, the APC had always beaten its chest that the Buhari administration has improved security in the country tremendously since coming into office in 2015. They also claimed that the security situation in the country had improved from what it used to be under the Goodluck Jonathan administration that ended on May 29, 2015.
However, the party said: “The issue of insecurity in the country has found expression in terrorist and criminal activities of Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers, rustlers and recently the highly condemnable attacks on security formations in some states.
“These are current realities and the APC will not playing politics with matters of life and our collective wellbeing as a nation.”
For many Nigerians, the admittance by the ruling party that all is not well with the country, may after all spur the government of the nation into action. This is because of the belief that the party and the country has always lived in denial of the actual situation in the country.
Majority of Nigerians who watched the viral video of Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello talking about the situation in his state cut a pitiable sight of a man who is frustrated, not just for his inability to secure his people but also knowing that a greater evil, Boko Haram has taken residence right in his backyard.
The Governor, in the video, while he went visiting about 3000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) taking refugee at a school in Minna, the state capital, said that Boko Haram insurgents are already in the state.
He said: “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements in Niger State, around Kaure.
“I just heard that they’ve already hoisted their flag in Kaure, which means they’ve taken over the territory and this is what I have been engaging the FG with, and unfortunately it has now gotten to this stage that if care is not taken, not even Abuja is safe.
“They’ve taken over the territory, they’ve installed their flag. I am confirming that now. They’ve taken over the wives of people by force.
“Boko Haram elements are trying to use these areas as their home just like they did in Sambisa.”
In what seems like a double speak, Governor Bello said: “I have not lost hope from the federal government but I am not waiting for anyone anymore.”
DAILY POST recalls that Niger State has had history with the Boko Haram insurgency, as the state was at a time used as a launching pad for attempted incursions into Abuja in the hey days of the group.
Joining his voice to calls by the Buhari administration to seek for help in tackling the declining security situation in the country, the Immediate-past Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, said the President needs help and he must seek for one.
Saraki, who said it was obvious that Buhari was already overwhelmed, said the situation “cannot continue” and “cannot become Nigeria’s new normal”.
He said: “It is obvious that President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress government need help. They have been overwhelmed by the situation and they sure need assistance from all. Thus, I urge Mr. President to seek help wherever it can be given. This matter has gone beyond what the government can handle alone. The President should know that calling for help in our present situation is not a sign of weakness.”
According to Saraki, President Buhari needs to bring together all former Presidents and heads of state, serving and former chief justices, serving and former presiding officers of the National Assembly, serving and former heads of security agencies, traditional rulers with relevant experience, leaders of the private sector, development partners, friends of Nigeria in the international community and all others who can help in finding solutions to the problem at hand.
“The meeting must hold expeditiously and must be followed by immediate actions. I know there are many people who believe that the fact that this suggestion is coming from a source outside government is a good reason for the President to ignore it. I think the attitude this time around must be different. This is definitely not a time for partisanship or for people to play politics with the lives of the citizenry and the future of the country.
“I appeal to Mr. President to take the bull by the horn. He should act to stem the tide of this violence threatening to tear the country apart,” he added.
Following in the footsteps of Saraki, his former deputy at the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, also on Tuesday, called on the Federal Government to seek foreign help to fight insecurity in the country.
Ekweremadu made the call while contributing to a motion moved during plenary by Senator Sani Musa on the activities of bandits and Boko Haram terrorists in Shiroro and Rafi Local Government Areas of Niger State.
According to Senator Ekweremadu, any government that fails to protect its citizens has lost its legitimacy, therefore, the Federal Government should not be ashamed to seek foreign support, while also calling for a shutdown of Niger to enable security agencies to deal with the problem.
On his part, a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar warned that there is looming darkness over the country, if the attacks on schools and abduction of students continue.
Calling for a 24-hour arms guard in schools, Atiku opined that if the current situation persists, school enrollment will further decline.
He said in a statement: “The abduction of yet an unspecific number of undergraduates of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, is one abduction too many. It marks both an unacceptable escalation and an expansion of this menace, and we must not only ensure that the abducted youths are rescued, but even more importantly, we must put in measures to prevent future reoccurrences.
“This must not be allowed to become our new normal. It is time for us as a nation to face the reality that we have an emergency on our hands. A catastrophe that must be decisively dealt with before it snowballs into an existential crisis.
“We must stop treating these acts of criminality with kid gloves. Enough is enough! There must be safety of lives and property in our citadels of learning, because without it, there would be loss of confidence in the sector, which will result in low enrolment rates in a country that is amongst the highest statistically for out-of-school children.
“I renew the call I made on Monday, March 15, 2021, for a state of emergency to be declared on the education sector, and for 24 hour armed guards to be posted at all schools in the affected states.
“Yes, it is an expensive venture. Nevertheless, we must accept that whatever we invest in preserving the lives of Nigerian youths is worth the price, as nothing is, or can be more valuable to us than our youths, who will take up the baton after we are gone.”
To put the icing on the cake, the usually blunt Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, on Tuesday accused President Muhammadu Buhari of working for Fulanis to take over Nigeria.
The Governor said: “What is happening now, to me, is very clear; Mr President is just working for these Fulanis to take over the whole country.
“His body language is what is being played out. The body language, the action and inaction of Mr President shows that he is only the President of Fulani people; I have known this.
“We are becoming a Banana Republic. If we have a President who gave the security agencies order to shoot at sight whosoever is having AK-47 and the Minister of Defence came out to say that they cannot shoot at sight. So who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces?”
According to Ortom, the people of Benue are being overstretched and running out of patience due to the incessant attacks on their communities.
“Mr President must rise up. He is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and over the 250 nationalities that are in this country; Mr President is their President, we all voted him.
“He has taken oath of office to secure the country and provide security for lives and property; this is unacceptable, this cannot continue,” he said.