Emmanuel Onwubiko: When a government dies in Nigeria
It was not supposed to be a cause for politically motivated discord since it is just the honest opinion of someone who is in the best position to know and truly analyse the capability or otherwise of an officer who served under him for some years and has being the President of Nigeria in the person of former Major General Muhammadu Buhari.
But all the same, the innocuous statement of fact made by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in which he admonished Nigerians not to place so much premium on what the current Federal government can do any more than it has done already especially in the key area of providing security to lives and property of the citizenry, degenerated into a free-for-all in the camp of sycophants.
And the thing about some of the people who often throw jabs at critics of President Buhari’s poor performance is that they are mostly jobless youth who do these dirty job of antagonising perceived opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari hoping to be settled from the crumbs off the master’s table.
And when the immediate rewards are not forthcoming as expected, these irritants masquerading as members of the Buhari Campaign organization and are morphed into different amorphous groups are known to have cried blue murder.
When President Buhari was constructively criticized by one of his predecessors chief Obasanjo, these sycophants literally attempted to pour out venomous attacks at the former president but discerning Nigerians waited to hear their next complain if they are not settled.
Their complaints of being abandoned came in torrents as predicted.
The Save Nigeria Movement had accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of inflaming passion and raising tension in the country through his recent statements.
The group made the accusation at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, December 2021, urging the former president not to jeopardize the security of the country.
Addressing journalists at the briefing, Rev Solomon Semaka, Convener of the Save Nigeria Movement, alleged that Obasanjo has decided ”to embark on another round of divisive consultations conversant with his character.”
“Media reports further indicate Obasanjo plans to co-opt past heads of state, traditional rulers, religious leaders, and some respected elder statesmen among which is a former federal commission, Pa Edwin Clark into the massive drive to divide the country.
“All these antics are in a bid to discredit President Buhari’s administration efforts having surpassed former president Obasanjo’s two terms in office both as military and civilian head of state.
“Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s antecedents are scary if allowed to fester. The Save Nigeria Movement is deeply concerned that Obasanjo would choose to inflame passions and raise tensions at this critical point in time when the federal government is consolidating on security.
“Former President Olusegun is urged to reconsider his personal agenda as it can only jeopardize national security. To this end, the Movement is suspicious of the former president and calls all Nigerians to speak in one voice against him.
”The Save Nigeria Movement is inclined to caution the former president to have a rethink if his personal intentions will not promote peace and unity in the country.
“This appeal is also a word of caution that should Obasanjo be bent on heating the polity and raising tensions, Nigerians will know who to hold responsible and demand the law to take its full course.”
Rev Semaka said the group expects nothing but selfless service to the nation and moral support from people like former Obasanjo and not fanning the embers of disunity.
He added that Obasanjo has no moral right to be dissatisfied with the modest achievements of the Buhari administration, ”especially when he could not do better when Nigerians gave him the opportunity twice as military and civilian head of state.”
He further stated that ”Nigerians are proud of what President Buhari is doing to rescue the nation from the grip of people like Obasanjo who designated the country as a free zone for corruption for more than a decade.
This amorphous bunch of jobless youths are not any different from the other nosy and noisy irritants known as the Buhari Support Organisation. The latter has only just wailed openly that they are yet to be rehabilitated financially inspire of their fanatical support for all kinds of bad policies of the Administration.
The Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) across the country had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take them out of bondage, saying members have been used and dumped.
The North West zonal coordinator Buhari Support Organisation, Malam Musa D Musa, made the call over the weekend shortly after their meeting.
According to him, it became highly imperative to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to the condition of BSO members in the country.
He said during BSO’s series of meetings, members understood that they were sidelined in reaping what they sowed.
According to him, “it’s highly regrettable that BSO members are only roaming the street and gradually becoming bond creditors since the election and swearing in of the President in 2019.”
Musa said, “we are seriously in bondage despite our hope in awaiting the delivery of pledges made by the president during our dinner with him last two years.”
He said, “it’s quite unfortunate that presently, no single state governor, minister, special advisers or any government appointee is assisting the organisation in the country, adding: “we are swimming in abject poverty.”
According to him, “it is sad tonoted that instead of carrying members who served as their ladder along they replaced them with their relatives and family members.”
Musa lamented that “Our integrity as BSO members is at stake since we cannot even raise our shoulders above our opposition members as we have become their object of laughter.”
The thing to ask is what is exactly wrong with the opinion made by the erstwhile President when it is notorious that although we claim to have a government in Nigeria but the essential services of providing security of lives and property is absent in large parts of Nigeria?
Few days back, somewhere in Katsina, an octogenarian reportedly dismantled the roof of his house to sell so as to raise N100,000 ransom to pay for the release of his only son kidnapped by terrorists tormenting the North West.
Shortly after this heart-rending story from Katsina broke out, we were then told that 30 students held captive for seven months in Kebbi State by terrorists have just regained their freedom.
Then from Zamfara came the shocking revelation that women are being systematically raped by terrorists just as the state government stands by and does nothing.
From the same Zamfara came another story that terrorists Massacred over 200 residents just as in some villages in Sokoto, terrorists have since the last couple of months being taxing residents to avoid being attacked and in Kaduna, the police paraded some women who were supplying teenage girls to terrorists inside the forest for sexual gratification. One of the Women of Kaduna said she has supplied her biological daughters for some fees to the terrorists in the forests.
In Plateau State, a prominent traditional ruler was kidnapped from his palace and was only released after N50 million was paid as ransom.
In Taraba, the two daughters of the immediate past secretary to state government were kidnapped and in the same Taraba state, Cameroonian soldiers invaded some villages killing, burning and destroying citizens and their property.
In Kaduna State, schools are now limited to just few days in a week for fear of kidnappers just as hundreds of thousands of residents have either being kidnapped or killed whilst the President was contemplating whether to classify these attackers as terrorists or not and he only signed off on this declaration after 200 Zamfara people were slaughtered by the terrorists.
In the North East, the Boko Haram terrorists are not relenting just as they have just succeeded in killing a full military General who was leading the counter terrorism war.
An army general and three soldiers were killed recently in a terror attack on a remote town in Nigeria, according to an official.
Spokesman for the Nigerian Army Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu said in a statement that Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram splinter group, attacked Askira in northeast Borno State.
“Sadly, a gallant senior officer Brig/ Gen. Dzarma Zirkusu and three soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice in a very rare display of gallantry,” he said.
Nwachukwu said the military deployed fighter jets which destroyed nine gun trucks and one armored personnel carrier of the terrorists.
He said the army contacted the families of the slain soldiers.
Residents who fled told Anadolu Agency that terrorists stormed the town early Saturday in a convoy of about 12 gun trucks and set fire to houses and public buildings.
The attack came as army operational commanders held a retreat on internal security at an army staff training college in northwest Kaduna State.
Three million civilians have been displaced and more than 30,000 killed in the 12 years of terror attacks in Nigeria, according to a report by the UN Office for Coordination Humanitarian Affairs.
Gunmen in northwest Nigeria’s Kebbi state have freed 30 students and a teacher after seven months of captivity, according to a local official.
More than 1,400 children were abduted in Nigeria last year according to the United Nations, mostly during attacks on schools and colleges by gunmen known locally as “bandits”.
Students are often quickly released after ransom payments but 200 were still missing in September, the UN added.
Thirty students of Federal Government College and one teacher have arrived in Birnin Kebbi “following their release,” Yahaya Sarki, a spokesman for the Kebbi state governor, said late Saturday.
“They shall undergo medical screening and support while being reunited with their families,” he added in a statement.
It was unclear if ransom was paid for the release of the students or if any others were still in captivity.
Last June, gunmen stormed the college in the town of Yauri, seizing 102 students and eight staff according to the school.
The attack was confirmed by police but they would not say how many students or teachers were taken.
Security personnel rescued eight of the kidnapped students and a teacher while bodies of three students were found in the bush.
The kidnappers freed 27 students and three staff in October, while an unspecified number were released after their parents negotiated with the captors. So is the Nigerian government not dying away gradually? Has erstwhile president Obasanjo not vindicated for asking us not to expecting anything more from President Buhari who only recently in an arranged interview with Channels Television confirmed that he has done his best for Nigeria and that due to his old age, his duties are telling on him?
Another aspect of a disappearing sign of any sort of government is signposted the frequent attacks against farmers over access to land by armed Fulani terrorists and this menace has plagued northwest and central Nigeria for years, with some groups evolving into criminal gangs who now terrorise local communities. Since last year, gangs have intensified highway kidnappings and mass abductions of students, so observed by a reporter. On Wednesday, the Nigerian government issued an official gazette declaring activities of bandits as “acts of terrorism.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general, is also battling a more than decade long jihadist insurgency in the northeast and separatist tensions in the country’s southeast.
So what is the role of government and how do we say this system of government is fast fading away? A University teacher recently made valid points on this question.
This gentleman, Professor Adeniyi Olatunbosun attended University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) from 1985 to 1988 and the Nigerian Law School, Lagos 1988 to 1989.
Asked what his opinion is about insecurity in the country, the erudite law expert said thus: “It is very appalling. It is a source of concerns for everyone. In some of my classes, I tell the students, especially those at the master’s level. When you talk about the issue of criminal justice system, you discover that in the past, kidnapping was not treated in most standard texts in criminal law just about a page because it was not a crime that was rampant then. But now, some people can even write a whole text on it. So, it is because of the economic situation of the country, which also accounted for it. Although to most criminal lawyers they believe that poverty is not the reason for criminality.
But from the criminology perspective, it is a factor that must be looked into that is indirectly responsible for the commission of a crime. I think what we need to put in place is that the enabling environment should be improved upon so that people will be able to have huge means of living and then probably crime would reduce. But for now, it’s worrisome. It’s all over the country. I believe government should put a lot into it to ensure that security of lives and property guaranteed. Because that is the essence we have government in place. The primary duty of government is to ensure that security of lives of the citizens are protected and guaranteed under the law.”
Well, I agree with the above to the extent that he admitted the failure of government to prevent large scale carnage by armed non state actors. So the thing to do is to be vigilant and campaign vigorously to remind those who hold offices to respect the Constitutional rights of the citizens and to carry out their primary duty and obligations to the citizens. Any Government that allows lawlessness, anarchy and the reign of MIGHT IS RIGHT, is a DYING GOVERNMENT and this is the position of Nigeria as we speak.
* EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was federal commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.
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