PRESIDENT BUHARI, again, Monday, August 10, met with top military hierarchy, and Nigeria’s six northeast Governors, at the Presidential Villa. Consistent with the president’s previous disposition on the hazardous state of insecurity in the country, he expressed concerns and regrets over continued insecurity in the country, with less statement of commitment and pragmatic solution to curbing the on-going carnage by insurgency and banditry
Nigerians and analysts described the president’s meeting with the northeast Governors, as the usual rhetoric of dealing with insecurity in the country. They said it is the usual “motions without movement”. Buhari engaged the Governors in apologies, and reassurance of better security situations ahead. Again, he told the governors that the military could do better, and would continue to do their best in securing the country and its citizens.
The meeting of the northeast governors with the president, followed recent attack on Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State. After the attach, the northeast governors paid Zulum solidarity visit, and registered firm protest to President Buhari on the state of insecurity in the region. They asserted, and very strongly, that lives and property of people living in the region were no longer safe if Governor Zulum could be brazenly attacked.
President Buhari, at the meeting, said three cardinal agenda of his administration are security, economy and fighting corruption. And security is the ultimate responsibility of government. Based on the level of insecurity his government inherited, the people of northeast region would appreciate what his government has done so far. But vast national and international views would not align with the president claim. They believe insecurity in Nigeria has worsened with Buhari’s government, than he inherited from the previous administration.
However, President Buhari, further gave assurance that security would be restored to Borno State, and the entire northeast region. Garba Shehu, the president’s Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, issued a statement after the meeting, and said the president’s assurance was based on recent adoption of new strategies and acquisition of modern military equipment.
“Things will improve very soon. We are acquiring modern equipment; some are here, some are being cleared, and others still coming. We need patience with acquisition of equipment. You need to train the trainers for their usage ahead of their deployment to the field,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in the statement.
“I assure you, the north-east governors, especially that of Borno, that we go to bed and wake up thinking about you, how to secure our country; that is the responsibility of every government. Our party campaigned in 2015 on three major objectives, among which is Security. We said the same thing in 2019 and Nigerians believed us. We are doing our best and we will continue to do even better.”
GOVERNOR ZULUM of Borno State, address journalists, after the meeting. He said government must address remote causes of insurgency in northeast – widespread poverty, illiteracy, and access to farmlands. Boko Haram, according to Zulum, has been successful in recruiting more members into its fold, due to the situation in the region.
He declined comments on his earlier allegations that sabotage in the military was responsible for the recent attack on his convoy. Zulum retuned his comment that the military was doing all it could to combat insurgents. Also, that the military needed more equipment to be successful in its quest to combat insecurity in the northeast.
Governor Zulum, Saturday, August 8, at a meeting of the six northeast Governors, was elected Chairman of region’s Governors Forum. Communique issued after the meeting, the Governors commended Nigerian government for its efforts in keeping the region safe. The Governors requested the military to intensity efforts to secure the “hard-to-reach areas” in the region and ensure safe access to farm lands
The Governors further requested the deployment of state-of-the-art military equipment to the region, and increase the procurement of armament for the police, to enhance manpower deficit in Nigerian Armed Forces. The governors, also, requested that the necessary state-of-the-art weapons needed to be provided for the police, as well as, strategic equipment, such as, “high-velocity tear gas, trackers and Armoured Personnel Carriers”.
NIGERIA’S current service chiefs, present at the meeting were General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff; Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff; Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff; Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff; Mohammed Adamu, Inspector-General of Police. Yusuf Bichi, Director-General, Department of State Services, DSS, was also present at the meeting. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was also present at the meeting.
The service chiefs’ assessment of the state of insecurity in the country has, always, been that the situation would get better soon. That there was need to strengthen ties among the military, state governments, traditional institutions, communities and residents of the region.
Tukur Buratai, has consistently stated that Boko Haram terrorists have been flushed out of states in the region, except Borno State. He said: “There are no Boko Haram terrorists in neighbouring states. They have been pushed out, and now cornered in Borno State. We are coordinating with civil and traditional authorities, mobilising and reinforcing and all we need is patience. We will not relent”.
Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff, stated that the acquisition and arrival of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs, known as drones, with more than 10 hours flying time, would reinforce the battle front. The Police were not left out. Briefs were also received on equipment needed by the police. As well as the changing alliances between criminal gangs and terrorist groups in the region from the intelligence community.
VARIOUS NIGERIAN GROUPS, and individuals, have persistently, in a resounding voice, called for the sack of the service chiefs. The calls have resonated from the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE; Pan-Yoruba Socio-Cultural Organisation, Afenifere; Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF; and Civil Society groups.
Nigeria’s National Assembly, the Senate and House of Representatives, by resolutions at plenary, have also, called on President Buhari to sack the service chiefs. Severally, Nigerians and groups have, unreservedly, denounced the state of insecurity and mindless killings in the country by insurgents and banditry; and continued retention of the service chiefs.
President Buhari has continued to defy deafening calls for the removal of the service chiefs and rejigging the national security architecture for improved national security in the country. He has preferred to proffer apologies and excuses to the nation for failure of the security chiefs to leave up to expectation and secure the lives and property of Nigerians.