President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired General, has being the president of Nigeria, since 2015. Previously, he had served as military head of state, and as federal minister. He contested elections three times, into the presidency, and the fourth time, was elected president.
With strong military background, known also for measure of personal integrity, and riding on the goodwill of Nigerians, Buhari was elected president in 2015; to replace an administration credited to be “inept and corrupt”. Nigerians expected to see fiercely committed president to rebuild the economy, fight corruption and end insurgency and armed banditry; being the pillars of his election campaign.
About six years in the saddle, as president of Nigeria, Buhari has presided over deteriorated economy, worsened insecurity, failed war against corruption; and a country, heading towards failed state. Instead of presidential commitments and actions to, decisively, tackling national issues; especially, insecurity in the country, the president, more often, makes commitments in words – in fact, many words, without actions.
UTMOST POLITICAL WILL, not talking tough without actions, is what President Buhari needs at the moment, to deal, deadly blows on insecurity in Nigeria. Be it armed insurgency, banditry, Fulani herdsmen criminal activities – indeed all forms of criminality in the country. Nigerians appeared weary of the president’s tough talks, but no actions on ending insecurity in the country, according to security experts, analysts and public opinion.
Nigeria’s former heads of governments, security experts, religious leaders, general citizens — highly and lowly placed – in the country, have express concerns over Buhari’s seeming unwillingness, to tackle the protracted insecurity in the country. Even after talking tough in the past, promising to take decisive actions against insurgency, banditry and general insecurity in the country, but evaded his promises.
Emerging from national security council meeting, on Tuesday, presided by President Buhari, at the State House, Abuja, National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, retired army General, told journalists that the federal government is ready to, henceforth, clamp down on “individuals and groups sponsoring” instabilities with sole aim to destabilise the nation.
Monguno announced government ban on mining activities and imposed “no flight zone” in Zamfara State. Government believed that unscrupulous elements were taking advantage of mining activities, in perpetrating banditry that have threatened peace in the State. There were suspicions that private helicopters that hovers the territory on claimed mission of providing relief supplies, could be supplying arms and ammunitions to bandits.
The security council meeting was held after the release of 279 schoolgirls abducted from government girls secondary school, Jangbebe, Zamfara State. Monguna said the president, also, ordered “massive” deployment of military and intelligence assets, to restore normalcy to the northwest and other troubled regions in the North, and other parts of the country. He said government “will not allow this country to drift into state failure”.
GOVERNMENT placed, on watch list, some unnamed non-state actors, Monguno said, were causing problems in parts of the country. His words: “All non-state actors that have been causing problems for the innocent people, not just in Zamfara State or the North West zone, but also the North East and other parts of the country in the South-South, have been placed under surveillance by intelligence agencies”.
And added: “While the Federal Government is not averse to the application of non-kinetic means to resolve this problem, I need to make it very clear that the government will not hesitate to apply to the fullest its kinetic means to restore normalcy to the country. No sovereign nation will allow a group of non-state actors to bring it down to its knees and render the state in state of panic, mistrust, disorder and so on.
“While we look forward to having a peaceful, non-kinetic resolution, we will not allow this country to drift into failure and with the effect from today, the new service chiefs have been given directives by the Minister of Defence, conveyed by the President to the Minister of Defence, to reclaim all areas that have been dominated by bandits, kidnappers and other scoundrels”
BANNING MINING activities in Zamfara State, by Buhari’s government, was not coming for the first time. In April 2019, the government banned artisanal gold mining in the State and its environs, to curb violence in the region. Hundreds of people were reportedly killed or kidnapped by bandits, before government imposed the ban. There were suspicions, at that time, that proceeds from illegal mining were used to sponsor arms and ammunitions that fuelled criminality in the State, and its environs.
Mohammed Adamu, Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police, announced the ban. He ordered “all foreigners within mining sites are to leave immediately”. The sites were to be taken over by special task force, comprising relevant security agencies. IGP Adamu’s order came, after protests in Abuja, led by Kadaria Ahmed, a journalist, against the orgy of violence in Zamfara State.
JANUARY 2020, IGP Adamu’s ban on mining in Zamfara State, was reversed, by Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilakan Adegbite. He stated that the ban on mining would be lifted by the end of March – first quarter of year. Adegbite, however, stated that mining would return, after government deployed “surveillance team to stifle illegal activity” going on in the region.
The reason the minister gave for lifting the ban was that “a lot of genuine investors want to come to invest in Zamfara State”, according to Reuters. And this was during the minister’s visit to London. The minister’s action, analysts noted, undermined the thriving banditry and insecurity’ in the State; when people were kidnapped for ransom, hundreds killed, and others rendered homeless, and in refugee camps.
Analysts, also noted, the minister’s action, gave the impression that government was more concerned about economic advantage, than protecting lives and property of the people. Adegbite stated: “When the ban came into effect there were a lot of investors who were already putting in money had to stop … they are anxious to realise their investments.” He, however, stated that government deployed “surveillance team” to quell unrest and “discourage illegal activity”.
WITH ENDLESS, killings, kidnappings and embarrassing abductions, recently, of over hundreds school boys and girls in Katsina, Niger and Zamfara States; which attracted public outrage and condemnations, President Buhari may be waking up to the responsibility of securing lives and properties of citizens, as commander-in-chief; going by the directives announced, Tuesday, by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, as coming from the president.
Analysts, however, noted that President Buhari needs, this time around, to be resolved to deal, decisively, with insecurity in the country, by going beyond talking tough, because the bulk stops on his desk, as president and commander-in-chief.