President Muhammadu Buhari gets me confused. Or am I the one not reading him well? Okay, if I may ask: who is in charge here? Can somebody tell me? That is if you know too; because I know many Nigerians are as confused as I am, if Buhari is truly in charge, or just in office. With the audacious manner criminals have seized our geographical space, strutting the land like they own it, invading homes at will with sense of entitlement to what belongs to us; raping people’s wives as if their hapless husbands had ceded their conjugal rights to them; and our girls violently raped, or even forced into marriages in callous usurpation of rights of parents to give out their daughters in marriage, no one should be left in doubt that bandits have manifestly snatched the commanding authority from our Commander-In-Chief, and reduced us to a conquered people. So, definitely, President Buhari cannot in charge.
Baba Yusuf, as we choose to call him in our little corner, has evidently lost it. Buhari has not only lost Nigeria, he is about to be her undertaker as the nation hemorrhages and gasps for breath. Those who can see beyond their noses, safe the sycophants and cheerleaders who see no evil, and speak no evil, know that Nigeria is dead. Her obituary has been announced. We ignore it at our peril. In June this year, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, and a former Director at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Robert Rotberg, wrote her epitaph – ‘The Giant of Africa is Failing’. Damning, unflattering, spot on! In a published article in the May/June 2021 edition of ‘Foreign Affairs’ magazine, Cambell and Rotberg strongly indicted President Buhari for his poor handling of security in the country, asserting that “Nigeria now appears to have reached the point of no return”.
According to them, “International partners, especially the United States, must acknowledge that Nigeria is now a failed state. In recognition of that fact, they should deepen their engagement with the country and seek to hold the current administration accountable for its failures while also working with it to provide security and right the economy”.
The authors further noted that “Indeed, few parts of Nigeria are today fully safe. In 2020 and so far in 2021 … about 1,400 Nigerians have lost their lives to Islamist insurgents in northeastern Borno state and neighboring areas” and wondered why, a “Nigerian Armed Forces of 300,000 troops and a $2 billion budget” had failed to extirpate Boko Haram. They believed “corruption in the military”, and “inconsistent leadership from officers and politicians” could be major factors, concluding that “according to political theory, the government’s inability to thwart the Boko Haram insurgency is enough to diagnose Nigeria as a failed state. But there are many more symptoms”.
Thank God this damning verdict did not emanate from the camp of the opposition or critical segments of the society. They would have been labeled “wailing wailers” and “disgruntled politicians” still smarting from loss of power. As we speak, terrorists are still on the rampage, killing, maiming, and plundering communities in the North of the country with reckless abandon, sadly, with little pushback from our security forces.
In the last few weeks, bandits have laid siege to Sokoto State, launching consistent attacks on villages, especially in Goronyo and Illela, killing no fewer than 100 persons. Regrettably, our fighting Forces are also game for the marauders. September 12, 2021, 17 of them were killed when gunmen attacked their base in Dama, Sokoto State. The bandits upped their deadly game November 13, killing 12 military personnel in another attack on a military base in Mutumji, Zamfara State. As if competing for laurels, terrorists of the Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, took out the Commander of the 28 Task Force Brigade, Chibok, Borno State, Dzarma Zirkushia, a Brigadier General, and three soldiers.
And to all these, what had been the response of the ‘commander-in-chief’ of these gallant officers and men that are being mindedly wasted, and innumerable innocent Nigerians cold-bloodedly murdered? The depressing response from General Buhari, who in the past few weeks had been more in the air junketing all over the world than being on ground to “command” his embattled troops, was to issue inconsequential warnings and empty threats to the outlaws who are not just belligerently grazing openly in his territory, but carving out fiefdoms where they appropriate state powers to themselves, installing district heads, and collecting taxes from residents as the newly established authorities.
The latest was in the aftermath of the recent Sokoto killings. From his safe haven in South Africa, he railed: “This administration will not tolerate this state of affairs where criminals deprive the people of their means of livelihood and turn them into beggars and refugees. The bandits are living in a fool’s paradise if they believe that they can’t be crushed”. Baba Buhari, please crush them; stop ranting. That was Nigerians’ expectation when they voted you in in 2015. Enough of these empty boasts, sir!
I laughed, like the criminals must have laughed heartily too, the first time I read our president threatening hell fire and brimstone. That was February 26, 2021 when 300 school girls were abducted in Jangebe, Zamfara State. In a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, a tough-talking Buhari said “this administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students… Let them not entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government”. Prove it!
It was the same spineless reaction when terrorists killed over 25 people in an invasion of some villages in Zamfara. The president hollered: “These criminals should stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks the capacity to crush them”. If the government itself is not “living in a fool’s Paradise”, it ought to know that with the dexterity and military precision that these bandits operate, they are not just a bunch of opportunistic rag-tag militia, but sophisticated and intelligent guerilla fighters who have mastered the art of unconventional warfare.
So, they are not the type an unserious government can harangue, and they would cringe. Lucky Buhari! Were legendary Afro Beat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti to be around, President Buhari would have been the butt of his yabis over his wacky approach to tackling insecurity, especially the ill-advised, primitive cutting of communication networks in the troubled states, against commonsense. Even in his grave, Fela would be turning in utter discomfiture at the manner some miscreants are amusing themselves running riot under the very nose of our “commander-in-chief” and all he could do is indulge in shakara oloje.
With due respect, I think Mr. President should just keep quiet and exercise the authority of his office if there is no hidden agenda. He must muster the political will and demonstrate sincerity of purpose in taking out the irritants especially now that the integrity and sovereignty of our nation is under serious threat with the recent invasion and razing of Manga community in Taraba State by some adventurous Ambazonia separatists from Southern Cameroon.