Comment on the Disturbing State of the Nigerian Economy By Bola Bolawole
The Yemi Michael Journal Constructive Reportage for Mankind
Tell Muhammadu Buhari-1
By Bolanle Bolawole
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(Published in the "ON THE LORD'S DAY" column in the Sunday Tribune newspaper of Sunday, April 3, 2022).
Photo: President Muhammad Buhari.
“When you have a government in place, the major responsibility of that government, especially a democratic one, which was elected by the people, is to ensure the safety of life and property of innocent citizens. When things like this continue on a daily basis, those of us who are representatives of the government will become speechless. I have to repeat: We become speechless in the discharge of our duties here to defend the actions of the government. This is an elected government under popular democracy but we continue, day–in, day-out – killings, massacres, banditry and armed robbery right, left and centre...Let Nigerians organize themselves in the name of civil defence. Let them organize and arrange the defence of their own innocent souls. If the responsibility of the government and (that of) the security agencies cannot be carried out democratically (then) everyone has cause to defend themselves” – Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, Majority Leader, House of Representatives.
“Are we saying that the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Police, and the DSS – with all the trainings they have had, with all the international trainings they have gone for and peace-keeping missions – that a rag-tag army of 16-, 17-, 18-year-old boys is more powerful than them? This madness has to stop! You travel by road, you are kidnapped. You go by train, you are kidnapped. Last week, an airport was attacked by bandits. You sit at home, you are kidnapped. You send your children to school, they are kidnapped. A few weeks ago, somebody was kidnapped in a hospital. You can be kidnapped right in this chamber (the House of Representatives)... If service chiefs could be changed at will, I see no reason why the person that they report to and that is supposed to oversee them (the National Security Adviser)...cannot be replaced. Nobody is indispensable.” -Nasir Ahmed, Member, House of Representatives.
“There are incidents where particular intelligence reports are given to the military and the next moment, the bandits get the information. So, confidence in the military by the locals will be eroded. Most times, anyone in the village that takes reports to the military, the next moment, the bandits or terrorists will hear about it and they will know who made the report and the family is dealt with or wiped out. We have incidents like that. Until we remove the moles among the military, the confidence of the locals in the military will continue to be eroded” – Yakubu Barde, House of Representatives member representing Chikum/Kajuru Federal constituency of Kaduna State.
“We have been pressing for the past two years for the military from the air and the ground to bomb these forests while the soldiers on the ground (will) kill all those that escape the bombs. I do not believe that there is any innocent person in the forest... With the declaration by the Federal High Court that these bandits are terrorists, there is a need for security agencies to take extreme actions to terminate the bandits” – Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State.
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A Newspaper reported the main opposition party, the PDP, as follows: “The Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday said a ‘public confession’ by el-Rufai authenticated its position that the All Progressives Congress government knew the whereabouts and plans of the terrorists but failed to act.
The main opposition party also alleged that (Minister of Transportation, Rotimi) Amaechi said his request to install security surveillance equipment to avert terrorist attacks on the Kaduna-Abuja rail was not honoured by the Federal Government. In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the PDP quoted the Kaduna State governor (Nasir el-Rufai) as saying, ‘We know where their camps are; we know where they are; the SSS has their phone numbers; they listen to them and they give me reports’.
In the statement titled: ‘Terrorism: El-Rufai, Amaechi’s confessions confirm complicity by APC government’, the PDP accused the Buhari regime of ‘refusing to act despite having full intelligence on the whereabouts as well as the plans of the terrorists (thereby confirming) grave complicity and conspiracy. It is clear that the APC is complicit in the many acts of terrorism in our country...”
While it is true that Nigeria has become a country of “one trouble, one day” and while nothing appears able to shock Nigerians any more, three events in one week would appear to have jolted Nigerians all the same. One was the attack by bandits on the Kaduna airport where some were killed and others abducted by dare-devil bandits.
A petit state governor, who has been loud in denouncing the payment of ransoms, was said by competent sources to have helped to pay the ransom to secure the release of kidnapped airport staff! That event took place on Saturday, March 26, 2022 and it was not the first in the vicinity. One year ago, specifically on March 6, 2021, the Kaduna Airport Staff quarters was attacked by terrorists with 12 people kidnapped. Two days after the latest terrorist attack on the Kaduna airport, on Monday, 28 March, 2022 to be specific, the Abuja – Kaduna rail line was attacked by bandits with a yet-to-be-identified number of passengers either killed or declared missing-cum-kidnapped.
Again, that sad incident was not the first on the same route by bandits. Six months ago, specifically in October 2021, the same Abuja – Kaduna rail line was attacked by bandits. Do we ever learn any lessons? Or, better still, do we have a government properly so-called? The third event, and perhaps the most troubling for many Nigerians, was the shock exit, on Tuesday, 29 March, 2022, of the country’s senior national team, the Super Eagles, from the 2022 World Cup via a home defeat to perennial opponent and master, small Ghana, and right on our home tuff of all places!
The fans could not hold their rage and resorted to the needless, in fact, misplaced aggression of venting their anger on anything in sight at the MKO Abiola stadium venue of the football match. Nothing demonstrates the myopia and misplaced priority of our people better than this: Of all the problems whacking the country: No jobs, no power supply, no infrastructure, no roads, no quality hospitals, no fuel, high cost of living, our universities shut down, insecurity, hunger, grinding poverty, name it, it is on football that our people would choose to vent their anger!
I am sure you know many of those football fans could be university students pinning away as a result of incessant strikes by their lecturers; they could also be perennial JAMB candidates seeking admission to perpetually shrinking admission places in our institutions of higher learning; they could be graduates of many years seeking unavailable jobs; as well as those retrenched from jobs as company after company relocates from the country to better climes, especially to Ghana, our Nemesis on fronts other than football! Sometimes one is tempted to say that the suffering of our people serves them right!
Taking the quotations above one after the other, it becomes very clear that we know our problems and we also know the solutions to them. Like Karl Marx once posited, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it” That, precisely, is a huge part of our problems: We only interpret or beautifully analyse our problems but take no practical steps to change things.
That is why the same problems keep recurring and the same rain keeps beating us again and again. From the speech of Ado-Doguwa quoted above, he was right when he said the government's primary duty is to protect life and property but derailed when he described himself as a “representative” of the government. He is not! No legislator is a representative of the government! The Legislature is a distinct and equal arm of government, which is co-terminus with the two other arms, namely, the Executive and the Judiciary.
It is the Executive that forms the government and appoints ministers/commissioners, and other officials as its representatives while the duty of the Legislature is to make laws for good and effective governance as well as exercise oversight functions on the Executive. This is the whole essence of French philosopher, Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu’s theory of separation of powers and of checks and balances (to prevent dictatorship) between the three arms of government.
That this elementary dictum of democracy is lost on an officer of the calibre of Ado-Doguwa is unfortunate. How can he present, advance, advocate and protect the interests of his constituents when he thinks he is in the Legislature as representative of the same government he is expected to hold in check and ensure it acts according to law? Remember, this is the same man who once displayed his four wives and 27 children on the floor of the House, to the applause of some of his colleagues! But he was dead on point when he said our policing system must be decentralised and democratised.
State and local policing system must be sanctioned but because the Ado-Doguwas in the National Assembly think they are there as representatives of government, they have ensured that state police and other constitutional amendments not favoured by the Buhari administration are not allowed to see the light of day!
Representative Nasir Ahmed hit the nail on the head when he said no means of mass transportation – road, air, train – is again safe in the country. I call this the democratization of the burden of insecurity - which is good! Those who think they can abandon the roads and hop into a train or aircraft now have to do a quick rethink! Like reggae artist Peter Tosh crooned in “Downpressor Man”, if they run to the sea, the sea will be boiling and if they run to the rock, the rock will be melting! They can run but cannot hide from the consequences of their actions! Tell Muhammadu Buhari, if he did not know already, that the chickens have started coming home to roost! Nasir asked that the NSA be given the boot; he is right but not the NSA alone.
From Day One, a nepotism and clannishness never before witnessed in this country had seen Buhari appointing only his own tribe, region and religion into virtually ALL the sensitive military offices in the land. In so doing, he destroyed the esprit de corp of the military and placed incompetent people over and above their betters.
The sour fruits are what we are repeating. It shall remain so until the Buhari military architecture skewed in favour of a section of the country is completely dismantled, utterly destroyed and permanently obliterated like Bob Marley sang in “War” – Until the philosophy that holds one race/Superior and another inferior/Is permanently discredited/And abandoned...Until there are no longer/First-class and second-class citizens of any nation...”
Barde, quoted above, spoke of fifth columnists compromising the integrity of the war efforts against insurgency and banditry; he said nothing new! Buhari himself at one point spoke in defence of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. In fact, Boko Haram reposed so much confidence in him they nominated him their representative in a widely reported negotiation effort with the then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s government! Although Buhari declined the appointment, its significance was not lost on many. So, it is not only in the military that we have people blatantly compromising the war effort; we have them also in the ranks of mullahs and high government officials.
There could be many of them in sensitive and high places who are adopting what is now known as the Afghanistan strategy – staying within and helping to strengthen the same insurgency they purport to fight! The possibility there could be people in sensitive and critical offices as well as foot soldiers sympathetic to Boko Haram and bandits’ ideology gives cause for trepidation. For Fidel Castro said, “The fact is, when men carry the same ideals in their heart, nothing can isolate them...” TO BE CONTINUED!
* Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Westerner newsmagazine. He is a columnist and writes ON THE LORD'S DAY" column in the Sunday Tribune newspaper and TREASURES column in the New Telegraph newspaper. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.
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