IN THE ARENA
Against the background of the latest terrorists’ bloodletting in Plateau State and many other parts of the country, the weighty warnings by the nation’s critical stakeholders should not be glossed over as usual by the highest level of political leadership, writes Louis Achi
About 106 persons were killed by terrorists, who attacked about 10 communities in Kanam and Wase local government areas of Plateau State, last Sunday. According to the Chairman of Kanam Local Government Area, Dr. Dayabu Garga, 106 victims had were given mass burial the following day. Garga said the attack created a huge humanitarian crisis in the communities as the people rendered homeless, were in desperate need of assistance.
From THISDAY checks, the bandits, who rode into the communities in over 70 motorcycles, each carrying three persons fully armed with sophisticated weapons, opened fire indiscriminately on men only, and left women unhurt. While some of the victims were shot while they were fleeing into the bush, others were killed in their homes.
Deputy Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon. Saleh Yipmong alleged that the military and other security agents arrived in the communities an hour after the killers had left. Yipmong said that even the villagers were surprised about the attack because the communities were the safest in the state.
Sources revealed that though 106 persons killed in the attack have been given mass burial, many dead bodies are still being recovered in the bushes because the bandits pursued some people into the bushes
According to the grieving Kanam LGA chairman, “Displaced people are unaccounted for; more than 5,000 people are IDPs on their own soil. The issue is so much devastating.” Besides Kanam LGA, there were also killings in the Wase Local Government Area, where the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase, hails from.
Almost simultaneously, the terrorists also invaded some communities in Benue and Taraba states, killing about 30 people.
In all of these, the only response Nigerians got from the federal government, was a familiar homily from President Muhammadu Buhari, warning security agencies not to spare or forgive the perpetrators. According to a statement by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, Buhari has directed law enforcement agencies to work strenuously with the government of the state to bring the situation under control and take steps to bring the culprits to justice quickly.
But brushing aside Buhari’s statement, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) last week demanded the immediate resignation of the president, over killings across the country, especially in the North. The Director, Publicity and Advocacy of NEF, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made the call in a statement.
According to the group: “The administration of President Buhari does not appear to have answers to the challenges of security to which we are exposed. We cannot continue to live and die under the dictates of killers, kidnappers, rapists and sundry criminal groups that have deprived us of our rights to live in peace and security.
“Our Constitution has provisions for leaders to voluntarily step down if they are challenged by personal reasons or they prove incapable of leading. It is now time for President Buhari to seriously consider that option, since his leadership has proved spectacularly incapable of providing security for Nigerians.”
But in a familiar pushback, the presidency dismissed NEF’s call for Buhari’s resignation, saying it would never be a solution to the nation’s security problems. It claimed that reforms in internal security would start soon. It also blamed “failed politicians” for seeking the president’s resignation. The president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Shehu duly delivered the boorish homily.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina conceded that “security is everything, nobody can dispute that,” in his latest weekly column, “Hiding Under the Umbrella of Insecurity”. He however attacked those calling for the resignation of his principal.
Hear him: “Between 2009 and 2022, there were at least 271 mass shootings in United States of America, resulting in 1,518 people killed, and 980 wounded. Just this week, there has been the Brooklyn Subway Shooting, in which at least 23 people were critically injured.
“In all these, did you hear calls for the resignation of any American President? It is on record that last year was the deadliest in a decade, in terms of mass shootings. Have you heard of calls for the resignation of President Joe Biden by a caterwauling band? No.”
However, in weighty reactions to the insecurity nightmare worsening by the day, eminent Nigerians including the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, have warned that what is unfolding across the country is the greatest threat to the forthcoming 2023 general election.
Other individuals and groups who spoke in similar vein include the Secretary-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mr. Okey Emuchay; the National Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress, (INC), Ebipamowei Wodu; representative of NEF, Prof. Yusuf Usman; Aare Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams; the convener of Niger-Delta Self-Determination Movement, Ankio Briggs; a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Diaspora Government, Udeh Christian Iwuagwu, amongst others.
These stakeholders who made their positions known last week during the Inclusive Security Dialogue Retreat jointly organised by the Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa in Abuja, warned that there might be no election in 2023, if the current spate of insecurity in the country is not checked.
The CAN President, in his submission, said: “Care must be taken to ensure that the 2023 election does not become a sham. Insecurity, if it is not taken care of, by the government, there will be no 2023 general election. Going by the present state of affairs in the country, are we sure the bandits and terrorists will not overrun the country before 2023? These criminals are moving from one level of sophistication and recklessness to another.
“Why has the government not deemed it fit to expose those financing terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria? For whose benefit are you hiding their identity? Nigerians want to know those who have put us in this mess as well as those who are siding and abetting them.”
Also, the Sultan of Sokoto, represented by the Co-chairman of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, Kunle Sanni, among others, said: “A lot of people have been arrested over banditry and terrorism, but how many of them have been jailed or executed? These people have killed thousands of people. Some people should pay for all these atrocities. The NSA and the service chiefs should all resign by now, because they have failed. Let us get new people with fresh ideas to confront the situation.”
The House of Representatives has also condemned the rising insecurity in the country, especially the recent killings in Plateau, Benue and Taraba states.
The legislators, who expressed this position at the plenary last Wednesday, demanded the removal of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd.) and the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd.).
They alleged that security agents were aiding bandits and other criminals and that huge security funds were not being justified. They also alleged that the security chiefs were benefitting from insecurity in the country because of the huge funds being allocated to the defence sector.