Insecurity, Northern Elders Declaration and Buhari’s Response

 Insecurity, Northern Elders Declaration and Buhari’s Response

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

‘The moment a leader allows himself to become the primary reality people worry about, rather than reality being the primary reality, he has a recipe for mediocrity or worse -Jim Collins, Author of the book;  Good to Great.

Nigeria is the giant of Africa and the most populous black nation in the world.  But in material terms, the country has not left its third world status. This assertion is based on facts on public domain.

Aside from not being a member of BRICS, an acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the country is plagued with development challenges such as; insecurity, widespread poverty, terrorism, unchecked population explosion, technological backwardness,  corruption,  poor planning and implementation of policies, infrastructural decay, corruption, gross injustice,  ethnic politics, and practices a democracy that neither underwrites social justice nor promotes social mobility.

It was these failures particularly the inability to manage the economy and provide security amongst others that prompted the Professor Ango Abdullahi led Northern Elders Forum (NEF), recent declaration that President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors in the region have lost the capacity to end insecurity. Noting that provision of security and pursuit of economic welfare of citizens is the only two constitutional responsibilities of the state which all leaders must achieve of which the current circumstances in the North clearly demonstrates that President Buhari’s administration has woefully failed to achieve either. While submitting that the development is unacceptable, the group demanded an immediate and comprehensive improvement.

Indeed, for Nigerians that understand the concept of one united Northern Nigeria, where the leaders speak with one voice, such declaration by President Buhari’s brothers would not have come as a surprise.

The reason for this assertion is not far fetched.

The people have common religious, socio-economic and political institutions that promote its oneness that is very different from that of its southern counterpart which was never administered by one administrator right from the colonial days. Not even the creation of 19 states out of the former Northern region has  shaken this believe that the north is one entity where tribe and tongue may differ but they are united in fighting a common course to protect the interest of all from northern Nigeria. The north is united in fighting for the political, economic, socio-cultural and religious interests of its people within the large enclave called Nigeria.

However, there is something particularly brazen about this recent remark on the nation’s deteriorating security situation.

Fundamentally, it stands as a wondrous fact or event beyond the power of any creature and produced by the Almighty with the purpose of proving the truth. As after the declaration, President Buhari first, countered NEF’s accusations and described the Convener of the group, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, as a “General without troops.”However, addressing the security chiefs at a security meeting on Thursday, Buhari told them that their best efforts at tackling the security challenges were not good enough and that they should up their game. He particularly frowned at the lack of synergy among the security agencies saddled with the responsibility of fighting insurgency and banditry in the country.

Without any shadow of the doubt, Mr. President’s latest response has finally spread out the policies and ground works that promoted these failures as well as underlined the list of lengthy and worrying ways the Federal Government has failed to make the fight against insecurity and poor economic management a personal one or that of those that are directly charged with such responsibility.

His admission that there is something troubling with the nation’s security architecture, has consequentially vindicated many people who in the past worried that there is something deeply troubling about President Buhari’s relationship to reason, his disdain for facts, and his lack of curiosity about any new information that might produce a deeper understanding of the security problems and other challenges that he is supposed to wrestle with on behalf of the country.

And at about the same time eloquently adjudged as right the peaceful protest/procession held a while ago by the catholic churches in Nigeria where the church among other things explained that ‘’the procession or the peaceful protest was necessitated by the inability of the government to act on the several verbal and written complaints by the church; with regards to insecurity and bad governance, with the likes of His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal  Okogie  asserting that the president’s silence towards the killings showed that a cow in the estimation of the president has become  more valuable than human lives.

Interpretatively, what is in some ways newsy and a reality that Nigerians should worry about, is that Mr. President’s sudden admission of shortfalls in expectation from the security chiefs, brazenly tells about a government that has for a very long time presented false hopes to the nation. And a public official that was neither willing to expose his weakness nor submit itself to public scrutiny. Indeed, it has been for Nigerians a season of forlorn hopes and a pain deepened by the fact that it was avoidable.

The fact is there and speaks for itself.

If not forlorn hope, why is this new awareness coming just few days after the NEF’s outcry? And after the same Mr. President during the Democracy day broadcast gleefully told Nigerians that ‘in the area of security, FG remains unshaken in their resolve to protect our national infrastructure including on-shore and off-shore oil installations, secure our territorial waters and end piracy in the Gulf of Guinea?  And after declaring that ending insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality across the nation is being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones? From the present development, what should Nigerians make out of Mr. president’s recent claim during the broadcast that all the Local Governments taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas that were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes?

While I sympathize with the Northern Elders for their losses, it is important to add that as someone who cannot support an argument based on sentiment or allow sentiment to determine my actions, it is a barefaced truth that ‘if we look honestly at the realities of our national life,’ it is clear that we are not matching forward but groping and stumbling; we are divided and confused; our moral values and our spiritual confidence sinks.

Looking ahead, it important to ask; is it possible for this administration to secure this nation? The answer in my views is yes.  All that Mr. President needs to recognize is that globally, ‘a country’s defense capability has to continually upgrade as new technology, especially information technology, is incorporated into weapon system. This requires a sound economy that can afford to pay for new weaponry and a highly educated and trained people who can integrate the various arms into one system and operate them efficiently and effectively’.

Utomi, is a Lagos-Based Media Consultant. [email protected]

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