Opinion

Insecurity, poverty, janjaweed philosophy of Buhari’s administration, By Bennett Joshua

Access Bank

In 2020, at a ministerial retreat, President Muhammadu Buhari had commended his administration for innovatively addressing insecurity and insurgency by rehabilitating and re-integrating repentant terrorists into society.

A seemingly triumphant Buhari had affirmed that his administration is on the right course and highlighted their efforts in building strong institutional capacities to fight corruption, while urging his appointees to defend his government by going on the offensive to better present information.

In that September 2020 get-together of his cabinet, Mr Buhari had alluded that his government was in touch with its promises to ensure equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth and close the gap between different classes.

It was five years short of his earlier campaign promises in 2015 to, in the next ten years, lift about a 100 per cent of the country’s population out of poverty.

However, and unfortunately, with about two years left in the life of his administration, that is barring any third term agenda of the government, the percentage of Nigerians living in poverty has risen by an additional 40 per cent in October 2019, from 54.7% in 2004, according to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The NBS in its report said that the figure represents 82.9 million people.

This stark reality was expressed by President Olusegun Obasanjo in year under review when he said he was embarrassed about how President Buhari is running the country, insisting that Africa’s most populous black nation is moving towards becoming a failed State.

The former President then openly accused Mr Buhari of mismanaging diversity by allowing disappearing old ethnic and religious fault lines to reopen in greater fissures with drums of bitterness, separation and disintegration.

Obasanjo’s dirge was echoed by a former Buhari supporter, Wole Soyinka, who described the country as a crumbling edifice on the edge of collapse.

But the duo of Obasanjo and Soyinka were not alone on the voyage. Late elder statesman, Balarabe Musa, added his voice to the call for reason, perhaps, ostensibly believing that the man at the Presidential wing of Aso Rock would have some latitude to give listening ears to constructive voices.

Balarabe had lambasted the attacks across the country by bandits and criminal herdsmen, insisting that the failure to rein-in the urchins is because the government was a subterfuge.

He said, “no serious and patriotic government will allow this level of killings of its citizens by terrorists and be watching aimlessly’.

If Obasanjo, Soyinka and late Balarabe are to be described as men without insight into the metaphysical reality surrounding Nigeria, hence their blindness to the milk of kindness flowing in Mr Buhari, for Nigerians, what would one then say of the submission of prominent Islamic scholar, Sheik Murtala Sokoto, who described those still praising Buhari as liars and hypocrites.

Even within President’s own party, All Progressives Congress (APC), many people who worked for his victory complain openly that the mission that brought them to power might have been willfully abandoned.

In April of 2021, the APC admitted that the current security situation across the country is worrisome, describing it as the “current realities” of this administration.

The party in a statement by its interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said “the issue of insecurity in the country has found expression in terrorist and criminal activities of Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers, rustlers and recently the highly condemnable attacks on security formations in some states.”

Available records show that from 2017 when Buhari took over office, to 2020, over 2,539 persons have been killed from 654 attacks alone.

And in 2019, Nigeria was ranked 3rd below Afghanistan and Iraq out of 138 countries in the Global Terrorism Index and is said to be the 14th most fragile in the world and the 9th in Africa, according to the Fragile States Index.

Banditry violence alone has swept across states such as Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi and Katsina states in the northwest, with an estimated 21 million people living in these states having being directed affected by the activities of bandits.

The banditry violence began as a farmer/herder conflict in 2011 and intensified between 2017 to 2018 to include cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom, sexual violence and killings. The violence has affected about 35 out of 92 local government areas in the 4 states.

In the middle belt, farmer-herder clashes left more than 1,300 people dead and displaced 300,000 people across the country from January-June 2018, with the figure rising exponentially from 2019 to 2020.

The list of woes is endless but it is an instructive commentary according to Jeff Istiffanus, Team Lead, Centre for Crisis Mitigation as it offers the government’s acceptability before the people.

The fact on ground shows that since Mr Buhari and his band assumed office in 2015, the country has unwittingly lost more than it bargained for.

From the notoriously restive northeast, to the once peaceful middle, the orgy of violence has spread to the South East where its people preferred commerce and a peaceful environment, to the rampaging hooliganism of criminals decorated in beautiful toga called “unknown gunmen.”

At every turn and on daily basis, Nigerians are confronted with gory tales of killings, bloodbath, misery and destitution, with thousands of compatriots killed and many more injured and displaced in various parts of the country.

From Kano to Cross River, Lagos to Borno, Kaduna to Imo, Kogi to Ebonyi and all parts of the country, the administration either by sheer ineptitude or grand conspiracy, has erected altars of violence and pushing life to extinct.

The use of hoodlums to attack Nigerians during any protest against the government, as witnessed in the EndSARS protest as well as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) protest in Kaduna, tells it all.

What is today happening in the South East is asymptomatic of the type of government the party has brought upon the country.

The situation is most likely not unconnected with the purported ‘janjaweed’ philosophy the party has over time being accused of.

Benneth, a journalist and a Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Abuja

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