RingTrue BY Yemi Adebowale
Those we have elected to protect us at the state and federal levels are persistently busy complaining and shifting blames instead of taking no-nonsense action to tame raging insecurity across Nigeria. People who took oaths to shield Nigerians persistently tell us that bandits, killer herders and kidnapper ravaging the country are foreigners as if our law says foreign criminals in Nigeria must not be tackled.
Even those sitting in Abuja are echoing this nonsense. Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger State, in whose jurisdiction 135 Islamiya school pupils are still being held by bandits, has joined the prickly band chorusing ‘bandits are foreigners’. “Most of these bandits are from outside the country. They are hired to cause problems for us. It is not the habit of the true Fulani to indulge in this kind of act,” declared the Niger State Governor early this week.
What has being “a foreign criminal” got to do with getting a job done by destroying the murderers? Leaders with nothing to offer this country will always come up with mundane reasons for their failure. This position of Sani-Bello is depressing and a confirmation of his cluelessness. No wonder Niger State is bleeding profusely.
135 abducted students from Salihu Tanko Islamiya School in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger state, have been languishing in the dungeons of their captors for four weeks. Some of the kidnapped pupils are between ages four, and 13. They are vulnerable to sickness in the bush where they are being held. In fact, one of them has died and all we get from the Niger State governor is that “the kidnappers are foreigners.”
Sani-Bello’s beloved Niger State is on the long list of states ravaged by killings and abductions by bandits, yet, he goes about spewing rubbish. In this state, bandits control eight local governments and people pay them for security. The likes of Shiroro, Munya, Rafi and Mariga local government areas have been surrendered to bandits. Sympathisers of the abducted Tegina pupils have paid N11 million to the abductors, yet, freedom is not in sight.
The headmaster of the Islamiya School, Abubakar Alhassan, laments: “I have witnessed the funeral prayer of one of the parents here very close to the school. She died because she had just one child who is our student. She was not around when the incident happened. When she came back they told her and within 30 minutes, she collapsed and died. That was the day before yesterday. A day after the incident, another parent died. She had two children. One was sent to the town while the one with her was kidnapped. She died of a heart attack.”
Yes, we can’t heap all the blames on Governor Sani-Bello because he does not control the security agencies. However, if after collecting billions of Naira over six years as security vote, he still can’t come up with proactive actions to protect his people, then, this governor should at least stop disgorging garbage.
I also find depressing, the obstinate lies untiringly peddled by security agencies, as they struggle against bandits, Fulani militias and kidnappers. In the case of the abducted students of Federal Government College, Yauri, Kebbi State, the Army reported nine days ago that the fleeing kidnappers ran into men of the Joint Taskforce of Operation Hadarin Daji in the North-West Zone, at a roadblock, and a firefight occurred. According to the Deputy Force Commander, Operation Hadarin Daji, Air Commodore Abubakar Abdulkadir, as a result of the duel, the bandits were forced to abandon five students and a teacher; but sadly, one of the students died in the crossfire.
So, there was a firefight and not a single bandit was killed or captured? The bandits abandoned only five of the students and crossed the road block with the others unhindered? How did they escape through the fortified road block, if indeed, there was a firefight? This story is outrageous. The army reported further that the land troops tackled the bandits in conjunction with elements of the Nigerian Air Force, who provided close air support, yet, they could not gun down a single bandit during the rescue mission. Commodore Abdulkadir’s men, who could not rescue the traumatised students, reported that they were able to recover 800 cattle from the bandits. What a country!
Also, midway into the case of the abducted 39 students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Kaduna State, the Army Spokesperson, Yerima Mohammed reported that five of the abducted students had been rescued by the military. That was not the true story. The military was merely trying to take credit for a job not done. The Kaduna State Government joined the Army to spread the falsehood by saying the Army “recovered” the five students. It was a charade.
One of the five freed students blew the whistle on the Army and the Kaduna State Government by revealing that the bandits released them voluntarily. Francis Paul, a 200 Level Student at the institution said: “One afternoon, they (the bandits) came and started selecting us… I was very ill that day. So, they asked me to sit aside and they added some girls and put us on motorbikes. They dropped us at a village close to the main road and said we should walk towards the road and we did.” This is the true story. The next set of five students released followed this process. This school is situated near Nigeria’s foremost military institution, yet, bandits slipped in with ease and abducted dozens of students. They also went out unopposed. How can this be explained?
Security agents should move out and rescue all abductees still with bandits instead of peddling falsehood. It is not good for the image of these security agencies. The biggest drawback to this war against bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram is the endless lies by governments and security agencies at all levels.
Let’s talk about the Air Force’s farce. It’s almost three months that an Alpha light attack jet on a mission to support troops fighting the terrorists crashed in Borno State. After spending weeks struggling to locate the crash spot, the Nigerian Air Force is now mum on rescue update. Boko Haram’s claim that it shot the jet is looking real. The failure of the military to locate the so-called true crash site reflects the level of decay in the military. Modern search and rescue is about technology, equipment and quality manpower. This country lacks capacity for these and it’s unwilling to seek help from abroad.
The security glitches under the Buhari government are frightening, ceaseless and consuming too many innocent lives. How can this government explain the Jangebe, Kankara, Kagara, Greenfield University, Afaka, Tegina, Yauri and other abductions carried out with so much ease? Culprits are hardly arrested to account for their crimes. It is outlandish that kidnappers communicate with families of victims via GSM for months and regularly pick ransom undetected. How can one explain hundreds of AK47-wielding Fulani militias in the forests of Zamfara, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger and Kaduna states? As usual, Buhari openly orders arrest of these criminals but it hardly happens. The political leaders in Abuja controlling the security agencies often display startling ineptitude.
The security and welfare of our gallant soldiers have also been bungled. So, how will they secure the country? They are ill- equipped and ill-motivated. Images of soldiers of an unidentified battalion staging a protest over their posting to a location in the Theatre of Operation, due to poor working condition, remain fresh.
I concur with the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who argued that President Buhari should be impeached if he’s incapable of solving this country’s insecurity. Baba-Ahmed remarked: “This nation cannot wait two more years for President Buhari to address the issues of insecurity. Those who have constitutional responsibility must realise that the country is in a dire state, and do something other than just talking and making promises.”
Unfortunately, majority of our federal lawmakers are there to serve the President instead of Nigerians. So, the issue of impeaching a maladroit President becomes a mirage.
People who took oaths to shield Nigerians persistently tell us that bandits, killer herders and kidnapper ravaging the country are foreigners as if our law says foreign criminals in Nigeria must not be tackled. Even those sitting in Abuja are echoing this nonsense. Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger State, in whose jurisdiction 135 Islamiya school pupils are still being held by bandits, has joined the prickly band chorusing ‘bandits are foreigners’
Akeredolu’s Marijuana Mission
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo is the frontrunner in the campaign for the legalisation of Cannabis Sativa (Marijuana) or Indian Hemp in Nigeria. He has been going about this campaign with so much passion. For Akeredolu, Nigeria stands to benefit a lot from this banned psychotropic drug, particularly in the area of medicine. The Ondo State governor also said cannabis could be a strong foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.
The governor said: “We must find a way to legalise the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. There is nothing wrong about it. We are only shooting ourselves in the foot. It is a foreign exchange earner for people outside the country. People want this. We ourselves, even our pharmacies want to develop it.”
Akeredolu has even travelled to Thailand to study the cultivation of Cannabis for pharmaceutical use. He disagrees with those who argue that decriminalizing Cannabis would lead to more Nigerians being sucked into drug abuse: “Every country has drug problem. We have it here; it is not as pronounced here as in other places. When we talk about cultivation, we are saying a monitored one, in which NDLEA will have an office near the farms.”
Akeredolu has an ally in the House of Representatives, in the person of Miriam Onuoha. She is pushing a bill for the validation of cultivation and trading in cannabis for medical and cosmetic use, research purposes as well as revenue generation for Nigeria. This is the Cannabis Control Bill 2020, which has passed second reading.
For me, Akeredolu’s campaign is all balderdash. Nigeria does not need to legalise Marijuana growing for any reason. The destructive Marijuana is already a big problem in this country, with millions of people hooked onto it. Marijuana is largely the motivator for all sorts of crimes in Nigeria. The relationship between Marijuana abuse and crime is a fact. The present figure of 10.6 million Nigerians abusing Cannabis is already frightening. Marijuana is a psychotropic drug that goes straight into the brain and destroys it. Many of our youths are languishing in mental homes because of Cannabis. This drug has destroyed many homes and families. Now, somebody is talking about permitting it. It’s impossible to differentiate Cannabis cultivated for medicinal use and those for “smoking.”
Akeredolu is not talking about generating forex from the good old cocoa, coffee, palm oil and other export produce his state was known for during the Western Region era. He is dreaming about earning forex from Cannabis. If there is so much forex in Cannabis, then, Thailand that legally grows and exports it for medicinal purpose will be a prosperous country today. But Thailand remains a third world country.
I urge lawmakers in the National Assembly to throw out the prickly bill seeking to decriminalize Marijuana. It is simply aiming to reverse the little progress so far recorded in the fight against drug abuse in Nigeria.
Candid Epistle of Gbajabiamila to APC
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, spoke wisely at the recent Progressives Youth Conference of the APC in Abuja. At least for once, a key member of the party pointed out that it had not been committed to its manifesto at all levels of government. He also reminded party members holding political positions that they “will answer” for what they did with their time in government.
Gbajabiamila remarked: “As is the case with all other contractual documents, the commitments contained in the party’s manifesto are the basis upon which the party’s record in government will be measured and its leaders will be assessed both in real-time and in the judgment of history. If the manifesto of the party is merely a compendium of promises put together for electoral purposes without any consideration of the personnel/resources required for achieving them, then it is unlikely to succeed.”
APC’s manifesto has long been abandoned by its political office holders at the state and federal levels. President Buhari dumped it few weeks into his Presidency. Buhari reneged on the party’s promise to pay N5000 monthly stipend to jobless Nigerians and nothing happened. When he was challenged for not implementing the promised N5000 monthly stipend, he said it was the party that made the promises and not him. Buhari is also unaware that restructuring is contained in his party’s manifesto. It can only happen in Nigeria.