Rising state of insecurity: Has President Buhari reaches his wit end?
By Oludare Mayowa
It’s definitely not the best of time for Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari, a retired army general and his service chiefs over the spate of insecurity in the country.
The spike in the state of insecurity in the country has reached an alarming rate, yet typical of many officials of the present administration, the security situation is being downplayed.
They would rather blame the dead and imaginary enemies for the rising insecurity in the country than accept responsibility and seek a viable solution to the challenge.
The killing of about 43 rice farmers in a village in Borno State by Boko Haram militias last week has further brought to the fore the deteriorating security situation in the northeastern part of the country.
To further compound the situation, kidnapping and banditry incidents continue to escalate in the north-central and the southern part of the country with the country’s security agents seem overwhelmed.
Many Nigerians have called for the sack of the service chiefs, including the inspector general of Police over their inability to curtail the spread of insecurity across the country.
Those calls are not misplaced considering the failure of the security chiefs to arrest the deterioration of the situation even in spite of the huge resources the country has committed to the fight against insurgency.
But unfortunately, the commander-in-chief himself is not convinced that his military high command and all other security apparatus have failed the nation by his insistence on retaining the service chiefs in their position.
In a decent clime, both the service chiefs and even the commander-in-chief would have thrown in the towel for their inability to resolve the country’s insecurity challenges and safeguard the lives and property of the citizens.
Buhari was elected based on his seemingly stellar military credential in 2015 to help recover the country’s territory from the Islamic jihadist killing innocent people across the country.
Though immediately after his ascendancy into the presidential seat there was an improvement in the security situation as the military was able to push back on the insurgents and reduced the area they occupied.
However, as both Buhari and his service chiefs got cushy with lucre of power, the security situation gradually relapsed and become escalating with the advent of banditry and kidnapping including herdsmen killings of farmers which hitherto was not a major issue.
The initial gain recorded in the early tenure of President Buhari has been frittered away through some of the government policy to rehabilitate the so-called ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members back to the society.
Many of the repentant Boko Haram members have proved useful tools to the insurgents who now rely on them for Intelligence on locations and military movements to aid their attack.
Unlike the amnesty granted to Niger Delta militants, Boko Haram is more of an ideological war than an economic war.
The Niger Delta militants simply settled for money and abandoned their agitation while the Islamic fundamentalists are unrepentant because of the principle behind their fight.
Those insurgents have been brainwashed to believe that they were fighting the cause of Allah against infidels and that their reward is in heaven and not earthly.
Therefore, granting them amnesty is rather counterproductive rather than deescalate the situation.
Aside from the havoc of the so-called repentant militia, the increased unemployment situation in the country and growing economic hardship has also forced many people into criminality, which has further compounded the insecurity situation in the country.
The economic management acumen of this administration has been abysmally poor with the country slipping into recession twice within the life span of the government.
Many Nigerians are out of jobs due to the poor management of the economy and the impact of growing corruption within the government that promised to fight corruption to a standstill.
In its latest review of the 2021 budget proposal currently before the National Assembly, BudgIT a tech-driven policy advocacy group revealed that the spending estimate proposed by the government on capital expenditures were riddled with loopholes that provide rooms for corruption and stealing of government funds.
Many capital project expenditures were said to have been split to avoid the scrutiny of the due process of public procurement while some of the votes have no specific heading.
These have been the story of this administration budgeting since 2015 when President Buhari assumed power with all eyes on him to curb corruption in the system.
It was during the present administration that word such as budget padding slipped into the public lexicon while money was budgeted for frivolous projects with the money ended up in the pocket of legislators and government officials.
The present administration has the fortune of having the highest ever budget spent in the history of the country and boosted by huge debt accumulated from both bilateral and multilateral sources.
Nigeria’s debt profile has risen to more than $85.89 billion, far above the level it was in 2004 when the then president Olusegun Obasanjo struck a deal with the Paris Club of creditors to pay off over $20 billion of the country’s debt.
Though the government is not without some wins; the construction of rail lines in some parts of the country is one of the pluses of this government.
Also, Nigeria is currently growing more local rice than the previous situation where the country was a dumping ground for Thailand rice while more military hardware has been procured to strengthen the military fight against insurgency.
The increase in local rice production was supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP), which extends low-interest loans to farmers across the country.
The irony of the pluses recorded by the government, however, is that the effect of those activities are yet to reflect in the well being of many Nigerians.
The main downside to the government is that rather than listening to the voice of reason, it has unleashed propaganda and repressive measures to cow oppositions.
The manner the government handled the killings of some youths at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos during the #Endsars protest reminds one of the military era while government response to criticism has been more of intolerant and dictatorial.
For the government to win the war against insecurity it needs the buy-in of Nigerians from all segments, including the opposition. The government must be willing to listen to genuine counsel from past leaders and concerns citizens in its efforts to bring closure to the menace of Boko Haram and other insecurity situation in the country.
The government should also enlist the support of past service chiefs and other intelligent agencies in the fight against insecurity while pushing for more economic solutions to some of the challenges that lure some people to criminality.
The government should apply the Mirror Principle to truthfully appraise its performance in the past six years in the saddle and genuinely make amend where necessary rather than embarking on a blame game.
It imperative that to win the war and etch his name in gold, President Buhari must be ready to disrobe himself of sectional interest and wear the garb of a nationalist that has his eyes fixed on how history will judge him and do the needful regardless of personal, religion and political interest.
He should remember that he was elected by the majority of Nigerians to solve the mirage of challenges confronting the country and that should be his focus for the remaining part of his tenure.
His action should be dictated by the love of the country and adhere to the constitution and not to please some element within the polity.
There are still opportunities for him to redeem himself and finish strong but that will depend on how he is able to extricate himself from the claws of the irredentist that surrounded him presently and blurring his vision for a total change from evil past.