In the Olusegun Obasanjo years, one of the newspaper headlines that had a somewhat salutary effect on his presidency was his ability to preside over a peaceful country, a country free from banditry and insurgency and other criminal elements that ravage Nigeria today. Any public disturbance that could morph into events capable of putting the country on the edge and leaving the citizenry in trepidation was swiftly snuffed out irrespective of the part of the country such might be taking place.
When the Oduduwa People’s Congress (OPC) became vicious and daring, wreaking havoc with reckless abandon in the south west in the early days of Obasanjo presidency, Obasanjo, in a live broadcast on NTA, ordered security agencies to arrest OPC members fomenting troubles and anyone who resisted arrest should be shot dead. That’s a vintage Obasanjo for you. He takes no nonsense. And the notion that some non-state actors could undermine the constituted authority and unleash terror on fellow citizens grated his nerves.
During the short-lived administration of late Musa Yar’Adua, little was heard of brigands holding the country to ransom. In the time of Goodluck Jonathan, who first served as a vice to Yar’Adua later succeeded him after he died, the citizenry was not constantly inundated with tales of murderous cretins wreaking havoc in any part of the country the way we have it today. However, things have swiftly moved from the sublime to the ridiculous under Buhari that incidents that sparked unprecedented outrage under his predecessor are now greeted with a muffled expression of discontent. Take, for instance, the Chibok school abduction in 2014 was the first mass abduction of students in Nigeria and the incident generated massive outrage, and rightly so. So much so that the Barack Obama administration was at the forefront of the call for the rescue of the over 200 girls.
Fast-forward to 2015, Buhari won the presidential election by riding the crest of adequate security for the masses. Between 2018 and 2021, almost one thousand schoolchildren and tertiary institutions students have been abducted with little or no public outcry. The abductions are now a norm rather than an exception. It appears the once vociferous citizenry has lost the gusto to exercise their civic responsibility of calling out an incompetent government and the international community appears to no longer take a deep interest in such matter.
However, it’s not so much about the insecurity in the land and the lacklustre disposition and utter indifference of the Buhari’s administration towards it that’s worrisome but the viciousness and aggression with which the same government, that wants the populace to believe that it’s incapable of addressing the scourge of insecurity, have clampdown on other citizens who have done nothing but demanded justice, fairness, and equality and that if these can’t be guaranteed they should be allowed to have a nation of their own.
“A nation can endure unbelief but not injustice”, this compelling and profound remark are true words of Northern sage, Uthman Dan Fodio. A nation that unleashes frightening terror on proponents of self-determination but pampers ruthless and audacious non-state actors who kill, maim, pillage and plunder, will eventually hasten the balkanization it is ferociously preventing. Many will find it exceedingly bizarre that the same government that does photo op with AK-47 wielding bandits and rehabilitate terrorists in the North is also the one attacking peaceful demand for self-determination in the south.
From Nnamdi Kanu to Sunday Igboho, the persecution of secessionists down south and protection of terrorists up north is a stark reflection of the parochialism, clannishness, bigotry, and chauvinism that this administration has become synonymous with. The same government which has not been able to prosecute and convict one terrorist or bandit in its over six years at the helms of affairs could deploy state resources and taxpayers funds towards the extradition of Nnamdi Kanu, a relatively harmless secessionist and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
In the same vein, the Buhari administration has also been working relentlessly to secure the extradition of the foremost Yoruba freedom fighter and frontline agitator for sovereign Yoruba nation, Sunday Igboho, who’s facing trial in the Benin Republic. Recall that the lawless Department of State Security (DSS) launched a deadly attack on Igboho’s residents in Ibadan in July, killing two and arresting twelve of his associates. Every man and woman of good conscience must be startled by the sheer ruthlessness of the attack on a man that has committed no crime, except self-determination agitation has become a criminal offence in the country.
On Monday, the Nigerian army paraded contrite Boko Haram members who are now asking for Nigerians forgiveness after killing 350,000 persons, kidnapping hundreds of schoolchildren, and displacing close to three million in the last 12 years of their nefarious activities in North-East Nigeria. The spectacle is as disgusting as it’s offensive. Such brazen disregard for good conscience and everything that’s scared by the Nigerian army and the Buhari-led federal government is an insult to the sensibility of Nigerians, especially those who have been at the receiving end of these monstrous reprobates now masquerading as penitent characters.
Oluwaseun, the widow of slain Ibrahim Sakaba, a lieutenant-colonel, has slammed the Nigerian Army for commending the 1,081 Boko Haram terrorists who purportedly surrendered in Bama, Borno State, on Monday.
The widow of Mr. Sakaba lambasted the army, just as she queried it on why the terrorists should be forgiven.
She also accused the army of pretense and not paying the dues of her late husband.
“@hqnigerianarmy it we (sic) never be well with all of you…I should forgive them for making me a young widow, I should forgive them for killing my husband, his brother and his mom!! I should forgive them for making me seek shelter in another country,” she wrote on Instagram.
Mr. Sakaba died alongside 117 other soldiers in November 2018, after Boko Haram insurgents attacked a Nigerian Army battalion in Borno State.
For months on end, there’s been troubling speculation that there are vested interests among politicians and security agents who collude with non-state actors unleashing terrors on hapless citizens for pecuniary gains. The Boko Haram conundrum became a festering sore and an unending battle of attrition to the helpless populace because some unscrupulous minds at the corridor of power wanted it so. Recall that former chief of army staff, TY Danjuma, once passed a damning verdict on the army over its handling of the insecurity in the north. The elder statesman lambasted the military for aiding and abetting bandits and Boko Haram in their nefarious and diabolical activities. If these dispiriting conjectures are cast aside due to misgivings and for giving the unconvincing military and other security agencies the benefits of doubt, the recent histrionics of parading placards-carrying terrorists and killers as repentant souls deserving of a second chance at normal life has lent credence to the frightening assertions that the federal government hobnobs with the terrorists.
You can’t pamper terrorists and bandits in the north and bludgeon southerners who demand nothing but good governance, fairness, justice, equity, and/or self-determination. No nation thrives on injustice and prejudice. Buhari has become unpopular and resented in many parts of the country because of his seeming favouritism and cronyism in virtually every sphere of governance. He’s frittered away the massive goodwill he enjoyed in the build-up to his term owing to the persecution of certain groups and protection of his kinsmen who are threatening the territorial integrity of the nation.
Having said that, there’s still enough time for him to act like the president that he is and get himself a glorious spot in the hall of posterity. There’s enough time to right his wrongs, there’s enough time to redeem his battered reputation.
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Afolabi Hakim is a journalist, content creator and writer. He is always on the look out for ways to broaden his knowledge spectrum and Impact people's lives positively.