The Insight by Lateef Adewole
The magnitude of the recent happenings across the country and the response from “the presidency” to them reminds me of what happened in the United States of America (USA) some weeks ago and the response to the incident by their own “presidency” as well.
A killer, Robert Aaron Long, 21, had attacked some Spas in Atlanta and its outskirts. He killed eight people and injured one. This happened in Asian-American communities. The victims included six Asian women. What did the US “presidency” do? They flew all the way to condole with the people of those communities. Not only President Joe Biden, but also the Vice President, Kamala Harris.
And not just showmanship visit, they spoke forcefully against such a crime and condemned it in totality. The killer was also apprehended and he is facing the consequences of his actions. President Biden, who is also advanced in age at 78, said: “Hate can have no safe harbor in America,” and he called on Americans to stand up to bigotry when they see it. “Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit.” He said.
Similarly, Vice President Kamala called the incident “heinous activities of violence”. She said: “The president and I will not be silent. We will not stand by. We will always speak out against violence, hate crimes and discrimination, wherever and whenever it occurs”. They met with the people and leaders of the Asian-American communities there and gave them comfort and more assurances of their safety.
With the orgy of violence, killings and criminalities that have engulfed Nigeria and seemed to have exacerbated in the last one month claiming hundreds of lives of Nigerian citizens, how did the “Nigerian presidency” respond to them? It was bad enough that while the “no show and keeping mute” syndrome by President Buhari continued as usual, the most insensitive and idiotic comments were made by his aide and appointee.
First, it was Garba Shehu who queried why Nigerians are now reporting killings today as if they never occurred in the past. Many citizens were caught off-guard with such new low from him. This was in response to the highlights of killings that have occurred and known, in just one week. Some put the figure at over 230. Garba Shehu must have seen one message that went viral, which gave a synopsis of some incidents in the last one week. Could there be any worse and more irresponsible comment from a “presidency” to such heinous crimes?
Then, Alhaji Lai Muhammed said that all that is happening now were caused by the overthrow of General Gowon’s regime in 1975. He blamed the late General Murtala Muhammed for not continuing with the educational programmes of Gowon. This is a government which blames everything on everybody else except themselves. They hardly take responsibility for their shortcomings.
The “jungle seems to be maturing” in Nigeria right now. Things are no longer at ease. Everything is becoming what the Yorubas called “isu ata yanhan yanhan” (yam pepper scatter scatter, as we say in local parlance). No part of the country is at peace. Everywhere is boiling. No one feels safe anymore, whether rich or poor, leaders or followers, political office holders or the ordinary citizens. Everyone is now vulnerable and under attack. The country is under siege.
This new reality must have been stark naked in the faces of our political office holders, given the greater attention they are beginning to pay to it. The house of representatives debated it. They demanded that a state of emergency be declared on insecurity. What that has ever achieved in the past remains to be seen. The fire being spitted by the indefatigable Senator Smart Adeyemi on the floor of the senate recently spoke volumes. He fired salvos all over without minding whose horse was gored.
He even suggested that if they, as peoples’ representatives, fail to act in their interests to protect them, they (the lawmakers) should go back home and let the hallowed chambers be shut down. Or, what is the essence of government if the security of lives and properties of the citizens could no longer be guaranteed? That’s the first constitutional responsibility of the government. I know that the national assembly leadership and members wouldn’t find that suggestion funny at all. “Who go leave where dem dey chop?“. I am sure they would have called Senator Smart to order in camera not to say such a thing again. “Abi he wan cause trouble for them ni?”.
That’s the Smart that we all knew and looked forward to see in the senate, not the one who seemed to have been cowed and whose wings have been clipped since he joined APC. He was one of the most vocal senators in those years of PDP, despite belonging to the ruling party. He has also shown some stuff he’s made of while addressing the Management of FCT, IRS and at another time, a contractor who collected money for works not done, under the Ministry of Works and Housing. All these in recent times. That’s by the way.
Senator Clifford Ordia, who represents the Edo Central Senatorial district, said he escaped by the whiskers from being killed or abducted along Okene-Lokoja road, while returning from his village in Edo state. Three police officers sustained serious gunshot injuries. They saved his life. On the same journey, he had a second encounter with the bandits at Abaji, along Lokoja-Abuja expressway. All within a spate of 24 hours or less.
Governor Sani Bello of Niger state has cried out that about 50 villages are now under the control of Boko haram. They have hoisted their flags in these villages under Shiroro and Munya LGAs. These are locations roughly about two-hour drive from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. The lawmakers, politicians and others, who see Abuja as safe haven, must read the handwriting on the wall. The chickens are coming home to roost.
The same Boko haram, who was once called “ragtag and technically defeated”, overran the home town of the sitting Acting Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Baba Alkali in Geidam, Yobe state. That’s the state of the senate president too. Will these prominent Nigerians be able to visit their country homes now with this situation on ground? What will their unarmed, ordinary people of the communities and state, who have no gargantuan security machineries like them, do now?
I started a gradual implementation of my resolution to reduce my intent following of the news to save me from heart attack. In the last two weeks, I stopped watching news on television, listening to them on radio and reduced drastically, reading online and offline news posts. I became substantially passive in my contributions to debates on many social media platforms to which I belong. It helped to calm my nerves a bit. I was on the verge of breaking down because of the worries of Nigeria. Our country’s case has become “egbinrin ote, bi a se n pakan, nikan n ruwe” (the soot of conspiracy, as we uproot one, another sprouts). Trouble never ends in Nigeria.
I knew it was time to act when one day, the first fifteen minutes of a news cast on a television station was filled with horrible and horrifying news. Killings across the country, kidnappings of students, passengers, and travellers by bandits, Boko Haram attacks, bank robberies, and all kinds of criminalities. Then the secessionist agitators’ taking over in a violent manner across the South-East. These issues are escalating at a seriously alarming and worrisome rate now. It is so bad that even a sitting governor’s house was not spared. I was dazed. It’s overwhelming for me. How could all these be happening to one country and there is a government in place?
I could recall how I wrote several articles in the past years about the happenings then, which served as precursors to what is happening now. In many of those interventions, I often foretold the consequences of many actions and inactions of the Federal government under the leadership of President Buhari at the time. There was no name I was not called by many supporters of the government and president, many of who happened to be my families, friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and readers.
“Wailing wailer”, a new coinage since 2015 by APC, is the common appellation for those who raise concerns about the misgovernance by current administration. Opposition member, PDP sympathiser or member, hater of Buhari, sore election loser, corruption fighting back, and many others, are among names I shared with others like me, as given by the Buhari’s supporters and loyalists. It was like a taboo to complain about the wrongdoings of the government.
Many of the same people who used to criticise and abuse me for my stands all this while will also read this. They should be ashamed of themselves. A favourite quote I always used to counter their criticism of my opinion is one by Edmund Burke which states that; “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Many of them who are close to me have actually apologised for their misjudgement and for taking wrong positions on many issues at the time. The scales have fallen off their eyes.
Who wouldn’t review his stand in the past at this time, with all that’s happening? Only an imbecile will remain inside a house on fire. Even Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has come out to explain himself after his past “sins” caught up with him, with the viral video of his opinion about Jonathan and his government, which he forcefully expressed in 2014, in the run-up to the 2015 general elections.
He was called out for his taking a 180-degree turn today from was he said in 2014, with regards to kidnapping of Chibok school girls, paying ransom, politicising insecurities, and so on. I guess the job is easy when one isn’t the person doing it. His jurisdiction as a governor, Kaduna state, has been the killing field (323 killed in three months), theatre of kidnappings (949 kidnapped in same period) and bandit attacks in the past five years. The situation has terribly degenerated in the last one month with series of mass abductions of students at all levels; primary, secondary, school of forestry, and university.
There was also an attack on the Kaduna Airport staff quarters. These are exclusive of countless killings, raping and destructions of many villages, particularly in the Southern part of the state. Many of those communities are now desolate. The indigenes have abandoned their ancestral lands and homes, and fled while the government looked helpless or confused. That one has remained a recurring decimal. Many roads connecting towns and communities within the state and those linking the state to other states are impassable. They have been taken over by bandits. “Those who ride on the back of a tiger, will end up in its belly”.
All these years, it was majorly in the North-East that insecurity thrived. Bandits spread it to North-west and gradually to North-Central. In no time, South-West, the region that used to be most peaceful, began to experience its own share with escalation of kidnappings and killings. South-East and South-South have always had their complaints. One common denominator in all of these is the pointing of fingers at the killer Fulani herdsmen. They are always accused of causing trouble everywhere they go, leaving death and destruction in their wake.
Despite this, the federal government never acted appropriately to deal with the situation by bringing them to book. Rather, they denied the incidents, excused the Fulani herdsmen, justify their actions many times, and even compensate them. What did we expect to result from such irresponsible actions of government? The killers became emboldened and more audacious. They continued to have field days in their rampage and here we are. They are now monsters that the same federal government seems to be incapable of taming.
As a response to these, due to the failure of government, non-state actors stepped into the fray and began to take laws into their hands. We saw it in the South-West. It was quickly managed and curbed. Now we are seeing it in the South-East. The situation is fast degenerating. Benue State Governor Ortom cried out after over 70 people were killed last week. He reiterated his demand that the FG allow them to also procure and give their people AK47 riffles to defend themselves. “O pari” (It’s finished!). When will it not get to that? If the FG refused, people will eventually do whatever they need to do to defend themselves against the marauders that seem to be above the law. When a goat is pushed to the wall, it will turn back to fight. We hope it’s not too late for the president to act with sincerity and heed the call of the people. Nigeria is at the precipice.
Why should people be forced to remain in a union that is not working and choking everyone? Is it not better to separate peacefully and remained allies thereafter than to break-up forcefully and remained arch-enemies afterwards? Citizens have asked for restructuring for decades but political leadership refused because this unwieldy contraption favours them. Now, people are demanding for self-determination. If the leadership remains adamant and does nothing, there will always be consequences for every action and inaction. The choice is theirs to make. It’s better to jaw-jaw than to war-war.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable” – Martin Luther King.
May God continue to guide us aright.
God Bless Nigeria.
Lateef Adewole is a political analyst and social commentator. He can be reached by email [email protected] or via WhatsApp +2348020989095 and @lateef_adewole on Twitter, Lateef Adewole on Facebook