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Overburdening the presidency & the BBOG movement?


Leader of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, Oby Ezekwesili (right) and others at the main entrance to the Presidential Villa, Abuja. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

Nigeria is in dire straits, especially from a security perspective. Everyday that passes, it looks like things are falling apart and the centre is finding it difficult to hold. I do not know how the government and party in power view this situation.

Some how, it seems to me that they are essentially hoping that things will soon sort themselves out. But that strategy seems not to be working well so far and I am getting really worried that by the time this strategy eventually comes to work, things may have completely gone out of hand, because in the long run we would all be dead as the economists say. It is true that Nigeria has a high fertility rate, but the way Nigerians are being slaughtered everyday these days, soon we will begin to depopulate Nigeria at a rate much higher than the birth rate.

I do not think that this is a valid population control strategy. Boko Haram is bombing and killing daily and those they fail to kill, they abduct. The militant Fulani herdsmen have gone completely berserk. In the last two weeks they returned to the Plateau perhaps to teach Governor Lalong that their madness has nothing to do with the anti-open grazing law. When the militant herdsmen welcomed the people of Benue into the New Year with murder and mayhem, Lalong openly blamed Governor Ortom for enacting the anti- open grazing bill.


I felt that Lalong was speaking like a man who had taken flight from reality or suffering from amnesia. How could he have forgotten that for several years before the law, the militant Fulani herdsmen had been killing and confiscating land all over the North central region, extending to the South from 2015 when this government came to power. So, after killing only 4 people previously on Saturday they returned early in the week-Monday 12th March and killed 25 people in Zirshe Dundu in the Kwall district of Bassa LGA, bringing the total killed to 29. These were buried on Tuesday 13 th April. And virtually everyday since then, they have descended to other villages, killing in both Bassa and Bokkos LGAs. I have been waiting to hear from Governor Lalong. I guess he has lost his voice

Rather than take far-reaching measures to stop this fast descent to anarchy, we seem to revel in adhoc and ineffective measures. After each orgy of killings, the President would direct the Police and security officers to go and arrest the perpetrators. I have often wondered why the security officers would wait to be directed by the President to carry out their normal Constitutional responsibilities. Could it be why so many crimes are unresolved in this Country?

May be the Police are always waiting for orders from the Presidency. But then, do these orders get carried out diligently, if at all? Last week, the Nation was embarrassed to hear that the IGP failed, refused or ignored the orders of Mr. President to relocate to Benue. And what was worse, the President did not even know that his order was not carried out! What a Country!

In the circumstances we find ourselves, one would expect that the Presidency would seek lasting solutions to our current security challenges that seem to be defying normal military options. It is looking to me that the solution to this problem is largely political, since we have defeated Boko Haram militarily and yet when our soldiers are removed, they return to abduct our schoolgirls. To me, it is becoming imperative that the government must look at the recommendations of the 2014 National conference especially in the sections dealing with Restructuring and National cohesion. The President can not continue to hold the recommendations of that conference in contempt while it has the solution to the main problems confronting him and the Nation. Alternatively he can push through the restructuring proposals we heard that APC has made through the Nasir El-Rufai committee. This Country must be saved from itself!

I also believe it will be a better, more productive, less hazardous and less physically tasking option than the new assignment we seem to have pushed on the the President. In addition to his job as Commander in – chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, he has been forced to also become the condoler or consoler – in-chief of the victims of terrorism and militancy in Nigeria. The President was most reluctant to assume this responsibility for months, despite prodding from the opposition and the media, until his friend and former running mate Pastor Tunde Bakare lashed at him for refusing to go and condole with the Parents of the Dapchi Girls in Yobe, preferring rather to join the party of 22 Governors at the wedding of the children of Governors Ajimobi and Ganduje in Kano. That seemed to break his resistance. Since then he had been to Taraba State to console families of those who lost their lives in Mambilla. Then he headed to Benue to join in the burial of recently killed 73 indigenes of Benue by the militant Fulani herdsmen. Thereafter he headed to Yobe State to condole with the parents of the 110 Dapchi school girls abducted by the ‘defeated’ Boko Haram insurgents where he promised the grieving parents that their children would be home soon safe and healthy. According to Femi Adesina, the President is already scheduled to visit several other States where either Boko Haram or the militant Fulani herdsmen have caused mayhem and grief.

But my real worry is that the list of States is growing by the day. I am not sure Plateau was in the original list of States to be visited on this condolence visits schedule. But after the mayhem of the last fortnite, he will have to go to Plateau to condole with the people of Bassa and Bokkos LGAs.

This past week, the mayhem train arrived Kogi State where about 25 people were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen, so Kogi has to be added on the list. Does anybody know what it costs the Federal Government for the President to undertake these trips? Then what of the cost in physical exertion to the President who has to take the trips, make the speeches and try to empathize with these grieving Nigerians.

Though the President is an army General, the emotional and psychological cost to his health must be enormous. It must be a terrible feeling to repeatedly console people who lost their relations or who had their children abducted, acts for which government has the principal responsibility to prevent.

I just hope and pray that nobody will request him to make another visit to Benue to console a new set of relations of the 26 people who were killed in Benue late last week, less than two weeks after his last visit. Yes, the relations of the new victims deserve to be consoled, but he cannot be going round in a cycle condoling or consoling repeatedly. The President needs time to seat down in his office and deal with other issues of governance. I feel that we may just be overburdening this President!

Talking of overburdening, I think we are also overburdening my sister Oby Ezekwesili and her Bring back our Girls(BBOG) movement. In 2014 over 300 CHIBOK girls were abducted and when government was dilly-dallying with the effort to rescue the girls, Oby and her ally Hadiza founded the BBOG movement to push the government to take more definite and urgent actions to free the girls. In the process they aroused International interest and support for the bring back our girls effort.

Thankfully a substantial number of the girls had been rescued and released through negotiations and some form of ‘prisoner’ exchange. But the movement remained unyielding in their campaign to ensure the last girl comes home.

And everyone was hoping that the BBOG would be winding down to at least allow Oby focus attention on the Coalition for Nigeria movement,( CNM) which I believe she is a prime mover, then Dapchi happens forcing BBOG to return to the trenches and barricades in a renewed campaign to bring back the outstanding CHIBOK Girls and the 110 Dapchi girls. To be true, I believe this is causing extra-ordinary burden for Oby and her compatriots in the BBOG movement. I just hope and pray that this Boko Haram game of preying on our schoolgirls has ended with Dapchi. We must take all measures possible and go to every length possible to ensure there is no third incident. CHIBOK and Dapchi are enough burdens for the BBOG movement please.


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