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Badeh, Buhari and legacy of insecurity

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
20 December 2018   |   3:57 am
What serves as a stark reminder of the seemingly irredeemable character of the President Muhammadu Buhari government is its blithe appropriation of its failings as the hallmarks of its triumph. Lost in this self-assigned halo of infallibility, it denies itself the capacity for introspection and thus holds no promise of self-correction. Hence, while it is…

Former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh (retired)

What serves as a stark reminder of the seemingly irredeemable character of the President Muhammadu Buhari government is its blithe appropriation of its failings as the hallmarks of its triumph.

Lost in this self-assigned halo of infallibility, it denies itself the capacity for introspection and thus holds no promise of self-correction.

Hence, while it is clear to the majority of Nigerians that the government has failed in the three major areas – economy, corruption and security – in which it wants the citizens to measure its performance, it is still afflicted by the delusion of having recorded indelible strides in those spheres.

The alarming rise of the unemployment rate from 17.6 million to 20.9 million as has just been released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is obviously disdained by the government.

Apparently blinkered by their own state-nourished affluence, the government officials think life has improved for every citizen and those who legitimately identify this as a reality in the febrile imagination of the Buhari administration are easily dismissed as hankering after a dark past.

But has life really improved when the citizens are afraid to move from one place to another? Or has this government not returned us to a Hobbesian state where little or no premium is placed on life? Evidence of a state racked by insecurity abounds.

But with the murder of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh (retired) just on Tuesday, we do not need to go far into the past to look for the indices of the absence of security of life.

Again, as though to drive home the absence of security in almost all parts of the country, the murder occurred in Abuja, the seat of power that is supposed to be readily associated with heightened protection of life and property.

Yes, before his brutal demise, Badeh was facing charges of corruption.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was prosecuting him as one of those who unconscionably diverted to personal use billions meant for the equipment of the military in order for it to effectively fight Boko Haram.

Yet, he remained part of the military. This was why in the midst of sundry speculations about his tragic fate, it was the air force that confirmed that he was murdered.

Thus, the military, as in the case of retired Major General Idris Alkali may deploy its resources, against all odds, to ferret out the culprits.

But while his murder is really painful and condemnable, the fact remains that his fate should serve as a reminder of what awaits all officials who travestise the opportunity to serve their fellow citizens as a channel for state heist.

Those who think that because they have a retinue of security aides and therefore they would not put in place an enduring security architecture would be out of government one day.

Now, they are free to divert money meant for security. They should build mansions and establish big farms and companies. They can go ahead to neglect providing jobs for millions of youths.

But when they leave office, they would be as vulnerable as the ordinary citizens they refuse to think of their security now.

Then they may be mowed down by the youths they have refused to provide jobs. They may not be able to access their so-called investments.

Those who think that as long as their children are overseas they are safe would have to permanently keep them there to guarantee their safety.

In the long run, it may not be the EFCC and other anti-corruption bodies that would send our corrupt public officials abroad. It is rather the insecurity that they have failed to check that would do this.

In this regard, we are reminded of the case of former President Goodluck Jonathan who was – and is still – haunted by the poverty and insecurity he failed to check.

His Abuja house that he was not occupying obviously because he has two many in the midst of grinding poverty, was despoiled by the policemen who were guarding the place. They took away television sets and clothes which were suffering disuse.

The nation’s insecurity has also found expression in kidnapping.

Despite the arrest and the ongoing prosecution of the kidnap lynchpin Evans, the complicity of security operatives and real starvation has bred more Evans who have discovered how lucrative this strand of criminality is.

Faced with the present danger of kidnap, those who have made enough money despite the failed economy cannot travel to their villages for Christmas.

In fact, it is no longer whether those to be kidnapped are rich.

Teachers in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions have been kidnapped and those who could not pay the ransom being demanded have either been killed or have some parts of their bodies like fingers cut off.

Worse, there is state-backed insecurity. The military, police and Department of State Services (DSS) have been identified as being responsible for perpetrating this kind of insecurity.

Through them, the government attempts to suppress dissent. Those who refuse to be suppressed often pay with their lives.

What comes to mind here is the ordeal that members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria have suffered at the hands of state security operatives.

Hundreds of them have been killed as they try to exercise their freedom of worship and ask for the release of their leader Ibrahim El Zakzaky who has been in the custody of the DSS.

There has been a viral video of the grisly fate that the Shiites have been subjected to by soldiers. They have been mowed down while protesting unarmed.

In the face of this egregious violation of the security of the citizens, the government only mocks itself when it claims that it is miffed by the Amnesty International’s position that the military has killed thousands of citizens on account of crises.

Instead of Buhari to be ashamed and caution his soldiers against such impunity, he has been the one defending them.

He has apparently supported their threat to send Amnesty from Nigeria so that they can perpetrate their carnage unobserved by the outside world.

The insecurity would have been worse if Fulani herdsmen were still on the prowl in the same way they were raping, maiming and killing before.

But have they decided to embrace peace because the issue of their quest for grazing opportunities that allegedly provoked their terrorism against their hosts has been resolved?

Has Benue repudiated its grazing laws that provoked the lunatic massacre by Fulani herdsmen? Or have the Buhari government and some other state governments taken their own cue from Nasir El-Rufai and they have given the Fulani herdsmen enough money to assuage their fury?

If they could stop inflicting massive destruction of property, pain and death now without their so-called grouse being clearly addressed, it means they could have been reined in earlier if the Buhari government had wanted to do this.

Thus, there is the suspicion that the Fulani herdsmen may have only halted their criminality in view of the 2019 elections. They may be waiting for the elections to end before they may resume their terrorism.

Boko Haram is still killing, raping and abducting men and women.

In a short time after their famous technical degrading, they have mutated into a strong force that now overruns military formations and dispossesses them of their weapons.

Of course, the eternal scar is on our conscience – the continued hostage of Leah Sharibu and the Chibok girls.

The grave situation of insecurity in the north-east the Buhari government wants to hide from the citizens has been captured in a viral video by a former President of the Guild of Editors, Sani Zoro, as he addressed his colleague-lawmakers.

He tells them that security is far from returning to the north-east and that communities that have been reportedly liberated are still unlivable and prone to raids by insurgents.

If Buhari were judged by the criteria, especially as regards security, he set by himself, he has failed.

Thus, Nigerians should be concerned with how to survive these perils of the sunset of the Buhari government.

But more importantly, since Buhari is not willing on his own to acknowledge that he does not have the capacity to stop this insecurity, it is the citizens who are afflicted by it who should replace him next year with someone who can better guarantee their safety.