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Will U.S terror alert derail 2023 Elections?

By Martins Oloja
30 October 2022   |   4:50 am
Before our very resourceful crisis merchants perfect their usual business of exploiting our volatilities and vulnerabilities in these perilous times again, authorities and duty bearers in Abuja...

[FILES] Martins Oloja

Before our very resourceful crisis merchants perfect their usual business of exploiting our volatilities and vulnerabilities in these perilous times again, authorities and duty bearers in Abuja should continue to assure the already sceptical and traumatised people of this country that the recent United States terror alert from Abuja is not enough to derail the organisation and conduct of next year’s critical elections, after all. The crisis merchants here are very smart. They are very rich and safe. The crisis industry is quite dynamic. The business is well capitalised.

The shadowy drivers, the brains behind the lucrative and protected business have solid connections even in global context. They are very clever with their business plans they sell to some of the many ‘assistant leaders’ all over the place. At the public presentation of the Governor of Kano State’s book titled, ‘Deputising and Governance in Nigeria’ last week, there were revelations from so many former and serving deputies including the current vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and a man who was deputy governor, governor, vice president and president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan that there are some hidden facts about why deputies are always regarded as dangerous ‘spare tyres’. In one of the constructs, the author of the book, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, (PhD) revealed in his remark that there are always some sycophants and crisis merchants around the State Houses who will always tell gory tales to the principals (presidents, governors, ministers, vice chancellors and chief executives generally) about how dangerous their deputies have been and so they will always find ways of creating phantom ‘assistants’ instead of assigning deputies created by laws and statutes. Thus we will always find powerful ‘assistant presidents’, ‘assistant governors’, ‘assistant ministers’, ‘assistant vice chancellors’ assistant MDs, etc who are made to do the work of statutory deputies. They are everywhere there is money or power to make cool money, which ‘answereth all things’.

The crisis merchants will always want terrorism to thrive because no government wants to hear about terrorists: they will always increase security and defence spending even without appropriation bills. Crisis merchants want insecurity to thrive so that they can always manipulate security and intelligence managers to ask for more funding. Where crisis merchants thrive, there will always be scarcity of funds for even critical sectors including infrastructure, human development (services) as their lobbyists in the power houses always talk about management of priorities. The merchants of crisis are artful in contextualising sections of the constitution, which provides that: ‘Security and Welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’. They always like strong and influential diplomatic missions to issue terror alerts, yes red flags that can increase security and defence votes across platforms and security sectors. They are very brilliant when it comes to exploitation of protocol management for public sector chief executives. They always advise even First ladies to have long convoys of vehicles for security reasons.

They get even First Sons and Daughters to get presidential and gubernatorial treatments with presidential and chartered planes to take even photographs for schoolwork. They come to the chief executive quietly and cleverly with their proposals on security, especially now that there is a federal characterisation of insecurity: Insecurity is no longer only in Borno and Yobe states. Crisis merchants who negotiated release of 114 captives in 2018 can continue to tell the chief executive of the federation that it has been difficult to negotiate the release of only Leah Sharibu. They will continue to ask for more money to negotiate the release of the only Christian girl who is said to have given birth to two children in captivity. The merchants of crisis have only one god to serve: their bellies.

That is why we have to appeal to our President to beware of the crisis merchants who may want to exploit the terror alerts from the Foreign Missions in Nigeria to use one weapon of mass disruption of the next year’s election – fear. As I have reported here, Alan Paton, author of ‘Cry, the beloved country’, says ‘sorrow is even better than fear. From his experience of Apartheid in South Africa he deconstructs in the classic, ‘fear is a long, terrible journey’.The American Embassy’s action in issuing terror alert isn’t intended to scare anyone. It is for their citizens in Nigeria.

Here is the thing, even if the United States Mission in Nigeria says everything is under alarm and nothing is under control, the chief executive of the federation and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Nigeria should continue to insist that everything is under control and nothing will be under any alarm. In other words, President Jonathan commanded the armed forces and conducted elections even in the volatile Northeast region in 2011 and 2015. There should be no reasons merchants of crisis should be allowed to fuel rumours of war that can derail the 2023 transition agenda.

Our President has assured us that terrorism would disappear by December 2022. We should believe him. He should not allow casual attitude and simplistic thinking that has allowed crisis to be a big business to some merchants of crisis who would like to create conducive atmosphere for another interim national government after elections in 2023.Here are the facts that are not so extraordinary in diplomatic circles: The governments of Germany, Bulgaria, Ireland and Denmark have cautioned their citizens against non-essential travel to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital over a heightened risk of terror attacks. The travel advisories came a few days after the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada had warned of a possible terror attack in Abuja.The federal government through the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed has since dismissed the advisories and specifically said the United States was also not safe.

The embassies had listed targets to include schools, government buildings, hotels, markets, shopping malls, bars, athletic gatherings, transport terminals, law enforcement facilities, restaurants, places of worship and international organisations. There have been reports that other countries have aligned with the United States after a series of meetings, intelligence sharing and “incontrovertible proof of imminent danger. One decent source said, late last week, a suspect was nabbed near the US Embassy at the Central Area allegedly spying on the surroundings. Also, explosive devices were found near the entrance of a compound housing US staff on Saturday, October 22.

And so after gathering intelligence on the plan to attack US citizens and other expatriates, the US government decided to send Special Forces to Abuja to analyse the threat. Beyond that, the US State Department, in the travel advisory issued on Tuesday authorised the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees.

There is a sense in which government officials in Nigeria can claim that the panic is not worth it. Yes, this is not the first time a security alert has been issued in Nigeria. A Nigerian senior government official who is aware that the president had been made to welcome a United States Secretary of State in Nigeria instead of the Foreign Affairs Minister can also ask at this time: why is it that Nigerians crave for foreign products? The official can also ask rhetorically: is it because the alert came from the USA? It will be recalled that on March 19, 2022, April 22, 2022 and December 14 2021, the DSS warned about impending bomb and violent attacks and plans by elements to attack public places. Nigerians dismissed those and were never alarmed.  Then a few months after, Kano, Jigawa, Imo and other places were attacked. Kuje was attacked. A Nigerian spokesperson can claim that the March/April reported threat could have been worse but for the intervention of our law enforcement authorities. This is what government officials should tell citizens, anyway and not abusing foreign Missions alerting their own people about security threat. As a senior intelligence source described the US government’s action as disgusting and a slap on Nigerian authorities, what else should they have done instead of scaremongering?  The security-intelligence community maintains what they call: Global 5 in the intelligence community.

These include the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They share the same position on issues. They always have a special relationship and most times align with the position taken by the United States. That is why the security chiefs in Nigeria are saying we are not bothered; we are on course to secure our country. That is fine and re-assuring.

The media in Nigeria had reported how security forces had been working hard to avert severe attacks on Abuja and its environs by terrorists loyal to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
Two weeks ago, two high-profile terrorists were located at the Tipper garage, along the Kubwa Express Road by Jahi District and security operatives put them on their radar. And on Thursday, October 20, one Abubakar Dan Borno, an ISWAP kingpin who fled from the Sambisa Forest, was picked up at Mararaba, a suburb of Abuja in Nasarawa State after days of trailing. The suspect was handed over to the military and taken to the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) for interrogation.In its latest travel advisory on Abuja, the United Kingdom (UK) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said there is an increased threat of terrorist attacks in the nation’s capital. In an alert posted on its website, the FCDO said “The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) had updated its travel advice on 26 October to British nationals. The FCDO now advises against all but essential travel to the Federal Capital Territory, including the city of Abuja.

“British nationals are advised to stay alert, avoid non-essential travel within the city and follow the local news and the advice of security authorities.
“Other states in Nigeria where we advise against all but essential travel include Bauchi, Kano, Jigawa, Niger, Sokoto, Kogi, Abia, Plateau, Taraba, within 20km of the border with Niger in Kebbi State and non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states.” The German Foreign Office, in its latest travel advice, cautioned its nationals against non-essential travel to Abuja at present. In a travel advisory on its website dated October 27, the German government urged its citizens to limit journeys within Abuja to the absolute minimum, avoid crowds and busy public places, and be extra vigilant and prudent. The government also urged its nationals not to travel to certain areas of Nigeria, except where necessary.So, our leaders and their reputation managers in Nigeria should not allow merchants of crisis to capitalise on the harmless advisories to campaign for postponement of next year’s election.