Issues in lawmakers resort to lamentation over insecurity
Despite the declining public confidence in the security situation in the country, it was obvious that based on the manner of their attachment to presidential power, most of the lawmakers, especially those elected on the platform of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), decided to legislate in denial.
However, nearly four years after they employed guile, propaganda and social manipulation to displace the former ruling party, it has become a matter of national consensus that insecurity has become a daily pastime in the entire country.
And with the 2019 general election being ‘won’ and ‘lost’ lawmakers who were tongue tired over the disturbing phenomena seem to have found their voices in condemning the deplorable state of security in the nation.
Intriguingly, those who have risen to add their voice to criticize the collapse in the country’s security architecture happen to be those who either fell by the way side or were denied return tickets to elective offices. Having therefore shaken off the partisan inhibition, it is therefore time to play the patriotic card.
Could it be that knowledge of their impending return to their natural habitats without the paraphernalia of public office rouses them to the sudden realization that banditry, abduction and blood-letting going on in the country affect all?
The message seems to have hit home because few months ago, when Hon. Sani Zoro narrated his tales of woe from the northeast, it did not seem to have resonated with the federal lawmakers, obviously because that would have amounted to tacit approval of the fact that the government has failed in its core responsibility of securing the nation.
From Insurgency To ‘Hunters Of Men’
SOME eminent northern leaders have in spite of their caution not to offend President Muhammadu Buhari, tried to rationalize the rising climate of insecurity amid institutionalized corruption and injustice everywhere in the region.
For instance, a former commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, claimed that northern leaders should share in the blame for the rampant cases of banditry and kidnap for ransom, stressing “instead of our leaders to join forces with President Buhari to fight this menace, they are all against him.”
The former top cop stated that unless there is a change in the approach to the security situation, the region might be sitting on a keg of gunpowder, which will explode and consume everybody.
While insisting that the situation is a direct reflection of the social imbalance in the north, adding that gap between the haves and have-nots have become inscrutable, Tsav declared: “Imagine the UBEC (Universal Basic Education Commission) man was kidnapped and within less than 24 hours a ransom of N60m was raised, not from the bank, but at home. This is clumsy and unfortunate.
“Our leaders refused to send these Almajiri children to schools. Today the illiterate Almajiris are tormenting the educated and the elite of the north. Not only that; some of our northern leaders are living on blood money meant for orphans and old retirees.
“Some northern leaders are irresponsible, inconsiderate and wicked. They send their children to acquire modern education in Europe and leave the children of Talakawas to roam the streets as Almajiris. Today the illiterate Almajiris are tormenting the whole region. It’s a shame and a disaster.”
However, while it is safe to resort to general apportionment of blame, it is obvious that the Federal Government’s approach to securing the country was faulty. The ruling party in government decided to mask the reality with claims that run contrary to reality.
Following from that point of view, it is clear that the federal lawmakers held back their observations, ostensibly so as not to make the government, particularly President Buhari look bad in the eyes of Nigerians.
For instance, it was at a time when the government in concert with the military was creating the impression that all was well in northeast for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their respective homes, that Zoro came out to fault the claim.
He said: “There is no security to return them back to, no shelter and protection of their human rights. It is really a pity that over the last four to five years, we have been competing with Syria and Iraq as per the percentage of IDPs concerned. The IDPs we have in this country are not just from the northeast. It is all over. You have IDPs stationed in Makurdi for more than five years.”
Yet, while the intricate mesh between managing the victims of insurgency, containing the insurgents and corruption continued to dominate public discussions, the menace of criminal bandits spiraled.
From bloody massacre of farmers by armed herdsmen, which the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, once dismissed as intra-communal squabble for land, Nigerians began to hear tales of abduction of travelers for ransom.
A New ‘Haram’
IT is possible that while the politicians were busy shifting blames and denying the realities on the ground, the criminal elements that hid under the disputations over the farmers versus herders’ clashes, devised new methods.
Gradually, the Abuja-Kaduna highway turned out as the defining arena for the Zaranchi haram, (accumulation of wealth is forbidden), which was predicted to succeed Boko Haram.
The criminals seem to have declared war on well-to-do persons and instead of cattle rustling and collecting protection monies, the young Fulanis resorted to abduction for ransom.
It was based on recent arrests and confession of freed abductees that it became clear that north was no longer saf
e and the lawmakers began their tearful tales of woe. The blanket of politics and electoral competition has fallen off their faces, because if only they have been faithful in holding constituency consultations the federal lawmakers would long have seen the large scale suffering and government’s ineptitude.
If lawmakers complain that they no longer visit or sleep in their constituencies, it raises a lot of questions about the recent general election, particular the sordid claims of vote buying that trailed the process.
The situation in the north is compounded therefore by failure of leadership and legislation. It was the same lawmakers that have become crybabies that put up all manner of theatrics over the issue of election budget for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that failed to build synergy for the review the country’s constitution.
It is also a measure of how far politics and political correctness beclouded the sense of judgment and patriotism of the lawmakers that salient aspects of constitutional review, including state police and fiscal restructuring did not receive expeditious and conscientious consideration by the legislators.
The relapse of security, apart from underscoring the vote of no confidence on the administration, has exposed the fact that the country is not yet programmed for efficiency.
Tears Of Regret
TO members of the 8th House of Representatives, who took to the plenary belatedly to renounce the security situation in the country, their tears could be more of regret for not doing enough or failing to put the executive on check.
All along, they joined in the partisan deification of President Buhari as infallible and know-it-all leader, all in a bid to be in the good books of the Presidency and the APC. But barely one month to the end of the 8th plenary, they decided to bare the truth and shed tears of regret.
Precisely in April, the federal lawmakers recovered from their stupor and summoned the President to appear before the honourable House “to address Nigerians on the spate of insecurity across the country.”
In the motion by Mark Gbillah, representing Gwer East/Gwer West federal constituency of Benue State, the lawmakers declared: “Failure by the President to explain the issues raised by the legislative house would confirm the opinion of Nigerians that the administration had failed in its responsibility to protect lives and property.”
Although the motion was not debated but was unanimously passed by the members, their action posed some questions in the minds of many Nigerians: Where were you when the killings in Plateau, Kaduna, Benue, Taraba and Zamfara States started?
Perhaps, being APC controlled states, it would not be appropriate to return a verdict of failure so soon after the magic of 2015 election. But the title of the motion said it all: Resurgence of the Incessant and Annual Massacre of Innocent Nigerians Across the Country by Alleged Bandits and Killer Herdsmen, the Gradual Occupation of Affected Communities by these Attackers and the Lack of Adequate Rehabilitation and Relief Materials.’
The lawmakers found courage also to declare as follows: “His inability and the inability of his administration since inception to declare the killer herdsmen as terrorists to enable commensurate action against them by the Armed Forces.
“The inability of the of the Armed Forces under his watch to stop the recurring death of scores of innocent Nigerians annually from systemic attacks by killer herdsmen and alleged bandits, and the gradual occupation of the affected communities by these herdsmen despite countless assurances and statements by him, promising to stop these attacks.”
Knowing that the lawmakers had less than two months to pursue their strong resolution, the President must have treated their summons with characteristic ignominy.
It was so bold a statement but so late. That might be why the lawmakers sought an escape route by resolving that if the president fails to respond to the queries, they would “conclude along with other Nigerians that he and his administration are incapable of permanently curtailing the incessant killing of innocent Nigerians by killer herdsmen and the occupation of their land, and have failed in their primary, constitutional responsibility of ensuring the security and welfare of the citizens of Nigeria.”
No matter what effect the motion would have on the President’s disposition to the insecurity in the country, the testimonial of failure would historically rob off negatively on both arms of government.