RingTrue By Yemi Adebowale
Traumatised residents of Kusa village in Musawa Local Government Area of Katsina State are still struggling to recover from the attack on a procession of Maulud celebrants by terrorists on November 5. It resulted in the death of no fewer than 22 people in the community, with women and children not spared by the guerillas. Several others were abducted. Scores of injured residents of the community are still receiving treatment at the Musawa General Hospital and Katsina Orthopaedic Hospital.
There were other coordinated attacks across Nigeria on this same November 5. In Maru town, Maru LGA of Zamfara State, a band of terrorists invaded, killing and maiming hapless people. Many were also abducted. In Borno State, Boko Haram attacked rice farmers in Mafa LGA, killing 13 of them. A Maiduguri-based businessman simply identified as Alhaji Gana, who was on his farm in Mafa for inspection, was among those killed during this attack. This week, no fewer than 11 persons were killed by terrorists in two villages in Gandi area of Rabbah LGA, Sokoto State.
No doubt, attacks by terrorists across Nigeria are raging. Almost all the states in the North-east and North-west and parts of the North-central are under the servitude of terrorists. Attacks in the South-east only slowed down a bit. Amid these killings, daily, Nigerians are regaled with stories of bombardments of terrorists by the military. Many are sick and tired of being persistently told that “airstrikes by the air components of Operation Hadarin Daji in the North-west and Operation Hadin Kai in the North-east have killed several terrorists and destroyed their enclaves.” Always the same old story from the military. It is followed by more vicious attacks by the same terrorists said to have been dismembered as seen from the examples above.
I remember the Nigerian Air Force telling us early this year that they had bombarded the camp of terrorist kingpin, Babaru, who was accused of killing over 100 residents of Bakori LGA of Katsina. We were told the airstrikes killed several terrorists in the operation, and Babaru’s camp was destroyed. As at press time, attacks by Babaru and his boys are still a daily occurrence in Katsina State.
We are persistently told of the bombardment of the Lake Chad region in Borno State. “Feedback received after the strikes revealed the expected outcome was achieved as several terrorists were neutralised while over 40 motorcycles and six gun trucks were destroyed,” said the Air Force in one of such statements. Today, the Lake Chad area is still dominated by Boko Haram and ISWAP. Abadam LGA, on the western coast of Lake Chad, remains a stronghold of terrorists. ISWAP has its headquarters at nearby Kamuya village, which is its largest camp in Lake Chad, about eight kilometres from Malam Fatori. Guzamala and Kukawa LGAs in Borno State are also dominated by Boko Haram and ISWAP.
Even in Maru LGA of Zamfara State where there have been so much killings of recent by the terrorists, the NAF told Nigerians that air strikes were carried out on the terrorists on October 11 this year by the air component of Operation Haradin Daji around the Sangeko axis of Maru LGA of Zamfara State. NAF said: “The terrorists, who were in a convoy of about 70 motorcycles on the road from Kabaro towards Sangeko, were subsequently engaged with several terrorists neutralised, their motorcycles were destroyed and others injured.” In Maru today, the terrorists still dominate, moving around in hundreds, unhindered.
These so-called air strikes are not achieving the desired result. I have my doubts about the positive results being pushed out by the military. If indeed, such a large number of terrorists had been wiped out, this country will not be experiencing killings by terrorists on such a large scale in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Borno, Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, Yobe, Imo and Niger states.
In just 10 days of this November alone, no fewer than 200 hapless Nigerians were killed by non-state actors in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Niger, Borno and Yobe states. This is a gory statistic. In this part of the world, the government is less concerned by the slaughtering of citizens by terrorists. It is not so in sane climes. That was why the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom recently issued travel advisory to their citizens to avoid Nigeria’s troubled states.
Canada warned its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Nigeria, “due to the unpredictable security situation throughout the country and the significant risk of terrorism, crime, inter-communal clashes, armed attacks and kidnappings.”
The United States issued a warning to its citizens in Nigeria to avoid major hotels in the country, citing security threats targeted at these hotels in the larger cities of the country.
The United Kingdom, due to the unending attacks by terrorists, warned citizens against travelling to Kogi, Imo, Bayelsa, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, and the riverine areas of Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River states.
The much-talked about change in the war against terrorists by President Bola Tinubu remains an illusion. I’m yet to see any seriousness in this direction as shown by the long list of killings in the last six months. Tinubu must fix insecurity. He must fulfill the commitment he made to Nigerians in his May 29, 2023 inaugural address to frontally and courageously tackle insecurity. The truth that must be told is that nothing has changed regarding carnages nationwide, over five months after Tinubu assumed office as President. Terrorists are still roaming unhindered across beloved Nigeria, killing and maiming innocent countrymen.
Tinubu’s promise to tackle insecurity inherited from calamity Muhammadu Buhari and reform Nigeria’s “security doctrine and its architecture” is still a subterfuge. He said security shall top the priority of his administration “because neither prosperity nor justice can prevail amidst insecurity and violence.” Honestly, I have not seen any reform in this country’s security doctrine and architecture in the last six months that is yielding results. Mr. President must lead in coming up with a comprehensive and well-planned strategy to end the killings across the country. A people-oriented government will seek help from anywhere to protect the people against terrorists. So, Tinubu should seek help from healthy climes.
The era of issuing rubbish condolence messages after killings by terrorists as exemplified by former president Buhari must end. Tinubu has to go beyond this in line with the leadership expected of him as Commander-in-Chief. He must provide a leadership that will swiftly end the slaughtering (daily) of innocent Nigerians across our cities, towns and villages. This is the meaning of effective leadership. It is what it means to be Commander-in-Chief.
Also, a country that wants to increase food production must efficiently tackle insecurity. I remember that Tinubu in his July 31 address to the nation, talked about making staple foods available and affordable to Nigerians. He also said he would provide 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, seedlings and other inputs to farmers who are committed to the food security agenda of his government. Where are the farmers Mr President is talking about? It seems he has forgotten that many farming communities in Zamfara, Borno, Katsina, Benue, Plateau, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger states are deserted because of killings by terrorists. Security agents that should be inhibiting the terrorists are not doing too well.
Sometimes, I wonder if Tinubu is even aware that he has spent almost six months in office as President? During this period, terrorists have slayed no fewer than 2000 innocent Nigerians. These are just the reported cases. A comprehensive count will reveal higher figures.
The Nigerian military must also change its tactics in this war against terrorists. Technology, intelligence, quality equipment and quality manpower are modern necessities for taming terrorists. They obviously lack the capacity to effectively monitor the movement of terrorists. This is why these guerrillas move around in hundreds undetected. In this modern era, the military should be talking about dealing with terrorists with drones from a preemptive and properly staffed control centre. Use of drones for intelligence gathering and attacks is vital. Emphasis should also be on the use of bulletproof attack helicopters against terrorists instead of vague air strikes. With steel-clad attack helicopters that can go as low as 100 metres to the target, precision is guaranteed.
Still on Tinubu’s N2.17tn Extra Budget
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, was apt when he said President Tinubu, by signing the N2.17 trillion supplementary federal budget, failed to consider the pressing needs of the country. “Going by the manner the budgetary allocations were done, it is obvious the President is unaware of the dire crisis in the country,” declared Obi.
I’m also still shocked by some of the items in the budget. It is good that the largest chunk of N605 billion was earmarked for security, to enhance the capacity of security agencies. But why would a President that has presented tough economic reforms to Nigerians allocate N4 billion for the renovation of his official residence in Lagos, and another N3 billion for the renovation of that of the Vice President also in Lagos?
Another N4 billion was allocated for the renovation of presidential quarters in Abuja; N4 billion for the construction of an office complex within the state house; N2.5 billion for the renovation of Aguda House, the official residence of the vice president located within the Aso Rock Villa; N3 billion for the acquisition, renovation, and rehabilitation of four quarters in Mabushi and Guzape within Abuja and N2.9 billion allocated for acquisition of cars for the presidency.
These are non-essential spending at a time Nigeria is battling an economic crisis. They are profligate expenditures in a stressed economy where many are struggling for a meal a day. The official residences of the President and Vice President in Lagos are rarely used. This is the truth. Former Muhammadu Buhari used the official residence in Lagos just four times in his eight years.
I’m equally worried about the N1.5 billion allocated for the purchase of vehicles for the First Lady’s office. The office of the First Lady is not recognised by law. It is an illegal allocation. Our languid lawmakers still passed an allocation for an illegal body. What a country!
Justice for Grace Silas
For those not following the story, a quick recap. Grace Chalya Silas was an NYSC member serving in Kaduna State. She was murdered by yet-to-be-identified assailants while jogging in Barnawa, Kaduna South LGA. The assailants wanted to snatch her phone which she resisted. They stabbed and left her in a pool of blood. Grace was rushed to the clinic, where she was later confirmed dead. That was on October 18.
The Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State Command, CP Musa Garba, immediately directed a manhunt for the killers of Grace. He held an emergency meeting with the top hierarchy of the command, and ordered the Barnawa DPO to get the killers. Twenty-five days after, nothing has happened.
Today, I’m challenging CP Garba to actualise his vow. The killers of Grace must be brought to justice.