By Bala Ibrahim.
Every time I listened to the speech of the National Security Adviser, Major Gen. Babagana Monguno, (retd), I salute and admire his eloquence in English, alongside his effective style of persuasive presentation. But with time, I am beginning to think, those are the only qualities the retired Army General possess. I arrived at this conclusion after juxtaposing Gen.Munguno’s numerous rhetoric on the threats and timeline for the termination of terrorism in Nigeria, and the dreadful reactions of the terrorists to his bluff.
Sometimes in the first week of March this year, after the regular security council meeting with the President, Gen. Babagana Monguno, in his capacity as the National security adviser (NSA), addressed the Press, wherein he said, the Government has intelligence reports on those profiting from insecurity. “Some people are taking advantage of the deteriorating security situation in the country and the government will not tolerate the situation”. He warned that anyone stoking violence should desist or have themselves to blame.
Gen.Monguno said the president still remains concerned about the level of security, which seems to be cascading for the worse, but with the new service chiefs, the president has charged all of us to redouble our efforts, especially in view of the occurrences of the last couple of weeks.
In his characteristic rhetoric, Monguno cautioned thus,“I need to stress also that there are individuals in this country who have assumed a status that is beyond what they should be. The intelligence from our own sources, the intelligence at my disposal and the disposal of the other intelligence, reveals that we have certain entities, certain individuals who are making capital out of insecurity, especially kidnapping. This is a situation that has to be brought to an end and I’m sending a warning to anybody who is hiding beneath a veneer of some status, whether official, in terms of an official capacity or traditional or religious, to stoke the flames of disorder will have himself to blame”.
The story stopped there.
Again, sometimes around the middle of same March, at the end of another security Council meeting with the President, the same Gen. Monguno boasted to the Press thus, “We’ll come out in full force on the insurgents”. He said, the Federal Government will deploy all necessary force to deal with terrorists and bandits terrorizing some parts of the country, stressing that they have ruled out the possibility of the government negotiating with the criminals, because doing that will suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of government. Monguno said the days of the bandits are now numbered.
That was in mid March, and that also was the end of the story.
Between March and now, the pathetic stories of banditry in northern Nigeria, especially the horrible and terrible stories coming from travelers along the Kaduna/Abuja highway, are as monstrous as the magniloquence from Monguno’s mouth.
Why should a National Security Adviser, whose words should be matched with actions, be seen to be matching the definition of deceit? Things have gotten to the state when any time Monguno comes on air, only two things can be certain as takeaway: English eloquence and expressiveness.
The last time PMB spoke to the nation, through the same Gen. Monguno, in response to the relentless attacks on the Kaduna/Abuja road, Monguno said the President had directed them to be merciless on the terrorists that are threatening to takeover that road in particular, and Nigeria in general. We thought that would usher in a long respite. But alas, even yesterday Monday, 29/11/21, the bandits had a free and “fruitful” day on the same road.
I was touched by the thoughtful article of Professor Usman Yusuf, a part of which I hereby reproduce: “A large swath of Northern Nigeria is now at the mercy of marauding bandits. From Adamawa to Zamfara, the region has become bandits’ killing fields. Images of massacres are too gruesome to watch and the stories from survivors too heartbreaking to hear but, hearing and watching we must, because this is the reality under which our people now live. These bandits roll into our towns and villages in convoys of motorcycles riding three on each, brandishing AK47 rifles. They spend hours killing, burning, raping, carting away livestock, and abducting women as sex slaves. They put taxes on the people and keep coming back, again and again, to attack because of the absence of law enforcement to protect the people. Security personnel often show up after the carnage to count the bodies. It is tragic and shameful that these bunch of ragtag bandits on motorcycles wielding nothing more than rusty AK47 rifles can roam the land with impunity, causing so many deaths and destruction in a nation with a standing Armed Forces and Police force”.
While the civilian population in the north is constantly terrorized by bandits at home and on the road, as observed by prof. Usman Yusuf, security personnel are butchered daily in the east, particularly the police, that are expected to respond to requests for assistance and protection from the public.
In what looks like reacting to the horrific and barbaric killing of two policemen by members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed wing of IPOB, the minister of information, Mr. Lai Mohammed issued a statement yesterday, that reads, “Two of the officers, Inspectors Akubo and Adamu, were killed in the most gruesome manner and their decapitated bodies videotaped and circulated widely. The leader of the ESN team that killed the two officers is one ‘GENTLE’. Chinonso Okafor, the most influential commander of ESN in charge of Imo and Anambra states, as well as ‘Gentle’ and all those who perpetrated the abhorrent act, will be made to face swift and sure justice. The continued attacks on security agents as well as agencies of government by ESN/IPOB were diametrically opposed to the call in certain quarters for a political solution to the IPOB issue”.
Good. But while the minister is wondering why those making such calls for political solution to the IPOB issue have yet to condemn the appalling murder of the serving police officers, the question on the lips of many is, why is the Government mostly interested in mixing magniloquence with the mastery, or complete control of security?
If the service chiefs could be changed because they have lost touch with the realities on ground, then retaining the same National Security Adviser, that was working with the discarded service chiefs, is akin to keeping a carpenter as a legal Adviser.