By Bala Ibrahim.
As a country, Nigeria is a nation endowed with people of all manner of behaviors, and over time, particularly with the coming of politics, the cynics and the sarcastically minded, are increasingly making moves to impose the relevance of their irrelevance on the psyche of the country’s body politic.
Using irony in order to mock or convey contempt, these men and women of weird attitudes, almost always take it upon themselves to come up with the assessment of leaders based on their own parochial system of appraisal, and expect the general public to accept it without any query or suspicion to their motives, which are mostly driven by self-interest rather than honorable actions or unselfish reasons.
Many leaders have been victims of the irrational, illogical and often unreasonable appraisal of these cynics, whom recently, IBB, former Head of state and the only military President Nigeria ever had, described as the inevitable and inescapable noise makers.
However, and perhaps also because of my own personal bias, I would join issues with them in defense of President Muhammadu Buhari, the man sent by destiny to rescue Nigeria from the calamity of political cataclysm. Yes, had God not sent PMB in 2015, to extricate Nigeria from the hands of these self made malefactors, by now, a terrible beauty would have been born in Nigeria.
At the risk of going into conflict with them and their arbitrary assessments, I make bold to challenge them all, to do a review of Nigeria’s situation in 2015, alongside the situation of the country today, 2021. And in doing that, I appeal to them to engage rationale in their reasoning, and juxtapose their sentiments against my bias position for the President.
The persistent complaint of the President’s critics is that he hasn’t been able to bring Nigeria’s security challenge to an end yet, despite the promise of doing so swiftly. This is an awkward attack from people with little understanding of the intricacies of fighting insurgency.
It may interest them to know that it took more than 80 years, from 1919 to 2000, for Britain to arrive at peace with the IRA, when the IRA declared a new ceasefire in July 1997, and Sinn Féin was admitted into multi-party talks that produced the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. This is despite the economic strength and military might of Britain.
In America, the war on terror started at a limitless scope, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the twin towers. The fight was given a military dimension involving major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, covert operations in Yemen and elsewhere, and large-scale military-assistance programs for cooperative regimes. In the end, after spending more than 20 years and trillions in dollars, and despite it’s military might, America left Afghanistan humiliated, without ending insurgency.
On PMB and his promise to secure the country, let me begin with the assessment of the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa program, which is constantly looking at the security situation in Nigeria, particularly those that are motivated by political, economic, or social grievances.
It had this to say about Nigeria, minutes before the arrival of Muhammadu Buhari as the President. “Different groups in Nigeria resort to violence. The militant Islamist movement Boko Haram is active in northern Nigeria. Violence among ethnic groups, farmers, and herdsmen sometimes acquires religious overtones. A new generation of Niger Delta militants threatens war against the state, while extra judicial killings and nepotism have become the order of the day with the police”.
As a consequence of the situation, many missions, including that of Britain, the country that nurtured Nigeria to independence, were issuing warning to their citizens to avoid non-essential travels 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.
In my native Kano, movement even between point A and B in the ancient city, was more at the mercy of the terrorists than the might of the military, despite their physical presence at checkpoints that literally littered the landscape. The Government House, the seat of power in the state, was more vulnerable than the ghettos, forcing the governor of the time, to restrict every activity, official and unofficial, to the fortified four walls of his residence. As for movements from state to state, it was as herculean as it was horrendous.
Today, PMB has drastically reduced the danger and reversed the situation dramatically. The police under the watch of IGP Alkali Usman Baba, is not only restoring order and sanity, but ruthlessly fighting and succeeding in the war against extrajudicial killings and nepotism. Many officers are at various stages of trial for being trigger happy, while two senior police officers, Magu and Kyari, are still on suspension, despite being the kinsmen of the big boss.
Nigeria’s security rating had gone up internationally, as demonstrated in the collective applause given the country at the just concluded Interpol General Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey. But for reasons of awkward attacks, appraisals and poor assessments, the cynics would not see or admit these humble happenings under Buhari.
In the words of the minister of information, Mr. Lai Mohammed, “The facts are clear and available for right-thinking persons to see that the country is better today in terms of security than it was in 2015 when President Buhari took over. At that time, many local government areas in the Northeast were being run by terrorists who held court in those places. Prior to the time it was dislodged, which was before December 2015 when I led a team of local and international journalists to Bama in Borno state, Boko Haram established the headquarters of its so-called Caliphate in that town (Bama), where it hoisted its flag, collected taxes as well as installed and removed Emirs at will. Today, Boko Haram has no caliphate anywhere in Nigeria”.
Infrastructure? Check the records. No government, I repeat, no government, from independence to date, has done more than the Buhari administration in the provisions of roads and other relevant infrastructure, including arresting the erratic power supply that was the nightmare of Nigerians. In Nigeria now, electricity is approaching the level of stability.
The biggest mistake of the Buhari administration is leaning too much on the latitude of sincerity, which is making it to continuously commit the sins of silence.
This does not work under democracy, because without the blowing of trumpet, your opponents would put you at the permanent position of self defense. In the end, you remain a victim of awkward attacks, appraisals and poor assessments.