AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI (GCFR), OVER THE RECRUDESCENCE OF SECURITY CHALLENGES IN THE COUNTRY
OPINION: WHY MR. PRESIDENT NEEDS TO ACT NOW!
By Rt Hon Yusuf Gagdi
Member Rep Pankshin, Kanke, Kanam Constituency,
Federal House of Representatives, National Assembly,
Permit me to extend my warm regards to you and to also appreciate the Almighty God for entrusting the task of leading this great Country to you.
2. As enormous as this task is, Mr. President will agree with me that there are times that test the soul of every patriotic citizen to speak and to act in order to rekindle hope and douse the resurgence of pessimism.
3. With the current state of INSECURITY in the Nigeria and consequent worrisome loss of citizens’ lives and means of livelihood, I consider it a patriotic duty to as a responsible citizens, to offer some suggestions which I believe would not only address some of the security concerns but ease the tension in the country.
4. Before I proceed, let me state that I am a member of the great All Progressives Congress (APC) and I got elected in 2019 to represent the People of Pankshin/ Kanke/ Kanam Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives and by the special privilege of service, I am the chairman of the House Committee on Navy.
5. These I believe, equips me with the adequate impulse, status, responsibility and knowledge to speak authoritatively about the issue(s) at hand.
6. Your Excellency, I have consistently followed your antecedents from when you were in the Army; in service to the country during the Petroleum Trust Funds-PTF era; and when you offered to serve in providing governance in Nigeria; and I am therefore competent to speak about the excellent ways you executed your tasks in those worthy offices.
7. I had drawn the honest conclusion that you were indeed a man with the right experience and pedigree to steer the ship of nation building when you made the move to run for president in 2003. This endeared my support and unalloyed loyalty to you when you ran for president of Nigeria in 2003, 2007, 2011 and eventually won in 2015.
8. Infact I contributed a lot in 2015 and 2019 to secure your victory at the polls. As a student of history, your gallantry in the war against Mai Tatsine uprising; stance against corruption and indiscipline in Nigeria including your meticulous desire to uphold rule of law, were undoubtedly some of the most memorable good deeds that sold you to many Nigerians in 2015.
9. On 29th day of May 2015, you resurrected the hope and optimism of bringing back robust economic transformation devoid of Corruption and free from insecurity via your 3-Point Agenda when you spoke highly about defending and protecting the Constitution and by simple reflection, you swore to uphold the primary responsibility of Government as enshrined in Section 14(b) thus:” the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.
10. You declared explicitly that equitable and efficient strategies would be adopted by all the machineries of Government to end the wanton destructions of lives and properties particularly those associated with the activities of Boko Haram which hitherto had extende beyond the North East to the North Central and other parts of Nigeria.
11. Indeed, and without doubt, you spoke a “language” well understood by the enemies of peace and progress and you were able to subdue them “technically.”
12. You worked assiduously to reinforce due process and transparency in the public service; revived a breathless railway sub sector from the transport sector; engendered agricultural revolution in key productive sectors like the Rice revolution and Potatoes value chain. You did not waste time to focus on the poor and the vulnerable Nigerians hence you introduced the social net programs focusing on conditional cash transfer schemes, the Anchor Borrower program, School Feeding Program, Safe School Initiative and so on.
13. But your Excellency, about six years down the line and having secured a second term mandate from Nigerians, it is heart wrenching to note that insecurity has worsened in the country leading to interrogative concerns by people such as:
– What is Anti-Corruption without Security?
– What is the value of food if farms are not safe for agriculture to thrive?
– What is the significance of infrastructure devoid of security?
The Issue at Hand
14. Your Excellency, the issue of insecurity has reached a point where the current strategies being adopted by your administration have failed and are in no way adequate to guarantee safety. As it is, they can no longer hold water in a cup let alone in a basket. The gaps are becoming wider by the day with serious concerns such as the plight of many school children still in the den of captives; brazen daylight attacks on communities and travelers which have become almost unabated; the recent shameful raid on the highly fortified Nigeria Defence Academy, ( NDA) Kaduna; and the metropolitan attacks in Jos, Plateau State among others. All these have heightened fears of insecurity in Nigeria.
15. Mr. President, permit me to point out some of the factors I believe have been responsible for this:
(a) The recent merger of command and control of the special military Operations in Plateau State extending to parts of Kaduna state and Taraba State code named Operations Safe Haven (OSH) with the office of the General Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Division, Rukuba, Jos; has failed to yield the desired results when compared to the successes recorded during the pre-merger period.
(b) The abysmal budgetary allocations and releases to the Armed forces and other security organizations leave less to be desired in transforming the law enforcement agencies towards becoming much more efficient and proactive in addressing insecurity challenges in the country.
(c) The poor implementation of the Community Policing component of the Police Act 2020 which I sponsored and was signed by you on the 16th day of September 2020. Questions have been raised as to where the trained civilians were deployed to. What are their current contributions to security in the communities that they serve? What has been the level of motivation for the implementation of the other components of the Act regarding responsibilities and so on?
(d) The silence towards a quick resolution of the impasse between the Police Service Commission and the Office of the Inspector General of Police concerning the recruitment of personnel has created a serious security gap.
(e) The unjust Amnesty to repentant Boko Haram fighters under Operation Safe Corridor policy even when many displaced Nigerians have not been adequately rehabilitated and reintegrated in their homeland is torturing to the psyche of many Nigerians.
On Plateau State
16. Your Excellency, Plateau is undoubtedly a miniature Nigeria. It is the North of the South and the South of the North. You were once in Jos as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 3rd Armoured Division and I have no doubt in my mind that you are aware that the serenity of the State and the peaceful nature of its people is second to none in Nigeria. The State has always been known as the Home of Peace and Tourism.
17. However, the resurgence of killings and mayhems that have visited the state in the last few weeks might have revealed a laxity of leadership at the center in being proactive towards addressing JUSTLY and EQUITABLY reported cases of attacks and threats to lives and properties.
18. It may interest your Excellency to note that I have served as Deputy Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly during which I chaired an Adhoc Committee on Peace and Security in the state with specific reference to aggressions and attacks on Riyom, Barking Ladi, Bassa, Jos North, Jos South and parts of Mangu, Langtang South and Noth and Jos East Local Government Areas of the state. Part of our recommendations then, included the need for the establishment of a Peace Building Agency; the strengthening of Operation Rainbow (the state security outfit), and the introduction of inter-religious council for the state which the Governor of Plateau state Rt Hon Simon Bako LALONG have implemented. You may recall that as part of the processes of mending fences and building peace amongst the people, His Excellency Governor Simon Bako Lalong played host to you in the state where you commissioned a Five-year road map to Peace. This initiative was no doubt impacting positively until the recent eruption of provoked violence on the people of the state. While trust, cooperation, tolerance, peace and stability across ethnic and religious divides in the state were advancing, spate of attacks largely on farming communities robbed the State of peace.
19. Today, the externalities of the nature of insecurity in Plateau points to the failure of Your government to deal decisively with the factors that have seemingly become indicative of rising animosity, mutual suspicion, religious fault lines and the dangerous perception of the “them” and “us” syndrome.
20. What are these factors and indicators? Slow response to stem the tides of attacks in local communities like Irigwe in Bassa against a quick response to selected incidences of violence by some security outfits. The non-release of a pronouncement of 10 billion naira by the Vice President during a working visit to commiserate with the people after the Gindin-Akwati, Nghar attacks on June 23rd 2018. The promise to pay the money according to the Vice President was to aid the resettlement of over 30, 000 displaced persons from the attacks.
21. It is thus unfortunate and unacceptable for my people and indeed the good people of Plateau State to continue to experience unprovoked recrudescent attacks on their communities.
22. Whereas the Governor has tried in the last six years to ensure some peace and stability and the Governor has repeatedly solicited for your kind support in logistics and actual security interventions, it behoves on me as a representative of the people to follow suit by reiterating on a general note that the current federal governments’ strategies towards addressing spate of insecurity across the country are no longer effective and have failed to deal squarely with the challenges of banditry, kidnapping and other forms of insecurity.
To this end, only a quick response may avert a calamity capable of throwing the entire nation into unrest. With particular reference to Plateau State, it should even be quicker given the miniature nature of Plateau State. And God forbid that this is allowed to spiral out of control.
Conclusion and Recommendations
22 It will amount to whipping sentiments and only taking the “Donkey to the River and denying it the right to drink water” if I do not draw your Excellency’s attention to what need to be done to address insecurity and particularly restore peace to the people of Plateau State and to also engender confidence in your leadership and ultimately safeguard lives and properties.
But let me reiterate here that His Excellency, Governor Simon Lalong has for the six years he has been in office, been up and doing and has succeeded to a very large extent to ensure peace and security in the three geopolitical zones of the state. But as one cannot clap with one hand, these efforts can be complemented for sustainable peace and tranquillity if the following are put in place:
(i) The parliamentary resolutions on the floor of the House of Representatives on issues of Security vis-a- vis the recommendations of the security summit organized by the RT. Hon. Femi Gbajiamila led 9th House of Representatives, should be implemented. It is my strong belief or instance, that if the Executive had taken the issue of fishing out betrayers in the Armed forces as recommended by the House seriously, the attack on NDA Kaduna might have been averted.
(ii) The Federal Government should without hesitation, release the N10 billion it promised the Plateau State Government to aid the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) so that persons affected by the various crises can return to their communities and pick up the pieces of their lives.
(iii) The DSS, the Police, and the NIA all have the capacity to engineer a robust actionable intelligence gathering and utilization thereby preventing both internal and external aggressions against Nigerian citizens. Stepping up their responsibilities by imposing regular supervisory mechanisms would ensure their efficiency. Failures in combating insecurity through professional negligence should be dealt with accordingly. Infact, at this critical time, excuses for failure should not be tolerated. This will send a very strong signal to the operatives to sit up.
(iv) The erstwhile office of the Commandant of Operation Safe Haven should be restored separate from the GOC 3rd Armoured Division, Jos. This can create a sense of rapid response devoid of any military bureaucratic interference in responding to emergencies on Security.
(v) Any serving official of the Federal Government that has been previously investigated and or fingered in the past or present in any associated dealings with any group considered to be a threat to peace and security of Nigeria should be relieved of such responsibilities. This can create confidence in the citizens to believe and support the government in fighting insecurity.
(vi) Collaboration amongst security agents should be deepened in areas of intelligence sharing and joint operations. There is also a need for strengthening of ties between state owned security outfits with the conventional security agents in the country. This has the potential to build a virile synergy in addressing problems of frustration during investigations for prosecutions of suspects.
(vii) There is need for a harmonious reconsideration of the various recommendations contained in the previous Reports of inquiries conducted by Federal Governments’ Commissions since 2001 crises in Plateau State. Significant areas of the recommendations that could assist towards addressing deep seated animosities among the people should be implemented while those that have been overtaken by events or could further add to the security problem should be discarded.
(viii) A National Peace Building Agency that can inter-alia facilitate and coordinate peace building processes should be established. To this end, I am ready and I will sponsor a Bill to this effect.
(ix) Increase funding for security agents and investment in technology and training would contribute significantly in boosting the capability of Frontline men and officers to deal decisively with crime and criminality.
(x) The issue of grazing routes and grazing reserve should be handled with caution. States that have earlier indicated interest in the National Livestock Transformation Plan and Ranching should be supported while subsidy on livestock should equally be considered.
(Xi) There is urgent need for the deployment of sufficient relief materials to the communities affected by the unfortunate crises and attacks. On my part I am undertaking a visit to all the affected communities to commiserate with and donate some relief materials to them.
(xii) There’s also the need to caution citizens against politicising the recent security threats. I strongly object to the attempt by political jobbers to use the unfortunate incidence to further their political nests by sponsoring all campaigns of calumny against His Excellency Governor Simon Lalong who has done much to restore and maintain peace of the Plateau for the six years he has been in office.
(xiii) More so, I recommend strong collaborations between Federal and State Governments to create jobs, empower youths for self-employment, check unregistered migrants, encourage agriculture, transform local government systems to work effectively and facilitate negotiation for a better Nigeria.
May I at this juncture say that the task of re-building a better Nigeria rests on all of us. But Mr. President, you must show leadership that can drive all of Nigerians towards believing in an indivisible and united country; a land of opportunities; a just and egalitarian society where justice, equity and fair play are the hallmarks.
Let’s not give up on Nigeria & God bless Nigeria.
Accept the assurance of my esteemed regards.
Rt. Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi.
Chairman House Committee on Navy AND Member House of Representatives for Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency of Plateau State.