President Muhammadu Buhari has described critics of his administration’s handling of the security challenges in the country as unpatriotic.
Buhari’s comment came a day after former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote him an open letter where he decried the prevailing insecurity and other problems in the nation.
Obasanjo, among others, advocated a national dialogue on the issue, warning that if nothing was done urgently, Nigeria was heading for a genocide akin to that of Rwanda.
While receiving the national executives of the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) at the presidential villa, Abuja, yesterday, the president in a veiled reference to Obasanjo, said that those criticising isolated cases of insecurity in Nigeria were not patriotic citizens.
He said that every country around the world has one security challenge or the other to contend with.
Buhari said that there were new challenges of banditry and kidnapping around the globe, adding that “every country in the world has security challenges. While we have made significant progress in the fight against terrorism, we acknowledged that there are also new and emerging challenges like kidnapping and banditry.
“I assure you and Nigerians that we will not relent in our efforts to secure the country from criminal activities. Those who politicise the isolated cases of insecurity are not patriotic Nigerians.
“I’m confident that this administration uses all resources at its disposal to protect the life and property of all Nigerians and not just prominent Nigerians or those who make headlines,” he declared.
The president promised that his administration would continue to be tough on its ongoing crusade against corrupt practices in the country.
According to him, “we will continue to be tough on the cancer of corruption, as you may be aware the African Union (AU) in its deliberations last year appointed me as African Corruption Champion for the continent. This is because other countries have seen our dedication to fighting corruption and are keen to emulating our approach.’’
PDP Demands President’s Resignation, State Of Emergency
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which claimed that Buhari had not done his best to protect Nigerians and preserve the unity of the country, called for a state of emergency on the security situation and the president’s resignation.
At a press briefing in Abuja on the state of insecurity in the country, PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, asserted that Nigeria was collapsing under Buhari’s watch.
He charged the president to address the issues raised by Obasanjo in his open letter, noting that they were not political.
Secondus, who advocated the rejig of the country’s security architecture, supported the views expressed by the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, that the president cannot solve the myriad of challenges confronting the country.
Secondus said that the government had collapsed and that if it were in developed climes, the president should have resigned immediately.
He challenged the president to leave the comfort of his office and move to the streets to draw up a new security architecture for the country.
The PDP chairman said: “The president cannot continue to sit comfortably in his office. The honorable part is for him to resign. The PDP wholeheartedly associates itself with the position of these patriotic Nigerians and urges President Buhari to respond appropriately to their timely advisories by declaring a state of emergency on security in the country and go further urgently to address the issues raised in Obasanjo’s letter.
“There is no doubt that the only thing apparent in President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration is incompetence and this is clearly underscored in the way and manner they are handling the affairs of governance which has continued to take a huge toll on the nation.
“The level of bloodletting occasioned by the barrage of criminalities across the country can only be happening in a country without government.
“The killing of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, is the height point of the murdering of innocent Nigerians across the land. It certainly cannot be well for a nation that creates an ugly situation where a 94-year-old nationalist would be burying her 58-year-old daughter. Sad! This certainly is not Nigeria of our dream,” Secondus lamented.
President Should Change His Tactics – Jonathan
Also yesterday, former President Goodluck Jonathan appealed to the Buhari administration to change its approach in tackling the country’s security challenges.
Jonathan spoke in Akure, Ondo State when he paid a condolence visit to Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the leader of pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, whose daughter Funke Olakurin, was killed on the Ore-Lagos Highway last weekend.
The former president also called on the federal government in conjunction with the state governments to design a different approach to tackle insecurity issue in the country.
He said: “The issue of security must be approached from a different dimension. We cannot continue the old way because it is getting out of hand. We hope the federal and state governments will do something about it. Every generation faces problems and this generation must find ways to solve these problems. Every government faces problems.
“The first commercial kidnapping, because it involved money, happened in 2006 when I was the governor of Bayelsa State. From that time, it moved to terrorism in the North.
“Now, it is a major problem in the country. The federal government in conjunction with state governments must design a different approach to this issue. I was there as president and security challenge was there but now, it is getting worse and we can’t continue to use the same old methods,” he said.
Lawan Mulls Robust Security Summit
Fourteen months after the 8th Senate held a national security summit, the Senate President Ahmad Lawan has hinted of plans by the Upper House to organize a similar confab that will involve the three arms of government.
The summit will come up with proposals to end the killings and other crimes ravaging the country.
During plenary yesterday, senators spoke bitterly on the rising rate of insecurity, especially the indiscriminate killing of Nigerians by armed bandits.
Lawan said during a debate on the state of insecurity in Nigeria and the gruesome murder of Funke Olakunrin that “we should have a one robust National summit on the security situation of this country. Instead of taking more time in this we go through the prayers and try to organise the national summit in security to address the situation.”
He described the killing of Funke as unfortunate, adding that every part of the country was faced similar security challenge.
“Let me once again mention that the security situation of this country is perverse and every part of the country has a story or another to tell of the situation.
“So, it will be the duty of this Senate to hold an all-encompassing and all-inclusive national summit on security including the third arm of government of course, because we have to work together with them to address this situation. Therefore, the different and various interventions alluded today will be taken into consideration,” Lawan said.
A similar summit was held by the Senate in February 2018 at the height of herdsmen’s killings in some parts of the country.
Although it will be the first summit to be organised by the 9th Assembly, it will, however, be the second national summit on security held by the National Assembly.
The Senate also drew the attention of the executive to the rising scourge of insecurity and tension that follow it in different parts of the country.
The Red Chamber condemned the murder of Funke by gunmen and commiserated with the family of the nonagenarian, and her father.
The lawmakers called on the Inspector General of police, the service chiefs to urgently apprehend the culprit in the killing of Mrs. Olakunrin and other cases of attacks and kidnappings.
The Senate also in its resolution urged the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to accelerate work on port holes in federal highways where most of the perpetrators of the evil acts of kidnapping or attacking hide.
Return Home, NEF, Northern Groups Tell Herdsmen
Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Coalition of the Northern Groups (CNGs) have told herdsmen to move out of the southern part of the country because their security could no longer be guaranteed.
They also ordered Fulani herders to return to the north where their safety and those of their cows is certain.
While the northern bodies lamented what they described as war threats by southern leaders against the herders, they said that their safety was very important.
Addressing a news conference late yesterday after a meeting of the NEF with the CNGs in Abuja, where the youths demanded the relocation of all the Fulanis back to the north, NEF’s chairman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, said that the elders were in support of the position of the youths.
He said that it was borne out of the realisation that the lives of Fulani herders had been put at risk due to the actions and utterances of southern governors in recent days.
“We are worried about their wellbeing. If it is true that their safety can no longer be guaranteed, we rather have them back in areas where their safety is guaranteed. The bottom line is that their safety is far more important than their stay there. This is a country we all wish to keep together but not at the expense of other sections,” he declared.
NEF also advocated the establishment of a judicial panel of enquiry to determine the quantum of loss of properties by herdsmen and farmers and compensation paid to the warring parties.
CNG’s spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, who presented the position of the northern youths to the elders, stated that the southern governors had on July 9, 2019 jointly agreed to stop the unhindered movement of herders and cattle in all the southern states.
He also said that “the governors even arrogated to themselves powers to decide which category of herdsmen can be allowed to live in the south and others whom they tagged as criminal elements.
Soyinka Denies Criticising PMB’s Administration
Meanwhile, noble leaurate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has denied comments attributed to him by a national daily (not LEAFERSHIP) on the administration of Buhari.
Soyinka said yesterday that he never uttered words linked to him by the newspaper, which sought to cite the plague of violence by nomadic herdsmen for the “erosion of Buhari’s achievements.”
The medium had alleged that Soyinka lamented the growing challenges posed to the security of Nigerians by herdsmen, saying President Buhari’s failure to resolve them had eroded his administration’s achievements.
Soyinka, in a rejoinder made available to journalists yesterday in Lagos, entitled ’’Re: Misrepresentation of Statement by The Nation’s Reporter. I denounce, in very strong terms, the report in THE NATION of July 15, 2019, regarding my exchange with school pupils who visited me in Abeokuta, on Sunday, July 14, as part of the organised events on my 85th birthday.
‘’I am appalled that such a twisted and unprofessional account could be disseminated by a paper that has earned itself a high level of public regard, not only for its reporting, but for the galaxy of perceptive contributors on national affairs and other issues of public interest. It is a gross disservice to truth and conscience, and the pursuit of the journalistic profession as a whole.
‘’At no time did I utter the words attributed to me by that paper, which sought to cite the plague of violence by nomadic herdsmen for the ‘erosion of Buhari’s achievements’. Indeed, at no time in that exchange did the ‘achievements’ of Nigeria’s current government – real or fictitious – came under consideration. The headline is especially gratuitous, fictitious, and dishonest.
‘’For the avoidance of doubt, a school pupil had requested my assessment of all past Nigerian governments. In order to enable these pupils develop as objective, all-round critics, constantly aware of the context in which opinions should be formed, I began by warning them that governance is a difficult undertaking.
‘’I went on to add that governing a complex nation space known as Nigeria is especially challenging. The Nation’s report has mischievously detached, then reattached that comment elsewhere in order to introduce achievements of his or her own conceiving.
‘’For good measure, comments on rampaging herdsmen were similarly displaced and relocated to provide Buhari’s government alibi for failures. This is crude, mind-boggling, propaganda, unworthy of any but suborned professionals.
‘’Such outrageous ploy is no different from the conduct of social media commentators, especially at election time who, lacking the courage to propagate their personal opinions, impudently steal the identities of others – mine being a favorite including pasted photographs, in order to participate in public discourse. It is sad to see this unprincipled conduct being adopted by the print media,’’ Soyinka said.
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