Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila made two unimpressive outings last week. The first was during a television interview on Tuesday, where he attempted to credit the current administration in the ongoing fight against terrorism and other forms of security challenges in the country. The second was his tacit comparison of the agitations in the southern part of the county to terrorism in his welcome address to his colleagues at the plenary on Wednesday.
When he was asked to state his sincere opinion about the security situation of the country during an interview on Monday, the speaker had this to say, “We are coming from a hole, a very deep hole that if we had maintained the pace of how we were addressing insecurity at that time, I don’t know where we will be today as a nation. Don’t forget that Biko Haram had begun to plant their flags in different local governments in this country, I don’t see it anywhere right now. How far deep in the whole were we, and where are we now, I will say we have made good progress, but there is a lot more to be done and that can be done, I will not score full marks to our government in terms of where we are on security but I will say that we’ve moved the needle a little bit, we must be more aggressive.”
In another breathe, the speaker said “It wasn’t like that then, it is now hydra-headed, we are talking about bandits, Boko Haram, kidnappers, herdsmen. Then they were tackling just one issue, and it was still bad, now, as I said, it is hydra-headed, a lot must be done we don’t shy away from that fact.”
Politics seem to have taken over the better part of our reasoning in this country, and the gentleman speaker who by the virtue of his exposure, training as a lawyer, and experience as one of the longest-serving federal lawmakers In Nigeria, should stand out, also obeyed the norm.
If hoisting of flags by terrorists is an indicative measure of failure in the fight against insecurity, as canvassed by the speaker, then, the needle has not moved an inch. Rather, Gbajabiamila might have unknowingly admitted to the failure of the current administration because terrorists did not only hoist flags during the life of the APC government, they collected taxes.
In December 2018, Boko Haram insurgents hoisted their flag in Baga, a town in Borno State, in February 2021, the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), a breakaway group from the Boko Haram sect, hoisted its flag in two communities in Borno State, New Marte, and Kirenowa.
In April 2021, ISWAP attacked residents of Geidam, of the major towns in Yobe State, hoisting flags and distributing pamphlets to woo the residents. This was followed by another attack on April 28th by Boko Haram terrorists who hoisted their flag in Kaure village, Shiroro Local Council of Niger State, about 100kms away from the Federal Capital Territory.
Just on Friday, suspected Ansaru terrorists fleeing military operations in Zamfara State invaded and hoisted flags in Saulawa and Damari communities in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Therefore, if hoisting of flags was the yardstick for measuring success in the war against insecurity, the APC government cannot claim any form of victory.
Unfortunately, the insecurity which was hitherto limited to the Northeast has now crept into the other parts, schools and hospitals in the Northwest and North Central were repeatedly attacked with ease, the NDA in Kaduna was attacked and terrorists now have the sophistication of shooting down military aircraft, all these are not a suggestive indication of any improvement.
I do not want to dabble into the argument that the government refused to declare the bandits as terrorists. But state governors have paid a huge amount to a group of people in exchange for peace that has continued to elude their states, Nigerians families now sell their properties to raise a huge ransom in exchange for their family members, and in some cases, victims are killed even after these criminals collect ransom on them, then, the situation has not improved as Gbajamila claimed. It is getting worse by the day.
I will spare some of these details so as not to give the PDP, a party that failed in equal measure the comfort of criticizing the current government since
But, lest I forget, Mr Speaker, there is no basis to compare activities of ISWAP/Boko Haram to the situation in the South of Nigeria, East, and West, it is empirically incorrect.