The barrage of reactions to the escalating insecurity across the polity point not just to the obvious heightened apprehension, but to a yearning for a pragmatic action by the Presidency.
Although the war against insurgency and banditry had raged for close to a decade, events of the last two weeks sparked fresh concerns as the spate of attacks reflected the spread and intensity across the country.
For instance, On Monday, April 26, from Anambra State to Kaduna, Yobe, Niger, and Lagos States, critical insecurity issues were recorded and reported.
Also within the period, Boko Haram hoisted its flag in Niger State, in Shiroro LGA just about 200 kilometres from the country’s federal capital.
While insurgents invaded Mainok, a town on the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway, nine people were said to have been killed by hoodlums that invaded Ukpomachi Village, Awkuzu in Oyi LGA of Anambra State.
In Kaduna State, two more innocent students that were kidnapped from Greenfield University were killed by their abductors. In Benue, an unspecified number of students have now been abducted from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
According to PREMIUM TIMES, over 200 people were killed in that week while 44 others were kidnapped in separate incidents.
Expectedly, a barrage of reactions trailed these attacks. The National Assembly, in separate sittings by the two chambers – Senate and House of Representatives – came hard on the executive over the failing security situation.
The House of Representatives specifically asked the president to declare a state of emergency on security, a call which was echoed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
On its part, the Senate, after an intense debate, resolved that its leadership will meet Buhari to discuss the insecurity, and invite Nigeria’s army chief and other commanders and intelligence chiefs to speak on the matter.
While Senator Smart Adeyemi, an APC senator from Kogi, told the president to step up his game and tackle the precarious situation, some members of the House of Representatives, like Hon Obinna Chidoka outrightly asked the president to resign if he cannot address the issue.
Before long, fiery Catholic cleric Ejike Mbaka who supported Buhari in his first and second term elections call for Buhari’s impeachment.
Expectedly, the agitations were met with resistance from the villa and it’s sympathisers. In a strong retort to calls for the president’s resignation, the APC leadership said no one should doubt the capacity of the president to end the security crisis facing the country.
Responding to the PDP, APC in a statement by the national secretary of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator James Akpanudoedehe, said
“We urge stakeholders and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians to avoid politicising or being simplistic about the security situation. At a time like this, our duty to our nation as good citizens should outweigh political party colorations.”
He added: “While high-level investigations are ongoing to fish out sponsors and perpetrators of the security incidents, President Buhari has already given marching orders to our security services to check the security incidents. We pray the investigations should not reveal conspiracies by the opposition to weaken the government in furtherance of their desperate 2023 aspirations.”
Earlier, Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, faulted the lower chamber’s resolution of calling for the declaration of a ‘state of emergency’ in the security sector.
Masari said “I think we better be serious about this issue of security because if you say we declare a state of emergency then what do you do next? You will continue to have the same people; the same security agencies, capacity and resources.
“We have a problem whereby, every person has a role to play, we better play it. Politics should be over. The security situation in the country is beyond partisan politics and it’s a national concern for all of us. State of emergency cannot solve the problem,” he stated.
The minister of Niger Delta affairs, Godswill Akpabio, took the debate a notch higher by alleging that the spate of insecurity in Nigeria is politically motivated.
Akpabio while speaking at the APC national secretariat in Abuja last Thursday, admitted that the insecurity has assumed a worrisome dimension as it is no longer limited to one section of the country.
“I think most of the problems are politically motivated,” he said.
“So, we must use our binoculars to be able to look and identify the sponsors of the insecurity we are witnessing in the country.”
Although the Senate majority whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, echoed the sentiments of political sabotage, it isn’t new. The Zamfara State governor Matawalle had said Nigerians would be amazed if he revealed those sponsoring the bandits.
While the mystery over the sponsors of terrorism remains a mystery, the call for the president’s resign comes after agitations for the former service chief to step aside in light of the unabating security crisis. But even after their resignation, the spate of security attacks have yet to stop.
For pundits like Barr Ibikunle Ajayi, “it would seem like after the service chiefs were sacked, the attacks increased. As we all noticed, the attacks and kidnappings across the country in the last couple of months have been really worrisome.”
However, Senator Kalu had claimed that it would take the new service chiefs not less than five to six months to stabilise in office.
Nevertheless, this notion has not stopped the call on the president to resign. Perhaps, like Ajayi would argue, the message could be that since the former service chiefs have been changed and the situation is yet to improve, the president should bear the brunt directly.
But feasibility of the resignation call and the impact it would have on the polity is another matter. Senator Mathew Urhoghide, who represents Edo South was harassed by APC members in his state for initiating an impeachment motion against Buhari over the withdrawal of funds without the necessary legislative approval in the build up to 2019 polls.
A former presidential adviser under the PDP administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Olukayode Akindele, believes it’s almost impossible and unrealistic.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, he said, such calls won’t amount to much in a country where there is no respect for rule law, no consequences for abuse of office by ‘favoured’ office holders, no respect for separation of power, and religion and ethnicity are used to dwarf constitutional accountability.
“How then can the talk of resignation be taken seriously by any honest and unbiased Nigerian. It will not happen not to talk of the implications or repercussions. It is the mother of all jokes,” he said.
Reacting also, the chairman of Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) Niyi Akinsuju, told LEADERSHIP that as good as the call on President Buhari to declare a state of emergency on insecurity might sound, “we want to believe that people who see it as the best option to stem the tide of insecurity know the implications.
“These include the abridgement of some fundamental human rights as well as arbitrary executive powers almost to the exclusion of the legislature in security matters amongst others.
“We know that the President is an extreme democrat who could have easily imposed emergency rule in North West and North East states ravaged by bandits and insurgents, but he is almost certain to have considered the implications,” Akinsuju said .
“Resignation of the President is not an option. We should desist from such thoughts and wait for 2023,” APC chairmanship aspirant, Sunny Moniedafe, told LEADERSHIP.
The notion that the president is sitting on his hands over the security situation appears unfounded considering his recent appeal to the United States to reconsider relocating U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa.
Buhari made the plea in a virtual meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, last Tuesday. He also met with the service chiefs recently over the security situation.
But how soon the impact of such meetings would be felt is another matter.