By Dele Sobowale
“Men make history; but not just as they please.” Karl Marx, 1818-1883, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p 93.
This article could easily have been titled ANOTHER ADVENTURE IN PROPHECY. But, deep in my heart, I feel more pity for President Muhammadu Buhari than triumph in my own predictions regarding the murderous operations of bandits in the North-East and North-West. Last week, I had made the following statement in an article titled SOUTHWARD FLIGHT OF ALMAJIRIS EXPOSES BANKRUPTCY OF NORTHERN LEADERSHIP – 2.
“A week ago, the President ordered bandits [in Katsina State] to surrender or face brutal attack by security forces. That was as empty a threat as anybody ever issued. Take it from me; the bandits will ignore it [Buhari’s warning] and launch an attack. The failure of northern leadership is now total. Anarchy is near.” The article was written a week earlier than that date. But, on the same day the article was published, Nigerians were informed of the following developments.
“Bandits kill 40 in Katsina again.” DAILY INDEPENDENT, June 11 p 26, 2020.
The story went on to inform Nigerians how impotent the Buhari government had become in the following words. “The source said after storming Katsina, they went from house to house, killing anyone in sight.
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“The attack started at 4pm yesterday and they took hours killing and setting buildings on fire….The gunmen left on their own, and hours later, security personnel arrived the village. The whole place is now empty as those who escaped alive trekked to Funtua town.”
Nigerians must now be wondering if the President, who cannot guarantee the security of his own state, is the same person on who they can rely for their own safety. More to the point; the attack by the hoodlums was predicted by me; while Buhari’s security personnel were deceiving the President. Unfortunately, that was not the only bad news served to Nigerians on that day.
‘Insurgents pretending to be preachers kill 81.’ PUNCH, June 11, 2020, p 10.
Again the report went on to explain what happened in Borno State. “ The survivor of the Boko Haram’s Tuesday [June 9, 2020] attack on Fanduma Koloram, in the Gubio Local Government area of Borno State told the State Governor, Babagana Zulum, on Wednesday [June 10, 2020], that the insurgents pretended to be Islamic religious crusaders, collected arms from herders and killed 81 persons.” They killed even under-aged children and abducted seven.
This particular story is packed with so many ironies — all of which expose the impotence of the northern elite led by Buhari. As usual, one of FG’s loudspeakers “described the killings as one of the most brutal terrorist attacks on innocent people in the North-East.” Nigerians, not wedded to the self-induced illusions of the Buhari administration, must ask when armed herders became “innocent Nigerians”. Garba Shehu must be operating with a dictionary different from our own. Armed herdsmen are criminals – full stop. That they were executed with their own weapons — which had probably been used to kill really innocent Nigerians with impunity – was the real irony in this story.
Again in my article last week, the following point had been made about Boko Haram: “They have no Islamic tenets to disseminate; they have terror to spread because it is now profitable.” Herdsmen, who had been allowed to prey on other Nigerians because they pretend to be Muslims, have now become the targets of other pretenders. If not, they would not have fallen for the deception of total strangers preaching a doctrine with which they should have been very familiar. The individual and collective delusion of northern leaders is simply amazing.
FLIRTING WITH DISASTER ONCE AGAIN
“Buhari charged the armed forces to sustain their “recent string of successes against the terrorists to exact a heavy price from the attackers, and bring back all those they kidnapped, as well as the large number of cattle rustled.” That was the announcement from the FG which evokes three reactions – disbelief, scepticism and fear in equal measures.
Disbelief forces one to ask a question. Is Buhari aware of what is going on in Nigeria or is he now so totally isolated from reality that he no longer realises when he makes orders in vain? As the security forces which frequently arrive after the terrorists have left, who will stop them from the next attack? At any rate, the Chief of Army Staff, CoAS, was reported to have relocated to Borno in May and a promise was made to silence Boko Haram in a few weeks before the latest attack in the state. The North-West attack was the bandits’ answer to Buhari’s ultimatum – delivered at 4pm.
Apart from the President’s appointees (and perhaps not all of them), few people living in those states can possibly believe that government can protect them.
“All animals are equal; some are more equal than others.” George Orwell in ANIMAL FARM.
Scepticism creeps in because Buhari, who had turned deaf ears to cries of anguish of the victims of herders atrocities in the past, who did not raise his voice when hundreds of Agatu people were massacred by suspected herdsmen, is now asking the security forces to go after the killers of 80 of them and rescue those kidnapped as well as their rustled cattle. Wonders never cease!!
Buhari, as the ‘Father of the nation’, must be a strange Dad, who will exhibit indifference when some of his offspring are kidnapped; then turn around and demonstrate outrage when others are. Are the rest of us who lost relatives to kidnappers supposed to share in the President’s tough stance now that the lost ones are Fulani and herders like him? Will he issue the same order if herders kidnap Tiv women in Benue, Urhobo in Delta State or Ibo in Abia? Parents, to earn the respect of their kids, must caution themselves against exposing their favourites. Otherwise, they become unworthy to be called Daddy.
“Fear has many eyes and can see things underground.” Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616, VBQ p 58. However, fear is my most overwhelming emotion each time Buhari or General Buratai makes a promise to deal decisively with the hoodlums terrorising the NE and NW, because genocide follows. The terrorists feel challenged to prove that the FG is impotent to defend Nigerians. We might be in for another round of blood-letting in the zone. One General, during the Age of Alexander, made the point that “Generals are trained to take care of others.” In other words, top military officers should not expose those they defend to unnecessary danger. Challenging the terrorists to open confrontation, given the known weaknesses (which I will not explain here) of government, will merely hasten the next attack on unarmed and truly innocent Nigerians. Let me repeat for the sake of Garba Shehu that armed herders cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be called “innocent”. The mere possession of weapons makes them criminals, at least, and murderers at worst. My fear is for the really innocent who will be the victims of the shoot-out between the two armed forces.
My fear is heightened by Buhari’s use of the word “successes”. How on earth does the President define “success” under the present circumstances? I had a lot of time on my hands while on admission in the hospital in March and April for cancer (not CORO please), and in one week logged the body counts of people killed by terrorists/bandits versus their members killed by the Nigerian armed forces. In a two-week period the numbers were about five to one in favour of the criminals. So, what is success? And who is succeeding – FG or the terrorists?
ACCEPT GRACIOUSLY WHAT YOU CANNOT NOW REFUSE
“It is unthinkable that wisdom should ever be popular.” JW Goethe.
Sometime in the early 2000s, one of my friends, who was being oppressed by his boss, asked me for advice. Before telling him my mind, after listening to his tale of woe, I asked him if he would not be offended by what my view would be on the matter. He said “No”. Gracious acceptance of tough situations, while patiently planning your deliverance is a key attribute to survival under certain conditions.
President Buhari already has established a reputation as the Consoler-In-Chief, C-I-C, of Nigeria. He has sent off more condolence messages to families of victims killed by gunmen than any President, except Syria’s Assad. It is not a dignifying position; but, it might be the only role he can play until his security forces can actually fight to win.
My friend ignored the advice in 2000 and went on to confront his boss. He lost everything – job, wife and house. His colleagues, who endured until opportunity presented itself, during an audit of the firm, remained. One of them succeeded their former tormentor who was sacked. There is a lesson there.
Buhari has no credible strategy for defending Nigeria – especially the North.
‘BLACK SATURDAY: Boko Haram, ISWAP attacks leave 60 dead in Borno.’
‘INSECURITY IN NORTH: PRESIDENCY, NORTHERN LEADERS AT WAR.’ VANGUARD, Monday, June 15, 2020, pp 8 and 9.
I was about to finish this article, but had to stop for three days on account of health challenges. Suddenly, THEY are singing my song. Who are they? Prominent northern leaders. Here is what two of them said.
Professor Ango Abdullahi, NEF leader:
“Recent escalation of attacks by bandits, rustlers, and insurgents leave the only conclusion that the people of the North are now completely at the mercy of armed groups who roam towns and villages at will wreaking havoc.”
Dr Junaid Mohammed:
“Whoever is supposed to be in charge of security of this country clearly is not in charge of security. And nobody seems to know who is in charge of security. Whether it is the President or governors?”
“President Buhari steadily focuses on retooling Nigeria, and discerning Nigerians know the true state of the nation.”
If you ever read a more skewed response to the issues presented by the two elders from any Presidency, kindly let me know.
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By Dele Sobowale