The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum and the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, on Tuesday took a swipe at the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd,), over his comment that only God could effectively supervise Nigeria’s border with Niger Republic.
The groups, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said the President’s statement was not only an indication that he had failed, but also that he had been overwhelmed by insecurity and other problems in the country.
Buhari, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Tuesday said only God could effectively “supervise” Nigeria’s border with the Republic of Niger.
The President spoke while receiving in audience former Vice President Namadi Sambo, who heads ECOWAS Election Mission to the Republic of Niger.
The President spoke amid concerns about insecurity and influx of bandits into the country from Niger Republic and other neighbouring countries. Recall that two weeks ago, bandits kidnapped schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina State.
But on Tuesday Buhari explained why Nigeria’s border with Niger Republic was difficult to man.
In the statement by Adesina titled, ‘President Buhari pledges support for polls in Republic of Niger, describes outgoing President as ‘very decent man,’ Buhari said, “I come from Daura, few kilometres to the Republic of Niger, so I should know a bit about that country.
“The President is quite decent, and we are regularly in touch. He is sticking to the maximum term prescribed by the constitution of his country.
“Also, we share more than 1,400 kilometres of border with that country, which can only be effectively supervised by God.
“I will speak with the President, and offer his country our support. We need to do all we can to help stabilise the Sahel region, which is also in our own interest.”
He was also said to have applauded President Mahamadou Issoufou for not attempting to tamper with the constitution of his country, and elongate his stay in power, after serving for the maximum two terms.
The statement quoted Sambo as congratulating Buhari on the successful return of abducted schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, and also his 78th birthday, last week.
He pledged that ECOWAS would ensure peaceful and fair elections in the Republic of Niger, despite current political, legal and security issues.
He added that meetings were already being held with the relevant stakeholders.
Berating the President, the PDP said his declaration was an admission of failure.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Abuja on Monday.
He explained that it was obvious that the President was deceiving Nigerians when “he claimed to have closed Nigeria’s land borders.”
Statement from Buhari, a commander-in-chief, is shocking – PDP
Ologbondiyan said, “Mr President has just confirmed what we knew all along that he had failed. How were our borders protected before he took power in 2015? It is shocking and appalling that the President, a retired general, who in his life time has been a military head of state and now a civilian president, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, will speak so loosely about a responsibility he was elected to discharge but has failed to. It has vindicated our position that no one is in charge of this regime.”
Comment signifies loss of control – Ohanaeze
On its part, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, described the Buhari’s comment as a total loss of control of the country.
Ohanaeze’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chuks Ibegbu, asked the President not to shift the mandate Nigerians gave to him to protect them to God.
He added that God had given him the knowledge and will to check what was going on.
He said “It’s not God that controls borders. Why are they disturbing God who has given us brain to organise ourselves?
“How can Buhari leave his responsibility to God. Men should not abdicate their responsibilities to God. His statement signified loss of control and perhaps he should resign.”
Buhari’s comment on Nigeria’s border with Niger, unacceptable, says PANDEF
Also, PANDEF described the statement by the President as completely unacceptable from a commander-in-chief.
PANDEF spokesman, Ken Robinson, said this while speaking to one of our correspondents in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
“PANDEF and a lot of well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians have repeatedly said the security architecture of the country has been overwhelmed by the various issues of insecurity across the country.
“So the President’s statement validates that opinion that the security system/architecture of the country has been overwhelmed. It is admission of failure, incapacity and ineffectiveness of the security architecture and structure. So, the President should do the needful.
“God does not come down to secure borders. God provides security through people and that is why we have the military and the police.
“If the President says only God can secure the border, that means he has lost faith and hope in the security set-up of the country and what he needs to do is clear. We have repeatedly said there is the need to re-jig the security configuration and bring people based on expertise and experience; not based on religion or the section of the country where they come from. Those are the issues!”
It’s height of waywardness in leadership – Afenifere
The spokesman for the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, also berated the President.
He said, “It’s so clear that these people don’t reflect on what they say to Nigerians anymore.
“How can a President who shut Benin and other borders for over a year without any just cause but lacks the will to shut Niger border because of cultural kinship utter this statement? It is the height of irresponsible and waywardness in leadership.”
President using God as a cover-up for his failure – Northern CAN
The Kaduna State Christian Association of Nigeria Chairman and Vice-Chairman (19 Northern States and Abuja), Rev. John Joseph Hayab, said the President was using God as a cover-up for his failure.
He said, “It is good for our President to recognise the sovereignty of God in the affairs of his governance but it is equally sad for our President to use God as a cover for his failure of leadership.
“God will not come down from heaven to do what He has provided us with wisdom and grace to be able to carry out those things.
“Leadership is about responsibility not just making rhetoric. Our leaders have turned governance into making speeches and press statements without taking concrete actions.
“Nigerians do know that God is our sovereign watchman, but we have elected Buhari as our commander-in-chief and he should be seen playing his role to secure us and secure our borders.”