Fellow Nigerians, please permit me to start today by giving a summary of how I see the current spate of insecurity in Nigeria. Any right-thinking Nigerian realises that this is the most burning issue for discourse in the country at a time when rampaging bandits, insurgents and terrorists seem to have overrun our country and effectively taken over its leadership. No matter your political leaning and alignment, the facts make for gruesome, grisly reading and consideration.
One. The Northern parts of Nigeria have largely fallen into the hands of hard-core terrorists, if you like call them herdsmen, bandits, insurgents or whatever you will. The situation is akin to a coup carried out by a ragtag army with pockets of resistance by the legitimate government fighting with puny munitions as against sophisticated weaponry and arsenal. How ironic for the giant of Africa!
Two. The terrorists fall into different groups. The most prominent group has been the Shekau faction of Boko Haram. Their agenda is clear. They are out to kill and maim and destroy anything in sight, out of some warped ideologies and principles. I don’t think they are armed robbers, or petty thieves. They seem more motivated and organised than that and they seem to have some code of honour which marks them out. Shekau himself must possess more than nine lives. I have read of his demise, which has been greeted with much joy and fanfare, not only by the unfortunate Nigerians caught up in his zone of death but also, by some witless and clueless military top brass and government leaders who have had eggs all over their faces from the daredevil exploits of this rakish felon, countless times. Every time he has been declared dead, with apparently fake videos to prove this, the phantom Shekau had resurrected to the eternal consternation, bewilderment and damnation of his victims and those supposedly hunting him down. His assailants should be tired by now and should just let God take him away at his own appointed time, since that seems to be the only way the man will leave this planet earth, on his and God’s terms.
Three. There are heavily weaponized terrorists operating around the forests of Kaduna, Zamfara and Niger States. Their agenda is simply opportunistic. Harass and blackmail the Nigerian State to a standstill and hold everyone to ransom till the government parts with billions of Naira as settlement, appeasement, pacifiers or in typical Nigerian parlance, the dividends of Amnesty! Their strategy is very smart. Give access to a Sheikh Gumi and some media operatives to help spread your message of terror, free of charge, and even confer some sort of legitimacy on your nefarious activities. I must confess that these ones are far smarter than the other groups. I love the bold and brazen manner they have requested for President Muhammadu Buhari to come and negotiate with them personally. The Yoruba people have a relevant proverb: the person who gave birth to a terrible child should be ready to carry the troublesome baby on his own back. They were apparently used and dumped by Buhari and other politicians who made grandiloquent promises to them during their various electioneering campaigns. The payback time has now come, and vengeance is theirs. No more time for long stories!
Four. There are herders and cattle rearers. These ones are in two or more parts. The itinerant, traditional, peaceful and innocent Fulani herders who shepherd their cattle from place to place and have done so for many decades. They are legit and usually calm. They are mostly Nigerian Fulani. Many of them have bosses who had traded almost forever across the country. They are traceable, well-meaning and prosperous. They do not want trouble and they do not look for trouble. However, there are the invading Fulani from different parts of West Africa, roaming dangerously and violently into and out of our porous borders, unchallenged. The attitude and disposition of the government has made them to believe, with some justification, that president Buhari is their avuncular benefactor and protector, and no harm can befall them in Nigeria. They are more confident about their untouchability, inviolability and invincibility. Those are the reasons they have been killing, maiming and raping defenceless Nigerians, senselessly. These ones are the deadliest because they are not just armed robbers, they are religious and tribalistic bigots and fanatics who are daydreaming of how they will soon convert the entire country of Nigeria into a Fulani colony and an Islamic enclave. They must be flushed out by all means necessary, whether Buhari is willing or not! He once told us himself that they are foreigners, so why must we allow them to destroy the lives of peace-loving Nigerians?
However, all these four categories or groups are not my main focus today. This week, I wish to speak to the loquacious, swollen headed Northern Governors who have been rubbing hot pepper and salt on our festering wounds. One of them has been busy grandstanding and talking arrogantly that he has no apologies for his retrogressive views on the raging controversy. My advice is that many of these Northern leaders should urgently bury their faces in shame and beg Allah for forgiveness, if it is not too late. It is the height of shamelessness to impoverish your people, turn them into illiterates and robots, and expect that you won’t reap the whirlwind of violence that you have sown, in a matter of time.
Everyone knows how much these Northern leaders crave and cuddle power but what have they done with it? Many of us who are detribalized Nigerians don’t really care if they’ve held on to power for so long, but it is sad to see the mess they have made of it. These leaders are still busy deceiving their people by pretending to be their champion when they are the original parasites feeding fat on their hapless preys. The amount of money spent on military hardware today would have been invested in vocational education, cottage industries, and other productive sectors but not flamboyant ones. I’m sure they’ve not seen anything yet. Many of them can no longer sleep comfortably in their towns and villages, the reason they have over-fortified Abuja, which they run to at the earliest opportunity or excuse, in recent years. What they have failed to do, some private investors are willing to do for the collective peace and safety of all.
What is sad and saddening is that the Southern leaders who are being saddled with the challenges coming from the North are too timid and squeamish to talk to Buhari and their Northern counterparts. I love the few who are standing up to the bullies, every now and then, Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State. I respect their boldness in defending the rights of their people to live in peace and harmony while protecting their properties and families. Thousands of young able-bodied boys flocking to the South daily won’t be the case if they were kept busy at home in the North by their leaders. And rather than do the needful, those leaders are busy throwing tantrums as if it is the job of others to look after these innocent kids that they have abandoned and left in abject state of penury and hopelessness. It is like a parent berating a teacher for not giving pastoral care to his child when the parent had actually neglected and refused to give the child a sound upbringing and good manners in the first instance.
Nothing has shocked me more than seeing my Brother, Governor Hope Uzodinma, gloating on television about how he invited the military to Orlu. Please, help me ask what happened in Orlu that has not happened 100 times over in the Northern States. Why didn’t he find any respected Igbo Chief or Priest to go and negotiate and quell whatever trouble there was in Orlu like Sheikh Gumi has been doing for his own men in the Northern forests hiding the itinerant Fulani militia. Why are Southern leaders always very quick at throwing their own citizens at the lions? That was how Chief Sunday Igboho Adeyemo was going to be sacrificed by some Yoruba leaders in order to placate the tin gods of Abuja had his people not lent their voices to his crusade and dared the gods with the feet of clay. It is obvious we are our own worst enemies!
Anyway. Let me call on good spirited and kind-hearted Nigerians to take up the duty and responsibility of helping the army of unemployed Nigerians in whatever way we can now that it is obvious most of our leaders are sleeping and snoring. This is one of the ways in which we can help our youths to go back to the land of reason, decency and self-respect. There is no point wasting time on leaders who have no plan or clue about how to resolve the incredible problems they have caused for everyone. On a personal note, some of my friends and I have found a way of reaching out to Nigerians nationwide. It is a small effort, but the results have been worthwhile. The statistics we have gathered are so depressing and frighteningly sobering. It is now clear to us why terrorists are overrunning some parts of the North East and North West in particular.
Special thanks to the amazing Ghanaian lady, Ms Farida Bedwei, who saw my efforts of distributing palliatives on social media and offered to design a spectacular App that has opened my eyes to the grim realities of Nigeria. You will be surprised and shocked, but it is better that we all act and do something, no matter how little, before it is too late.
As at the time of writing this, we have received a total of 35,981 applications from across the states of Nigeria, in just two weeks, 11,444 females and 24,531 males. I interpret this to mean the men are more under pressure than the women. The average age of applicants is 34 and they are applying for our N5,000 palliatives which government promised them during the campaigns but remains largely nebulous and unseen, although we hear of distributions of billions of Naira to millions regularly. So far, we’ve been able to select 1,004 successful applications and already disbursed N5,020,000. It is our aim to give as many deserving applicant as possible the N5,000 palliative and this is a commitment from us. We charge absolutely nothing for the tremendous and amazing administration and logistics that is going into the scheme, treating that as part of our further contribution to the whole program.
Borno State has the largest number of applications with 6,938. The towns and villages are as follows: Askira 59, Asare 27, Abama 155, Benisheikh 51, Biu 215, Briyel 4, Chibok 45, Damasak 49, Damboa 154, Dikwa 52, Gajiram 29, Gamboru 48, Gubio 23, Gudumbali 9, Gwoza 79, Khaddamari 57, Konduga 126, Kukawa, 41, Kwaya Kusar 38, Mafa 89, Magumeri 111, Maiduguri 5298, Mallam Fatori 25, Marte 61, Monguno 54, Rann 17, Shani 22. This data from Borno State is a sample of what we did and replicated in each of the States. Our government needs to study such credible statistics to be able to appreciate the magnitude of the trouble ahead.
Let’s now go to Bauchi State where we received the second largest number of applications with a total of 6,522. The breakdown is as follows: Alkaleri 146, Azare 891, Bauchi 4,371, Bogoro 40, Dambam 44, Darazo 83, Dass 86, Gamawa 40, Giade 21, Itas 36, Jama’are 27, Kafin Madaki 64, Katagum 259, Kirfi 51, Misau 95, Ningi 40, Tafawa Balewa 105, Toro 80, Warji 10, Yana 33…
Abia recorded 414 applications, Adamawa 904, Akwa Ibom 421, Anambra 330, Bayelsa 264, Benue 728, Cross River 573, Delta 444, Ebonyi 316, Edo 391, Ekiti 587, Enugu 326, Gombe 2,049, Imo 427, Jigawa 180, Kaduna 1,307, kano 455, Katsina 473, Kebbi, 241, Kogi 849, Kwara 667, Lagos 1,954, Nasarawa 353, Niger 600, Ogun 943, Ondo 650, Osun 942, Oyo 1,226, Plateau 524, Rivers 425, Sokoto 279, Taraba 877, Yobe 952 and Zamfara 451… One or two of these might have changed in the course of writing this column. It is a dynamic and fluid situation brought on by the malaise of unemployment that is ravaging our country while government spews forth fake statistics and monetary figures.
It is obvious that out leaders never treated their citizens right and much more needs to be done. What is saddest is the obvious lack of empathy and compassion. I must acknowledge the salutary efforts of the Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, against all odds. I wish our President could study how this Governor reaches out to his people. President Buhari is just too aloof and distant from the people of Nigeria. Yet he was so energetic during the campaigns and went everywhere. Now that he has occupied, and seats on, the gilded throne of power he has since truculently and defiantly withdrawn into his rarefied cocoon, thereby leaving Nigeria on autopilot and at the mercy of his villainous brethren…
It is so sad and unfortunate!