Fo­cused ac­tion, not di­vi­sive tirades, to ad­dress in­se­cu­rity

Daily Trust - - VIEWS OPINION -

t is for­tu­itous that last week’s ex­panded meet­ing of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (NSC) chaired by Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan has mod­er­ated the dis­cor­dant voices and ac­ri­mo­nious ex­changes that pre­ceded it. Only a cou­ple of days ear­lier, Gover­nor Mur­tala Nyako of Adamawa State had writ­ten a long me­moran­dum to his col­leagues in the North­ern States Gov­er­nors’ Fo­rum in which he all but ac­cused top of­fi­cials of the federal govern­ment for the per­sis­tent se­cu­rity chal­lenges in the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly the puz­zling en­durance of the in­sur­gency in the North-East re­gion, de­spite nearly nine months of a suf­fo­cat­ing state of emer­gency in the area, and the pre­pon­der­ance of mil­i­tary per­son­nel de­ployed there as a con­se­quence.

In the back­drop of both de­vel­op­ments was the ap­par­ent sui­cide bomb­ing at the Nyanya Bus Ter­mi­nal in the out­skirts of Abuja in which more than seventy people were killed in the morn­ing rush hour and the ab­duc­tion of over 200 fe­male stu­dents of a govern­ment sec­ondary school in Chi­bok in Borno State.

Nyako’s tirade against the per­ceived lack of com­mit­ment by the Jonathan ad­min­is­tra­tion to bring the drawn out in­sur­gency to an end took on a more pointed ac­cu­sa­tion of com­plic­ity last month when he made a pre­sen­ta­tion in the United States. Speak­ing at a three-day sym­po­sium on

at the United States In­sti­tute of Peace (USIP) in Wash­ing­ton, DC., the gover­nor sought to es­tab­lish that the ap­par­ent re­silience of the in­sur­gents to strike at will was only pos­si­ble be­cause they could be get­ting safe pas­sage from top federal govern­ment of­fi­cials and the mil­i­tary brass.

Nyako fol­lowed up by mad­ing sim­i­lar ar­gu­ments in his let­ter to the North­ern gov­er­nors.

While the Fo­rum took no spe­cific po­si­tion on the con­tent and im­pli­ca­tions of Nyako’s let­ter, re­ac­tions from other quar­ters in the re­gion have been largely to call for cau­tion in the man­ner both federal of­fi­cials and state gov­ern­ments en­gage in ver­bal brick­bats on the is­sue of se­cu­rity and who is to blame for its break­down.

The Pres­i­dency is­sued a state­ment con­demn­ing Nyako’s as­ser­tions. The rul­ing Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) said Nyako’s let­ter was a de­vi­a­tion from the more cau­tious dis­po­si­tion of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC).

How­ever, top ech­e­lons of the same PDP did not help mat­ters when they tried to link the car­nage in Nyanya to the ac­tiv­i­ties of op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Even the pres­i­dent at one time claimed that the gov­er­nors of the re­gion were not do­ing enough to con­tain the in­sur­gency, an as­ton­ish­ing state­ment by the Com­man­der in Chief.

It is such po­lit­i­cal coloura­tion that gives rise to sus­pi­cion that cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als fuel the on­go­ing in­sta­bil­ity for per­sonal gains and for the im­pov­er­ish­ment of marked sec­tions of the coun­try.

In­deed, last week’s se­cu­rity meet­ing came only days af­ter an­other one held on the same sub­ject called by the pres­i­dent that had all PDP and two nonPDP states in at­ten­dance but ex­cluded all the gov­er­nors of APC-con­trolled states, in­clud­ing Borno, Yobe and States that should with­out ques­tion be the pri­mary stake­hold­ers in any such gath­er­ing. It was an ill-ad­vised ex­clu­sion that rightly was con­demned.

The Arewa Con­sul­ta­tive Fo­rum (ACF) and the North­ern Elders Fo­rum (NEF) both ex­pressed mis­giv­ings re­gard­ing Nyako’s let­ter, not­ing that it would not ad­vance the search for so­lu­tion to the se­cu­rity chal­lenges that have dam­aged the economies of many states in the re­gion. But their words were also di­rected at the pres­i­dent, who in re­cent week ap­peared to have de­cided that po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns should be ac­corded higher val­ues and thus re­quir­ing more ur­gent at­ten­tion than the loss of lives and the predica­ment of the more than 200 school girls whose fate still hangs in the bal­ance.

With last week’s meet­ing, there should be some hon­est shar­ing of the in­tel­li­gence that the pres­i­dent may pos­sess with the gov­er­nors and other rel­e­vant agencies in the af­fected states. No one would hes­i­tate to be­rate and con­demn Nyako if he and his col­leagues had been taken into con­fi­dence in in­tel­li­gence shar­ing, and he ig­nored it gone ahead to make his claims.

The bot­tom line in all this is that the pres­i­dent must es­chew the ten­dency to politi­cise se­cu­rity is­sues that af­fect states that may not be in the same po­lit­i­cal al­liance with him, and gov­er­nors of those states should de­sist from mak­ing state­ments that they can­not pro­vide em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence in sup­port.

Nigeria

Se­cu­rity Chal­lenges in North­ern

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