There is something wrong with the way that President Muhammadu Buhari is tackling the security challenges in the country. Something is fundamentally amiss in his security policy and modus operandi. That very thing needs to be expressly pointed out and highlighted before it is too late. Vague references have already been made to the flaws and flops in letters that some concerned Nigerians have written, and in statements that have so far been released. Some have equated it to a form of political patronage. Others called it nepotism. Whichever way that people may choose to describe this anomaly, security-wise, Buhari is increasingly becoming a polarizing figure. The Nigerian president is driving the country to the edge, fueling division and tension nationwide. Simply put, Buhari’s government has become a huge security threat. Why do I say so?
President Buhari, a former military head of state, took office in 2015 vowing to focus on three priority areas, and one of them was security. Specifically, he pledged to root out Boko Haram. And to be fair to him, Buhari has tried to respond to that problem. Soldiers have made significant gains in containing the threat of Boko Haram. Although going by recent developments, Boko Haram has not been defeated as Buhari claimed.
The security challenges that Buhari faced actually became more complicated and multifaceted with the agitation for Biafra and increased cases of kidnapping and militancy in the Niger Delta. But Buhari has in trying to address these challenges worsened the security situation. A cursorily look at the way and manner that Buhari has addressed these security challenges including the case of El Zak Zaky and the Shiites indicate ethnoreligious bias, hatred, and prejudice.
By the way, some eminent Nigerians have already expressed concerns over Buhari’s lopsided appointments especially the security chiefs noting that he ignored the internal political dynamics. Some of Buhari’s supporters have dismissed these concerns as wailings by political jobbers and losers. Well if one takes a critical look at the breeding tensions and animosities in many parts of the country as a result of the activities of the security agencies, it is obvious that those concerns and criticisms were not totally misplaced. They were not baseless and inconsequential, as some have suggested. These appointments have left Nigeria more divided and polarised.
Let’s just take a look at how the security agencies responded to four security challenges- the demonstrations by Shiites, the militancy in the Niger Delta, the agitation for Biafra, and the killings by Fulani herdsmen. It is so obvious. The management of these security issues drips with unfairness, imbalance, and bias. First of all, soldiers responded to the demonstrations by members of Shiites by attacking and killing some of them including the children of the leader in Nigeria. Buhari has kept El Zak Zaky in detention refusing to release him. None of those behind the attack and killing of Shiite members has been brought to justice. What exactly was the crime of El Zak Zaky and his Shiite members? On the other hand what happened to the perpetrators on blasphemy killings in Kano, Niger, and Zamfara? Nothing. Why have the security agencies not fished out and dealt with the blasphemy killers?
While in the Niger Delta, the security agencies have engaged in extrajudicial killings of real or imagined militants in the area. There is virtually no place or option for prosecution and rehabilitation of suspects as Buhari has openly canvassed in the case of the herdsmen.
Buhari ordered similar military operation against all suspected agitators of Biafra. Videos and images of brutal attacks and killings of suspected members of IPOB by soldiers went viral on the Internet. Corpses of some real or imagined Biafra agitators who were shot and killed by Nigerian soldiers including those holding Biafran flags have been discovered in the bush. The leader of IPOB and some of his associates have gone missing since soldiers invaded the home last year.
Now compare that to the case of the Fulani herdsmen. Buhari has been calling for caution, dialogue and disarming of the herdsmen. The attacks have often taken the soldiers by surprise. The attackers have been elusive. Until recently, no arrest was made because the security agencies claimed that they could not trace these killer herdsmen. Neither the police nor the soldiers were able to apprehend any suspect. Buhari did not send soldiers after the herdsmen the way he did in the case of the militants and agitators in the Niger Delta and in the Southeast respectively.
In fact, a sitting governor arranged and paid money to the herdsmen so that they could stop attacking and killing people in his own state. Buhari personally ordered that herdsmen be disarmed, suspected attackers should be taken to court and be prosecuted. Buhari did not declare the herdsmen association a terrorist organization. Even after the incessant attacks and killing in Benue, the leader and his members have been moving about freely and the killings have are still going on.
Now let’s face it, actually, some Niger Delta militants have killed and kidnapped persons. But their murderous activities cannot in any way be compared with the bloodletting that Fulani herdsmen have unleashed on this nation. Shiite members and Biafra agitators staged demonstrations. Biafra agitators issued threats and engaged in incitement of hatred and violence. The leader of IPOB asked for arms in a video. But the Buhari government has made it seem as if the Biafra agitations and the Shiite demonstrations posed more threat to the nation than the terror and savagery of the Fulani herdsmen. Comparatively speaking that is not the case.
Just look at how Buhari’s security agents dealt with Shiite members and their leader. They shot, killed and wounded them for staging demonstrations. Look at what happened to the Biafra agitators and their leader. But it was a different stroke for the herdsmen. Nobody is calling for the extrajudicial attacks, execution, and detention of herdsmen and their leaders. Fulanis are Nigerians. Law-abiding Fulani herdsmen should be treated with dignity and respect. But the fact remains that Buhari’s bias in dealing with these security challenges has been so glaring.
In his inaugural speech in 2015, Buhari stated that he belonged to everybody and that he belonged to nobody. But today, Nigerians know better. Nigerians are in no doubt as to the body that President Muhammadu Buhari belongs. Buhari’s lopsided appointments have revealed where he belongs. The way he is addressing the security challenges says it all. In fact, the way that President Buhari is managing the security issues in the country poses more challenge to the future and survival of the nation than the combined threats of Niger Delta militancy, Biafra agitation and attacks by Fulani herdsmen.
Written by Leo Igwe.