• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Of Tinubu, NADECO spirit and the scourge of insecurity

Eid-el-Kabir: Nation building requires sacrifice, love – Tinubu

One year in the saddle, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former chieftain of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), has yet to invite the spirit of NADECO into his administration. Observers are worried. Again, despite the tutorials the ten governors of the North West and North Central States recently got in the United States (US) at the symposium on security, bandits and murderers are still on the rampage in those zones. Is it a problem of wrong learning, failure to implement what was taught, or misapplication of what was learned?

In the days when the military held sway in Nigeria, particularly after the infamous annulment of the presidential election of June 12, 1993, presumably won by the late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola by the then military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), a broad coalition of some citizens who called themselves democrats and civil society activists floated the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) on May 15, 1994.

After IBB had been forced to step aside by the heat generated by the annulment, General Sani Abacha, who became head of state after sacking the Ernest Shonekan-led interim government left behind by Babangida, bared his fangs.

NADECO cried to the high heavens, calling on Abacha to relinquish power to M.K.O. Abiola. This call was seen as an affront, hence the manhunt that later ensued.

“It is doubtful if the quality of life Nigerians enjoy today is better than what they were used to in the Jackboot days, when Tinubu and others held the military dictators to their jugular.”

The members of NADECO, who mostly came from several pro-democracy and activist groups located mainly in Lagos, the south-west region of the country, quickly became the symbol of mass resistance against military rule.

While the Abacha regime lasted, some members of the group were forced to go into exile. While they fought relentlessly against the military regime, they made a case for the restructuring of Nigeria. At all their meetings and press releases, restructuring was the overarching dream of NADECO.

Their campaign was pro-people. It is pertinent to point out that since the return of Nigeria to civil rule in 1999, a good number of those who were in that struggle under NADECO have held one political position or the other, even at the highest level of governance in Nigeria.

One of those who spearheaded the struggle at that time was Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the current president. Nigerians, who followed NADECO’s activities and its emphasis on Nigeria’s restructuring, had expected that the first assignment the President would undertake on assumption of office was the restructuring. But that has not happened.

One whole year after he assumed office, the much-expected fiscal federalism, for instance, has not received the government’s attention. The talks about decentralising taxes in a way that would reduce the overdependence of the states and local governments on the federal purse have not struck the right chord.

The local government administration has also continued to be tied to the apron strings of state governors. But these were the anomalies that Tinubu’s NADECO frowned at, for which they held several meetings and grabbed many newspaper headlines with their caustic communiques.

In their advice to Tinubu shortly after his inauguration as president, NADECO had commended him and specifically urged him to act on the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the recommendations of the Nasir el-Rufai-led panel’s on restructuring.

In a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of NADECO, Ayo Opadokun, the group urged the President, as a critical stakeholder in the highest structure of NADECO, who expanded his resources and networked together with others while “we were in the trenches,” to “prove beyond reasonable doubts that he remains faithful and committed to restoring Nigeria to the negotiated federal constitution.”

Opadokun, in a statement, pointedly told Tinubu that “no one needs to remind Mr. President that the current warped, skewed, and lopsided national structure must be reconfigured to give hope and a sense of belonging to all Nigerians that they are an equal joint stakeholder in the Nigerian Project,” adding that this is the time to face Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges headlong.

According to him, “Now is the time to deliver the much-expected services in the socio-economic and political sphere through well-thought-out and rightly-directed policies desirable to quickly alleviate the unacceptable level of suffering, poverty, economic misery, and neglect to which Nigerians have been subjected by immediate past rulers and leaders for many years now.

“While we strongly desire an immediate upliftment in the standard and quality of living of Nigerians, we expect much more than the necessary bread and butter economic gains.”

Opadokun used the opportunity to remind the president of the central demand that drove their collective and just struggle: the need to return Nigeria to a federal constitutional government, the foundation upon which the nation’s independence was secured.

It would seem that the spirit of NADECO has not fully taken its pride of place at the Presidency to begin to move the chief occupant of the villa to call for the “book of remembrance,” which was the usual practice in the days of Kings.

The President must begin to feel nostalgic enough for his days in NADECO in order to have a total picture of the urgency of seeking the black sheep the day before nightfall.

It is doubtful if the quality of life Nigerians enjoy today is better than what they were used to in the Jackboot days, when Tinubu and others held the military dictators to their jugular.

If the Nigerian masses are still gnashing their teeth and engaging in loud lamentation over lack of equity, justice, poor standard of living, insecurity, lack of inclusiveness, and virtually all the ills that featured in the military days, still in a democratic dispensation, it then means that NADECO must have laboured in vain and must therefore, tender an unreserved apology to the military junta, particularly the goggle-happy General, Sani Abacha, wherever he is at the moment!

Insecurity: Governors are overwhelmed despite the US symposium

One month ago, 10 governors of the North West and North Central states attended a two-day symposium on ‘Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria’, in the United States of America, yet insecurity has not receded in those regions. If anything, it has exacerbated.

The trip had attracted a lot of criticism, as many Nigerians described it as a mere jamboree that would not amount to anything in terms of a solution. But, defending the trip at that time, Dikko Umaru Radda, governor of Katsina State, said it was necessary as part of the international collaborations to end insecurity in Nigeria.

Since they returned, there have been renewed attacks in the region, resulting in many casualties. Just a few days ago, about 40 people were reportedly killed by rampaging murderers in Plateau communities.

Such killings have continued in the state since Caleb Mutfwang became the governor. The state has been under attack by suspected killer herdsmen, who carry out their deadly assault despite the threat from the military and other security agents.

Reports had it that the bandits attacked the villages simultaneously on Monday morning. They set houses on fire, leading to pandemonium, in which some of the residents were killed and others sustained injuries. Residents of the attacked communities fled to neighbouring villages to seek refuge.

Shortly after Mutfwang assumed office, he was threatened and put on notice that the state would be too hot for him to govern. It has been so. The question is, where is the fruit of the US symposium?

A few days ago, bandits in Katsina reportedly killed an officer of the 17th Brigade, Nigerian Army, in an ambush.

Last Tuesday, the Niger State Commissioner for Homeland Security, Bello Mohammed, confirmed an attack by bandits on residents of the Shiroro Local Government Area of the state.

Despite the assurances by the government at various levels, Nigerians are still being massacred in the most horrendous way.

Does it mean that the government that has the primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of its citizens has abdicated this responsibility? But to whom?

Is it not time for the governors that attended the US symposium to begin to implement the lessons learned?

We must get serious in this country, you know!