Security experts have advised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to assign timelines to his security team if the war against bandits, Boko Haram and other insurgent groups in the country must be won.
President Tinubu had last Monday sacked the former Service Chiefs and some other prominent security personnel, replacing them with new ones.
The move was seen as a determined commitment to ridding the country of elements that had dragged it into a low-grade war for many years now.
For eight straight years under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation’s security apparati played the politics of hide and seek with security.
While they claimed they were on top of their game, kidnappers, bandits, unknown gunmen, killer herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents made the country a living hell for citizens.
The saddest part of it all was that the bandits, Boko Haram insurgents and killer groups perpetrated their heinous acts and got away with them, without anyone arrested and brought to justice.
Although allegations of misappropriation of funds meant to combat the insecurity challenge were rife, the immediate past president, Muhammadu Buhari looked the other way.
With the sacking of Buhari’s security chiefs and appointment of new sets however, observers believe Nigeria would soon say goodbye to the menace of these motley terror groups.
Ita Enang, a former lawmaker and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, said there is “a ray of hope” for the battle against insecurity with the recent changes initiated by the Tinubu administration.
He however, counseled the new Service Chiefs on the need to develop effective synergy amongst themselves, rather than resorting to inter agency rivalries which he said affected the fight against the deadly insurgents in the early days
“One thing they must avoid is that crises of confidence amongst themselves. Nigeria could have ended the Boko Haram insurgency if that synergy was there amongst the various security agencies from the beginning,” Enang said.
Mike Ejiofor, a security expert, believes that with the recent engagement of Nuhu Ribadu, an Intelligence expert, as the National Security Adviser( NSA), incidence of “missing security” funds will be brought to the barest minimum, if not completely eliminated.
Ejiofor charged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the need to immediately restore public confidence in his administration by working to enhance the safety of Nigerians
“There is no doubt that the current President understands the importance of the provisions in Section 14 (2b) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, which states that ‘the welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary purpose of government.’
“Ribadu excelled as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC); so, we expect that he will not only work to ensure that the safety on Nigerians are guaranteed, but also unravel how funds are misappropriated in the nation’s security sector, as well as put an end to it.
“The Constitution did not specifically provides that only members of the Military must occupy the position of the NSA, after all, Ribadu himself had contested for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which would have made him the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, if he had won, just like President Bola Tinubu.
Since the military cannot disobey the President, they will also transfer the same respect to anyone he has appointed and mandated to act on his behalf,” Ejiofor said.
He however urged the President to monitor the activities of the Service Chiefs closely.
“I am optimistic that they will not allow Nigeria fall back to those ugly days of fear of bomb blasts, kidnappings and banditry.
“I also feel that the President must monitor their activities, because Nigeria drifted away from the main focus because the former President did not monitor the activities of those he appointed,” he said.
Lawrence Alobi, a retired FCT Commissioner of Police, under whose tenure the Police successfully tackled criminal activities at the nation’s capital, Abuja, also urged the President to assign specific timelines of actionable tasks to the new Service Chiefs.
“They need to work based on his targets and actionable plans. They must have specific targets monthly and he should not be afraid of sacking anyone found wanting.
“He is the President and that office commands so much authority. So, he must assert himself by giving the Service Chief timelines.
“Nigerians want a return to those good old days when they can travel at night on our roads successfully, move from the northern part of the country to the southern parts without fear, engage in farming to produce food for the country, where farmers and cattle herders can live peacefully as it was in those good old days.
“He must stop the killings in the north-central. It is unacceptable that people who once live together peacefully can no longer see each other,” he said
The SBM intelligence, Nigeria’s leading geopolitical research outfit, revealed that a total of 166 farmers were killed in renewed violence against farmers in Nigeria.
Statistics show that while a total of 98,083 killed in 12 years, 27,311 persons were killed in President Buhari’s first term; 35,800 killed between 2019 and May 2023.
Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, in a recent assessment of the effect of Boko Haram insurgents, lamented the devastating effects that the over twelve years of insurgency have on the country’s food security plans.
Buni recalled vividly, how the deadly group slaughtered over 100 rice farmers in the region on the 28 November 2020.
The insurgents slaughtered the farm labourers in a remote village of Koshebe, located near the Borno State’s capital Maiduguri, a few kilometers away from Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State.
The victims were tied up by the assailants and their throats slit in the village.
Under the Buhari administration, the insurgents became exceptionally bold and daring.
On March 28, the insurgents attacked a train plying the Abuja-Kaduna axis, with explosives.
After opening fire, killing eight people and wounding 26, they took away with them, a total of 100 victims, including women and children in an operation that targeted high-profile Nigerians
Comparatively, while the sum of N1.8 trillion was voted for personnel costs in 2015 for the entire government, in 2023, the Ministry of Defence alone has a budget of N1 trillion for personnel costs.
Despite the huge budgetary allocations, the military was recently accused of abandoning their primary responsibilities of securing the nation for the more juicy assignments in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
Leader of the Niger Delta Volunteers Force, Asari Dokubo, accused the Military under former President Buhari of crude oil theft in the region
According to him, “The military is at the centre of oil theft and we have to make this very, very clear to the Nigerian public that 99 percent of oil theft can be traced to the Nigerian military, the army and the navy especially.”
He also disclosed how the Federal Government under President Buhari hired mercenaries from South Africa and Belarus to tackle insurgents in Nigeria, which is yet to be refuted.
According to him, “Nigeria had been engaging foreign mercenaries from other countries from Belarus, from South Africa to fight insurgency. Maybe you’re not aware.
“So, why would Nigeria not engage the same locals who have the same wherewithal and are more effective and more conversant with the environment? We’re not the only one, Hunters Association, different people are engaged, civilian JTF are engaged to confront this evil that has enveloped this country. I don’t have a private army.
I am assisting the government as a good citizen of this country to save lives. Since the time we went there, Kaduna Road has been free, no more kidnapping, and we are saving lives.
Since 2015, the facts in the public domain show that the Nigerian government consistently incurred increasing cost of governance, fueled by high recurrent spendings, driven by increasing security budget.”
In 2015, President Buhari inherited a budget of N4.5 trillion, signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan, which was considered very high because it was an election-year budget, by 2023, however, the budget had risen to about N21 trillion.
Reports by the Budget Office of the Federal Government indicate that Nigeria is facing increasing deficits as it has spent N29.3 trillion, in ten years, between 2011 and 2021, on non-debt recurrent expenditure.
Federal Government’s cumulative earning for the same period was put at N33.2 trillion, according to statistics compiled by the Budget Office on budget implementation.
The report also shows a high recurrent expenditure at 50.6 percent of budgetary expenditures or 88.5 percent of revenue, including those spent on personnel costs, pensions, and gratuities, service-wide votes, and overheads.
The Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa programme, in recent statistical data, revealed that “terrorism, banditry, Herders/farmers clashes, communal crises, cult clashes, and extra-judicial killings” were largely responsible for the huge deaths recorded under former President Buhari’s administration.
They also disclosed that most of the violent killings in Nigeria are motivated by “political, economic or social grievances.”
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The reports stated that: “Different groups in Nigeria resort to violence. The militant Islamist movement Boko Haram is active in northern Nigeria. Violence among ethnic groups, farmers, and herdsmen sometimes acquires religious overtones. A new generation of Niger Delta militants threatens war against the state. Government soldiers kill civilians indiscriminately. Police are notorious for extra-judicial murders.”
They revealed that the 63,111 death toll is “conservative“, as many cases which were probably unreported may not have found their way into the official figures released.
Thus, the NST statistics should, therefore, be viewed as indicative rather than definitive.
SBM Intelligence, in recent data covering the first three months of 2023, said a “total of 2,047 deaths were reported. These deaths resulted from Boko Haram attacks, bandits, militia herdsmen, abduction, and gang clashes.
“Overall, by state, the highest number of deaths in Q1 2023 was recorded in Borno State, followed by Niger, Benue, Katsina, and Kaduna, all in the North-East, North-West, and North-Central regions.”