OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
THE CRISIS OF INSECURITY AND ITS DESTRUCTIVE CONSEQUENCES ON NIGERIA TODAY
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI (PMB) ON THE URGENT NEED FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF RULE OF LAW AND ORDER FOR THE SECURITY OF THE LIVES, PROPERTY AND WELL-BEING OF ORDINARY NIGERIAN CITIZENS
This letter is in line with various other expressions of concern by Nigerians on the breakdown of law and order in all parts of the country and, particularly, in the northern states.
It is an outcry against the prevailing state of insecurity resulting from the failure of government, and its security chiefs, to safeguard the country from widespread and violent lawlessness as well as the resulting desperate, and anarchical, attempts by Nigerians to devise for themselves any type of self-protecting outfits wherever this was possible. The situation bespeaks of the lack of any workable security architecture – in terms of policies, outfits and programmes, for the country.
We, as concerned Nigerians, hereby register our association with, and also enlist our contributions to, the widespread quest for the security of life and property in the country.
We fully associate with all those who have dutifully and positively come out, in the exercise of their democratic rights, to call on the government to take control and fulfil its most important constitutional obligations of protecting the lives and properties of Nigerian citizens as a necessary step toward the promotion of their welfare. This is also in line with the campaign promises earlier made to Nigerians by the present government to the effect that it would focus, and deliver, on the problems of security, unemployment and the fight against corruption.
The present dimensions, and levels, of insecurity in the nation is completely an expression of the failure of governance. It also therefore constitutes an indictment of the present government in all respects. We thus hasten to urge all concerned Nigerians to discharge their democratic responsibilities by calling on the government, through positive, constitutional and constructive action to ensure that it discharges the responsibilities it is sworn to uphold.
The government ought not be arresting people who are legitimately discharging their constitutionally guaranteed rights. It should, rather, be seen to be arresting, prosecuting and in all other possible manners containing the wanton criminal activities of those engaged in evoking, convoking, inciting, fomenting, promoting and inflicting violent and criminal assaults against innocent Nigerians.
- Observations on the State of Governance and Insecurity in Nigeria
Violent activities and the criminal, as well as destructive, outcomes associated with them have continued to multiply and spawn since the inception of the 4th Republic. It has also further increased in the last five years since the ascension of PMB into office.
While acts of political thuggery are occasional and intermittent it is to be noted that violence associated with Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MOSSOB), Niger Delta Militants and Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the southern parts of the country have tended to remain at the levels of latent and subterranean threats to the nation.
It is however, in the first place, the increasingly escalating return of Boko Haram, despite its total defeat and expulsion from the country in 2015, that is a matter of major concern. This is because it always manages to elude or defeat the security forces and make the headlines in terms of the carnage it is able to wrought in the North-Eastern parts of the country, and particularly in Borno and Yobe states. Similarly in the central parts of Nigeria and particularly in Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau and Benue states violent activities, initially identified as conflicts between farmers and herdsmen, have come to assume more complicated dimensions on account of the ways other criminal activities, of socio-economic and political nature, such as banditry, cattle rustling, illicit expropriation of land and even the demographic reordering of political constituencies, along with many other violations of the constitution, have come to be added unto the mix. As a result, in most of these cases, campaigns of ethnic and religious divisiveness, animosities and conflicts tend to be additionally mounted, in opposition to constitutionally guaranteed provision of inclusive citizenship, in order to divert attention away from the criminal atrocities in a manner that will pre-empt the due, as well as constitutional, processes of criminal investigation and prosecution in the country.
Further to these a higher level, and scale, of violent campaigns has recently come to engulf parts of Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Niger states resulting in the total abandonment of various rural areas by the resident population due to the carnage visited on them by rampaging, and murderous, marauders. The failure of the security agencies to check these offensives have led to a situation whereby most of the traumatized survivors tend to emigrate to various IDPs in the states concerned. Many have lost their livestock, personal belongings, relations and the opportunity to till their land this rainy season. These destructive activities are not only tearing the fabric of social life and national integrity apart they are also undoing the earlier efforts, and achievements, made towards nation-building and the development of the country.
There are, as is to be expected, many important reasons accounting for the insecurity and destruction referred to above. Key, however, among them is the failure of the nation’s security forces to check these developments in order to maintain law and order, this being their principal, constitutional and statutory responsibility. There are also other contributory factors among them the problem of increasing unemployment, and the associated economic hardships, which tend to lead many restless youth into criminal, and violent, undertakings.
Furthermore increasing corruption, and the failure to check it, is also leading to such problems as complicity, on the part of many public officials, community leaders and commoners, in criminal undertakings.
It is also important to draw attention to the fact that the failure, or inability, of government to deal decisively with criminals, and derelict public officials, is resulting in the dangerous, widespread and misleading view that crime might under certain situations tend to pay. Finally the current elected officials, at various executive and legislative levels of governments, have not been effective in either the presentation and promotion of the interests of their various constituencies or the protection and amelioration of the conditions of the communities concerned. The combined effects of all these factors is that of widespread and mounting frustration with the authorities as well as increasing dissociation, and alienation, from both the governments and the state – with very dangerous consequences for national unity, democratization and development, or the task of nation-building.
- We call for purposive, as well as constant and effective, supervision of all national programmes and projects being undertaken by the government. In this regard the President, and all his principal appointees, need to be seen to be visiting, inspecting and assessing developments in all parts of the country, and in particular the crises areas, in order to fulfil their key role as leaders and supervisors in addition to the need for them to motivate and mobilise the state governors, as well as the local population, so that they too could keep their eyes on, and fully attend to, the principal responsibilities assigned to them.
- We support the nation-wide calls for the immediate removal of the present security chiefs in favour of those who will be seen to act more sincerely, and seriously, in the defense of our national and constitutional interests.
- We also demand the formulation and application of effective security arrangements that could provide the required answers to the existing security challenges in a manner that clearly synergises the contributions of, and coordinate cooperation between, the federal, state and LGAs as well as, in particular, traditional and empowered community agencies.
- Earlier security arrangements which proved to be functional and integrative, as well as cost effective, because they were largely self-determined, such as the West African Community Security Organisation (ECOMOG) and the successful OAU coordinated intervention and defeat of Boko Haram in 2015 as well as the successful national effort leading to the defeat of the attempt at seccession and the balkanisation of the country under the Gowon regime, need to serve as important guides and models for our national security.
- We demand changes in the attitudes and conduct of the present leadership of the country especially towards respecting the various rules and regulations guaranteeing the accountability of elected executives, and legislators, to their respective political parties and constituencies at all levels. Nigerian politics will not lead to any positive achievement until a majority of those entrusted with leadership responsibilities approach the task with commitment to humanitarian, national and democratic concerns on the basis of high minded ideals and principles rather than the prevailing self-serving, retrogressive, corrupt and unpatriotic preoccupations.
The choke-hold presently effected on political parties in Nigeria by political godfathers and elected executives is not only disallowing the country to breathe freely, it is indeed suffocating the practice of democracy – in favour of dictatorship. It is also becoming a major tool for the perpetration of corrupt practices. There must be functional party supremacy and separation of powers between the executive and the legislature as well as the judiciary, in a manner that ensures effective checks and balances, rather than collaboration in corrupt practices – to the detriment of oversight functions.
The present practice of subordinating the political party to the whims and caprices of the executives differs substantially from the relative autonomy, and functionality, of the parties of the 1st and 2nd Republics especially in terms of the effective manner the earlier political parties were able to focus on their electoral promises and guide their elected candidates to pursue the identified interests of their political constituencies – in addition to creating nationally agreed, as well as planned, local and national development programmes and projects. The present problems of the inaccountability of political representatives, as well as the lack of separation of powers between the various tiers of government, is serving to promote monumental acts of corruption which, in reality, constitute the development and institutionalisation of impunity in our body politic.
- We strongly recommend that efforts to combat the insecurity situation in the country need to be complemented with a purposive plan towards generating mass employment opportunities that will help to provide programmes and projects, of enduring importance, towards raising the socio-economic status of our local communities in the form of afforestation, agricultural activities, irrigational facilities, small and medium scale mining activities, local pioneer industries and related constructive infrastructural facilities in both the urban and rural areas. Adhoc and arbitrary acts of doling out cash to a few selected individuals, as the government is presently doing, cannot lead to the achievement of these objectives because they are not targeted, transparent and enforceable. In the opinion of many they are more open to abuses than the achievement of any purposive goal
- In the light of existing state of general hardship, as well as the Coronavirus pandemic, we do not support the idea of taxing salaried staff or, in particular, medical workers, in the name of so-called financial strategies towards combating the Coronavirus pandemic. On the contrary the government should look towards, and use more effectively, other sources of revenues, in a manner that is especially accountable and prudent. These should include the effective and broader curtailment of corruption, the use of anti-corruption recoveries, (in the form of funds and estates) as well as the reduction of the administrative costs of governance in the forms of the over-bloated incomes, allowances and recurrent expenditures of political appointees, along with the members of the legislative assemblies at states and federal levels. In line with these the government should, in fulfilment of its anti-corruption promises, review the self-created “pension” schemes and the purported allowances that state governors and legislators have approved for themselves. Similarly the various donations made from various sources towards fighting the Coronavirus pandemic should be seen to be used in a manner that is fully effective and accountable.
- Most importantly we insist that the government should, and be seen to, honour its own statutory commitments of making due payments to those who have not only earned it but are also lawfully entitled to it in addition to the fact that such payments will enhance the well-being of ordinary Nigerians. They include:
- All salaried staff and workers, at all levels and in all parts of the country, who support a large part of the population on the basis of their productive engagements and earnings.
- All small, and medium level, contractors that have duly fulfilled the terms and conditions of their contracts deserve to be paid their due entitlements, especially in view of the employment opportunities they generate in the economy.
- Payment to all pensioners whose earnings were earlier deducted and paid to such funds for such purposes.
- The government should also attempt to develop new, creative and viable employment opportunities for various categories of Nigerians. This should include expanding and paying various categories of scholarships for students, particularly those that are internal, as very important investments for the future creativity and development of the nation.
- We call for the immediate restoration of security, law and order as well as the introduction of measures designed to guarantee normal socio-economic activities in the localities concerned. This should be done in a manner that would help to address some of the losses sustained by the local population in the forms of the destruction of lives and properties as well as the inability to conduct their normal economic businesses. There is thus the need for a special commission to address these issues.
We need, in conclusion, to stress and affirm that the problems of violent assaults and terrorism, resulting in rape, theft, plunder, arson and kidnapping which have led to the death, maiming, impoverishment and destitution of many be treated with the iron fists that they deserve, in a manner that is designed to promote law and order as well as ensure that justice is done to those who deserve it. In this regard the government should immediately set up an expanded judicial authority structure for the public trial of all those arrested in connection with these criminal activities. Only in this manner will it be possible to do away with the kind of ethnic mischaracterisation, and stereotyping, that is used to conceal, cover up and avoid going after the actual criminals involved in such dastardly acts. This will also help the communities involved towards treating, and healing, the trauma associated with such crimes. Furthermore this will greatly help to promote some awareness of the fact that crime does not pay in opposition to the present situation where criminals tend to hold sway while innocent citizens remain dead, injured, impoverished and displaced without any succour, or help, on the horizon. Justice heals but in order for it to do so it must be seen to be done.
Prof. Sule Bello Alh. NajibKwoury
Mall. Bashir Wali Comrd. Kabiru Ali Saliff
Dr. Kabiru Suleiman Mal. Ibrahim Baiwa
Alh. Habib Abubakar Wambai (FIIA)
30th June 2020