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Jakande buries them in shame

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By Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, February 15, 2021)

History, like Ekiti’s Ikogosi springs of warm and cold fountains, embodies profundities. Either for good or bad reasons, history always cascades down the confluence of discovery, depth and truth, meandering into the past.

Whenever history repeats itself for good, cymbals accompany resounding ovations – like the joy of a soccer cup game win. But, oftentimes when history catches man on the wrong foot, grief trails destruction – like the outstanding incompetence of the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime in securing lives and property.

Buhari’s colossal inability to deliver on any of his electoral promises reads like the devil’s scripture.

Eagle-eyed, silent and deadpan, history is the unblinking secret camera watching and recording events, not for God, but for man and the future called posterity, in the global village called humanity.

While un-smart nations writhe in pain as history rewrites unpalatable events, smart nations write in joy, historic accomplishments of epic proportions, on the glorious sands of time.

 Giant in size but dwarf in reasoning, the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government, in the first decade of the millennium, yanked History off primary and secondary schools curricula as a core subject even as the Buhari regime that has promised to restore it as a core subject since 2017, has yet to fully do so.

It’s scandalous that multi-billion-dollar security funds could develop wings and disappear while the self-acclaimed ruling Africa’s largest party was unmindful of the wisdom in the saying that a people without history are on the path to extinction.

That the PDP could even toy with the idea of expunging History from school curricula was a corroboration of the fact that successive national governments since 1999 didn’t have an understanding of citizenship rights and education.

If Nigerian leaders made citizens’ welfare the cornerstone of service, they would know that History is yesterday’s searchlight, beamed on today for man to understand the present and prepare for the future.

For the sake of the up-and-coming Nigerian generation which has been denied the knowledge of History by subsequent governments, I shall embark on a journey to Katsina in a history-driven vehicle.

While in Katsina, I shall teleport to the tomb of former Nigerian President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, at the Dan Marina Cemetery, Katsina, to pay obsequies to the memory of a true Nigerian nationalist who wasn’t an emotionless, tight-lipped nepotistic bigot. At the Dan Marina Cemetery, I shall compare and contrast the achievements of Yar’Adua with those of Buhari in order for Nigerians to see who the patriot is among the two Fulani sons.

I will also visit the Ilupeju residence of the first civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, who passed on to eternal glory last week at 91, and compare him with the civilian governors that had led the state of aquatic splendor after him.

I decided to embark on this route of historical juxtaposition in order to be fair enough to Buhari, whose awful spokespersons, always make the life patron of Meyeti Allah cattle breeders look like the victim, who’s doing all in his power to make life better for an ungrateful Nigerian nation.

 Being a former university lecturer, Yar’Adua appeared more cerebral than Buhari. Yar’Adua addressed journalists freely and neither engaged in characteristic verbal miscues nor relied solely on prepared speech before addressing some local and international audiences.

Yar’Adua was the one and only Nigerian president till date, who publicly declared his nearly N1bn assets and liabilities, completely unlike Buhari, who vowed to publicly declare his assets while campaigning for votes, but reneged when he got to power.

Despite coming from an illustrious family and being younger to Buhari, Yar’Adua didn’t foist his Fulani ethic nationality over other nationalities even as he granted amnesty to Niger Delta militants, reflecting true nationalism.

Not one to be beclouded by political vindictiveness, Yar’Adua taught former President Olusegun Obasanjo some lesson in leadership fairness when he released the N10bn allocation accruable to Lagos State, but which Obasanjo had seized and refused to release despite a Supreme Court ruling.

Appointments by Yar’Adua into the leaderships of the Armed Forces, executive cabinet and government parastatals weren’t tilted in favour of the North just as he matched his word up with action, implementing the N18,000 minimum wage promised to the electorate.

A Master’s degree holder in Analytical Chemistry from the Ahmadu Bello University, Yar’Adua, who was the Matawalle of Katsina, didn’t open fire on innocent protesters while he was president for three years.

Also, he didn’t turn Aso Rock into a barracks for warring family members, wife, children and security aides.

The Nigerian leader, who died at 58, was in firm control of his household as there was no reported case of infighting among family members, yet he didn’t claim to champion any War Against Indiscipline.

Yar’Adua wasn’t a pretender, who owned choice properties, and yet wanted Nigerians to see him as Spartan and frugal. Also, he didn’t indulge his children by laying at their feet the fleet of presidential jets for running errands and photoshopping trips.

On the watch of the great Katsina General, Nigeria is not Golgotha. It’s an abattoir littered with skulls, limbs and blood of insecurity. It’s the hell where death snacks on the slow-moving chameleon and snaps up the reckless frog jumping about dangerously. It’s the riddle of the caring father that turns the gun on his harmless children who complained at the Lekki tollgate, threatening to squish more children in a promised second-coming blitzkrieg.

On Jakande’s 90th birthday in 2019, I wrote a tribute, “Lateef Jakande and the Lathieves,” in my PUNCH newspaper column on July 29, 2019.

The article read in part, “Baba Kekere, as he was popularly called, was elected on the platform of the Unity Party of Nigeria on October 1, 1979 and just five months after his inauguration, he built 11,729 schools, whereas a latter-day democrat cuddled the list of his cabinet members for six months!

“Visionary and incorruptible, Jakande saw tomorrow and was prepared to carry his people along with him into it. Jakande embarked on the construction of a metro line before the mallam led khaki boys to strike and terminate the monumental project. Jakande was subsequently probed and cleared of corruption charges.

“He changed the lives of his people through genuine developmental strides, establishing the Lagos State University, Radio Lagos and Television, Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, numerous housing estates, genuine free education and opening up Ikotun, Ajah and Jakande never named any of his landmark achievements after himself.

“He only wanted to live in the minds of his people forever. His children attended the public schools he built. His wife, Abimbola, neither operated as First Lady nor spent taxpayers’ money on personal whims called pet projects. While in power, LKJ never traveled out for medical check-ups or vacations.

“For him, no state assignment was so urgent to make him fly a helicopter though Lagos was rich enough to buy 10 copters. He never needed to buy bulletproof SUVs nor built a mansion on the island. Jakande lived among the people in Ilepeju with Oshodi as his next-door neighbor.

“Born in the Epetedo area of Lagos State on July 23, 1929 to parents who hailed from Omu Aran in Kwara State, Jakande rose through the dint of discipline, hard work, commitment and perseverance to become the Editor of Tribune newspaper and later founded the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Guild of Editors.

“He never had a university education but he had the love of his people at his heart.

 Since Lagos fell on the laps of self-acclaimed democrats in 1999, all the billions of dollars they expended on infrastructure cannot match the achievements Jakande produced in four years with little resources.

LKJ’s achievements litter the landscape. Where are their achievements? If you ask me, na who I go ask?

 Adieu, Baba Kekere!

This column goes on a four-week break – starting from next week. All work and no vacation… Cheers!

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @tunde odesola

Twitter: @tunde_odesola

Opinion

Mr President, Nigeria must not go down by Simon Kolawole

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Dear President Muhammadu Buhari, what a hell of a week it was! Again, undergraduates kidnapped in Kaduna were slain while the ransom was still being negotiated. More bloodbaths in Zamfara claimed over 100 lives. Over 50 villages were deserted in Niger after attacks by Boko Haram, who cheekily hoisted their dark flag in one of them. Our soldiers were killed in Borno. Nine police officers, including a DPO, were killed in Kebbi. Northerners were murdered and mutilated in Anambra. Gunmen razed a police command in Imo and killed five officers. In Akwa Ibom, police stations were attacked and officers, including a female, were killed. Et cetera et cetera and so on and so on.

Your Excellency, I wrote an article on July 19, 2009 entitled ‘Mr. President, Nigeria Is Going Down’. It was an open letter to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, whom I accused of sleeping on duty. I recall, and repeat, the opening salvo: “Mr President, I don’t know how you would take this, but there is no nicer way of putting it – Nigeria is going down. I have watched, helplessly, in the last few months as things appear to be spinning out of control on all fronts. What are you up to? At times, I wonder if you’re deliberately quiet or you are just too overwhelmed with the circumstances in which you have found yourself. The simplest of things appear to be too difficult for your administration to handle…”

Mind you, Mr President, this was in 2009 before Boko Haram became a thing, before insurgency was ever a possibility much less a probability, before bandits left our borders with Chad and came inland, before kidnapping leapfrogged armed robbery in crime statistics, before students were being routinely kidnapped, before police stations were targeted by arsonists, before the perennial herders/farmers clashes escalated and became framed as Fulani jihad — and long before the entire country became drenched in blood. I was only complaining about Yar’Adua’s foot-dragging on amnesty for Niger Delta militants and power projects. It now sounds like a joke, doesn’t it?

I will tell you a very short story, Mr President. In 2008, I travelled to the US for a conference. In my hand was a book, ‘The Paradox of Plenty: Oil Booms and Petro-States’ by Terry Lynn Karl. The immigration official, knowing I was from Nigeria, started to chat me up on the book. He asked: “What would you consider as Nigeria’s biggest problem?” I was not in the mood for a seminar. I was jetlagged. All I wanted was for him to stamp my passport and wave me on. I gave him the global template answer on Nigeria: corruption. But he offered a different perspective: “Some countries have political problems, others economic. Nigeria has both political and economic problems.”

Mr President, you came into office in 2015 declaring that Nigeria’s biggest problem was corruption — which you argued was responsible for the insecurity. You promised to tackle both. While the jury is still out on your anti-corruption war, the consensus, even among your diehard fans, is that the insecurity is getting out of hand. It is not limited to a few parts, as the case was in 2015, but spread across the country in an uncanny semblance of federal character. More so, the economy has been on a downward spiral and our political challenges are getting more complicated. So, we are battling with insecurity, in addition to economic and political crises. We are in a fix, urgently needing a fix.

I understand, Mr President, that some of your team members are of the opinion that the current insecurity is politically orchestrated ahead of the 2023 elections. But haven’t we heard this before? Some in the Goodluck Jonathan administration believed Boko Haram terrorism was politically motivated, geared towards the 2015 elections. I will tell your government exactly what I told the Jonathan administration: whether it is politics or not, it is the job of government to secure the country. The 1999 constitution does not say that if insecurity is politically motivated, we should sit down, twiddle with our fingers, watch criminals take over, and throw up our hands in surrender.

Before I proceed, Your Excellency, I want to be clear on this: I agree that there are those who criticise and hate you mainly because of religion, ethnicity and politics, not really because of what you have done or not done right. It appears this irritates you and makes you ignore or even dare your critics. But be assured, Your Excellency, that it is not peculiar to you. There were those who hated President Goodluck Jonathan because of his religion and ethnic identity too. Other former presidents had similar experiences. It is nothing new: that is the way we are wired in Nigeria and that cannot be an excuse not to do the needful in the interest of national peace and progress.

It may also interest you, Your Excellency, that there are those who support you blindly because they share your religion and ethnic identity — and even your politics. Nothing else matters to them. To this group, you can never be wrong. You are infallible. It is an emotional thing. They may be asking you to ignore criticism and treat your critics with scorn. Maybe it would also be of comfort to state that this is not limited to you: Jonathan also had his blind supporters who did not — and can still not — see that he did anything wrong in office. They even paint the picture that Nigeria was almost becoming as advanced as Singapore under Jonathan before he was “unjustly” voted out. So it goes.

Having said that, Mr President, I now want to make my point: Nigeria is going down, and very fast. I wish I could put it in a milder form, but no amount of honey can make my words sweet. Boko Haram, said to have been technically defeated since 2016, remains deadly; bandits are shedding blood in the North every day; kidnappers are behind, beside and in front of us; police stations are being attacked and police officers killed for fun in the South-East and South-South; Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB is revving up the campaign for Biafra by the minute; Sunday Igboho is leading the Yoruba in a war of independence; and some Niger Delta militants have announced a return to the trenches.

If you go down memory lane, Mr President, you would recall that one of your greatest campaign pitches in 2015 was to fight insecurity. Boko Haram was bombing mosques, churches, motor parks and shopping plazas with ease in the FCT, Borno, Kaduna, Niger and Kano states, while bandits were terrorising Zamfara villagers without let or hindrance. I acknowledge that within your first year in office, you made tremendous progress against Boko Haram: they were truly beaten back at some point. Unfortunately, for reasons I would really love to know or understand, the insurgents staged resurgence and many other areas of insecurity opened up. What exactly went wrong, Mr President?

Your Excellency, I know we are bedevilled by serious economic problems as a result of our usual ailments — low crude oil prices, low FX inflow and the inevitable devaluation of the naira — but I would not even put that at the same level with insecurity. We need to be alive first to spend the naira. While individuals and businesses can cope with rising inflation, unemployment, high interest rates and such like, only the state can tackle the insecurity that has taken hold of the land. This is not an Amotekun, civilian JTF or Arksego matter. We are not talking about pickpockets and armed robbers. How do we protect ourselves against kidnappers and terrorists bearing AK-47?

At this stage, Your Excellency, we want to see a president who is clearly on top of things and connects with our emotions. You appear too detached. A leader must be present with his people in good and bad times. There is a level of reassurance that comes with it. You were all over the country during the two electioneering cycles but withdrew thereafter as if talking to the people you lead is a burden or something beneath you. Even your most ardent supporters cannot defend this. I know some tasks can be delegated, and, yes, not all the things you are doing to combat the insecurity can be discussed openly, but we urgently need you, not just your aides, to communicate with us.

Speed is also of essence, Mr President. I have noticed that consistently, things are allowed to drag unattended to. When responses come, they are either too little, too late or they come with discordant tunes altogether. Not good, Mr President, not good. That is why many Nigerians have been questioning if anyone is really in charge. Nigerians have every reason to be sceptical or even cynical. Failure to act on time — with efficiency and the needed sensitivity — has put the country on a dangerous edge where insecurity collides with economic and political challenges. Even those who normally remain calm are now more than worried about how things could degenerate further.

I do not for a minute, Mr President, underestimate some of your strides. I do not support the view that you have achieved nothing in office as some of your dyed-in-the-wool critics would want us to believe. Those who are mocking your infrastructural projects and agricultural policies today would most likely eat their words in another five to 10 years when we begin to derive the benefits. I keep wondering what might have been if you met crude oil at $100/barrel. Oil made many Nigerian presidents shine in the past, so you have to bemoan your luck. But, Your Excellency, we need to be alive first to be able use the roads and eat the rice. At this rate of bloodshed, that is not guaranteed.

Mr President, Nigerians feel besieged. The condition is critical. They need the commander-in-chief to be the reassurer-in-chief. I know you have been taking some steps and holding several meetings, but whatever you are doing needs more firepower. It appears the criminals are this bold partly because they think they can get away with anything. I request that you begin to act in a way that even the criminals will say: “Baba is not playing o.” May I respectfully remind Your Excellency that you have only two years more in office, God willing. How you handle this delicate and defining period may eventually define your entire public service. Nigeria must not go down under your watch!

  • Kolawole is editor-in-chief at TheCable

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We are paying ransoms with loans—Niger State residents

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– Bandits’ attacks in Niger State have escalated in recent months with deadly cases recorded almost on a daily basis. The bandits attack and ransack villages, abducting the inhabitants for ransoms and subjecting even the women and children to untold horror. The security apparatus appears to be overwhelmed by all this and seems to be losing the battle. JUSTINA ASISHANA visited Munya, one of the most affected local government areas, and reports on the plight of its inhabitants.

Asabe Mathew, a middle-aged woman sat in a pensive mood in front of a classroom at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at Central Primary School, Sarkin Pawa, Munya Local Government Area, Niger State gazing intensely at something that only her own eyes could see. She was brooding over the horror she had passed through since the bandits that hold a significant part of Niger State to ransom abducted her daughter and son, forcing her to sell everything she owned to pay for their release.

“They have finished me, as I am now,” she said as her eyes glistened with tears. “I have sold all my farm produce and I have loans to pay because I had to borrow money to pay the ransom for my children abducted by bandits. Now I have absolutely nothing left.”

Recalling how her two children were kidnapped by bandits and how she had to raise money as ransom to redeem them, she said: “My son was kidnapped when he was returning from school, and we were asked to pay one million naira to rescue him. What can I do? I had to pay because if I didn’t, they would kill him. I sold my farm produce, added my salary to the proceeds and also obtain a loan to raise the sum demanded as ransom.

“My daughter was also kidnapped. But that happened before they kidnapped my son. We also had to pay a ransom to rescue her. Right now, I don’t have anything left. It has not been easy for us in Munya.”

But Asabe was not alone in her plight. Mohammed Isah currently has two of his sons in the den of the bandits while he currently stays at the IDP camp at the Central Primary School, Sarkin Pawa. His two sons were taken in a recent attack on his Dangunu community in Munya Local Government Area.

He said: “Yesterday, before I ran to this camp, two of my sons were taken on motorcycles when the thieves came to our village. They have not been released because we do not have money to pay for their release. What they asked for is in millions. Where will I get it from? I cannot go back to the village to take my farm produce and sell because that will be equal to dying.”

The Vice-Chairman of Munya Local Government Council, Hon. Luka Garba, is not left out of the ordeal. Two months ago, he lost his younger brother to the bandits. According to him, his younger brother was a member of the local vigilantes in Kachu village and was killed during an ambush.

 Rising spate of insecurity in Munya LG

Munya is a local government area on the border between Niger and Kaduna states. Because it shares border with Kaduna State, many inhabitants of the local government area believe that most of the bandits come from Kaduna to carry out their attacks.

Banditry attacks in Munya Local Government Area began about six years ago and have literally turned the area into a terror zone everyone avoids like leprosy. The bandits make sporadic attacks in villages, maiming, killing and abducting people with reckless abandon.

The situation has crippled socio-economic activities in the local government as the farmers can no longer go to their farms for fear of being attacked. Traders who used to go to the local government area to buy farm produce are no longer turning up, causing revenue generation in the local government to reduce drastically.

On April 21, bandits invaded a military camp in Zazzaga community in the local government area barely two weeks after they attacked the military base in Allawa, Shiroro Local Government Area, killing five soldiers and a mobile policeman and burning down the base before they moved into the communities where they also killed seven people and abducted several others.

The majority of bandit attacks occurring in Munya Local Government Area go unreported because much of the focus is on Shiroro Local Government Area of the state probably because of the latter’s economic importance as the host of one of the country’s major power stations.

The attacks are usually carried out with the aid of motorcycles.

When the reporter visited Munya Local Government’s headquarters two days after the attack in the military camp in Zazzaga community, some women were seen running back from their farms. Asked what the matter was, they said some bandits had invaded their farms and they had to run for dear lives.

One of the women, who identified herself as Louis, said: “We were working on the farm when we saw them coming. We had no option but to run. We had harvested some of the crops, but we could not carry them because we had to run.”

Other Munya residents who spoke with the reporter said that is the way they live now because they can no longer farm in peace in an area where the majority of the people are farmers.

A youth leader, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said that the invaders move like breeze and usually carry out their attacks on new motorcycles.

He said: “They all ride on new motorcycles. That is why before you have the time to react to their invasion, they are by your side. They move like breeze.”

The Vice-Chairman of Munya Local Government Council, Hon. Luka Garba, said that the people in the communities are currently running away from their homes and they are either entering Sarkin Pawa, Gwada and Kuta or running to Minna, Niger State capital, for safety.

“At Kuchi two weeks ago, bandits killed three mobile policemen. They slaughtered one of them with a knife. That is why security has moved from Kuchi to Sarkin Pawa. Even yesterday, they killed one man called Jacob in Zazzagi, then they went to the military camp and burnt the army vehicles and properties,” Garba said.

‘Does government still care about us?’

One question that is constant on the lips of Munya Local Government residents is whether the government is unaware of what is happening to them or simply does not care since there has been no visible effort made by the government to safeguard their lives and properties.

Garba said whenever the chairman of the council takes their complaint to the government they pay deaf ears, adding that the council was overwhelmed with the spate of insecurity.

He asked: “What is the government waiting for? We don’t know what is happening. Does that mean that there is no government or what? As a local government, we are trying our best. As the vice-chairman, I sleep here with my people to know what they are facing. This is more than us. The governments at state and federal levels need to look into this issue.

“Another question we are asking is where are they getting the weapons they use from? Who is providing these guns for them? Is it that the government cannot retrieve these weapons and give them to the security people?”

Asabe Mathew noted that since the insecurity problems began in the council, the people had not felt the presence of government in any way, adding that the government seemed to have abandoned them to their fate.

She said: “Government should look into this security challenge for us. We are suffering and they are supposed to be there for us. Why can’t they help us? If the bandits kill us all, who will they govern? We are the ones who elected them, why are they treating us like this? Why have they abandoned us?

“People are no longer coming here to trade. Government is not helping us to solve this insecurity problem. Are we not human beings? Can’t the government do something to help us?”

 Ransom payments have rendered us bankrupt, say residents

Many families in the Munya Local Government Area are currently bankrupt as they have had to sell their farm produce, lands and other forms of property and even obtain loans to pay the ransom for kidnapped loved ones.

Kidnapping incidents in the area have become so rampant that the people no longer ask when the next kidnapping will occur but whose family would be affected. It was learnt that the residents have now hit on the idea of contributing money for anyone whose family member is kidnapped.

The youth leader said: “If they kidnap anyone, we contribute money for those that are kidnapped to enable their families pay for their ransoms and secure the release. If I don’t do it, when it is my turn, no one will join hands to help me. I must help others so that when it is my turn, they will help me.

“You don’t usually hear about small amounts but large ones between one and five million naira. Just one family cannot pay it. A lot of people don’t have any farm produce anymore because they sold them to raise ransoms.”

Garba said that there were currently about 20 women with the bandits and they were asking for N20 million as ransom.

“Presently, we have about 20 women with the bandits and they are asking for N20 million for their release. We are trying our best to raise money for their release,” he said.

Youths to government: Give us the weapons, we’ll face them

The youths in the area expressed their readiness to battle the bandits if they are given weapons. Mathew John, one of the youth leaders, said that the youths do not have the weapon to face the bandits, but if given the weapons, they can defend the council.

He said: “Our youths can take action against these bandits, but they are afraid because we have no weapon to face them. However, if given the weapon, we are ready to defend ourselves. But we cannot go there with catapults. We can’t face them with sticks or cutlasses. This suffering is too much.”

Garba is in support of the idea that security agencies equip the youths in the council to help in securing it, saying: “I will support the youths if they want to defend the council because I am telling you that this suffering is too much. Anyone who is not here cannot feel what we are feeling.

“I can tell you sincerely that if we have weapons, we would face these criminals. But the security agencies always have a problem with us mentioning rifle or guns, and the moment you hold a rifles or gun in public, they will start challenging you.

“That is why they are killing us anyhow because we have no weapon to face them.”

 Churches, mosques deserted

In the past four months, it was learnt that four churches in the local government area have been burnt while Christians and Muslims have become scared to gather for worship in the villages. According to Garba, the Christians suffer it more as the bandits attack churches on Sundays, pursue and shoot at worshippers.

He said: “At Dongulu, they burnt a church to ashes. They also burnt the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement Church in Kampana. They destroyed another church in Tantana. In all, they have burnt about three churches.

“Anytime these bandits see people worshipping on Sunday, they will come and surround the church, pursue the people and shoot at them. How can we worship God when there is no peace in Munya?

“In terms of religion, they are disturbing us because most of these people in the communities affected cannot worship God properly.”

Musa Luka, another youth leader, said that the churches burnt were up to five.

Munya is known to be one of the top producers of yam, corn and rice in Niger State and its markets were highly patronised before the banditry attacks. However, this has changed as the markets are no longer full like before while the majority of the farmers no longer have farm produce to sell. Others have to take their produce to Minna, the state capital.

A female farmer, Martha Egbe, recalled that people used to come to their farms in the past to buy crops even before they were harvested, but now, it is hard to get a buyer as everyone cites insecurity as the reason why they cannot go to Munya.

Asabe, stating the difficulty in selling her crops, said: “I have to take my goods to Minna because people have refused to come because of insecurity. It has affected the sales of our goods. Sometimes, getting transportation to Minna is a problem because some of the vehicles will refuse to carry your goods or they will charge extravagant fees.

“People are no longer coming here. They are scared of being caught up in bandit attacks. But we that are here are human beings. We have goods to sell and need people to come. We cannot go anywhere because this is our fatherland.”

 IDPs seek government’s help to return home

The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the Central Primary School in Sarkin Pawa have cried out for hunger and are seeking government’s help to return home. They are also seeking help for their children and relatives who have been kidnapped by the bandits who are demanding ransoms they cannot afford.

Ladi Shehu, a farmer from Geshu, said that they left their village for Zazzaga, and after the Zazzaga attack, they had to move to Sarkin Pawa.

Shehu said: “The bandits chased us out of our homes and we cannot return home because going back is like inviting death. We are not happy to be here. We have no food here, and in our home where there is food, we cannot go there to get the food. Our children are not feeding well.”

Another IDP said the bandits kidnapped their children and killed their young men and husbands, adding that they did not know what to do since the government has refused to come to their aid.

He said: “If the government would come and end this problem, we will be okay. If these bandits are no more here, we will be able to stay in our communities and live normally.

“It is sad that we have not got anything from the government apart from this building we are given to stay in. The government has not done anything for us, and we want them to act.”

Isah Mohammed, a native of Dangunu community, said that all they need is security as their community has been repeatedly attacked by bandits.

“We are managing here. We have food problem here whereas in our homes, we have no such problem. We are not enjoying ourselves here. We need security to return to our homes.”

 Calls heighten for declaration of state of emergency

Various people across Niger State have called on the state government to declare a state of emergency in the Niger East Senatorial Zone which has been taken over by bandits. Top among the voices is the lawmaker representing Bosso Constituency in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Madaki Malik Boss.

Boss said the declaration of a state of emergency will enable the government to tackle the insecurity problem bedeviling the zone. Bosso, who visited the IDP camps, explained that insecurity in the zone was getting worse by the day and had spread to most of the local government areas in the zone.

He noted that all the schools in the zone had been turned into camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), lamenting that the people could no longer sleep with their eyes closed.

– The Nation

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Opinion

Pantami: Buhari’s terrorising minister

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By Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH, on Monday, April 26, 2021)

Like its ruthless boa cousin, the viper gives birth to its young ones live – no eggs, no hatching. But there’s no love lost between the viper and its brood.

Immediately after birth, each newborn killer-serpent slithers away into solitary brutality, bearing an ancestral DNA that comprises a forked tongue, pronged fangs and a gland of poison; no cares or caress of a lullabying mother. Ropy monsters unleashed.

Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is a wonderful father with the milk of human kindness. Unlike the viper, Buhari takes extreme care of his children – biological, ethnical and political – and heeds the scriptures piously.

A cardinal belief of the sententious General Buhari, an untalkative herdsman, is contained in the scriptural admonition which says, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?”

So, when Yusuf, Buhari’s grand prix son, wished for assorted dangerously fast motorbikes as playthings, Buhari did not give him a snake instead. Yusuf got all the toys he wished for.

As a patriotic admirer of the President, I won’t diminish the worth of Yusuf and say that the costliest motorbike in the world, the Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter, which goes for just $11m, is too costly to be gotten by the begotten son.

That would be an insult to our Yusuf who’s ingrained with plenty of home-taught manners handed down by his incorruptible, stern and frugal father.

When his daughter, Hanan, asked for the presidential jet to ‘go take foto for Bauchi’, Buhari, again, heeded the scriptures, which enjoins parents not to give stone when their children ask for bread.

But the milk of human kindness froze in Buhari in 1984 when he flung the late Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, into jail while the then President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a Fulani, was put under posh house arrest after the Buhari junta criminally toppled a democratically elected government and dismantled the country’s democratic institutions.

President Buhari hates jagbajantis when it’s not done by the members of his household, clan or puppets in his inner circle. A case in point of such jagbajantis is the public aiding and abetting of terrorism by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, a Fulani like Buhari.

Legally speaking, an aider/abettor is as criminally liable as the principal suspect(s).

In a 2015 interview, Buhari said that as military Head-of-State between 1983 and 1985, he took an active part in the promulgation of Decree 4, which invoked the death sentence against people found guilty of dealing in hard drugs.

Bartholomew Azubuike Owoh, a former employee of the Nigeria Airways; Lawal Akanni Ojuolape, a spare parts dealer; and Bernard Ogedengbe, a sailor, were found guilty of dealing in drugs long before the promulgation of Decree 4.

However, the Buhari repressive regime backdated the infamous Decree 4 of 1985 to ensure that the three drug suspects were convicted and shot publicly in Kirikiri, Lagos. This was against a public outcry which saw the death sentence as barbaric and called for long prison terms as deserving punishments for the greedy, criminal trio.

Explaining he had no regrets for the public execution, 30 years after, Buhari disagreed with the pleas for the convicts, and defended the action of his fascist regime in these words, “Pleas, pleas; those that they destroyed, did they listen to their pleas for them not to make hard drugs available to destroy their children and community?”

During their incarceration and trial, the three non-Fulani convicts begged for mercy and vowed that they had departed from their old ways, but the Buhari junta didn’t listen; disbelieving that the leopard would ever change its spots.

As a foremost herdsman, President Buhari may not be familiar with the goose and the gander; otherwise, he should’ve known that what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

For throwing Ekwueme, an Igbo, into jail, and leaving Shagari, a Fulani, to enjoy life under house arrest, despite being charged with the same offences as Ekwueme, Buhari disdained the goose, the gander, the sauce and pushed justice under the bus.

If Buhari had any sense of justice, Pantami should have been sacked immediately the viral videos of his cold-blooded support for terrorism surfaced online, to erase the global ridicule which casts Nigeria as the country of the clown with a crown.

If Buhari could express no regret for killing the three drug peddlers, 30 years after, he shouldn’t have given a second thought to giving Pantami the heave-ho and making him face prosecution for supporting terrorism. But Pantami is a Fulani.

For the avoidance of doubt, Pantami, who’s now 50, was older than Owoh (26), Ojuolape (30) and Ogedengbe (29) when he committed his crime against humanity 14 years ago, saying he feels happy whenever infidels are killed. Tearfully, he also said that Boko Haram members were Muslim brothers who shouldn’t be killed like infidels.

According to the BBC, Pantami, in various unrefuted viral videos, volunteered to lead a jihad to Shendam, Plateau State, “where there had been a deadly religious conflict, to fight in defence of the Muslims.”

The BBC added, “In a 2006 speech, Mr Pantami publicly offered his condolences after the death of al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

“More than 300 persons died while thousands were displaced in (the) religious violence that engulfed Jos, Plateau State, in 2009,” the BBC said.

But Buhari said Pantami had repented, after his words had incited and sent many to their early graves. And he didn’t accept the repentance of Owoh, Ojuolape and Ogedengbe. He also clamped Ekwueme into jail because he was Igbo and left Shagari out of jail because he was Fulani.

Someone who attended a secondary school and whose certificate is not missing should tell President Buhari the secondary school story of Saul who repented on the way to Damascus.

While Saul turned over a new leaf upon repentance, Pantami never repented until he was unmasked and forced to apologise in fear of a possible backlash from the US and other western powers.

Pantami’s apology wasn’t for his respect for Nigerians because like his political godfather, Buhari, Pantami has no respect for the opinion of Nigerians. If he does, he should’ve tendered his resignation letter immediately his disgraceful acts surfaced online. His public apology was for fear of being put on the No Fly list by the US, nothing more.

Let’s get this clear, incitement to kill is a criminal offence. The great teacher and human rights activist, Tai Solarin, was yanked from his Mayflower School, Ikenne, at night, and ridiculed before the whole world on TV for merely accusing the murderous regime of General Ibrahim Babangida of stashing public funds abroad. Oh, I forgot; Solarin wasn’t Fulani, Pantami is.

If fate didn’t expose the racy Yusuf in an expensive motorbike accident in December 2017, and the media didn’t expose the overindulged Hanan on a presidential jet photo-shoot, Nigerians wouldn’t know the hypocrisy called Buhari. Aso Rock’s media loudspeakers would’ve dismissed the stories of Yusuf and Hanan as seditious, subversive, mutinous and treasonable.

But the President’s media megaphones are shocked beyond silence whenever the great Aisha blows the lid off the Pandora Box in Buhari’s Aso Rock, revealing the cat-and-dog cohabitation involving the members of the first family and their relatives, setting tongues wagging that a man who cannot control his family, can never control a county, let alone a country.

Worried by the growing desolation of the Oba Akran industrial hub in Ikeja, Lagos, a childhood friend of mine, who was passing through the area, called me last week and said, “Tunde, I’m passing through Oba Akran now, it’s a ghost of its old self. Most of the companies have packed up.”

Then, my mind went to Ghana and sadness overcame my heart. In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.

 

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @tunde odesola

Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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