President Muhammadu Buhari, on September 22, admitted the true state of the Boko Haram insurgency and banditry in the country.
This was contained in a speech he made at the general debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
According to his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President said: “In Nigeria, we are still facing violent extremism from the insurgency of Boko Haram and bandits.”
“We continue to count on our strong cooperation with UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and neighbouring countries to overcome the terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin and the wider Sahel Region,” he added.
Beyond the many years of grandstanding, the hen, perhaps, has come home to roost.
In admitting the continued embarrassment caused the nation by Boko Haram insurgents, Buhari confesses reality of the present. The Boko Haram war still rages!
Not anymore time for drumming rhetorics on a populace drenched in fears of wanton attacks and killings.
In February 2016, while addressing the media, Buhari had boasted of how Boko Haram had been ‘technically’ defeated. He did the same three years later, in February 2019, when he averred that the activities of the terrorist group had been largely brought under control since he ascended the presidency in 2015.
In the middle of his denials, however, lie several reports of senseless killings and destruction of property by the criminal elements.
From the frequent attacks on the people of Borno, including the governor of the State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, to the hell unleashed on the people of the northwest by bandits, gory tales abound.
Not even Buhari’s pampering of ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members via an amnesty programme has assuaged the terrorists.
As President Buhari courts the world, a few posers emerge:
1. Should a dialogue with the terrorists be completely ruled out as the death tolls mount?
2. Why has the multilateral Joint Task Force (MJTF) failed woefully to contain the insurgents?
3. And, why has Mr President stubbornly refused to sack his service chiefs despite national outcries?
It would be interesting to see what Buhari has up his sleeves as he pushes for global collaboration in the war against Boko Haram.
Two other talking points
Preaching peace in Kaduna
On September 21, President Muhammadu Buhari charged Kaduna State indigenes to live in harmony in order to engender development in the State.
He made the charge while speaking at the virtual opening of the fifth Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit (a.k.a KADInvest 5.0) themed ‘Infrastructure, Industrialisation and Innovation’.
“We must live together as brothers and sisters because without peace, development cannot take place,” he said.
Buhari’s message of peace to Kaduna State could not have come at a better time.
For months, the Southern part of Kaduna State has remained largely unstable. Stories coming from the region have been that of killings, destruction of property and people fleeing their houses in desperate search of safety.
While many critics agree that the crises have been fanned mainly by ethno-religious reasons, not a few believe that the Kaduna State Government, led by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has shown the right leadership by his, sometimes, inflammatory pronouncements.
It is hoped that President Buhari, while helping to tackle the crises, would also apply peer pressure on El-Rufai to show restraint in utterances which tend to portray him as backing the subjugation of another ethnic group.
Osinbajo on Nigeria’s refineries
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on September 21, made a shocking statement about the country’s refineries.
While speaking at a virtual meeting with some bloggers and social media influencers in Abuja, he said: “If the refinery is left in the hand of the government, it will continue to experience the same problem it is experiencing now. I do not think that it is the business of the government to run the refinery. It should be the business of the private sector, which is why we are trying to focus on assisting the private sector to develop modular refineries.”
Osinbajo’s submission is a call to pity, and belies poor leadership and corruption as the fundamental challenges confronting the now rickety Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Many critics argue that the scales fell off the eyes of the Nigerian presidency long ago but that it had allowed politics to influence the direction of the country’s oil industry.
On June 12, for instance, the Group Managing Director NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, noted that: “For 20 years, all attempts to fix the refineries failed for very simple reason, there is a strategy problem.”
Earlier in March, the Chairman of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Joe Nwakwue, while claiming that some refineries built in 1932 were still working, said that the problem of our refineries was more institutional.
The dysfunctions in the oil sector must, therefore, be attended to honestly and holistically. This is why Osinbajo, working with his principal, Buhari, must see to the activation of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is believed would create better efficiency in the sector.
By John Chukwu…
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