President Muhammadu Buhari was, last week, booed by some angry residents of Maiduguri – Borno State capital – during his condolence visit to the government and people of the State over the gruesome murder of 30 stranded travelers in Auno, a community in Konduga Local Government Area by the Boko Haram sect.
The video of the shameful drama that unfolded while the President’s convoy was passing by went viral on social media platforms. In the video, the people could be heard clearly chanting in Hausa language Bama yi! Bama so! – which means: “we don’t want! We are not doing!” While others were busy chanting, in Hausa as well: “we don’t like you, we don’t want you anymore.”
This incident rattled the presidency in no small measure. As expected, the President’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, was quick to come to the defense of his boss, as he claimed that the booing was sponsored by disgruntled opposition politicians.
“I was part of the delegation that entered Maiduguri right from the airport to the Palace of the Shehu of Borno. The people came out to say thank you and welcome us,” he asserted.
There are insinuations that the people of Borno State only expressed their frustration over the inability of the President to fulfil his 2015 campaign promise of ending the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Buhari administration, however, continues to lay claims on dealing substantially with the challenge of insurgency.
On October 16, 2019, during the launch of the 2020 armed forces Remembrance Day emblem the President had stated, “The Boko Haram terrorists have been substantially defeated and degraded to the extent that they are only daring soft targets.”
Earlier, while on a working visit to Lagos State, on October 21, 2019, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had asserted: “I stand by what I said that Boko Haram is technically defeated. What we are having today is global terrorism where you have the ISIS, ISWAP AI-qaeda all working together. ”
To most observers, the realities on ground paint a different scenario. The Maiduguri twist, therefore, questions the famed popularity and fanatical followership that President Buhari used to enjoy in Borno State. It could be recalled that in the 2015 and 2019 Presidential elections, the President had landslide victories in the State and was perceived as an insignia of hope in terminating the terrorist activities of Boko Haram in not just the State but, in the North-east region where they hold sway.
Sadly, the rumblings that greeted Buhari’s departure left many wondering if peace would eventually return to the historical city of Borno and, indeed, the entire Northeastern region.
2 other things
Service Chiefs must go!
The calls have remained unceasing. Last week, President Buhari’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, alleged that the people who hired protesters to boo the President in Maiduguri while on his way for a condolence visit – in Borno State – had also recruited people to demand the sack of service chiefs.
“A group of politicians and beneficiaries of the Boko Haram insurgence is right now paying for people to join their planned protest. About 2,000 men and women have been hired to demonstrate against the service chiefs on Monday.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been marching from one embassy to the other in protest against the Buhari administration and the Supreme Court. They are keen to give the impression that Nigerians are in support of them as they take to the streets,” he stated.
Garba’s hurried response must be appreciated against the difficulties of managing the fast deteriorating reputation of the country’s military chiefs. What he must acknowledge, however, is that the representatives of the people had been the ones leading from the front in the call for sack of service chiefs.
On January 29, 2020, while deliberating on a motion on national security challenges and the need to restructure the nation’s security architecture, some lawmakers had stressed the need for the President to sack the service chiefs and appoint new ones. They had argued that the officers had served long enough and are bereft of ideas on how to tackle insecurity.
“They have done their bits and their tenure has expired. They are illegally occupying the seat. It will be good for the government to allow the security chiefs to go and bring in new people to add vigour to the fight against security,” said Betty Apiafi of the PDP, Rivers State.
Elisha Abbo of the PDP, Adamawa said: “Mr President should change the security apparatus. And if we need foreign help, we should not be ashamed of asking for help.”
It could be recalled that President Buhari appointed the service chiefs in 2015 after he was elected to his first term in office. However, under military regulations, their terms of service expired in 2017, but the President thought it right not to sack them. They include: Army Chief Tukur Buratai, Air Chief Sadique Abubakar, Defense Chief Abayomi Olonisakin and Navy Chief Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas.
Nonetheless, Shehu’s claim that people are being paid to demand the sack of the service chiefs remains rather unverifiable as there has not been any fact laying credence to it.
And, Kawu was suspended
In the spirit of keeping his anti-corruption crusade alive, President Buhari, on February 13, 2020, suspended the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Modibbo Kawu, to face his ongoing trial for corruption. This came after the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for months, urged the Federal Government to suspend him and 32 other public officers undergoing corruption trial at the time.
The ICPC had arraigned the NBC chief for using his position to confer corrupt advantage on his friend and Associate, Lucky Omoluwa. He was, therefore, docked by the Commission for allegedly deceiving one Mr. Mohammed to approve the payment of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications Limited owned by Omoluwa as Seed Grant under the Federal Governments Digital Switch-Over Programme.
Kawu’s case presents Mr President another chance to prove that his approach to the anti-corruption war is not tainted by any form of bias. Being a ‘party man’, it will be interesting to see how Kawu’s case progresses. A sad twist, though, is news that the prime suspect in the alleged fraud, the Managing Director of Pinacle Communication passed on in the course of the week.
Kawu’s suspension presents President another great opportunity to strengthen his anti-corruption war.
By John Chukwu…
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