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ASO ROCK WATCH: On Buhari’s debatable ‘dilemma’. Two other talking points



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The continuous mass abduction of students in the Northern States of Nigeria by bandits is almost bringing the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to its knees.

Last week, he issued another stern warning to bandits after learning about the abduction of over 300 hundred students in Government Girls Junior Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State.

This, and other stories created social engagements as Aso Rock bubbled in the past week.

Buhari’s ‘dilemma’

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On February 26, President Buhari dished Nigerians reasons why he had not resorted to the use of military action against bandits.

According to a statement by his Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President declared that: “No criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government,” adding that, “The only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits are the rules of engagement.”

“We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits,” he added.

The continuous abduction of students by bandits is, no doubt, a terrible slap on the Buhari administration and a brazen challenge to its military.

Mr President must realize that it is fruitless to hide under the excuse of ‘rules of engagement’ as the world has since found a solution to dealing with scenarios of the kind being talked about.

At the heart of most successful rescue operations is the use of intelligence and the Americans did prove this in the rescue of their kidnapped citizen in a State in northern Nigeria.

For most critics, therefore, Buhari’s excuse is nothing but a perfect escape route to justify negligence and inaction.

The President must lead the charge in investing in intelligence resources and other modern fighting units or watch the country surrender to terrorists or the so-called bandits.

And, he needs to act fast before the country slips down the gory path of a failed State.

Two other talking points

Amnesty for bandits?

President Buhari, on February 25 ruled out amnesty for bandits and insurgents terrorising the country.

Buhari made his resolve public at the meeting of Northern governors and traditional rulers held at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House in Kaduna.

Represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, he noted: “The government shall continue to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals who constitute a threat to innocent citizens across the country. I have already tasked the new Service Chiefs to devise new strategies that will end this ugly situation where the lives of our people continue to be threatened by hoodlums and criminals.”

Read also: ASO ROCK WATCH: Still on the insurgency matter. Two other talking points

Buhari’s refusal of amnesty for bandits sends a clear signal that bad deeds would not be rewarded, and this is welcome.

To act otherwise would be to taint Nigeria’s image in the international community, and add more to the backlash already incurred with a discredited De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration programme of ‘repentant’ Boko Haram insurgents.

Nonetheless, the Buhari administration must reconcile its position against that of a self-appointed mediator, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has been preaching blanket amnesty, and stoking ethnic and religious sentiments by claiming that Christain soldiers are responsible for the of killing Muslims.

Dealing with cyber crimes

On February 23, President Buhari called for an overhaul of the national strategy on cyber security, and advocated that the internet be used for economic growth opportunities, enhancement of knowledge and mitigation of crime.

Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, at the lunch of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS), 2021, at Aso Rock, Buhari had said: “…like many other countries across the globe, the growth and development of the internet is accompanied by significant problems. We are witnessing a rise in threats posed by cybercriminals, online financial fraudsters and cyber terrorists who use the internet to cause apprehension”

In this era of technological advancements, where the internet forms the basis for several operations, cybercrimes seem to have flourished, making Buhari’s call worthy of attention.

Of concern to several Nigerians, however, is the need to create modalities for the NCPS to do its work effectively and efficiently.

And, for Mr President, there is no better time to build necessary synergies between and among various government institutions than now.

By John Chukwu…

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