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ASO ROCK WATCH: When the presidency needs some dose of propaganda. Two other talking points

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Terrorism in Northern Nigeria will certainly go down in history as one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2020 major nightmares in Aso Rock. The year has seen the President dragged on different fronts for his inability to protect the lives and property of Nigerians.

It has also seen him saddled with the responsibility of addressing the several challenges triggered by the security mess. With the pressure spiraling out of control, and Nigerians losing the patience and faith they have in the President, Buhari appears to be leaning on propaganda as a means of countering the narrative on the perceived losses suffered by the Nigerian military.

As usual, we combed Aso Rock Villa for other juicy stories around the presidency.

Buhari’s propaganda moves

Buhari

On December 24, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that the successes of the Nigerian Army against the Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeastern States of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe had restored stability in the three States.

He alluded to this during the virtual induction ceremony of MI-171 Combat Helicopter and Commissioning of Reactivated L-39ZA Aircraft by the Nigerian Air Force which took place at Aso Rock.

“It is on record that one of our key promises to the Nigerian people is the resolve to maintain and leading in confronting the Boko Haram insurgency as well as other forms of criminality that bedevil our country. The successes we have achieved so far have restored some level of stability not only in the Borno and Yobe States but also in Adamawa State,” he stated.

One cannot but sympathize with the Buhari presidency in its protracted war against terrorism, spearheaded by the Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast. The war efforts appear to be making very slow progress. No wonder the administration is forced intermittently to sprinkle some propaganda in its communication strategy.

But are Nigerians sipping from the tainted truths?

On November 28, the insurgents massacred no fewer than 43 rice farmers in Zabarmari community, Borno State. Within two weeks of the incident, the insurgents claimed responsibility for the kidnap of over 300 students from Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, in the President’s home State of Katsina. Though the students were rescued in less than a week, it depicted how messy the security situation has become.

Besides, within hours of Buhari’s proclamation that some measure of stability had been restored in the three troubled States, the Boko Haram insurgents struck in Borno and Adamawa States. They destroyed Churches, hospitals, schools, killed scores of people and had others flee from their homes in desperate search for safety.

And lately, on December 26, a day after Christmas, hundreds of villagers in communities in Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State were forced to flee their homes due to a clash between the military and fighters of the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP).

While propaganda is retained as a strategy in warfare, it must be noted that there is a limit to which the country’s seat of power, Aso Rock, can push its luck in that direction.

The reasons are not far-fetched. There are immutable facts! Terrorism, banditry and general insecurity have become too rife for some true life experiences by traumatized citizens to be swept under the carpet.

Two other talking points

Dodging responsibilities

Osinbajo meets with ex-VP Sambo behind closed doors

President Buhari on December 22, literarily surrendered the policing of the country’s borders to God, saying only he can effectively supervise the 1,400 kilometers bordering Nigeria and Republic of Niger.

The President submitted to divine powers while receiving in audience former Vice President Namadi Sambo, who heads ECOWAS Election Mission to the West African country (Republic of Niger) at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

“I come from Daura, few kilometers to Republic of Niger, so I know a bit about that country…we share more than 1,400 kilometers of border…which can only be effectively supervised by God. I will speak with the President and offer his country our support. We need to do all we can to help stabilise the Sahel region, which is also in our own interest,“ the President was quoted to have said, according to a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

Read also: ASO ROCK WATCH: As Buhari contends with terrorism, banditry. Two other talking points

Buhari’s disposition depicts a situation of near helplessness, and clearly suggests that insecurity in the Sahel region would linger for many years. Perhaps, Nigerians should take serious the predictions of General Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Army Chief, who posited that the country may not overcome the activities of terrorists in another twenty years.

Are the citizens also to surrender, like their president, to divine intervention, especially in many other parts of the country where banditry holds sway? To recline in surrender is to invite anarchy and confirm the fears of many, both local and international, who argue that Nigeria is gradually grinding to a failed state.

Buhari may have spoken honestly but Nigerians would like to see strategies mapped out to restore confidence in government and its ability to secure lives and properties.

Playing big brother

On December 23, President Buhari assured that Nigeria would continue to play her expected roles beyond the West African sub region.

The President gave the assurance during a meeting with former President of Mali and first Chairman, African Union Commission, Professor Alpha Oumar Konare, at Aso Rock, Abuja.

According to a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu: “President Muhammadu Buhari said Wednesday that Nigeria will continue to play the role expected of it not only in the West-African sub-region but also on the African continent.”

In committing itself to a big brother role, Nigeria has, over the years, borne the burden of many African countries with stoic pain. Unfortunately, many critics have argued, and rightly so, that the self-appointed role has been less than rewarding. And, they do have loads of examples to cite. From South Africa to Ghana, Nigerians have suffered humiliations in the form of xenophobic attacks and economic deprivation.

Would it be time to extract maximum gains from African neighbours who appear to have little respect or regards for the sacrifices rendered by Nigeria? Only time will tell.

By John Chukwu…

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