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OPINION: Midnight in Nigeria



OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

“I AM proud of our security forces, our men and women in uniform. Despite a myriad of security challenges, they are living up to the billing. As the terrorists and their camps are being decimated, thousands of terrorists and their families are surrendering in droves. The effectiveness of the security forces has been enhanced by the leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari and the unwavering commitment of the armed forces and its leadership”. This declaration was made on Monday, March 28, 2022, one day after the global celebration by Anglicans of Mothers’ Day. This piece of trash and bare-faced lie is the trademark of the Buhari regime.

If you live in Nigeria or if you live elsewhere but follow events in our ‘great country’, you will know who among the three musketeers of the regime trumpeters made the above unconscionable statement. The man has a patent in telling lies and fabricating half truths. He has been so long at it that I am now persuaded that he believes his own lies. Alhaji Lai Mohammed is the [mis]information minister of Nigeria. Not too long ago, he told Nigerians how he struggled to disabuse the mind of his seven-year-old grandson that he was not a liar. It was a pathetic tale on video. How many 70-year-olds have had to contend with the dubious responsibility of telling their grandchildren that they are not liars.

It is possible that the inability to tell the truth is in the DNA of Lai Mohammed. If you cast your mind back to 2014 and 2015, you will readily recall that Lai Mohammed was the spokesman of the then opposition All Progressives Congress [APC] political party. He was the mastermind and the megaphone of the propaganda, half truths and outright falsehoods sold to Nigerians by the APC. And to think he lies and still keeps a straight face. Buhari, Lai and their co-travellers lied themselves into office and power, and they have been governing, actually misgoverning, by lies.

When Lai Mohammed spoke last week Monday and claimed that Nigeria was becoming safer every day, he knew he was lying. Though he lives in his and APC’s uniquely alternate universe, he knew that the majority of Nigerians, including his grandchildren would not believe him. Ordinarily, we would have moved on with our lives, leaving the man and the party that have patented lies and lying to continue with their trademark. Not so for the bandits and terrorists who have blossomed under this regime. They must have felt insulted and assailed by the minister’s claim that they have been decimated. And their remnants on the run. They struck in a manner never witnessed in the country, leaving blood in their trail and gaping holes in families and empty chairs at dinner tables. The terrorists bullets and bombs did not discriminate. They felled the high and mighty as well as the low and lowly- the Igbo, the Hausa, the Fulani, the Yoruba, the Urhobo and all. Lai Mohammed had barely finished his lies when same day the terrorists responded by blowing up rail tracks, seizing train coaches, killing some passengers and taking some more into captivity ostensibly for handsome ransom. Since the regime has demonstrated beyond doubt that it has no solution to the menace of terrorists or that it is in bed with them [after all Kaduna state governor, Nasir el-Rufai has said the government and its security agencies know the terrorists and there whereabouts], it means that the ranks of terrorists will continue to increase and their industry will not stop thriving and booming. Going by the long established trends, the terrorists who kidnapped some of the passengers in the Abuja-Kaduna train incident will call the families of the victims for ransom. The families, including those who can ill-afford it, will raise the money and pay. The terrorists will be emboldened to go for another daring operation. They will reinvest the proceeds of crime and blood money into their industry by acquiring more sophisticated arms and ammunition. They will have cash to induce unscrupulous security agents and pay informants. And the cycle continues.

The attack on the Kaduna-bound train presented other puzzles. The undecorated national leader of the APC and presidential aspirant, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who graciously or gratuitously canceled his 70th birthday celebrations that fateful Monday was reported to have claimed that 60 passengers were killed in that attack There are two possibilities from this gaffe, if indeed it was. The one would be that he spoke in the heat of the moment while the other would be that he spoke in the manner of his admonition to his supporters awhile ago that they should proceed to renew their ‘expired’ permanent voters cards [PVC]. PVC, by the way, does not expire. But either way, the expectation is that Tinubu’s media minders would have intervened to explain the fatality figure attributed to their principal. Apart from the Tinubu apparently wayward tally of deaths, there was also the disputations over the number of passengers on the ill-fated train. They have ranged from anywhere between 400 to about 1000. We can shrug our shoulders and say the number does not matter. But it does. If a huge number is regularly taking free rides on the trains, from where will money be generated to pay the Chinese lenders? Then there is the issue of the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transportation, who claimed that the attack would have been prevented if his colleagues in the federal executive council had not treated him like a thief. He told Nigerians that he had presented a bill of well over N3 billion to procure surveillance equipment for the Abuja-Kaduna rail track. But he conveniently forgot to tell us that his ministry planned to award the contract for the equipment to a company that was incorporated two years earlier and which had no track record of providing the same or similar service anywhere else in the world. He also failed to tell us about the insignificant and miserable paid up capital of the company and whether Nigeria would have to expend similar sums of money for other rail tracks in the south west, the north west and north east regions which are the major beneficiaries of the provision of rail infrastructure by this regime.

Read also: OPINION: 2023 presidential election is open ticket – APC or PDP can take it

The other puzzle about the train attack and those kidnapped and indeed hundreds, probably thousands, of Nigerians in the captivity of terrorists, is the issue of mobile phone SIM and NIN [national identity number] synchronization and integration. From all indications, it appears that the terrorists are exempt from this exercise. They use cell phones to coordinate their operations and they use same to demand for ransom from the families of their victims. Even if the terrorists use victims’ cell phones to demand for ransom, how come the relevant security agencies are not routinely tracking and bursting and capturing them on the strength of the location of the mobile phones they use? Something is just not adding up. The way the attacks and kidnappings for ransom are going, all ungoverned spaces in the country, and especially in the north could soon be turned into Sambisa Forest, the permanent home of Boko Haram and Ansaru and ISWAP.

In spite of the lying Minister Mohammed, Nigeria’s situation may actually have gone past midnight given a study on the security state of the country published in a national newspaper last weekend. Community of Practice Against Mass Atrocities and the Joint Action Civil Society Committee operating under the aegis of Nigeria Mourns claimed that 1,545 persons have been killed by terrorists between January 1 and March 30, 2022. And that much of the killings had been in the northern parts of the country. If Lai Mohammed and his collaborators have no solutions to our myriad problems, as it is obvious they don’t, they should allow us carry our cross in peace.

In spite of the darkness enveloping Nigeria, we implore Christian and Muslim faithful to continue to intercede for our country as Lent and Ramadan coincide.

AUTHOR: Ugo Onuoha…

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