Does the president know? – Wale Fatade

It has become imperative to ask President Muhammadu Buhari whether he is aware that large swathes of Nigeria are no longer under his control as the Commander-in-Chief. It seems highly improbable that one listens to news bulletins these days without being told of kidnapping or bandits’ attack or terrorists’ operation. Even some of those who are closer to the President are usually the harbingers of such dreary stories.

When someone as close to him like the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, could remark that large area of Borno State is still not accessible to health workers because of Boko Haram activities, you wonder the kind of briefing or intelligence reports our president receives from his security chiefs. Osinbajo further acknowledged that some Borno State residents have actually fled to neighbouring countries, something I think Daily Trust reported nearly two months back, and one’s heart must skip some beats. Just last week, the Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, asked visiting agriculture minister and Central Bank governor to tell the president that security is paramount and his people were fleeing their farms and abandoning their herds for fear of kidnapping and killings.

“Honourable minister, tell the president that we have to take very good care of our people, security first. All these programmes, as good as they are, cannot be without security. Security is first and fundamental,” the emir said. By the way, Katsina is the home state of the president. We must also remember that it was in the same state that his ADC’s father-in-law was kidnapped and has not been released till date. The emir added eerily that he received daily, reports of kidnapping and killings from district heads in his domain and asked a rhetorical question, “How do we live like animals?” We remember also a House of Representatives member who lamented openly nearly two weeks ago that he cannot go to his village, spend a night and sleep. “For the last year, I cannot go to my village and sleep, I feel very insecure. And this is where I find myself, it is terrible, we have to do something about it,” said Adamu Chika from Niger State. Other members lamented the dire security situation in their states on the assembly floor.

Two Sundays ago, a professor of orthopaedic and trauma surgeon with the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, was kidnapped on the Ibadan-Ife expressway while travelling with his wife. His family and colleagues had to cough out a little over five million naira before he was released. As one who has friends and family members as professors and who regularly ply that road, God forbid if any one of them was kidnapped, I will be forced to pay part of the ransom to secure their release. This is very troubling. I remember warning one of them to be careful about his movements as we don’t have money for ransom payment, but I tell you it’s not a joking matter. From Zamfara to Kebbi, Katsina to Kaduna, Niger to Kebbi with Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa, we’re in a security crisis, folks. But our greatest worry should be whether our president has a full grasp or understanding of what we’re contending with. His armada of blind supporters too seem to be coming to terms that the security crisis, and that’s a mild word considering what millions of Nigerians are going through, is going to be a test of his mettle as president.

Sadly, most of the president moves and actions seemingly do not inspire confidence. From the humour of the nation’s top cop losing weight which to the president shows that he is working, to the endless meetings with service chiefs without any appreciable improvement, the inherent deficit in securing our borders under Buhari’s watch since 2015 is appalling. By the way, a word of commendation for Mr. Abubakar Mohammed Adamu, though it is still early days yet, but the police chief seems to understand his position perhaps more than any other recent inspector general.  From appearing trim and fit to quick response to senate summon and citizens’ agitations especially regarding misconduct of his men and officers, he seems interested in doing something different and better. Far from him, at least so far, to turn his office to a political sinecure like present service chiefs have done. This is significant as we know that there’s not a cat in hell’s chance that our president will fire the service chiefs and so we are denied the benefit of having fresh eyes to look at the war against terrorism or banditry.

So, our dear president, do you know that some of our citizens now routinely pay bandits before they could go to farm or visit their homesteads? Do you know that kidnapping is now the order of the day in many parts of our country? Do you know that increasingly more areas are not under your authority or leadership? And to those who pretend not to know, especially those living in the southwest, be careful, kidnapping is closer home than you think.

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