In the very last paragraph of my last article titled ‘Five years after campaign, it’s still promises galore’ (9-01-21), I said: “One thing seems sure, nonetheless. More promises are on the way; the more to soothe frayed nerves as the administration seeks useful clues on way forward.”
It was not, therefore, a surprise when President Muhammadu Buhari handed yet another promise to Nigerians on his administration’s resolve to end insurgency and banditry in the country this year.
Well, this year is already moving fast like the year before and previous years. Time waits for no one, as they say, and it wouldn’t take time before 2021 also becomes history. For every discerning mind, this latest promise cannot but be curious. It neither highlighted on the efforts being made to make the insurgency and banditry a piece of history, nor did it acknowledge calls to have the nation’s security architecture restructured or even gave any commitment whatsoever towards the restructuring. For all intents and purposes, the administration seems determined to adopt the old ways of doing things while expecting different results.
Yet, President Buhari had what was a glorious opportunity to address the security issues on December 10, 2020 when he was scheduled to speak to the House of Representatives on efforts made by his government so far, specifically on the 43 farmers that were slaughtered by the Boko Haram insurgents late in November last year. For reasons best known to him and his handlers, he did not show up at the House. How the same president would now offer a mere promise on the issue is even more curious, if not hollow.
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had also curiously defended the president’s decision to shun the House, notwithstanding that the latter already gave his word to honour the House invitation. Malami had said that “the National Assembly lacks the powers to summon the President to speak on security matters.” The AGF apparently hadn’t reckoned that even if the constitution barred the president from interfacing with the people’s representatives on an issue as vital as security of the country, he still could not be barred on moral grounds which would demonstrate his empathy. But, that is by the way.
It might sound unpatriotic not to agree that insurgency and banditry will end this year as the president has promised, even if agreeing would mean being fair to the victims and their loved ones. But, it goes well beyond promise to deliver on the president’s latest offering. The security architecture must be revisited with a view to weeding off incompetence for competence. The nation also deserved adequate briefing on troop’s operations and motivation, as well as welfare. Collaborative efforts with relevant authorities must be highlighted in order that roles are defined clearly and blames apportioned where necessary. Above all, accountability is also vital, especially on the part of the administrators who control large sums of money budgetted to prosecute the war against the insurgents and bandits.
It should be embarrassing enough that the Buhari administration has found itself battling with insecurity more than five years since it assumed office, although the subject was a cardinal objective for winning the election in 2015. But, it should be much more embarrassing, if not calamitous, if this latest promise goes down unfulfilled like the previous promises. And why shouldn’t the promise be fulfilled, anyway?