State House

If you read the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina’s piece titled: “Who will save Nigerians from intellectual laziness?”, you will see that Nigeria is in real trouble with a government that characteristically reinforces failure and intellectual poverty with arrogant gracelessness.

While with the Archbishop of Canterbury, President Buhari had suggested that the killer herdsmen troubling Nigerians are foreigners from the Sahel region who were trained by late Muamar Qaddafi, and Nigerians saw that as another attempt at buck passing to shirk responsibility.

Full of cursing and swearing, Adesina insisted that Buhari’s statement was twisted “out of sheer malice” by Nigerians who in his judgment are intellectually lazy with “evil and poisonous heart.” He was angry that the criticism was calculated to “de-market” Buhari on his bid to rule for another tenure which, to him, is more important than the security of lives and property.

While it is a shame that the presidency will consign the present agony of Nigerians to mere intellectual contest, an analysis of the corpus of statements made by Buhari and his security chiefs on the matter, demonstrates, in their shallowness, the highest form of “intellectual laziness”, just as their actions and inactions betray the height of mental incapacity to perform.

Indeed, it can only be from an “evil and poisonous heart” for Adesina to twist the very questions Nigerians are asking the president and to divert the conversation from security to politics.

It is intellectually lazy for Adesina to have forgotten that Buhari had earlier described the killers as Nigerians and not foreigners. “I ask you in the name of God to learn to accommodate YOUR COUNTRYMEN”, Buhari had said to Benue elders who visited Aso Rock after the new year massacre. Interestingly, on the day of the mass burial in Benue, Buhari was in Aso Rock hosting a group of Governors who came to “appeal” to him to recontest. Buhari repeated same assertion when he eventually visited Benue, insensitively using the occasion to drop the hint of his re-election bid. “I am not promising anything. Perhaps I will promise if I am called back in 2019,” he told Benue people when they asked for infrastructures.

His Minister of Defence, Dan Ali, had also said that the killers are Nigerians and blamed the communities for blocking their grazing routes.

Hear him: “What are the remote causes of this farmers/herders crisis? Since Independence, we know there used to be a route whereby these cattle rearers use. Cattle rearers are all over the nation. If those routes are blocked, what happens? These people are NIGERIANS. These are the remote causes. But what are the immediate causes? It is the grazing law. These people are NIGERIANS, we must learn to live TOGETHER with EACH OTHER, that is basic. Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclave, finish!”

In consonance with the President and the Minister of Defence, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had also said the killers are Nigerians, describing the killings as “communal crisis.”

“Obviously it is communal crisis, herdsmen are part of the community. They are NIGERIANS and are part of the community, are they not? Let’s use the example of Benue, you know most of these states where you have several languages, you know is an issue of communal misunderstanding. I think what we should be praying for is for NIGERIANS to learn to live in peace with ONE ANOTHER, I think is very important,” the IGP told reporters at Aso Rock after a meeting with Buhari on January 5, 2018.

Given these earlier declarations by the Commander-in-Chief and those in the commanding heights of our security agencies, how could Nigerians have been wrong in querying why the President now says the killers are foreigners from Qaddafiland? If they are foreigners, why did Buhari say we should learn to accommodate them? If they are foreigners, why did Dan Ali ascribe our grazing routes to them and justifying their actions on account of the enactment of anti-open grazing laws which Benue people made unto themselves? If they are foreigners, why has the government continued to suggest that states should contribute lands to provide cattle colonies and import hybrid grasses for them as the solution to the crisis? It is those who fail to ask or are irritated by these questions that are most guilty of “intellectual laziness.”

Added to that is that fact that Nigerians continue to see how the government treats the matter like child’s play. Buhari said he ordered his IGP to proceed to Benue. The IGP didn’t go and Buhari said he didn’t know that the IGP didn’t go. How much confidence does this bring? Then as the Benue Governor struggles with the situation, including having written to alert Vice President Osinbajo on planned attacks, and to the Senate for intervention, the best we got from the Police was for its PRO to describe the grieving Governor as a “drowning man”, a testament to how lightly the Police takes the killings.

Even on the issue of influx of arms, the security agencies have variously asserted that they are supplied by Nigerians, including by the collusion of the security agencies.

Hear a Director of Operations in the Department of State Security (DSS), Godwin N. Eteng, at the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Customs and Excise and National Intelligence investigating the “frightening influx of small arms and light weapons into the country: “We had a situation where in one of the armouries belonging to one of the armed forces, how many pistols just got missing with quantities of ammunition and all the pistols were new. In the armoury, no place was broken into, but the weapons were missing. And we’re interested in knowing what happened? We have conducted more than 27 operations and arrested more than 30 persons involved in the supply of arms and ammunition and some of them are serving security men.”

Last December, we also heard how Mamudu Hassan, one of the accused persons standing trial over unlawful importation of 661 sophisticated pump action rifles told a Federal High Court in Lagos, that he bribed his way through the DSS, Customs and Police to smuggle the guns out of Apapa Ports, even with the Chief Examination Officer of the Federal Unit of the Customs Operations implicated for compromising the search of the marked container. This is one of many cases.

These all confirm the involvement or failure of government agencies in the provision and distribution of legal and illegal arms in the escalation of the killings.

While there can be no doubt that arms also find their way into the country through illegal routes, government has remained lackadaisical in the security of our borders. A Deputy Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Service, Damgaiadinga Aminu Abubakar, who represented the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, at the House hearing, revealed that with about 1,100 illegal borders in the country, the government only approved 97 border posts to be manned and the personnel lack the necessary equipment to stem the inflow of weapons.

The services lack operational vehicles, fast boats and modern technology, including advanced scanning machines, to operate effectively at airports, seaports and borders. The situation is compounded by poor welfare for the personnel, he revealed.

Perhaps, Buhari and Adesina do not understand that it is these failures of government and the compromise by its institutions that have given rise to various suggestions of self defence. The question here again is, if the killers are foreigners, why is government discouraging communities from taking to self defence on grounds of protecting national unity? Interestingly, not many communities can defend themselves, so they are now resigning to faith.

While the President travelled to London on April 9, and as at the time Adesina was writing his piece, they may have been oblivious that, in Zamfara, the gunmen had attacked and killed 26 more people in Kuru-kuru and Jarkuka villages on April 4, after they had killed 47 in Bawardaji village two weeks earlier, prompting the helpless people of Anka Emirate to declare three days fasting for Allah’s intervention, a sign of hopelessness in government.

“We urge our people to carry out three days fasting to seek Allah’s intervention to address security challenges facing the area. We are so disturbed with this issue; we noticed negligence from security agencies, because the agencies mostly come at late hour when damage has been done,” the Waziri of Anka, Alhaji Muhammed Inuwa, cried out.

It is understood that Buhari whose best moments are when he travels to London made the statement to curry the approval of the European governments who aligned to take out Qaddafi, but given the seriousness of the matter which involves life and death and the destruction of our agricultural economy, it amounts to gratuitous insult on our collective intelligence for him to attempt to divert our attention to Qaddafi and for Adesina to abuse Nigerians for refusing to accept the wool over their eyes. In his trademark shiftiness, Buhari’s statement lacked statesman-like depth and conviction just as Adesina’s unreasoned outburst is infantile.

Indeed, Nigerians are suffering the intellectual laziness of its leadership and the urgent question is: “Who will save Nigerians from Buhari?” Nigerians need to answer this correctly in 2019. Agreed that the North should retain the presidential seat, and there are enough sound minds with huge capacity from the North to relieve us of this agony called Buhari and those mischievously clapping the tired old man into unending infamy of slurs for personal gains.

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