By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Barely two weeks after Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum alleged sabotage in the military’s fight against insurgency, his Zamfara counterpart, Dr. Mohammed Bello Matawallen, has also accused some ‘power-seeking’ politicians of benefitting from the nation’s security challenge, particularly in the northern part of the country.
In recent time, the northern part of the country has continued to face one security challenge or the other.
While the North-east states contend with insurgency, the North-west as well as some parts of the North-central battle banditry and kidnapping.
Governor Zulum had, while on an inspection visit to the IDPs’ camp in Baga, Borno state, come under attack from suspected Boko Haram fighters.
And in a reaction to the development, the governor, among other things, said there was sabotage within the military.
And speaking in similar tone Tuesday, Zamfara state Governor Mutawallen said some politicians were benefitting from the increasing wave of security challenges facing the nation.
He spoke at the Special Army Super Camp 4 in Faskari town in Katsina state.
The governor was of the view that some notable politicians were exploiting the poor state of security the nation currently contends with, and rushed to the media to slam the military.
Although the governor did not name names, he said this class of politicians were making some political fortune from the escalating security challenge, and therefore wanted the status quo to remain.
Contrary to the belief in some quarters, the governor said the politicians were only on self-serving mission and not standing up for the people or even the efforts of the military.
“These unscrupulous politicians would hardly commend the military for their successes at the battlefronts. However, they would be eager to rush to the media to report attacks by bandits or other miscreants.
“For this crop of politicians, politics is not about genuine commitment to the well-being of the people; it is all about power and nothing more,” the governor said.
Speaking further, he said: “Let me at this point stress that the issue of security is everyone’s concern. Safeguarding and ensuring security is not just the responsibility of Mr President, the Governors, the service chiefs and security apparatuses but that of every patriotic citizen.”
“In fact, we, the politicians are to be blamed for the intractable security challenges bedevilling our communities. It is evident that some politicians exploit insecurity for political gains.”
While urging the security agencies to deal decisively with anyone found politicising the nation’s security no matter how highly placed, the governor said: “It is by so doing that we can significantly address the current security challenge confronting not just the North-West, but the entire federation.”
He lauded the Nigerian Army, under the leadership of Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, for consistently being at the forefront of the fight against insecurity.
He said there was need for regular training and exercises to project the military’s prowess and the personnel’s morale to inspire confidence in the public.
“I am particularly pleased to note that the primary objective of Exercise Sahel Sanity is to enhance the combat readiness of our gallant army to root out banditry and various crimes in the north-western part of the country.
“Considering the monumental nature of the challenge in the North-west, and it is our hope that at the end of this exercise, the army personnel would be in a better position to defeat the miscreants causing loss of lives and untold hardships to our people,” Matawalle stated.
He said Zamfara and other north-west states had been battling cattle rustling, kidnapping, arson and related crimes for many years.
“Even though my administration has succeeded in brokering peace agreement with several groups of the marauders, we are still facing pockets of challenges from those who have not accepted our peace overtures and those infiltrating our communities from other states,” the governor said.
Mutawallen reiterated his administration’s belief in peaceful dialogue with the bandits, which he said had yielded significant results.
“But for the defiant groups, we have no option than to confront them with the security forces in order to protect people’s lives, well-being and property.
“We are continually providing various forms of support to the security forces operating in Zamfara state for them to deliver on their statutory mandate effectively. Last two months, we commissioned and presented 200 brand new pick-ups as mobility support to the security outfits, including the Nigerian Army. We will continue to extend our support and collaborate will all security agencies,” the governor further assured.
He praised the gallant soldiers who died in the course of returning to the path of peace and prayed for the repose of their souls.
Bishops on Kaduna killings
In a related development, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) Tuesday lamented the rising spate of Southern Kaduna killings.
They said the killings persisted because perpetrators were not brought to justice by the appropriate authorities.
While warning politicians against politicising the killings, the clerics urged all Catholics across the country to embark on prayers session to end the menace.
They made the position known in a statement issued in Abuja by the CBCN president, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze.
“We, the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria have been following the recent events in Nigeria closely. We continue to hear of increasing insecurity and unabated acts of terrorism in Northern Nigeria. We are all tired of this situation. We do not want any politician to politicise the killing of Nigerians. There should be one response from everyone, and that is; the killings must stop.
“The perpetrators of the killings must be brought to justice. Where there is no justice or justice is not seen to be done, there cannot be peace. Where there is no peace, there cannot be development. Any Government, State or Federal that wants peace must work for justice for everyone.
“Our hearts are bleeding, and we are more troubled when we hear of the massacre presently going on in Southern Kaduna. We want all the people suffering the incessant attacks in Southern Kaduna to know that all Catholics in Nigeria are praying for them. We call on the Federal and the Government of Kaduna to bring a complete stop to the killing of innocent people. The loss of the life of any Nigerian does not help to further the agenda of any religious ideology or the ambition of any politician.
“There will never be sustained development built upon the bloodshed of innocent people brutally murdered by religious fundamentalists without any recourse to justice for the victims.
“We need not remind Nigerians that the present Federal Government came to power, promising Nigerians, the eradication of corruption, a guarantee of security to life and property, and rapid growth in the economy. The creation of jobs, and an enabling environment that engenders growth of the private sector; a significant increase in the supply of electricity to Nigerians, affordable and quality health care to Nigerians, and the revamping of the educational sector were the promises the Government continues to make,” the statement said.
The body called on all Nigerians to rise in unison and called on the federal government to prioritise the sanctity human lives as a major step to stopping the killings.
To fellow Catholics, he urged them to “join in praying, one ‘Our Father’, three ‘Hail Marys’, and one ‘Glory Be to the Father’ every day after the Angelus for 40 days, starting from 22 August 2020 and ending 30 September 2020, the eve of Nigeria’s Independence Day.
“On Independence Day, let us join in praying the five decades of the sorrowful mysteries starting from 12.noon. We appeal to each Bishop to encourage the faithful in his Diocese to participate fully in this prayer for God to save Nigeria.”
Buhari on additional weapons
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari and governors Tuesday ended their meeting on the state of the nation’s security with calls for a joint strategy to bring various conflicts to an end within time limits, while field commanders would take measures to protect civilian communities as a confidence-building mechanism between the military and those communities.
The president and the governors believed that when the trust that had been lost between the parties is re-established, there would be improved cooperation in intelligence-gathering and sharing.
The meeting also agreed that poverty and youth unemployment were at the root of the nationwide security challenges, and needed to be addressed with greater vigour by all tiers of government.
The three-hour meeting, coordinated by the president, focused on the country’s security policies and approaches in tackling the internal security challenges with a charge that intelligence-gathering and sharing must be optimised for the nation to secure itself.
The president dispelled commonly held assumptions that the terrorists in the North-east had far more weapons and money than the government, stressing that what is left of them are “mere scavengers desperate for food, raiding shops and markets, and killing innocent persons in the process.”
He also expressed concern that in spite of the fact that borders with neighbouring countries had been shut, bandits and terrorists continued to have access to small weapons.
“These terrorists are in the localities. How is it that they are not short of small arms?
“We have said enough on the need for them to rejig their operations. I am glad that there is better synergy and cooperation which are very important. I have directed the Service Chiefs to meet among themselves in-between the National Security Council meetings.
“The services have resources; yes, they need more, and mobility, and are doing their best, but there is a need for better gathering and interpretation of intelligence. Our intelligence-gathering must be improved,” he said.
The president informed the governors of the imminent shipment of military weapons and aircraft from Jordan, China and the United States, and called for patience on the part of the public.
He said the new weapons and aircraft must be manned by trained fighters and pilots who must first receive appropriate training.
The president also expressed satisfaction with the level of support from neighbouring countries in the war against terrorism.
“They are cooperating with us. On Boko Haram, we are making progress with Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon,” he said, while restating that intelligence-gathering must improve to be able to track small arms in the Northwest, North Central and Northeast states.
The president also expressed satisfaction with the level of Naval activity in the Gulf of Guinea, using newly-acquired equipment, but demanded that hard-to-reach areas of Lake Chad where Boko Haram terrorists have found new havens, as well as the forests now inhabited by bandits, must be accessed and rid of nefarious elements.
“The Chief of Defence Staff has spoken about their study of the forests and their potential danger to security. We must make sure we follow the bandits and terrorists, but there must not be deforestation in view of the climate situation,” he said.
In their submissions anchored by their chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, and Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno state, the governors highlighted the problems of poverty, unemployment, trust deficit between the military and civilian populations and the inflow of small arms into the country.
The governors also pointed to the problem of coordination among military and security chiefs and played up their own security roles which included USD1 billion they allowed the president to withdraw from the Excess Crude Account for weapons procurement two years ago.
The governors urged the president to consider a “bail out” for security for the states in view of the enormity of the resources they now expended in support of the military and the police.
The meeting was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, heads of defence, security and intelligence agencies and members of the Security Committee of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum represented by one governor from each of the six geo-political zones in a virtual format.