The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.
The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari, appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.
The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.
Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.
Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.
Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”
However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.
According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.
In an emailed response to Saturday PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.
This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.
“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms Cindi King, said.
King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.
She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.
“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”
It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador
Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.
He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.
In an emailed interview with Saturday PUNCH, Campbell, who is the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington, DC-based think-tank, said, “From an American perspective, moving AFRICOM’s headquarters after 14 years in Stuttgart would be a major undertaking.
“However, should the AFRICOM headquarters move, it is unlikely – if not impossible – that it would be to Africa, with its logistical challenges. Some in the US Congress support moving AFRICOM’s headquarters to the United States as a cost-effective alternative. For example, South Carolina’s senators, both Republican, have advocated moving it to Charleston, the site of large US military installations.
“It is mostly a matter of money. Moving AFRICOM to Africa would require the construction of a sophisticated installation in areas where the basic infrastructure may not yet have been developed. Moving it to the United States would mean making use of already existing but underused installation (e.g., perhaps Charleston) that could be quickly and more cheaply expanded, if necessary.”
The ex-envoy, however, said Buhari’s request marked a reversal of Nigeria’s official opposition to AFRICOM plans to move it to the continent 14 years ago.
“The shift likely reflects the conclusion that the security situation in West Africa and Nigeria is out of control, spurring a willingness to consider options hitherto unacceptable. Buhari argued that AFRICOM’s headquarters should be closer to the theatre of operations. He also seemed to imply greater US involvement in West African security, including a kinetic dimension in the context of greater Western support for West Africa’s response to its security threats.”
He recalled that when President George W Bush established AFRICOM in 2007, a military-civilian hybrid command in support of Africa, African official reaction was largely hostile, seeing the effort as “neo-colonialist.”
Campbell said, “The Nigerian government took the lead in persuading or strong-arming other African states against accepting the AFRICOM headquarters, which was thereupon established at Stuttgart, Germany, already the headquarters of the European Command.
“In addition to opposing AFRICOM in the first place, the Nigerian military authorities have been largely uncooperative with the US military. Hence, the US military involvement in Nigeria, beyond limited training operations, is minimal, and the country does not host any American defence installations.
“Successive Nigerian governments have wanted to purchase sophisticated American military equipment but have rejected US oversight. In fact, Nigerian purchases of US military materials have been rare, despite their high-profile, ultimately successful purchase of 12 A-29 Super Tucanos – sophisticated aircraft.”
Why US can’t relocate AFRICOM troops from Germany to Nigeria –Chatham House fellow
Corroborating Campbell’s view, an Associate Fellow at the United Kingdom-based Chatham House, Matthew Page, said there was no prospect of the US relocating its AFRICOM HQ from Germany to any part of Africa.
Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute headquarters whose mission is to provide authoritative commentary on world events and offer solutions to global challenges.
Page said, “There is absolutely no prospect of this happening. A combatant command headquarters is an administrative node that requires enormous physical infrastructure and thousands of personnel (and their families) to sustain it. They need to be able to safely live, work, and send their children to school locally. The Nigerian government is unable to safeguard the lives of hard-working Nigerians, never mind a US military installation that would be a juicy target for a terrorist attack.
“With the exception of European Command and Africa Command – which for longstanding historical reasons are located and headquartered in Germany – all combatant commands are located in the United States. These commands do have forward elements and subordinate commands based in the theatre of operations, such as Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) based in Djibouti. But these typically are task-specific and have a light local footprint. The United States is not – and doesn’t want to be – an imperial power with permanent military outposts on the continent. Nor should African leaders be asking it to become one.”
Page, who was previously with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, further said, “I am sure the Biden administration was puzzled by President Buhari’s invitation, given that Nigeria has been a reluctant and difficult security partner for the United States. The Nigerian Army has long viewed US military engagement in West Africa with deep suspicion, shunning deeper ties and ignoring Washington’s calls for security sector reform and human rights improvements. Inviting AFRICOM to relocate to Nigeria is the equivalent of proposing marriage before going on a first date.”
Nigeria, other African leaders must take responsibility for citizens’ security –Expert
However, a counter-terrorism expert and Senior Researcher for the Lake Chad Basin Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, Dakar, Senegal, Dr Akinola Olojo, has said that Buhari and other African leaders must take responsibility for the security of their citizens, noting that the entire burden cannot be pushed on foreign countries.
He spoke against a backdrop of Nigeria and African countries getting US help in the fight against terrorists and other criminals in the region.
Olojo said, “The relocation of the United States Africa Command from Germany to Africa would depend on a number of factors anchored on the foreign policy priorities of the US in the current period. Beyond this, however, is the need for Nigeria (and African countries) to be sincere with a self-interrogation regarding whether the relocation of an external entity such as AFRICOM will address Africa’s challenges of insecurity.
“The ultimate burden of responsibility for ensuring the human security of African citizens lies on the leadership or governments in Africa. The presence of French troops supporting the G5 Sahel Joint Force for nearly a decade has not really solved the fundamental or root causes of the crisis affecting Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with global partnerships when it comes to addressing insecurity. Besides, challenges such as violent extremism have a transnational character and in early 2020, the US and Kenya launched a joint terrorism task force. As long as such frameworks are mutually beneficial, this is good.
“However, the governments of Nigeria and countries in Africa must begin to live up to the responsibility entrusted to them by citizens. In other words, leadership in Africa must inspire and drive the process for implementing the different policy frameworks and national action plans which already exist on the continent.”
Meanwhile, a government official familiar with US operations said even if the US chose to relocate its AFRICOM to Nigeria or any part of the West Coast, it would come with its own challenges which might affect Nigeria or its neighbours adversely.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “Bringing AFRICOM to Africa or Nigeria will be a major problem for Nigeria and the African continent. Bringing AFRICOM to Nigeria, for example, will be tantamount to inviting or attracting all the enemies of the US, including global terrorist organisations, to the host country. Such a host country will become a subject of attack from terrorist organisations.”
President Joe Biden had in February stopped the planned withdrawal of US troops from Germany that was ordered last year by the Donald Trump administration but had never actually begun, Associated Press reported.
Biden said the troops’ pullout would be halted until the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin did a review of America’s troops presence around the globe.
Austin, he said, would ensure that “our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities.”
In a statement, Austin said the US Department of Defence would conduct “a global force posture review of U.S. military footprint, resources, strategy and missions.”
The review, he said, “will inform my advice to the commander in chief about how we best allocate military forces in pursuit of national interests. The review will be led by the acting undersecretary of defence for policy, in close consultation with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Last year, President Trump announced that he was going to pull out about 9,500 of the roughly 34,500 US troops stationed in Germany. The US has several major military facilities in the country, including Ramstein Air Base, the headquarters for US European Command and US Africa Command, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre, the largest American hospital outside the United States.
Trump’s order met resistance from Congress as well as from within the military, which has long relied on Germany as a key ally and base of operations. Trump announced the troop cuts after repeatedly accusing Germany of not paying enough for its own defence, calling the long time NATO ally “delinquent” for failing to spend two per cent of its GDP on defence, the alliance benchmark.
Austin hinted at a likely reconsideration of the order in a conversation with his German counterpart.
German officials believe the order will be rescinded by the new administration, and the German Defence Ministry said that in Austin’s call with his German counterpart, he “emphasised that Germany is highly valued as a station and that American soldiers feel very comfortable here.”
“The US continues to consider its presence in Germany as an important part of joint security,” the Defense Ministry said.
Honorable Joe Biden President United States of America The White House Washington DC
Re: REQUEST FOR UNITED STATES MILITARY ASSISTANCE BY PRESIDENT MOHAMMADU BUHARI OF NIGERIA
Dear Mr. President:
We, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) applaud your election as President of the United States, the most powerful office in the history of the world. We salute your adept and muscular discharge of presidential duties during your tenure in the White House.
Mr President, as you consider Buhari’s request for military assistance to Nigeria, we respectfully urge you to also consider the following:
President Buhari has made Nigeria the most dangerous country in the world for Christians, Jews and Nigeria’s indigenous peoples, particularly those of the former Republic of Biafra. Hundreds of thousands are routinely plundered, tortured or killed with impunity by Nigerian security forces controlled and populated by Buhari’s Fulani Islamic tribesmen, often in collaboration with Fulani herdsmen (Islamist terrorist group that has been internationally branded the 4th deadliest terrorist grouping in the world). These atrocities have been confirmed and published by US State Department in its various Human Rights Reports on Nigeria, by Amnesty International and other credible bodies. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended listing Nigeria as a country of concern because of its religious oppressions. United States sales or transfers of weapons to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram are diverted to killing and terrorizing Christians and Jews. The Nigerian army, which leadership is Fulani and Islamist is complicit in these illicit transfers.
President Buhari is promoting radical Islam in secular Nigeria. He has endorsed Sharia law in twelve northern Nigerian states. He has treated Boko Haram with kid gloves, releasing from detention hundreds arrested by the previous administration. He recruited them into Nigerian army and offered generous foreign scholarship to hundreds of them. He has appointed radical Muslims to head every security agency in Nigeria, including Sheik Isa Pantami whose profuse support for Al Qaeda and Taliban was widely published recently. Yet, Mr Buhari has refused to sack him from his sensitive position as Minister of Communication overseeing the biometric data of Nigerians. By defending Sheik Pantami, Mr Buhari is seemingly aligning with Mr Pantami’s terrorist sympathies. Mr Buhari is a strong ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran and China; and he has generally pursued policies that put Nigeria at odds with US national interest since you came to office.
President Buhari is conducting a genocidal campaign against tens of millions of Christians and Jews, particularly those indigenous to the former Republic of Biafra. These include mass killings, torture, and the destruction of Christian schools, churches and Jewish synagogues. He has arbitrarily branded and terrorized the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a nonviolent group pursuing the Independence of the former Republic of Biafra. Mr Buhari’s draconian measures were geared to retaliating against peaceful demonstrations favoring the restoration of Biafran independence that was cruelly extinguished by a genocidal military campaign Buhari partly led between 1967 and 1970. He has concocted treason charges against IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu to crush Biafran self-determination, despite the fact that self-determination is legal under Nigerian law. Mr. Buhari’s demonic rule is convulsing Nigeria and creating new safe havens for radical Islamic terrorists that pose potent threat to US interests, from the Sahel to the Gulf of Guinea.
Prayers: 1, We respectfully suggest that you consider, among other things, denying weapons sales or transfers to Nigeria under the Leahy Amendment; listing Nigeria complicit in persecuting Christian and Jews under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. 2, We respectfully urge Mr President to invoke particularly Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, which prohibits the furnishing of assistance authorized by the FAA and the Arms Export Control Act to any foreign security force unit where there is credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. In conclusion, we state categorically that the national interests of the United States lie in protecting Christians and Jews in Nigeria, defeating radical Islam and preventing instability in West Africa which will altogether be enhanced by a US-led diplomatic pressure on the Nigerian government to – as a matter of urgency – agree to a UN-supervised referendum on Biafran Independence.
We wish you and your family many wonderful years in the White House.
Mazi Nnamdi Kanu Leader, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)
•Deploys security, intelligence agents to Imo, South-East region
By Jude Johnson
President Muhammadu Buhari has described Monday’s attacks on the correctional center and police headquarters in Imo State as “acts of terrorism”.
Buhari, who is currently on a two-week sick leave in London, reacted to the attacks through his senior media assistant, Garba Shehu.
The president ordered the immediate deployment of officers from all security and intelligence agencies in the state and South-East region toward apprehension of the suspects behind the attacks.
Buhari said the assailants must be made to pay for the consequences of their actions according to provisions of the law.
The president also ordered the immediate arrest of inmates who were freed during the attack on the correctional facility, saying many of them are believed to be “deadly criminals”.
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had earlier accused members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) of being behind the attacks.
Read full statement:
PRESIDENT BUHARI CONDEMNS DARING TERRORIST ATTACKS IN IMO
DIRECTS RELEVANT FG AGENCIES TO TERMINATE THIS ANARCHY
President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the deadly insurgent attack that took place on the Police Command Headquarters and the Correctional Facility in Owerri, Imo State, on Monday, calling it an act of terrorism.
In his reaction to the incident early on Monday, President Buhari praised the initial response by security guards and security forces for preventing greater loss of life and the destruction of public property.
The President directed security and intelligence agencies in the state and the geo-political zone to fully mobilize and go after the terrorists, apprehend them and get them punished under the full weight of the law.
He also called for the best efforts to be made to rearrest fleeing prison detainees, many of whom are believed to be deadly criminals.
President Buhari then appealed to members of the public to assist the law enforcement agencies with any relevant information that could lead to the apprehension of these criminals who perpetrated this despicable act.
He also urged members of the public to be vigilant as all of us have a stake in preserving our way of life from disruption by terrorists and anarchists while the Federal Government will use every available tool at its disposal to confront and terminate this bare-faced anarchy.
Garba Shehu Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) April 05, 2021
About 800 assets worth $400 million stolen from Nigeria and domiciled in various cities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been traced to 13 Nigerian security chiefs and public officials.
Of the 800 assets said to have been uncovered by investigators, the 13 security chiefs are discovered to own 216, while the remaining 584 have been traced to Nigerian public officials.
Investigators further revealed that about N17 billion, being stolen assets from Nigeria annually, are laundered in the UAE and the United Kingdom (UK).
These were some of the revelations made at an international conference in Abuja on Tuesday, with the theme; Fixing Financial Flows: A critical Review of UK and UAE Policies, Laws and Practices in Financial and No- Financial Institutions.
The event, organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) and other foreign and local development partners, was held at the Sheraton Hotels, Abuja.
The chairman of HEDA, Olanrewaju Suraju, said the illicit financial outflows from Nigeria have continued to hurt the vulnerable poor, fuel violence and constitute threats to moral authority of the Nigerian state.
Suraju said that the UAE and the U.K. have been facing attacks for failing to live up to international obligations in curbing illicit financial flow, mainly perpetrated by politically exposed persons. (The Nation)
Following a tip-off in July 2016, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) arrested an obscure fruit seller under a bridge in Zaria, Kaduna State. Investigations revealed the man to be a high-ranking Boko Haram operative who coordinated the finance cell of the group with others in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) to disburse funds to various terror camps in North East Nigeria as well as Diffa, Nigér Republic. From what I gather, the Zaria arrest proved to be a major breakthrough that eventually revealed a pattern of financial flows and transactions not only to Boko Haram field operatives but to other criminal cartels, particularly those engaged in kidnappings for ransom.
The ONSA investigations further revealed that between 2015 and 2016, the sum of $782,000 was transferred from Dubai to Nigeria through Bureau De Change (BDC) operators to aid Boko Haram. As reported in the media, this was what led to the conviction in April 2019 of six Nigerians, including a man identified as a government official. Later that same year (December 2019), an Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the lower court and upheld the imprisonment sentence imposed on the six Nigerian citizens. Aside laundering money for the terror group, these men were also found guilty of running a Boko Haram cell in the UAE to raise funds and material assistance for the insurgents in Nigeria. Although the convicts claim innocence, follow-up investigations have helped the security agencies to better understand the movement of money by criminal cartels in Nigeria. The investigations also led to the arrest of accomplices in Kaduna, Kano and Zamfara States
Meanwhile, the Dubai security breakthrough helped to expose how some of the criminal networks operating in Nigeria had perfected a seamless method of laundering money through BDC operators. Once the money has been given to a BDC operator in Dubai, he contacts an associate in Nigeria who gives the same amount in cash to the coordinator. On the instruction of the Boko Haram leadership, the coordinator goes ahead to distribute the funds to members who incidentally have no direct contact with one another, in an elaborate scheme to cover their tracks. The same pattern was discovered for disbursement of ransom monies from kidnappings, especially those traced to illegal mining in Zamfara State.
What the foregoing suggests quite clearly is that we are dealing with a serious national security threat that is not only well organized but well-funded. For instance, the thriving Nigerian gold market in the UAE has been traced to activities of illegal miners in Zamfara with Aminu Kano International Airport as a gateway. “It is the most notorious airport in the country”, a security source told me last week. But the real challenge is in Zamfara where the proliferation of arms and hundreds of muscle men working as miners, (licensed as well as illegal) engage in kidnappings. A combination of porous borders, weak signal and technical intelligence, lack of proper data of licensed miners and the influx of illicit drugs such as Tramadol have combined to make banditry the most lucrative enterprise in the state
According to security sources, there is a nexus between kidnappings for ransom and terrorism as well as between gold prospecting in Zamfara State and the general wave of criminality by herdsmen that has spread to the southern part of the country with dire implications for national peace and security. For instance, a clear pattern has emerged between ISWAP and kidnappings with many of the herders implicated as foot soldiers. “Most of the herdsmen you see all over the place, whether in the north or south, kidnapping, raping and maiming people are employees of a larger terror network. They kidnap but the ransom does not go to them”, a senior security officer told me.
Most of the people identified with illegal mining in Zamfara State are herders who realize that more money can be made from kidnappings. They are not only ‘diversifying’ their business, many of them are also moving southward. “A lot of these Fulani marauders are from Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso” said a security source. Sadly, rather than tackle the problem, the presidency indulges in making excuses that lead to accusations of complicity and most often in a manner that threatens the unity of the country as an inclusive polity founded on diversity. And with that, kidnappings for ransom has become the most lucrative enterprise in the country.
In October 2019, a former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar disclosed that over N3 billion was collected by bandits as ransom from relatives of victims in Zamfara alone within a period of eight years. Abubakar who chaired a committee set up by the current governor, Bello Matawalle to find solutions to banditry in the state, said the report covered the period from June 2011 to May, 2019. The money, according to Abubakar, was collected from 3,672 victims whose relatives paid to secure their freedom. Abubakar said that a total of 4,983 women were widowed, 25,050 children orphaned and 190,340 persons displaced by banditry over the period in the state.
While that level of threat should worry the authorities, there is also an international dimension to the criminality that is just as intriguing to security agencies. I understand that there are more than a thousand Chinese and Indians in the mining business in Zamfara State. “Yet, not a single one of their nationals has been kidnapped.” Meanwhile, some of the people who serve as security personnel to these miners have been discovered to be engaged in kidnappings for ransom, raising questions about who they work for.
The threat coming from this criminal enterprise is now political given what the senate yesterday described as “issuance and counter issuance of eviction notice by some ethnic entrepreneurs and groups posing as ethnic nationalists and champions”, while kidnappers continue to operate mostly on the roads, outskirts of towns and farms where they ambush innocent rural people. That these kidnappers kill, maim and rape is bad enough. That they are identified as belonging to a certain ethnic colouration is the problem. They particularly enjoy brutalizing their victims which perhaps explains why in most instances, they force their captives to walk long distances on thorns and sharp stones in the bush.
Quoting the global risk consultancy, ‘Control Risks’, the Financial Times of London, recently reported that Nigeria has the highest rate of kidnaps for ransom of both locals and foreigners in all of Africa. “For most businesses, the greatest risk to their employees is while they are travelling,” Tom Griffin, senior partner for Africa and the Middle East at Control Risks was quoted to have said. “Almost half of all kidnaps in Nigeria recorded by Control Risks occur during road travel, with kidnappers often selecting targets based on perceived wealth during roadside ambushes, roadblocks or attacks in traffic congestion.”
We must admit that we have a crisis on our hands that is not restricted to any section of the country. It is national. In the clip of the interview he granted a television station that has gone viral, Alhaji Bashir Kurfi, National Chairman, Network for Justice narrated an incident that happened in Kurfi, Katsina State where he hails from. “One lady came to share her story. She went to see her daughter who gave birth and then the bandits came—they asked her to hold the baby and they raped the daughter. And then after, they asked the daughter to hold the baby and they raped the mother. This is what is going on everyday…it is the reality on the ground and it is a shame on us.”
It should worry President Muhammadu Buhari that whether on land or in water, the Nigeria territorial space is now one of the least safe spaces in the world. The latest report by the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reveals that over 95 per cent of the 135 shipping crew members kidnapped last year were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea and mostly on Nigerian waters. “Incidents in the Gulf of Guinea are particularly dangerous, as over 80 per cent of attackers were armed with guns,” according to the IMB.
That there is no coherent strategy to deal with the challenge can be glimpsed from the interview granted the BBC Hausa Service by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir elRufai. While he advocates that you do not appease criminals, his Zamfara State counterpart believes in offering ‘amnesty’ and money to bandits and kidnappers to make them change their ways. El-Rufai has therefore cited lack of unity and cooperation among the governors of the North West as one of the reasons the security challenges persist. The governors, according to El-Rufai, have different approaches to ending banditry and kidnapping.
This is where the moral authority of the president can help. He should be able to impress upon the governor of Zamfara State that you do not make deals with criminals. Bandits and kidnappers being offered government largesse will never keep to deals as we see with the experience of Katsina State. And while there is a place for the personal efforts such as the one being undertaken by Sheikh Gumi, the state must muster the capacity to restore law and order without bowing to criminals.
At a time we are facing apprehension over impending national crisis, it is the responsibility of leadership to identify solutions to difficult problems, ensure stability of the polity, and guide the society to prosperity. The fear of a national crisis, this time, is fueled by criminal activities traced to herdsmen who now roam the country with impunity. The rising profile and complexities of conflict disorders in the country therefore requires a hands-on approach from the president. Sadly, that is precisely where the problem lies.
That sundry criminal cartels have overpowered the capacity of the state to restore law and order is no longer in doubt. But more worrisome is the fact that our national security challenge is being framed around identity politics which can only exacerbate the situation. The tone of debate yesterday in the Senate reflected this unfortunate national divide. According to a senator from Adamawa State, Binos Yaroe, whenever kidnappers are arrested anywhere within the country, the majority of them always turn out to be Fulani. That is the kind of rhetoric you also get from the street. “Right now, we are an endangered species. People are going into homes to abduct, to rape, herdsmen are everywhere. We have spoken several times and nothing has been done. Posterity beckons”, said Senator Biodun Olujimi from Ekiti State in a note of resignation
The connecting thread for the variants of violence that we witness across the country today, as I have argued several times on this page, is that the Nigerian state has lost what Max Weber described as the monopoly of “the legitimate use of physical force” to criminal cartels. Until we muster the capacity to effectively confront them, we will continue to be at their mercy. But whichever way one looks at the current challenge of insecurity across Nigeria, it all leads to the doorstep of President Buhari. It is therefore my hope that he will address that challenge most decisively. Before the amber light turns red!
The United States of America says Nigeria’s performance on security and provision of the most basic infrastructure is horrendously low and urged it’s citizens and other intending visitors to reconsider visiting Nigeria.
The US Embassy, on its website recently, described Nigeria in very unflattering terms. It harps on two major albatrosses, namely crude infrastructure and poor security.
“Anyone familiar with the Nigerian terrain knows full well that its performance in these two areas is horrendously low”, the Embassy wrote.
For instance, on health, the embassy said Nigeria has well-trained health professionals but lacks good health facilities. It particularly notes that many medicines are unavailable, including medications for diabetes and hypertension.
It says that medicine should be purchased with utmost caution because counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a common problem and distinguishing them from genuine medications may prove difficult.
The expose’ also says that Nigerian hospitals often expect immediate cash payments for the health services rendered. It thumbs down the emergency health services in the country, saying that they are practically non-existent, and circumscribed by unreliable and unsafe blood supply for transfusion.
It then counsels intending visitors to Nigeria to consider Europe, South Africa or the United States itself for treatments that require such services. It notes, quite sadly, that “ambulance services are not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas.”
The embassy, further speaking on water supply in Nigeria, noted that “no areas (in Nigeria) have safe tap water.”
It added that roads are generally in poor condition, causing damage to vehicles and contributing to hazardous traffic conditions.
“By the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, the approved lifespan of water pipes is five years. Sadly, these pipes have hardly ever been replaced since they were laid decades ago, so it is proper to consider pipe-borne water wherever it exists in the country as unsafe. It is clear that even ice blocks brewed from such unsafe sources are not to be trusted for human consumption. In the areas of roads and safe traffic”, it wrote.
It also berates the public transport system, describing it as unsafe throughout the country. According to it, “public transportation vehicles such as buses and motorbikes are unsafe due to poor maintenance, high speed and overcrowding.” Sadly, it is not certain that governments across the country have ever considered the import of this damning description on the US website, otherwise they would have taken concrete steps to make the country a truly modern society.
President Muhammadu Buhari appoints new Service Chiefs and this was contained in the state House press release.
Buhari also accepted the resignation and retirement of the former Service Chiefs and thanked them for what he called their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country”
The full press release is below:
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
PRESIDENT BUHARI APPOINTS NEW SERVICE CHIEFS
President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.
Those involved are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
President Buhari thanks the outgoing Service Chiefs for what he calls their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country,” wishing them well in their future endeavours.
The new Service Chiefs are: Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff.
The President congratulates the new Service Chiefs, and urges them to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities.
Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity) January 26, 2021
Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has released a list of 62 prominent Nigerians to be blamed for the current state of the nation.
He made the claim in a post on his Facebook page.
“Let us not forget former US President Barrack Obama and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and all members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God,” Kanu’s Facebook post read.
According to him, those people take the full responsibility of what Nigeria has turned into today, owing to the roles they played in kicking out former President Goodluck Jonathan and installing President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
Top on Kanu’s 62-man list are: Former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili; former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore; Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ministries, Enugu, and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The IPOB leader said that those whose villages, cities, or town are currently under siege by Fulani herdsmen should hold these people responsible.
His list also has the likes of Fela Durotoye, Donald Duke, Professor Charles Soludo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Pastor Sunday Adelaja, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, Professor Tam David West, Professor Wole Soyinka, Rev. Chris Okotie, Professor Pat Utomi and Nasir El-Rufai.
Others in his list include, Dino Melaye, former Senator, Lai Mohammed, Rochas Okorocha, Rotimi Amaechi, Adams Oshiomhole, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Aminu Tambuwal, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Raji Fashola, Dr. Chris Ngige, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Ibikunle Amosun, Rauf Aregbesola, Kayode Fayemi, Sanusi Lamido, Deacon Femi Adesina, Pastor E.A Adeboye, Pastor W.F Kumuyi, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Kenny Ogungbe, Dato Adeneye, Magnus Abbey, and former Rivers State governorship aspirant, Dakuku Peterside.
Also in the list are Nigerian musician, 9ice, Kenny St. Ogungbe Brown, Tunde Disu, John Momoh, Maupe Ogun, Chamberlain Usoh, Suleiman Aleide, Monday Onyekachi Ubani, Iffy Ubani, Labourous Osuoma, Citizen Useni Jones (Radio continental 102.3FM), Joe Igbokwe, Dele Momodu, Abike Dabiri, Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, Muazu, Emeka Ojukwu Jnr., Timpre Silva etc., Victor Umeh, Wasiu Ayinde (Kwam 1), T.Y Danjuma, Lauretta Onochie and actor, Jide Kosoko.
Continuing, Kanu said, “These people went to school [they claim they are educated], many if them are professors. Some claimed to have direct access to God. Some are gifted with ‘prophesies.’
“They read history. They understood international relations. They understood how societies work or so we thought.
“They were more than 20 years old in 1983 when Buhari shot himself to power. They saw Buhari destroy the economy in 1983. They saw the role Buhari played in Abacha’s government.
“They read all the threats of violence by Buhari against the nation. They saw Buhari harass Lam Adesina the Oyo State Governor due to Fulani herdsmen conflicts with locals in Oyo State.
“They saw Buhari lead the sharia protest that claimed the lives of innocent Nigerians in 2001.
“They saw Buhari and his minions open the gate of hell on innocent Nigerians when he lost the presidential election in 2011.
“If Buhari was not speaking and defending his Fulani heritage he would be fighting to defend his religious heritage.
“Never for once did he defend Nigeria or gave interview on how to rebuild the economy, education, power, health, etc.
“They saw everything this man did. They knew him too well to miss the little details of his violent life.
“But they were united in hatred.
“Hatred for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. One among the few Nigeria leaders that actually wanted Nigeria to work.
“Hatred became a unifying force to push forward a false narrative. They exploited his humility. They exploited his kindness.They exploited his humanity
“They danced and made merry in Ojota. They ate, drank and danced away the destiny of a nation.
“Saints Tinubu, Amaechi, Fashola etc led the chorus against ‘corrupt’ Goodluck Jonathan.
“Tinubu a private jet owner and owner of Lagos, Amaechi a private jet owner and funder of Buhari campaign, Atiku a University owner paid with his civil service allowance etc wanted ‘corrupt’ Goodluck Jonathan out.
“But the people did not see the moral paradox because you see – hate is a unifying factor.
“They mobilised thugs to stone a sitting President.They harassed his family wherever they went. Because they are from the hated minority who must NOT be king.
“For Kings must come from the Fulani lineage. Jonathan is Ijaw. Ijaws should not be Kings. Jonathan must not loot also. For looters must come from enablers of evil.
“These are intellectuals. Amongst whom are Pastors and Prophets. Wisdom failed. Prophesies failed.
“WAEC issued a fake WAEC attestation to Buhari. It is possible many Nigerian ‘intellectuals’ are working with fake certificates.”
Fulani herdsmen have on many occasions been accused of causing crisis in their host communities in the country.
For instance, following the high rate of criminalities which come in form of kidnappings, raping of women and killings allegedly committed by the herdsmen hiding in forests across Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had recently given herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the areas.
Also a Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho had issued ultimatum to Fulani in Igangan, a town in Ibarapa North Local Government of Oyo State.
He vowed that Fulani herdsmen must be chased out of Yoruba land.
And a week later, he made good his threat when he and his supporters stormed the area, insisting that the Fulani must leave the town.