President Muhammadu Buhari, few days ago attributed the inability of his administration to crush Boko Haram in the North East to scarce resources and the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
In his speech when the North East Governors Forum had a meeting with him at the State House, the president said the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic had worsened the resources crisis. According to him, “we have problems of resources and security.
The government is doing its best but lack of resources has hit us very bad. COVID-19 is a fantastic phenomenon, it has no respect four colour, you can’t smell it, you can’t hear it. I think we should all go back to God”.
Reacting to President Buhari’s claim, residents took him to task saying they were tired of excuses on the failure of the government to secure the country. In their reactions, the citizens argued that such excuses were just afterthought after spending five years in office as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces which were unacceptable to them.
A former Chairman of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Mr. Ledum Mitee, described as sign of failure the excuses given by President Muhammadu Buhari on why Boko Haram was still not fully defeated. Mitee stated that the excuse was that of a bad labourer who blamed his tools for his failure to deliver, adding that the administration has failed the people.
“The very essence of government by Section 14 of our Constitution is security and welfare of the citizens. Considering therefore the fact that huge resources are being spent or squandered for less important matters; coupled with the huge sums reportedly earmarked if not spent on the same issue, I am afraid that I would consider this an unacceptable excuse for failure.
A bad labourer blames his tools according to an old saying. In any case, we have heard it being boasted by this same government several times that Boko Haram has been crushed, yet the activities of this terrorist group are escalating and even threatening other parts of the country.”
Iniruo Wills, President, Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland Chapter) said: “No President and Commander-in-Chief has an excuse for the kind of insecurity in multifarious manifestation all over Nigeria.”
Oyinfie Jonjon, former President, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide submitted: “Many proponents of the Buhari regime were strongly optimistic that the challenges of insecurity in the North East and other parts of the country would be brought under control as quickly as possible. But looking at the body language of the President, his inability to fire, change or retire his Service Chiefs and the high level of corruption, speak louder than the three pillars of his regime. An over view of the five years show that things are getting worse.
Joseph Ambakederimo, Convener, South South Reawakening Group, argued that, “we all know there is paucity of funds at the moment due largely to the global Covid19 pandemic and global oil price slump that have had adverse impact on the economy but before the Covid 19 pandemic the economy was doing well and one would have expected funds to be made available for the purchase of arms and ammunition to prosecute this war. But for me I do not agree with the President’s position because we need fresh thinking and new approach to end this war that is taking a toll on human and material resources. There shouldn’t be any excuses about money.
For Alagoa Morris, a renowned Niger Delta environmentalist, “the president seems sympathetic to issues relating to this terrorists group. He was once nominated by the group as their spokesman, even though he rejected the offer. He had also advocated that the group should not be attacked by the past administration. His own administration has not demonstrated signs of dealing with Boko Haram as terrorists. Covid-19 just came to the equation this year; Boko Haram has outlived the President’s first tenure and during his campaigns, he promised to end Boko Haram within a year or so. So, why the talk about Covid-19 and related funds issues?
Speaking in similar vein, a concerned political leader in Patani Local Government Area, Delta State, Chief Godwin Ighoavwota lamented thus: “The inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East of Nigeria cannot be hinged on the state of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
According to him, “The pandemic started on the 28th of February, 2020 in Nigeria while the insurgency dates back to even before Buhari became President. Topmost in his campaign manifesto was to eliminate Boko Haram which he has failed completely to do even in his second term in office. Shortage of fund is an afterthought. This administration simply does not have the will power to address the issue”.
Zik Gbemre, Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition (NDPC), asks, “Is Buhari saying Boko Haram has more equipment and men than Nigeria or has Boko Haram not been even technically defeated by his administration, before Covid-19? There’s no sincerity in such a position. The fire that is Boko Haram has been blazing before Covid-19. You cannot blame it on the pandemic. It has nothing to do with it. On funds, what does he need the funds for? The military recruits almost yearly. The fighter jets are there. Ground troops, navy are everywhere with fleet of war equipment. Let him come clean, the problem is not Covid-19 or funds. Those he entrusted to fight the war against Boko Haram are not living up to expectation. Several persons in authority have raised the alarm that the greatest weakness is sabotage in the military. The more the war lingers, the more opportunities, there are for those in charge to make money. If the President has nothing to say, he should stop fooling the Nigerian people.”
According to Darlington Nwauju, Spokesman, Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA), “the Federal Government should block all known and yet to be exposed leakages and wastage in the running of government business. That’s as far as funding is concerned. Then, the security apparatus must all subscribe to proper coordination rather than unnecessary inter-agency rivalry. As far as COVID-19 is concerned, I cannot imagine in what ways the global pandemic is now a cog in the wheels for precise security operations. Unless the President is referring to challenges of acquiring new weapons from abroad due to protocols imposed as a result of the pandemic.”
Spokesman of Akwa Ibom Leaders Vanguard, Senator Anietie Okon said, “for Buhari to blame his failure to crush Boko Haram on the recent COVID-19 pandemic is an untenable excuse, it shows that he doesn’t even understand his responsibility because the first oath that he swore to as the president was to protect lives and property. We have been hearing every time the soldiers saying that the insurgents have better arms”.
Similarly, a rights activist and Executive Director, Community Policing Partners for Justice, Security & Democractic Reforms, Mr. Saviour Akpan said president Buhari’s statement was not surprising as only the poor people are being killed by the insurgents. Akpan stressed that if the worsening security situation in the north was like the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting mostly the rich class in the society, the Nigerian government would be proactive in addressing it. “When it comes to an issue that affects the poor in the society, like insurgency in the north east government will always look the other way. But when it affects the high and mighty they will think of how to deploy all the available resources we have in this country to make sure they tackle it. In this country we always look for who and what to blame instead of taking responsibility for our failure”.
Dr Akpor Mudiaga-Odje, a Constitutional lawyer and Human Rights Activist, said: “the President was elected in 2015, four years before Covid 19 surfaced! So, his claims about Covid 19 and shortage of funds are an afterthought. Things have degenerated seriously today. Nigeria is rich enough to prosecute this war! The billions of stolen funds so far recovered can assist tremendously and will be very helpful in funding the military. We need proper intelligence gathering and allowances and welfare of the fighting soldiers must be enhanced. We also need to integrate the local vigilantes and hunters who are acquainted with the terrain”.
Respondents in Plateau State were unanimous that there should be no excuses whatsoever to crush Boko Haram. Jennifer Yarima who is the State Chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ asked, “what is the connection between COVID-19 and Boko Haram? That is not an excuse, we won’t take it. Just like he said that he doesn’t know what next to do, it seems he has exhausted his ideas, he doesn’t know what to do, let’s get people that will help us fight. For God’s sake, something is steering us in the eye and he is telling us he doesn’t have money to fight insurgency, this is not acceptable, there is money.”
Nene Dung added, “I don’t think that is an excuse, how long has he been in office before COVID-19? During his electioneering campaign, the president said as soon as he came to office, he would crush Boko Haram but till today we are still fighting Boko Haram, so COVID-19 is not an excuse.”
Filimon Azi also noted, “I don’t see any relationship between COVID-19 and Boko Haram, before he came, he met Boko Haram and one of his promises he made to Nigerians was that he was going to fight insurgency.”
According to CAN chairman in Kaduna state, John Joseph Hayab, “our Government will never be tired of excuses. Boko Haram has been killing and causing pains in the North East long before Covid-19.
Everything is not going on well and the excuses are no longer constructive. President Buhari and his team should be humble enough to ask for help from those who can help and stop giving Nigerians flimsy excuses.
Alhaji Umar Sani, 2019 PDP Presidential Campaign Council spokesperson said, “I believe the President was either misled, misguided or misinformed about the happenings in the country. Otherwise how can an eleven years war, five of which the President has been in charge without any appreciable success now ascribe to COVID-19 and a lean purse?
What happened to the one billion dollars loan obtained to fight insurgency, the monies appropriated to the Multinational joint task force, the budgetary provisions for security and the North East development commission funds for security? COVID-19 started in December and was in Nigeria around February /March.
How can such a short time be ascribed as a reason for the lingering insurgency and terror attacks or the general insecurity in the country. The citizens have spoken, the National Assembly has spoken and civil society organizations have added their voice, virtually all segments of the society believe that there is a compelling need to rejig our security architecture to which Mr President has turned a blind eye. I believe the President does not have a good grasp of the security situation and the exactitude of the ongoing war against terror by the Nigerian military.
According to a Chieftain of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Anthony N Z Sani, “What President Buhari said that paucity of resources amidst fight against covid 19 had slowed down the fight against insecurity is axiomatic in the sense that resources are always finite. There is nothing exotic or quixotic in saying poverty that comes with unemployment and ignorance provide canon fodders for those who pose threats to security and peaceful coexistence. Nigeria is going through difficult times but hard times should bring about purposeful leadership and the best in every one instead of divisive narratives.
A Security Analyst, Colonel Harold Hambe ( retd ) observed that the president’s excuse of insufficient resources was untenable. According to him, “something is wrong somewhere, somehow and it is the responsibility of the government to unravel the misery behind the way and manner the issue of insurgency is being handled “
Alhaja Hassanat Oladimeji a business woman based in Ilorin, said “the excuse of President Muhammadu Buhari over his inability to crush Boko Haram is unacceptable. Before Covid-19 crept into Nigeria, no progressive efforts were made to defeat Boko Haram, so to be ascribing lack of funding and Covid-19 crisis to his inability sounds funny. He doesn’t just have solution to the problem. Nigerians should just pray for divine intervention because the solution is not here”.
Pharmacist Temitope Popoola-Anafi, said, “the President shouldn’t mix the problem of insecurity with that of Covid-19. When the pandemic crisis came, even though it was worldwide, it generated funding for its solutions through various stakeholders who financially intervened. There is always money in government, so I think the president should just set his priority right. s
Gabriel Yough said: “this claim is highly misplaced. President Buhari promised Nigerians that he would end Boko Haram within a short time in office. He came into office since 2015 and up till now he is still giving excuses why the terrorists are still killing Nigerians. I think the persistence of these killings is due to lack of capacity by the government rather than lack of funds or COVID -19.
“The reported massive corruption among the senior security officers handling the fight is a clear sign of lack of capacity by the government in handling the issues.”
Justin Tyoppusu on his part said, “this claim is baseless. What the government lack is the political will to deal with Boko Haram and other security threats in the country. Five years down the line, the FG lacks what to tell Nigerians regarding their successes in the fight against insecurity and they are now looking for excuses. First, Boko Haram was said to have been degraded or tactically defeated and now another story. The federal government should stop giving us excuses, but go all out to secure this country as they swore to do.”
Ayo Fadaka, former South West Zonal Publicity Secretary of the PDP said, “the President’s claim is completely disastrous, it goes to a large extent to confirm that the President is not in firm grip of daily occurrences around him. Nigeria has been grappling with the Boko Haram crisis for close to ten years now, in fact Buhari inherited this problem and has failed ever since to vanquish the murderous sect. To now say covid19 is responsible for his failure is disappointing.
In his own reaction, Afenifere leader, Senator Femi Okurounmu, said, “the excuse given by President Muhammadu Buhari that shortage of funds and the outbreak of coronavirus are some of the reasons for the inability of his government to crush Boko Haram is a lame excuse.
Before the outbreak of coronavirus, has the President been able to make any progress against Boko Haram and terrorism? Covid 19 came in February this year, while terrorism and Boko Haram had been with us for more than a decade.
Therefore, he cannot use coronavirus as an excuse for losing battle against Boko Haram. This excuse is very lame and unacceptable. The truth is that President Buhari has been very indulgence and docile in the fight against Boko Haram. The Boko Haram sect and other terrorist groups had been going round the country killing our soldiers and innocent people. Covid 19 has nothing to do with the fight against terrorism and Boko Haram.
The Secretary-General of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide said, “I refuse to agree to the president’s excuse. President Muhammadu Buhari has been in power for over five years so, there should not be any excuse. One of the promises he made was to completely wipe out the insurgency and we are now over five years into his administration.
For me, I don’t want to agree that the tragedy of the entire world is responsible for his inability to crush the terrorism. I’m not too convinced that there is political will on the part of the Federal Government to really crush them.
I see a number of contradictory events happening at the same time. Government is claiming to wipe it out on one hand, on the other hand, they are reintegrating repentant Book Haram members to the Nigerian society.