…Yakasai, Balarabe Musa, Junaid, Dogara, others fault president
…I didn’t accuse Buhari, el-Rufai of sponsoring northern bandits – Ribadu
By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Olayinka Ajayi
AT a time the polity is awash with lamentations over insecurity in the country with calls for the sack of service chiefs, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief of Air Staff, CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday, insisted that Boko Haram insurgents have been decimated.
The duo spoke at the commissioning of two Nigeria Air Force Agusta 109 Power Helicopters and MI-17 E Helicopters at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
While thanking the Armed Forces for their efforts towards the decimation of Boko Haram, President Buhari assured Nigerians that the promise of ending terrorism would be realised.
The comments of the President and Air Force chief did not strike the right chord with some prominent Nigerians who expressed doubts that the Nigerian leader could say so at a time like this.
A top politician from Borno State said the era of blame games, claims and counter-claims over the insurgency was gone.
“All we want is for our people to be able to move around. Saying that Boko Haram has been decimated is not what people want to hear. Let there be peace, let normalcy return,” he said.
While Second Republic lawmaker, Dr Junaid Mohammed, said he would take the comment with a pinch of salt, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said the North had become the epicentre of violence in the country.
Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, former Liaison Officer to late President Shehu Shagari in the Second Republic said it was for Nigerians to agree or disagree with the security claims. Also former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said security has not improved.
This came as pioneer chairman of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, denied claims he said President Buhari, and Kaduna State governor, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, were the chief sponsors of banditry in the North.
Buhari salutes Air Force
While commissioning the Agusta 109 Power and MI-171E helicopters into the Nigerian Air Force inventory, Buhari said: “About a year ago, we commissioned two Agusta 109 Power helicopter gunships which were procured from Italy.
“The platforms were subsequently inducted into the Nigerian Air Force inventory to boost the operational capacity. This was necessary to improve delivery of robust air power in support of our counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts.
“It is on record that these additional platforms have contributed immensely to the Air Force’s successes and decimation of Boko Haram insurgents.
“The Nigerian Air Force since its establishment in 1964, has been playing critical roles in national security as well as in peace-keeping operations on the African continent.
“Your contributions in internal security, peace keeping and humanitarian operations in places like The Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Cameroon have not only been a source of pride to us as a nation, but has also projected us as a reliable regional power.
“This is indeed most commendable as our Air Force, alongside other services, continues to play its unique role in the counter-insurgency operations and other operations, particularly in the North-East and the North-West where our officers, airmen and airwomen, soldiers and ratings are performing gallantly.
“I promised to put an end to Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and other forms of criminality that have bedeviled our country during my inaugural speech as President.
“You will all agree with me that the successes we have achieved so far have restored our pride and honour the world over. Consequently, I want to sincerely thank Nigerians for believing in our government, in spite occasional outrages, coming together as a nation, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations, in our strive to bring this menace to an end.
“I want to, once again, salute the resolve of our Armed Forces and the invaluable contributions of all security agencies for their efforts towards the decimation of Boko Haram.
“It is noteworthy that professionalism, capacity building and adequately equipping the Armed Forces and other security agencies are a major policy thrust of this administration. We promise to re-professionalize and re-equip the Armed Forces and security agencies to effectively discharge their duties to our nation.
“I have no doubt that the deployment of these Agusta 109P gunships and the M-17IE helicopters would add impetus to the combat efficiency of the Air Force in combating our contemporary security challenges. We are committed to taking the right steps in achieving the desired results. The acquisition of these aircraft amongst other military equipment despite our budgetary constraints is an expression of our commitment.”
NAF expecting 17 aircraft from U.S
Speaking in like manner, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, disclosed that Nigerian Air the Force is expecting 17 platforms from the United States of America, including 12 Super Tucanos, to boost its inventory in the fight against insurgency and terrorism. He added that so far, the government has procured and inducted 22 aircraft into the NAF inventory.
He said the NAF in synergy with surface forces has substantially decimated the insurgents from their previous positions of strength, forcing them to abandon their so-called caliphate headquarters in Gwoza.
Abubakar said the terrorists are currently operating in small groups in ungoverned spaces in the North-East where they take advantage from time to time to attack soft targets.
“Similarly, the NAF has flown 8,559 hours in the non-traditional missions of aid to Civil Authority and Civil Power, using the same platforms acquired by this administration.
“These are appreciable improvements, even as we recognize that much more still needs to be done,” he said.
Minister of Defence, Major-General Bashir Magashi (retd), expressed happiness for being part of the historic event.
He noted that in 2019, Buhari had inducted two NAF aircraft during the NAF 55th anniversary.
“I am particularly elated because the President since assumption of office prioritized national security at the top of his agenda and part of it involves re-equipping the armed forces to enhance their operational effectiveness,” he said.
Some of the high points of the ceremony were the Unarmed Combat Display and Troop Insertion and Combined Fast Rope by NAF Special Forces and the K9 display.
The unveiling, inspection of the NAF Helicopter, Research and Development (R&D) and presentation of souvenirs also featured at the occasion.
I take that with a pinch of salt — Junaid Mohammed
Speaking on the issue, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr Junaid Mohammed, dismissed the claim of decimating Boko Haram insurgents, saying he will take it with a pinch of salt
His words: “I wish Nigerians were one with the President and the Chief of Air Staff, given what they have been going through since 2009. I think it takes more than just mere words or statements from either the service chiefs or the President for them to be assured that the long national nightmare of Boko Haram is over.
“It is not over until it is over and Nigerians will want to see the result of its being over before the advent of the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism since 2009. If that does not happen, Nigerians are just going to listen to these words of hope. Nobody wants to see Boko Haram succeed over the federal might or over the rest of the country. As far as I am concerned, I take it with a pinch of salt. When it happens, then I will see it has happened.”
Only Nigerians can provide answers – Yakasai
Also, former former Liaison Officer to late President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said only Nigerians could state whether or not they agreed with the President and the Air Chief.
“This question can only be answered by Nigerians and not me. Nigerians should provide answers whether they agree with them or not. The reaction of Nigerians will be my reactions,” said.
Nothing has changed Balarabe Musa
To former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the Buhari administration has been re-echoing decimation of Boko Haram with little or nothing on ground.
“He has said that many times before, but we are seeing something different. As far as I am concerned, there’s nothing different in the state of affairs,” Musa said.
Also in Vanguard yesterday, Columnist, Gambo Dori, listed areas in the North East still under the grip of Boko Haram to include Baga, Kukawa, Gubio, Monguno, Gamboru-Ngala, Damasak and several other communities.
North becoming epicentre of Violence- Dogara
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, expressed worry that the North was becoming the epicentre of violence, adding that urgent steps must be taken to tackle the problem.
Dogara said this at the Northern Security meeting organised by the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation in Kaduna State.
Dogara, who chaired the event, said: “The North is now the epicentre and theatre of violence. From Boko Haram ISWAP, led by Al-Barnawi, Boko Haram, led by Shekau and Ansaru insurgency, to farmers/herders conflict, banditry, kidnappings, ethno-religious conflicts, cattle rustling, etc we are confronted with a crisis that is unparalleled in our history.
“The death spiral appears unstoppable. Increasingly, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish us from our enemies. There was no shortage of early warning signs and as a matter of fact, our philosophers such as the late Sa’adu Zungur of blessed memory had warned that this dystopian era was fast approaching but we ignored all. We are now paying for our collective negligence.
“The North is now in the grip of what Soren Kierkegaard called “sickness unto death” —the numbing of the soul by despair that leads to moral and physical debasement. It has become a society that is driven at its very core by the death instinct. The instinct to annihilate and destroy rather than nurture and create.
“Our economic debris have become too conspicuous to be ignored. As it is, we are now trapped in a prison of mirrors, where revealed lies are answered with new lies. With all these, it’s like our slow motion walk to self apocalypse is assured. We have seen this movie before in Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria to name but just a few but not in Northern Nigeria.
“Of the 19 northern states and the FCT, only Kwara State and the FCT are relatively peaceful or have the lowest rate of insecurity but all the other 18 states are inflamed by one form of violence or the other. Now the question that we all must answer is how did we get here and what must we do to defeat the radical evil of violence before it swallows us up?
“I must say that one mistake we are all guilty of is to fold our arms and wait on governments at all levels to solve this problem for us. Government has its own fair share of the blame but what are we doing ourselves?
“On the flip side, I get angry anytime I hear our brothers and sisters say that they are worried about what is happening in the North but they are not prepared to take a stand and be the difference.
“They have become like Malcolm in Macbeth who said: “Let us seek out some desolate shade and there weep our sad bosoms empty.”
For those of us who only worry, thanks but no thanks, because worry is the most useless human endeavour. Worry produces nothing but pains.”
In his recommendations to the security challenges bedeviling the country, the former speaker said: “We must urgently begin to depopulate the pool from which youngsters are recruited into violence.
“I am more than persuaded that if we cannot serve the poor, the destitute and those who are hurting in our midst but claim to be serving God whom we have never seen, we are nothing but pathetic liars.
“We can transform our society if we are ready and willing to make the right sacrifice in serving others instead of serving ourselves. We must hold government to account but we must never abandon our collective destiny to government alone.”
I never accused Buhari, El-Rufai of sponsoring bandits – Ribadu
Meanwhile, pioneer chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, has denied claims he said President Buhari, and el-Rufai, were the chief sponsors of bandits in the North, describing the statement being circulated on social media as “devilish insinuations.”
The alleged statement quoted Mr Ribadu to have said: “Bandits were created by Gen Mohammadu Buhari, retd, to oust Jonathan.”
He allegedly said Buhari “assembled his ardent supporters, promoters and strategists in April 2014 to determine how to remove President Goodluck. Prominent amongst them were El-Rufai, Gen Danbazzau (retd).”
“Specifically, Gen Buhari, in his address, told the fighters that “the British handed Nigeria over to us, the Fulanis, at independence. The land (Nigeria) belongs to us. We must reclaim what belongs to us.”
Mr Ribadu, in a statement on Thursday, disowned the viral message and appealed to security agencies to investigate the genesis of the ‘fake message’ and fish out the authors.
“The statement shared around social media platforms attributed to me (giving) devilish insinuations on alleged origin of banditry in parts of Nigeria.”
The former EFCC boss said he initially “ignored what was clear inanity and cheap blackmail, as I thought no right-thinking person will fall for such mischief.”
He added: “I have never, at any time, wrote or said those words being attributed to me. I have no knowledge contained in the disjointed propaganda message in circulation and I urge the public to disregard it,” he added.
He said purveyors of fake news, more so, one that is clearly a threat to national security, should not be allowed to thrive.