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Kuje attack: Posers Buhari should unravel

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Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola was sadly confirming what Nigerians always knew when he expressed regret last week that there was a lack of will by government to act on intelligence reports gathered prior to the attack on Kuje Correctional Centre.

Terrorists’ invasion of Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre on the day bandits waylaid the advance-party of President Muhammadu Buhari is confounding and highly lamentable. The twin events, perhaps not unconnected, are like chicken coming home to roost. Yet, most unforgivable has been Mr. President’s dismissive reaction to the glaring beach of national security. Toeing the usual cavalier path in the face of existential peril is unbefitting of remarkable leadership and a reason all Nigerians should be worried.

Barely 24 hours after terrorists carried out a well-organised jail-break at Kuje Maximum Correctional Centre that is just few kilometres from the Aso Rock Villa home of the Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari conduced a self-assessment of the stricken facility with lamentation that is as shocking as the incident itself. Seemingly embarrassed by the barefaced inefficiency and monumental collapse of the security architecture, Buhari made a swansong of rhetorical questions that ended with “I am disappointed with the intelligence system.” However, it has been two weeks since that incongruous remark, yet there is nothing commensurate to pushback expected of a General that is displeased with his troop, apart from the unconvincing promise by Aregbesola that all culprits would be apprehended and punished. It smirks of the usual tardiness that is peculiar to Buhari’s administration and the reason insecurity has worsened.

The president’s belated bland expression of disappointment raises a lot of posers about the office of the Commander-in-Chief and its current occupant. What was Buhari’s impression about the security intelligence system when a part of his convoy was attacked at Dustinma – about two hours drive away from his Daura hometown? What manner of security architecture is in place where a troop of 42 soldiers, policemen, civilians are in one fell swoop wiped out in Shiroro, Niger State?  What of the Owo Church massacre that killed over 50 worshippers? What did Mr. President make of his armed forces when sophisticated terrorists hijacked train coaches, killed scores and made way with about 70 occupants as ransom for their jailed commanders in Kuje correction facility that was waiting to be ransacked?

By what yardstick has Mr. President measured the success of his counter-insurgency mission if members of Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) are still hoisting flags in swathe of territories, and ordinary Nigerians are daily slaughtered by bandits, herdsmen, Boko Haram terrorists, unknown gunmen and other roving felons? What has Mr. President done differently about the security system in correctional centres in the last couple of years that has recorded 15 jail breaks, to expect a different outcome at Kuje? How come battalions of erstwhile gallant soldiers are now most demoralised and less equipped than enemies of the State? What is the motivation behind the deliberate depletion of security agencies in a country outran by insurgents? Why exactly are security agencies failing regularly and consistently to act decisively on clear intelligence reports?

Speculations are rife that the attack on Kuje had insiders’ collaboration. And truly, the claims made sense when measured against circumstances leading to the jailbreak. It so happened that on the d-day when about 200 terrorists operated for hours, checkpoints were unmanned, guards fled, some 24 trained dogs were unchained, the attackers had been freely loitering the facility that housed suspected terrorists that had not been prosecuted for no good reason. Even those that fled did not seek help or reinforcements to combat the jailbreak that lasted hours! Such an unbelievable sequence of events in a 21st Century State!

In a modern governance system, the buck passing stops at the table of Mr. President and he is measured by actions or inaction at his behest. In Nigeria lately, it has been more of Mr. President’s insensitivity and inactions that have entrenched government without shade of governance, leaders without leadership and assorted officeholders that are never held accountable for malfeasance or felony. It is therefore not surprising that the country is rudderless, reeling on all fronts with no modicum of intervention at myriad of problems. And contrary to official barefaced lies, the country has been evidentially worse than what Buhari promised to fix in 2015 and the basis for which he was elected.     

But Nigeria and its bereaved citizenry deserve a lot more from Buhari and the political class. Certainly, those behind the jailbreaks, horror, other atrocities and their sponsors are enemies of the country. They are agents of anarchy with the goal of destabilising the country and its stunted democracy. At this time, governments at all levels and the political class should be more afraid of their own complicity by association. The primary responsibility of any government is security of lives, property and general well-being. To have achieved the contrary is tantamount to failure. The Buhari-administration has shown lack of zeal or empathy to take the country to the next level of progress. Are the lawmakers and state governors also guilty especially in the plot to run over the country by destabilising regions for political and sectarian interests? Are they all so blinded by political affiliations and ambitions that they have lost their soul, sense of propriety and duty to their own people? Who are those sabotaging the collective interest of one Nigeria for selfish interest? These are questions typical of a failed state. But a non-complicit and well-meaning political class should ask questions and demand good governance that is consistently an afterthought in Buhari’s administration.

Fundamentally, it is most important for the entrusted public office-holders to know that the country is on the tenterhooks and it faces a grim future. Indulging daylight terrorism under whatever guise is betrayal of trusts and confidence. It is not wisdom but folly that will destroy all. The urgent remedy is to face up, push back on aggressors and their sponsors on all fronts and build a credible firewall around states and regions. At perilous times like this, a word should be enough for the wise that has understanding and selfless enough in the real business of statesmanship. 

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