The recent news of the attack, in which more than 30 military personnel, seven policemen and scores of others were reportedly killed by terrorists at a mining site in Shiroro Local Council of Niger State, is like many others before and after it, one of the most potent advertisements of a regime that is willfully surrendering to terrorists. Notwithstanding the modest efforts of gallant Nigerian soldiers paying the supreme price, this attack is so shameful that it should elicit both pity and anger for this administration.
According to reports, bandits attacked the mining sites at Ajata-Aboki area of Shiroro Local Council, and the soldiers in the neighbouring town of Erena were alerted and deployed. As they moved to contain the attack they were ambushed by the bandits, and in the ensuing gun battle no fewer than 30 soldiers were allegedly killed.
Coming barely a few days before an attack on the president’s Daura-bound advanced patrol team in Dutsin Ma, this fatal ambush of a whole detachment of soldiers, is an affront that should make heads roll. It is a shame so unimaginable but arrogantly brandished by this administration that it deserves rebuke.
Some time back, Shiroro was named as one of the occupied territories in Niger State where ISWAP hoisted its flag. This is not surprising considering the strategic importance of Shiroro as a major power source servicing parts of the north west and north central geo-political zones of the country. Consequently, a seizure of that section of the country would be economically injurious to the country. Undoubtedly, no one who knows this, not even a head of state, would want to sacrifice that part of the country to some external occupation, let alone criminals.
This attack typifies the scenario that often plays out when soldiers are alerted to contain bandit attacks. Yet, this is not the only Gestapo-style attack instituted by bandits. Since the infamous Kaduna-Abuja train attack and abduction, the criminal elements have been emboldened by the consenting nonchalance of this administration to distribute violence and inch their way towards the seat of government in Abuja. If Abuja is unsafe, what happens to other parts of the country? And the familiar excuse repeatedly adduced for this faux pas is failure of intelligence and inadequate sharing of helpful information.
Such frequent tactical blunders, if they may be so called, raise pertinent questions about the command structure of the military. As in this case, one needs to ask: Who was in charge of the Erena battalion? Who ordered the mobilisation of the troop? Was there a sell out by some traitor in the military? Was the attempted containment by the military deliberately planned to fail? So far, the perception created by the consistency of successful bandit attacks is that Nigeria is open to be occupied by anyone or any group daring enough. Or else how can the harvest of avoidable death without corresponding retaliation by the military be explained?
This calls the huge security expenditure to question. Where have all the security budgets gone to? Where are all the sophisticated hi-tech surveillance and intelligence gadgets reported procured by the armed forces to quell insurgency? Is it a case that all the budgets in the last years have been used to service insurgency rather than fight it? Raising these questions seems very unfortunate because they suggest a vote of no confidence in and lack of trust for, the Commander-in-chief who promised to degrade and ‘defeat’ Boko Haram and has been vociferous against insurgency and ethnic agitations, especially of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and others.
This country has the capacity and the resources to defeat insurgency if it genuinely chooses to, and exerts the political will to do so. However, whilst this administration sufficiently expressed commitment to fight insecurity, it has failed woefully to attract the confidence of the people. The fact that agents at the presidency mouth platitudes about intended promissory efforts does translate into any modicum of action. Whilst this administration poses as a lion able to protect its pride, it vacillates and retreats at the sight of hyenas, and rather attacks its own cubs denied of protection. In other words, when it comes to fighting insecurity, this administration has only succeeded in baring its fangs at weak elements who lack the irrational belligerence of insurgents.
Indeed, the president has failed in his responsibility to protect citizens, and secure lives and property.
To redeem his image, President Muhammadu Buhari, must disabuse the minds oaf Nigerians that he has not given a new lease of life to Boko Haram and other terrorists as has been speculated. He should convincingly dispel the claims of well-articulated analyses piecing together the pockets of attacks and massacres as a grand design by cohorts in his administration to overthrow Nigeria. He needs to assure Nigerians not by ineffective routine statement and paroxysmic reactions of no consequence but by purposive and actionable directives that his government is not a transition into an ISWAP republic. How is it that over his watch and by his directive, captured Boko Haram members were released and integrated into the Nigerian military under a phony amnesty programme? Could it be that all this was a plan to infiltrate the military and create dormant cells that will eventually compromise the intelligence system? How is it that the perimeters of insurgency that started with Boko Haram in the north east expanded in leaps and bounds to such an extent that Boko Haram integrated with ISWAP, Fulani murderous herders and bandits to form what now seems like a parallel government?
When eventually Nigerians weather this stormy period, may it not be said in the annals of this country that once upon a time there was a president, who, like Nero that fiddled when Rome burnt, surrendered his country to be conquered by terrorists. God forbid.