Last week threw up a relatively unknown quantity, Sunday Igboho, into Nigeria’s political landscape.
While at that, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stirred the hornet’s nest with his claim on how Nigeria had become safer under President Muhammadu Buhari when compared with the state of affairs during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
This week’s QuickRead examines these and three other developments, and here is what we think of their implications for Nigeria.
1. Igboho’s rise
The Nigerian state has, by its ineptitude, helped to birth an unlikely warrior, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Igboho.
Now seen as a defender of Yoruba land, Igboho is remembered for mobilizing a sizable population of Oyo residents to chase out supposed Fulani enemies. He had not only issued an eviction notice but followed it up with an invasion of Ibarapa area of Oyo State to forcefully eject the Fulanis who had been accused of sponsoring security breaches by aiding bandits.
Amid orders for his arrest by both the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu and Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, Igboho in a video on Sunday, January 24, vowed that killer herdsmen would never be allowed to chase the Yorubas away from their ancestral land.
He had said, “They (killer herdsmen) cannot chase us away from our land. Our eyes are opened… unless they want to kill us.”
Why it matters
Igboho’s rise to fame, albeit infamously, speaks to the failure of government to discharge its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property.
When a government acts helpless and rudderless in the face of a massive onslaught by terrorists and bandits on its citizens, a natural outcome is a resort to self help, with people taking laws into their own hands.
Given government’s seeming refusal to deal with the root causes of farmers-herders clashes, it is to be expected that peace will continue to elude most parts of the country as the crises fester.
Even more disturbing is the reality that the country risks slipping into total anarchy as its fatigued military becomes more stretched, and ungoverned spaces grow with armed gangs positioning to fill the vacuum.
2. Lai’s ramblings
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Monday, January 25 claimed that Nigeria’s security situation was now better than it was in 2015.
Mohammed, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja said, “I can say without hesitation that, though Nigeria is facing security challenges, the situation is far better than what we met in 2015.”
Why it matters
The Minister of Information sure deserves some pity for the difficult task of defending a regime even when the odds are stacked heavily against it.
The facts on the ground suggest that there is very little that Lai can do muddle the realities.
In other words, even as the Buhari-led administration plays the ostrich, it is clear that there is a limit beyond which propaganda will no longer minister to the people.
With Boko Haram still a threat in the North-East and the country currently contending with atrocities by bandits in the North-West and North Central, as well as issues of killer herdsmen and kidnappers across the country, it is obvious the minister’s claim on insecurity amounts to a jaundiced report.
3. Soyinka’s concerns
Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka on Wednesday, January 27, while speaking on national television, expressed concerns that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government had run out of steam in its fight against corruption.
“There are so many people who should be in prison if this government had not run out of steam, and so the system is being manipulated. There are cases where the prosecution had reached the level where evidence had been given on governors who had been stealing and depositing in bits and pieces so as not to flout a certain regulation. I mean cases have been taken to that level and suddenly, silence.
“The EFCC, which I back solidly ever since the days of (Nuhu) Ribadu, in all kinds of ways, we no longer know the distinguishing from rights and left,” he said.
Why it matters
The lamentations of one of Nigeria’s foremost playwrights continues to query the commitment of the Buhari regime to fighting corruption in the country.
The doubts expressed by opinion moulders of his class are not such that can be wished away.
It is no surprise, therefore, that Nigeria under Buhari has been ranked at its worst level by Transparency International (TI), an unenvious record that shows a dangerous descent by year end 2020.
4. Buhari haters
The Presidency on Thursday, January 28 blamed ‘enemies’ of President Buhari for Nigeria’s low ranking on Transparency International corruption index.
Responding to TI ranking of Nigeria at 149 out of 180 countries in its 2020 corruption index, Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu, had said:
“We are also not unaware of the characters behind the TI in Nigeria whose opposition to the Buhari administration is not hidden. We have repeatedly challenged TI to provide indices and statistics of its own to justify its sensational and baseless rating on Nigeria and the fight against corruption. We expect them to come clean and desist from further rehashing of old tales.”
Why it matters
Transparency International’s recent report hitting at the Buhari administration is an unkind cut, and the tantrums from Nigeria’s seat of power is not unexpected.
Again, pity must be felt for Buhari’s media aides who must do all they can to burnish the reputation of their principal and defend their jobs.
What matters to the citizens, however, are the realities of everyday living which must be measured by holding government accountable in a transparent manner.
With corruption allegations still trailing many government officials, Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDA’s), including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the very institution set up to fight graft, the Presidency ought to be ready for what hit it in terms of feedback from TI.
5. (Dis)Service chiefs
A clever script seems to have played out on Tuesday, January 26, as Nigeria’s military chiefs resigned and retired from service.
They were immediately replaced with new service chiefs by President Buhari who, hitherto, had refused to heed to calls to sack them.
Announcing the development, Buhari’s media aide, Femi Adesina said, “PMB appoints new Service Chiefs. Maj Gen LEO Irabor, CDS (Chief of Defence Staff), Maj Gen I Attahiru, Army, Rear Adm AZ Gambo, Navy, AVM IO Amao, Air Force.”
Why it matters
The exit of the former service chiefs is a classic reminder that anything that has a beginning must also have an end.
It also opens a new vista as a the country enthrones a new leadership in its battle to contain terrorism and secure its citizens.
Whether the changes will add a fresh impetus to the war remain a matter of conjecture. The harsh reality, though, is that things may retain their current status unless the Commander-in-Chief himself, Buhari, concedes to a change of attitude which at the moment appears too laid back.
Without clear goals set, timelines for deliverables adhered to and measurable targets kept in sight, Nigerians should expect no paradigm shifts, sadly.
QuickRead returns next week Sunday. Until then, do enjoy your weekend.