I CONFESS I was not surprised that President Muhammadu Buhari was not aware that bandit terrorists had threatened to kidnap him, our Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, until Governor Nasir El-Rufai, also under the same threat, went and told him in Aso Rock. This means the animated debates and rage of Nigerians on how dare a ragtag group of bandit terrorists threaten our President never got to his ears.
If there is reliable intelligence that is continuously supplied, and action is not taken, there are two areas where we need to search to understand the failures. Proactive measures by the political leadership and willingness by the operational organs of national security to do their job.
I wondered what the President gossips about after dinner with his friends and peers. My friends would have told me hey pal, do you know that the whole country is discussing the threat on your life. What is the best survival strategy to adopt as they seek to go one better from taking over Kuje Prisons and attempt the fortress at Aso Rock?
Of course, I am aware that at the formal level, the President’s desk would have received numerous memos on various security threats affecting the country in addition to the direct threat on him. Memos get written but the problem as we saw a few years ago in the case of President Trump in the United States, not all presidents are diligent in reading their memos. It might be in anticipation of this that there is in addition to the memos, audience given to security to verbally brief the President.
Following the commando attack on Kuje Correctional Centre on 5th July, 2022 that led to the freeing of 66 terrorists and hundreds of bandits and criminals, I saw President Buhari on TV posing very lucid and incisive questions on the security lapses that led to the embarrassment. He castigated the intelligence failures and lack of security preparedness that led to the attack and called for a more anchored approach to security provisioning. Our President was there, he saw the situation himself, made an on-the-spot assessment and called for corrective actions.
This week, however, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase, disclosed to Nigerians that the Department of State Services (DSS) prepared and presented 44 security reports before the Kuje Prison attack took place in Abuja. He disclosed this while contributing to a proposed motion to halt the planned ban on the use of motorcycles across the nation by the federal government.
His message was sobering. That he had read all the reports and there was no intelligence shortcoming as the services had fully briefed the political leadership on what was being planned but no action had been taken. In other words, the memos were comprehensive, they had been delivered and either the right people had not read them or else had decided not to act upon them. The President should not have waited for the attack to happen as he had been told it was imminent, he should have taken proactive measures in good time. That is why he is Commander-in-Chief.
“The Buhari team has become very competent in responding to such questions by excuses of how bad the situation was when he took over power. The real question posed by the President here is whether things are getting better or worse and the answer is MUCH WORSE. Let us not forget the words of Benjamin Franklin that: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else”. The President should accept his failure in governing the country and resign, but unfortunately, he is unlikely to get and read this memo also.“
Deputy Speaker Wase’s words should interpellate us: “There is no community that one attack or the other will happen and we will not have an intel, and this is part of the intel that they have given as what is going happen, what is happening and what is not going to happen”. If there is reliable intelligence that is continuously supplied, and action is not taken, there are two areas where we need to search to understand the failures. Proactive measures by the political leadership and willingness by the operational organs of national security to do their job.
Someone just retreated and old tweet from the President’s handle; @MBuhari, initially sent out on 15th January 2015 and it reads: “Are our parents safe when we leave them at home? Is the naira in your bank account of greater value that it was four years ago?”
Great questions, we would all agree, and the answer is known to every Nigerian seven years and two months after Buhari came into power. The Buhari team has become very competent in responding to such questions by excuses of how bad the situation was when he took over power. The real question posed by the President here is whether things are getting better or worse and the answer is MUCH WORSE. Let us not forget the words of Benjamin Franklin that: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else”. The President should accept his failure in governing the country and resign, but unfortunately, he is unlikely to get and read this memo also.
It is in this context that many parliamentarians are seeking to rise above partisan politics or personal relationships, across political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives to impeach the President over rising insecurity in the country. They have given him six weeks to see change or they would act.
The decision was taken after their respective closed-sessions before the commencement of plenary, presided over by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who also charged the security agencies to do more in order to stop the terrorists and the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase. The response of the Presidency is to declare that parliamentarians are playing to the gallery adding that the federal government, has said it was currently working round the clock to bring the country’s security situation under control.
I wish that the President knows that almost every week over the past seven years, he has told Nigerians that he has directed the security agencies to address the security lapses in the country immediately. Nigerians have correctly interpreted the statement to mean – I will do nothing about it and you must continue to suffer the consequences.
Impeachment is a difficult political process to navigate in Nigeria and I guess we have ten more months of being told – ‘I have directed the security agencies to address the security concerns of Nigerians.’ We Nigerians have also stopped reading this particular memo from our President to we, the people.
Ibrahim is a professor of Political Science and development consultant/expert, and Senior Fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development. He is also the Chair of the Editorial Board of Abuja-based online newspaper, PREMIUM TIMES.