One of the primary responsibilities of government as enshrined in the constitution protection of the lives and property of citizens. The right to life is a fundamental human right. It was for this reason that the APC candidate in the 2015 Presidential elections, Muhammad Buhari, made the provision of security a cardinal point of his campaign.
He promised to wage a strategic war on terror to quell the raging insurgency in the North. Given his background as a retired general, Nigerians believed him and voted him in as President.
But interestingly, five years down the line, the answer to the question of whether President Buhari is winning the war on terror depends on which side of the political divide the respondent belongs to. On the one hand, only a few among members of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its supporters would say that the President has not done well with the war. The majority would give him a generous pass mark.
On the other hand, members of the opposition parties and their supporters would insist that the President has failed with the war on terror. They would readily cite the escalation of terror attacks in northern Nigeria to support their argument. Everyone is playing politics with the security situation.
Nevertheless, a dispassionate critical assessment of the security situation in the nation, especially given the spike in the number of terror attacks in the North, shows that the Buhari administration has not discharged its responsibility to protect Nigerians creditably well.
Unfortunately, despite the prevalent precarious security situation characterized by frequent vicious terror attacks on communities across northern Nigeria, top officials of the Buhari administration keep making statements tantamount to playing politics with the war on terror.
It was the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who first infamously said that Boko Haram was technically defeated while the terrorists continued to wreak horrendous havoc on the citizens.
The administration keyed in on that inaccurate narrative and has maintained it ever since even in the face of the deteriorating security situation.
The administration keeps laboring to explain away its inability to devise a strategy to win the terror war. A few days ago, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mal. Garuba Shehu issued yet another statement attempting to explain away the sad security situation in Southern Kaduna. The statement rather than proffer solutions to the worsening security situation merely attributed the problem to “an evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds.”
But perhaps the man that would easily take the prize of infamy for playing the most politics with the war on terror, especially within his domain, is Governor of Kaduna State, Mal. Nasir el-Rufai.
His comments on the recent carnage in Southern Kaduna leave much to be desired. He made the most recent of such statements last week. He essentially said that the killings in Southern Kaduna are wrongly given ethnic and religious undertones.
According to him, “The criminality of the bandits gets coated with ethnic and religious hues when it affects communities in the southern parts of the state, where it tends to exacerbate communal tensions and pitch people who have lived peacefully together against each other.
“These bandits operate mostly in Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states and their attacks in those states are seen and reported as criminal activity, but these same attacks are perceived differently when they occur in Southern Kaduna and are invested with ethno-religious coloration.
“When bandits attack in Southern Kaduna, security reports show that youths from the affected communities have often responded by mobilizing to attack Fulani communities in their area whose members share the same ethnicity with the presumed bandits, even though many Fulani communities are also themselves victims of the bandits, in Kaduna State and elsewhere.”
To crown it all, officials directly vested with the responsibility of waging the war on terror, have joined the train of playing politics with the war.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has been making statements that would qualify as the height of playing politics with the lives and property of citizens of the country.
A year ago, in July 2019, despite evidence to the contrary, Tukur Buratai, insisted that security agencies have recorded ‘great successes’ in the war on terror.
“Apart from some isolated remote areas as a result of some other factors, the attacks have drastically reduced. That means we are winning and it is a great success which people should be assured”, he said.
“All these cries of insecurity which some groups and individuals are taking it as a political game. I think they should have a rethink because it is no longer the case.”
“Insecurity has been tamed right now in the northeast and in the northwest, and even in other areas we are doing so well”, he concluded.
Interestingly, he made these statements on the same day former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote an open letter to warn President Muhammadu Buhari of the danger of not decisively tackling insecurity in the nation.
Two weeks ago, while welcoming the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, to the Nigerian Army Super Camp Four for the launch of Operation Sahel Sanity, in Faskari, Katsina State, Buratai again insisted that the Service Chiefs have not disappointed the President and Nigerians.
Again, on Tuesday last week, he reiterated that the security agencies have brought the nation’s security situation under control. In his words, “We have seized the initiative.”
While Gen. Buratai has been busy blowing his trumpet, Nigerians, including federal lawmakers, have been calling for the sack of all Service Chiefs for having run out of ideas to execute the war on terror. This is a clear indication that Gen. Buratai has been playing politics with the war.
Meanwhile, while the politics go on, the nation’s security situation is worsening by the day.