By Emmanuel Onwubiko
“Don’t cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don’t keep your distance”
– (From soundtrack Evita, www.genius.com)
It began like a child’s play.
But before we knew it, it has assumed a global dimension today and millions of Nigerians have become victims.
That which began like splatters of rain fall have become a thunderstorm of monumental proportions.
These terrorists attacks on Nigeria which began from a small beginnings of the ill timed and illegal decision of some officials of the Nigerian state to put an end to the evolution of a sect of Islamic fundamentalists in Borno state whose members were recruited by their then spiritual leader Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf and then indoctrinated not to accept western education for in his own understanding, it is evil and anti-Islam.
Sadly, there were missteps that have unleashed incalculable national tragedy.
Ten years ago the police in Borno state executed him (Mohammed Yusuf) in an extralegal way after soldiers arrested him and handed him over to the police. Mohammed Yusuf was handed over to the police in Maiduguri alive and well and in high spirit even from video evidence shown on the Nigerian Television Authority.
The police executioners are walking freely as I write just like many rogue police operatives who have killed thousands of detainees through extralegal executions.
His execution was the immediate trigger for the now ten-year old war against Nigeria by armed boko haram Islamic extremists which by some estimate has led to the killings of over 25,000 citizens and the destructions of towns, villages and communities in the North East of Nigeria.
Recall that North East of Nigeria demographically is larger than Belgium and France put together.
The terrorists attacks and the attendant counter terror war by the brave Nigerian military has lasted a decade just as the non-state actors waging the war against Nigeria have gained notoriety with their affiliation to the global jihadist movement of Islamic state of Syria and Iraq.
The United Nations is also known to have estimated that over two million children are facing starvation as a result of the 10 years of seemingly unceasing bombardments of their communities by boko haram terrorists and the consequential destructions of their homes and livelihoods thereby making them to exist as internally displaced persons within Nigeria or refugees in Cameroon and Niger Republic.
To underscore the global dimension of the North East terror related crises, the European Union (EU) has just earmarked 271 million Euros (about #98 billion) to assist about 5.6million displaced persons in the North East.
The five year E.U humanitarian funding focuses on providing what the European Union calls life-saving emergency assistance in insurgency-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
In a statement quoted by the media on Monday, the European Union’s commissioner Janez Lenarcic said the assistance comprise emergency food aid and shelter in camps and host communities.
In as much as we commend the European communities for coming to the aid of the internally displaced persons of North East with humanitarian reliefs, we must note two factors.
These factors include that offering only foods and temporary shelters to the needy may be good for the time being, but it is not sustainable over time.
One would have expected that the scope of these humanitarian assistance should include skills and vocational acquisition mechanisms to build up these internally displaced persons to not only have the emergency foods to eat, but to have the skills to be able to fend for themselves and their children ever after the war is over. It is more significant to teach the needy how to fish and not just handing them the fish to eat.
The second factor is that the terror war affects all of Nigeria because there were citizens of Nigeria who hail from all parts of Nigeria outside the North East whose means of livelihoods have been destroyed but they are either forced to relocate to safer zones of Nigeria but with practically nothing to live on but to beg for survival from good spirited Nigerians.
Many others have joined the ranks of migrants seeking refuge understandably in civilized parts of the world.
I think the European Union should look at ways of accommodating these persons who can be traced, identified by relevant authorities in their former places of abode so they are similarly assisted.
I know about the cases of hundreds of thousands of young Igbo, Yoruba traders in the North East who are in this unclassified group that I have just identified just as it will be good if they are not left behind.
Before the topic of this reflection is lost on transmission, I must state that the members of political class in the corridors of power have practically demonstrated that they are overwhelmed by the deluge of security challenges posed by terrorists, Fulani herdsmen, armed bandits and hoodlums of varying dimensions.
President Muhammadu Buhari who by law is the commander-in-chief was quoted to have stated that the level of insecurity in Nigeria now has shocked him.
The senate president has also enlisted himself into the inglorious rank of executive cum legislative wailers.
He too has wept like a baby over what he calls the breakdown of the nation’s security system.
Hear him: “First and most importantly is to look into the issue of security that is now bedeviling this country.”
“Apparently and obviously, all hands must be on deck to ensure that we bring back a better security situation that we had before. Presently, the story is not good. In many areas we have so much happening that is destabilizing our communities and killing of people.”
“We believe that we owe Nigerians the responsibility to intervene and work together with the executive arm of government, actually to work together with other tiers of government – the states and even the local governments – to ensure that we change the way we approach the security issues in this country.”
“Apparently, the system has not been working efficiently and effectively and we have to do something. This time around, there should not be buck passing, we have to be forthright. We have to say it as it is and we have to do it as it is required.”
“We should engage with the security agencies to find why the deterioration in security in many parts of the country. We have had series of engagement before but the escalation now has made it mandatory that we have to have a definite position as a government because we just cannot play politics with security issues. Lives are at stake.”
“Therefore the Senate will take a position on how security in the country should be. We believe that the security architecture should be restructured. The present system does not give us the type of outcome that we need. Whether it is the federal, state or local government; even the traditional rulers or others, the most important thing is to secure the lives and property of Nigerians and we would do that,” he said.
Lawan also spoke on the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review and gave an assurance that the committee, which will be constituted before next week, will be headed by Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
This is simply an experiment in futility because it is just to create jobs for the boys.
However, the Senate President stated that: “The committee will be constituted very soon, either this week or next week by the grace of God because the time is ripe for us to reconstitute the committee so that the members could start work immediately. We have referred some bills to them already. Traditionally, everybody knows that since 1999 when the constitution review committee was formed in the National Assembly, in the Senate, the Deputy President of the Senate usually heads the committee, while the Deputy Speaker is usually the chairman of the committee. We are going to maintain the tradition in the 9th Senate. We have a Deputy Senate President who is a vast, erudite lawyer who played an important and significant role in the eighth Assembly as a member of the Committee on INEC and Constitution Review. So, we are good to go by the grace of God,” the Senate President explained.”
Sadly, the constitution amendments committee may go the way of others in the previous sessions of the National Assembly that swallowed well over N5 billions of taxpayers’ money but the strategic outputs of these committees were never implemented due to Ethnic and Religious myopic sentiments of the elites and even those implemented were mere artificial amendments that do not address the badly structured security architectures of Nigeria because the status quo favours the North.
However, he the Senate President Ahmed Lawan need not cry.
DON’TCRY FOR ME NIGERIA! The National Assembly is empowered by law to act and not to cry or wail like a helpless child.
Does he want Nigerians to teach him his job for which he got elected for donkey years into the national parliament?
Mr. senate president, this is the time to prove to us that you are not the worst executive rubber stamped senate by adopting law-based action to restructure the collapsed security system controlled by largely persons from only one (Moslem Hausa/Fulani/Kanuris) section of the country as against the federal character principles.
Speak truth to power and stop pandering to sentiments or propaganda.
Mr. Senate president! Stop shedding crocodile tears and work for police reforms constitutionally so states can run their security architecture to complement the national policing institution which has collapsed, even by your own admission.
Can Mr. Senate president be told to stop wailing and look at even the health sector that has collapsed and urge his members to provide robust oversight to force the Federal Ministry of Health to wake up, end corruption and fix the broken health infrastructures.
Let me end by calling Ahmed Lawan and other ‘big-men wailers’ in government to the emerging shocking scenario in the health sector as recently reported and also the revelation from Borno state on the number of Children orphaned by TERRORISTS.
The report states that boosting efforts to fight pneumonia could avert over two million child deaths from pneumonia and other major diseases in Nigeria, new analysis has found.
The modeling by Johns Hopkins University is being released today as nine leading health and children’s agencies host the world’s first global conference on childhood pneumonia in Barcelona.
Forecasts show that 1.4 million children under the age of five could die from pneumonia over the next decade in Nigeria, on current trends – the highest number of any country in the world and more than 20 percent of childhood deaths from pneumonia globally.
However, an estimated 809,000 of these deaths would be averted by significantly scaling up services to prevent and treat pneumonia.
Researchers also found boosting pneumonia services would create an additional ‘ripple effect’, preventing 1.2 million extra child deaths from other major childhood diseases at the same time.
Interventions like improving nutrition, increasing vaccine coverage or boosting breastfeeding rates – key measures that reduce the risk of children dying from pneumonia – would also stop thousands of child deaths from diseases like diarrhea (580,000), meningitis (68,000), measles (55,000) and malaria (4,000).
By 2030, that effect would be so large that pneumonia interventions alone would avert over 2 million predicted under-five child deaths in Nigeria from all causes combined, researchers said.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.
The disease is the leading killer of children in Nigeria, causing 19 percent of under-five deaths.
Most pneumonia deaths can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics.
But more than 40 percent of one-year-olds in Nigeria are unvaccinated, and three in four children suffering from pneumonia symptoms do not get access to medical treatment.
Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria’s Country Representative, said:
“We have a responsibility to do all we can to avert these deaths by pneumonia – deaths that are nearly all preventable. It will take concerted action by all players. The announcement by the Nigerian government of the world’s first-ever pneumonia control strategy – coupled with the focus globally on combatting pneumonia – is a huge step forward. We now need to follow this with concrete action on the ground to address the causes and drivers of childhood pneumonia deaths in this country.”
On January 29-31, nine leading health and children’s organizations – ISGlobal, Save the Children, UNICEF, Every Breath Counts, “la Caixa” Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, Unitaid and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance – are hosting world leaders at the Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia in Barcelona, the first international conference on childhood pneumonia. Corruption is rife in the health sector and the government does not care. Mr. Senate President you must act now and stop crying.
Also, the Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, has said that Boko Haram has caused the emergence of 59, 311 orphans whose fathers were killed and 59, 213 widows that lost husbands to the insurgency in different parts of the state.
Governor Zulum, who was guest lecturer at the National Defence College, in Abuja, delivered a paper with the title, “Strategic leadership: The challenges of Insurgency in Borno State”. He enlightened the audience with his immediate, short and long term strategic plans in confronting the challenges from all fronts that include investing heavily on security, enrolling out of school children into existing and new mega schools, placing a ban against political thuggery with jobs being created as alternative.
The Borno Governor observed that the unwillingness of persons in the corridors of power to tell leaders truth about issues and the unwillingness of leaders themselves to hear the truth are some of the major problems confronting leadership in Nigeria.
He explained that a strategic leader must be a strategic listener and reader. A strategic thinker must also be a strategic learner. A strategic leader must be willing to hear the truth and to learn.
He further explained, “However, telling the truth and accepting the truth has been our major problems in Nigeria. Some people will never tell you the truth when you are in power and honestly, many of us in power also do not want to hear the truth, we prefer to be told what we like to hear and that is a serious deficit in leadership in the country.”
Dr. Zulum according to media reports discussed different aspects of strategic leadership, situating them with Nigeria’s in the last 50 years and gave account of experience working as commissioner from 2011 to 2015 and as governor in the last eight months.
The Senate President should tell the President to obey FEDERAL CHARACTER PRINCIPLES IN APPOINTMENTS INTO TOP SECURITY POSTS INSTEAD OF HIS SECTIONAL APPOINTMENTS OF ONLY HAUSA/FULANI/KANURI INTO STRATEGIC INTERNAL SECURITY POSITIONS.
We must Make hay whilst the sun shines.