President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians, especially the elite, to be fair in their criticisms of his administration.
A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said Buhari made the appeal when he received in audience Rev. Yakubu Pam, executive secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission.
“We had to struggle paying debts, investing in road repairs and rebuilding, to revamp the rail and try to get power. This is what I hope the elite, when they want to criticise will use to compare notes.”
On the security situation especially in the North East, the president said: “What was the situation when we came? Try and ask people from Borno, Adamawa for that matter Yobe. What was the condition before we came and what is the condition now? Still, there are problems in Borno and Yobe, there are occasional Boko Haram problems, but they know the difference, because a lot of them moved out of their states and moved to Kaduna, Kano and here (in Abuja). We were not spared of the attacks at a time. The government is doing its best and I hope that eventually, our best will be good enough.”
This is even as it said that more than 2,403 criminals, including terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and criminals of other sorts, were reportedly eliminated by the Nigerian Armed Forces, in coordinated operations across the country between March 18 and December 30, 2020.
But mixed reactions have trailed the claims.
According to the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), the statement is a monumental joke and an insult on the intelligence of Nigerians who are aware that the security situation in the country has worsened considerably.
“Whoever said the security situation is better now that it was in 2015 must be joking. We are not being political, what we are saying is a statement of fact. Before this administration took over, Boko Haram was so depleted to the level that they couldn’t hold any state because former president, Goodluck Jonathan, did a good job of that and ensured elections took place everywhere at the same time. Remember that at that time, kidnapping, especially in the north was not the norm; it was only Boko Haram playing its pranks in the North East. But now, kidnapping has engulfed the entire country,” Pogu said.
Reacting, the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria (SCSN), said 2021 security situation could be said to be better if it was about insurgency alone.
“But other forms of criminalities such as kidnappings are worse now. Before 2015, especially in the North, the menace of road blocks were enough trouble for the masses, but today it’s history. Our hope is the insecurity in Nigeria will one day be history as well,” Kaduna State secretary of SCSN, Abdurahaman Hassan said.
For the immediate past Secretary General of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr. Anthony Sani, if we compared activities of Boko Haram before 2015 to what obtains now, one could say there has been substantial improvement.
“This regime has succeeded in pushing the activities of the insurgence to fringes of North East, if not Borno State…
“Of course, incidents of banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery have upped soon after elections of 2019 which have tested the wit and capacity of the regime due to paucity of funds and logistics. But from the reports one is reading now, there are hope that the government would bring the situation under control.”
However, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) and International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), faulted the president.
While ADF said more northern states have been occupied by terrorists and bandits, the Intersociety said more Nigerians were now killed on daily basis.
ADF’s spokesman, Abia Onyike said Nigeria was actually in a dilemma.
“Nigeria is in a dilemma. We are presently witnessing what looks like a civil war and President Muhammadu Buhari appears to have run out of ideas,” Onyike stated.
Chairman, Board of Trustees of Intersociety, Emeka Umeagbalasi, said: “Statistically, there are more Jihadist groups now than in 2015, then numbering only three but now numbering 21 main and splinter groups. Today, more Nigerians put at not least 30, 000 have been killed by Jihadists than 22,000 killed as at May 2015. Not less than 3,000 defenceless citizens have been massacred by soldiers and police unlike near zero figure recorded as at May 2015. The list is long to be fully mentioned, “ Intersociety stated.
Colonel Hassan Stan-Labo (retd) MD/CEO, Hakes & Partners Limited, said banditry, kidnapping and others were not as bad in 2015.
“Today, farmers cannot go to farms because of the fear of being attacked, today Nigerians are living in fear that once it is getting to 5pm, people are running back to their homes. The police are not enough to police the country and the military is overworked and overwhelmed. Today people are calling for private military to come and do job of the regular security forces.”
In his reaction, Mr Bone Efoziem, MD/CEO Street Guard Security, said: “The president will address us based on the briefing he gets from these service chiefs. Looking at the security architecture since he took over governance, we will see that he had relied on four, five men and at anytime he is giving information that there is insecurity in the country, it will naturally mean they are calling for their removal.”
Frank Odita, Commissioner of Police (retd) also faulted the president as he said it was wrong to make a blanket assessment on the the security situation as assessment would “always differ from person to person.”
Dr. Muda Yusuf, Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said the rising level of insecurity had significant implications on food production, youth unemployment, investment and economic growth.
“Nigeria was faced with escalated level of insecurity in year 2020 with incidences of killings, kidnapping, vandalism of public and private properties, ethno-religious conflicts, and bandit attacks. No rational investor would commit their resources in an insecure environment,” he said.