On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, after a meeting of the National Security Council at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, retired Major General Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser (NSA), addressed State House correspondents, telling the nation about the outcome of the Security Council meeting.
Apart from dwelling particularly on the situation in Zamfara State, where 279 students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Talata Malafa Local Government Area of the state were just released in the early hours of that Tuesday morning, the President, according to Monguno, also made far reaching proclamations and gave sweeping orders as regards the nation’s security situation.
To start with, the President ordered a ‘no fly zone’ over Zamfara State and also ordered immediate ban on mining in the state, which many believe is the genesis of the persistent insecurity in the state.
Beyond Zamfara, President Buhari ordered the nation’s service chiefs to recover all the areas that are being occupied by insurgents, bandits and kidnappers all over the country.
This particular order, for many, is the most important one made by the President, who has been accused for too long for his seeming silence and alleged carefree attitude over the security challenges facing the country.
For many Nigerians, rooting out insurgents, bandits and kidnappers from their hideouts and camps, mainly in the forests all over the country, will practically bring an end to insecurity.
Speaking further, Monguno, said there is no sovereign nation on earth that allows people who are non-state actors to force it to its knees, bringing about panic, apprehension, distrust and disorder.
“Therefore, both the defence and intelligence organisations have been charged that while we look forward to having a peaceful, non-kinetic resolution, we will not allow this country to drift into state failure.
“And with effect from today, the new service chiefs have been given directives by the Minister of Defence, conveyed by the President to the Minister of Defence, to reclaim all areas that have been dominated by bandits, kidnappers and other scoundrels of scallywags.
“Now, I need to stress also that there are individuals in this country who have assumed a status that is beyond what they should be. The intelligence from our own sources, the intelligence at my disposal reveals that we have certain entities, certain individuals who are making capital out of insecurity, especially kidnapping.
“This is a situation that has to be brought to an end and I’m sending a warning to anybody who is hiding beneath a veneer of some status, whether official, in terms of an official capacity or traditional or religious, to stoke the flames of disorder.
“The government is very serious about this. As I said, we’re drifting into a situation that we can no longer afford to lose lives.
“We are not going to be blackmailed, we’re going to use whatever that is at our disposal, while operating within the confines of legitimacy, within the confines of legality, but the government has a responsibility to assert its will, using the instruments at its disposal to keep the state moving, alive, happy in prosperity, this will not be compromised.
“I think we’ve had enough of violence, enough of chaos, enough of anarchy but I want to stress once more that any individual or group that thinks it can take it upon itself to cause disunity, disharmony and push the country to the brink should have a rethink.
“Any individual who thinks he has any support, who thinks he can undermine this government, anybody, any human being, as long as it is a citizen of this country, any person who thinks he’s the cat’s whiskers, or he can be rocky on the perch and lead us into a situation of unhappiness, will have himself to blame at the end of the day”, Monguno said on behalf of the President and the National Security Council.
Nigerians, who have monitored past responses of President Buhari to issues of insecurity will readily agree that the briefing by Monguno is no doubt the most far reaching, specific and targeted response from the Federal Government under President Buhari since he assumed office.
Though there have been occasions, according to analysts when the President had made pronouncements in the past concerning insecurity, but that of Tuesday remains the most assuring, making many to believe that President Buhari has finally woken up to the reality of the dire security challenges facing the country.
Picking Holes in the President’s Order
Though many Nigerians believe the orders by Mr. President were the most reassuring since the security situation in the country nosedived, others have picked holes, insisting that some of the orders were not well thought through.
First, to pick whole in the orders is Governor Bello Matawalle, the helmsman in Zamfara, the epicenter of banditry in the country, who insisted that the ‘no fly zone’ ordered by Buhari shows that he does not understand the situation in the state.
Matawalle, who expressed disappointment in the decision of the President, said: “It seems the security council doesn’t understand the nature of the security problems in Zamfara State but if they decided to take such action, let them go ahead.
“I’m not afraid of anybody and the problem of insecurity in the state predated my administration.
“Nigerians are waiting to see the outcome of the security council resolution to see if these bandits would be crushed.
“If the federal government fails to crush them after this resolution, then Nigerians will understand that they only sat and served themselves tea.”
For the Yorub Ronu Leadership Forum, the ban on mining in Zamfara may just be an invitation to another round of criminality in the state, adding that the underlying socio-ethnic tensions between the Hausa and Fulani in the state concerning gold mining, may make the ban a double-edged sword.
The President of the group, Akin Malaolu said on Tuesday, the statement reads: “The two decisions which banned mining activities in Zamfara and no-fly zone order are double edge sword for peace in the Northwest region because of the suspicion that it could rob Peter to pay Paul.
“The reasons for our fear can be traced back to the period between 2006 and 2007 when the then Governor Sani Yerima displaced a large population of Fulani from many mining sites and implanted Hausa youths to take charge. The displacement at that time caused both discomfort and death on the Fulani youths who then took to banditry life.
“If the government is placing a ban, we hope they won’t cause a new displacement that could re-enact the same security challenges we are yet to surmount.
“Our candid advice is for the federal government to take absolute control of mining sites in Zamfara and other states to nip in the bud such more scenarios of troubles.
“Nigerians ought to be told the whole truth about the story that gave rise to banditry in the Northwest of Nigeria. Fortune has been made through unofficial gold mining for decades and now is the time to put a complete stoppage to corruption in that sector. The no-fly zone is proper.”
For Mr. Olatunde Sosina, the orders by the President are good and welcome development. He, however, has doubts if they will be carried out to the latter.
According to Sosina, this is not the first time the President will give an order that went largely unimplemented.
“The problem is not pronouncement of an orders but for those saddled with the responsibility of carrying them out to do so. Remember when herdsmen/farmers crisis was at a peak in Benue. The President ordered his Inspector General of Police to relocate to the state and handle the situation but he simply disobeyed. The President, while on a visit to the same Benue, confessed that he never knew the IGP did not carry out his order. So, it is not about giving an order, the problem is, will it be carried out and will the President and/or his aides follow up to ensure compliance?”
For the Convener of Safe Communities Vanguards (SCV), Mr. Shogo Adeyemi, the President should be commended for coming out to speak and give orders that were specific and targeted at addressing the security concerns of Nigerians.
“I commend President Buhari for this decisive orders and the resolutions of the National Security Council. They have not just become responsive but have showed leadership. They have reignited the trust of Nigerians in the government and I am sure the end of insurgency, banditry and kidnapping is in sight.
“Questions bothering on whether the orders will be carried out does not arise as far as I am concerned. The Commander-In-Chief gave an order, everyone, from the service chiefs to the lowest rank in the security forces are under obligation to obey and carry them out,” Adeyemi said.
Speaking in the same vein, a security expert, Simon Adeniyi said for the fact that the President has spoken and given sweeping orders should give cause for cheers.
According to him, President Buhari has been variously accused of been docile and too aloof when it comes to the plight of the common Nigerian, who is at the receiving of the security situation in the country.
“I believe the orders by the President are in the right direction. They are no doubt a step towards achieving security of lives and property of Nigerians. At least, it was reassuring that we still have a government, as many have recently wondered if there is actually a government in the country.
“Will the orders be carried out? That’s another ball game entirely, but of course, I expect that they are carried out to the latter. The Commander-In-Chief’s orders are meant to be carried out and this is not different. So Nigerians should be positive and watch the security agencies to do their job. It is not our job to ensure that the orders are carried out and so, we should not be unduly bothered by that. I believe there are inbuilt mechanisms that will track the level of compliance with the President’s order”, Adeniyi submitted.
As Nigerians express delight in their belief that the President has finally ‘woken up’ and ready to tackle insecurity headlong, they also hope and believe that in no distant time, people, wherever they may reside in the country, will be able to go about their daily activities without fear of insurgents, bandits, kidnappers or other criminal gangs.