The Boko Haram – fuelled insurgency in Nigeria, particularly in the North -Eastern part of the country has led to regrettable loss of lives, including those of troops fighting in the frontlines. Only recently, two lieutenant colonels reportedly lost their lives in a Boko Haram ambush just as no fewer than 50 soldiers have either been killed or gone missing within the last one month.
Soldiers have often complained of poor welfare and remuneration as well as lack of arms and ammunition to frontally confront the insurgents. These issues have in the past led to confrontation between the soldiers and superior officers.In 2016, soldiers attempted to lynch the then commander of the Nigerian Army 7 Division, Maimalari Cantonment, Victor Ezeugwu, after he allegedly left them in the warfront for two days without food.
It is for these reasons that we find the recent allegation of cowardice levelled against men and officers of the Nigeria Army by the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Tukur Buratai unfair and a dance on the graves of dead soldiers just as it is a morale killer for those still fighting in the war-torn areas.
In his well publicised comments, Lt Gen. Buratai accused soldiers of showing poor commitment to almost every assignment to defend the country, a situation he described as “unfortunate” and responsible for sparse promotion in the military rank-and-file.
“It is unfortunate, but the truth is that almost every setback the Nigeria army has had in our operations in recent times can be traced to insufficient willingness to perform assigned tasks.”
“Many of those on whom the responsibility for physical actions against the adversary squarely falls are yet to fully take ownership of our common national or service cause,” Buratai had said, adding that the alleged laziness of soldiers could also be traced to “simply insufficient commitment to a common national or military course by those at the frontlines.”
As if that is not bad enough, the army chief has threatened to continue to deprive officers of promotion unless for a few who display an exemplary commitment to national service.
We hasten to remind Buratai part of the reason for the sparse promotion in the military rank-and-file is President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence on keeping him in office despite his glaring underperformance, as a result of which the careers of some officers has been stagnated while many others have been retired. This, more than anything else, is a demoraliser. Under Buratai, there has been monumental loss of lives of frontline officers amidst complaints of poor welfare, months of unpaid allowances and lack of required firepower to match that of the insurgents. These, are the issues, which in our opinion, the army chief should bother himself with and work towards addressing. The army, under Buratai has enjoyed tremendous goodwill both in terms of funding from the government and support from the public and what the citizens expect is results, not buck passing as he is wont to do, having previously accused officers and men of cowardice in 2018.
A former president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, had a sign on his desk with ‘The buck stops here’ inscribed on it. This was meant to indicate that he didn’t pass the buck to anyone else but accepted personal responsibility for the way the country was governed. This is what we expect of the army chief.
Buratai, in our view, needs to desist from this condemnation of soldiers battling to end an insurgency that appears to have defied all solutions and with no end in sight, and focus on addressing those issues the soldiers have often complained of. He needs to show respect for the memory of fallen soldiers and commend the efforts of those still fighting in the frontlines.
Better still, his comments tantamount to admittance of failure in the very task of defending the nation’s territorial integrity as the Chief of Army State. In that case, he should honourably throw in the towel than hang on to the very critical assignment with an abysmal record of performance.
In Support Of The Ban On Open Grazing
After years of indecision, procrastination and dilly dallying, the Federal Government last week took a firm decision to ban open grazing of cattle across the country. The implementation of the ban will however take-off on a pilot basis in five states of the Federation-Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa and Zamfara.
The decision was taken by the National Economic Council (NEC) after its meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who made the decision public on behalf NEC also said the Council equally banned the free movement of cattle and other animals across the Nigerian border from other West African countries, regardless of the relevant protocol of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which guarantees free movement of people and goods within the sub-region.
We welcome the decision of NEC even though it is coming late in the day when the country has witnessed unnecessary spilling of blood from incessant clashes between Herdsmen and farmers nationwide.
The clashes which have become a national security concern, it is hoped will abate since the Herdsmen will by the new decision adopt to ranching which is the global best practice in animal husbandry.
We are even the more happier that the decision was not based on political or religious sentiments but a product of the report of the technical committee earlier set up by Council under the chairmanship of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi.
Umahi’s Committee traversed the states where the farmers-Herders clashes have been most prevalent, i.e Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau and Zamfara states. During the fact-finding visits, the Committee met with all stakeholders including farmers, security agencies, state governors, leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and Miyetti Allah Kautal Horel, among others.
In all the meetings, ranching was canvassed as the most enduring solution to the bloodletting occasioned by the farmers-Herders clashes. The Committee was therefore, left with no better option than recommend the ban on open grazing of cows.
The NEC decision has at long last vindicated the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and his Taraba state counterpart, Darius Dickson Ishaku, both of who enacted the anti-open grazing law as a panacea to the frequent violent clashes between farmers and the Herdsmen. It can be said therefore, that the two governors understood the issues and the best solution and indeed acted appropriately. It is to their credit that NEC arrived at the same solution the two governors proffered several months earlier.
While we commend NEC for the courage to take this decision, the security agencies especially the police and the Department of State Services(DSS) must immediately commence the enforcement of this ban otherwise the Federal Government decision would pass as one of the rhetorical statements commonly associated with politicians when confronted with difficult situations.
As has been severally argued by experts, Nigeria with a little over 26million cattle should have no problem operating ranches since countries like India, Brazil, Argentina and the US with upward 100million cattle have long practiced ranching.
What more, animal scientists have since established that the nomadic cows produced less milk and poor quality meat compared to those kept in ranches.
The Federal Government should live up to its words to provide subsidies for animal husbandry as recommended by the Umahi Committee.
In our view, the subsidies should come by way of
If the NEC decision is properly implemented, Nigeria would have just began the journey towards a profitable and healthier cattle rearing business through the ranching model.
Most importantly, the NEC decision banning the free movement of
The Owo Killings
Nigerians appear to be tired and even helpless as a result of the nation’s drift into a state of high level of insecurity.
The country that prides itself as Africa’s most populous nation, and equally boasting of its largest economy has degenerated over the years to become the killing field for terrorists, bandits, kidnappers , and other criminal elements in the society.
The killings of hundreds of the nation’s defenceless citizens, and even scores of security men have continued unabated because the government, especially the Federal Government has shown itself to be weak and indecisive towards handling the criminal elements.
Barely a week after the massacre of farmers and other defenceless Nigerians in Borno and some states in the North, a group of criminals carried out another heinous attack on a church in Owo , Ondo State on Sunday, June 5.
The attack, which was unleashed on Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, the headquarters of the Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State witnessed pandemonium as gunmen struck leaving no fewer than 50 persons dead.
There has been serious concern among Nigerians as the attack on the church in Owo, the hometown of the state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, came barely a week after the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Bishop Samuel Kanu-Uche, was kidnapped in Abia State by gunmen which the priest later identified as Fulani youths working with some security men.
Reports had it that the gunmen, who attacked the Catholic church, arrived at the premises, which is less than 200 metres from the palace of the Olowo of Owo, at 12pm when the Sunday mass was being rounded off.Reports further had it that worshippers, mostly children and women, were killed in the attack, by the criminals who were said to have thrown an improvised explosive device before they started shooting sporadically.Some videos posted online showed some of the slain worshippers in a pool of their own blood.
Workers of the Federal Medical Centre and Saint Louis Hospital, both in Owo, where the dead and the injured were taken to, said no fewer than 50 persons were killed in the tragedy.
While visiting the scene of the tragedy, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state and the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye have appealed to youths in Owo, Ondo state not to retaliate the killing of worshippers at St Francis Catholic Church in the town.
Speaking during his visit to the church and hospitals where survivors of the attack are receiving medical attention, Gov. Akeredolu,further described the terror attack on innocent worshipers at St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, as a massacre and horrific.
Akeredolu, who said he was terribly sad, noted that the attack was the most dastardly act that could happen in any society.He said the security agencies lost no fewer than two men and that the incident was not an expected attack.
The Governor expressed his condolences to those who lost their dear ones to this unnecessary gruesome murder.
He declared that the ugly incident must not happen again as the people must very vigilant.
At the palace of the Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye, Gov. Akeredolu condoled with the monarch over the sad incident.Akeredolu said the gunmen made a mistake of attacking Owo, vowing that they will not escape justice.Like other men of goodwill we condemn in totality the killings in Owo, which we describe as callous, wicked and inhuman.
We are condoling with the government and people of Ondo state, the relatives of worshippers that lost their dear ones as a result of the ugly incident.
Once more, we call for a review of the nation’s security architecture, which has failed the nation in tackling the numerous security challenges. Without further ado, the much advocated state police is an idea whose time has come. Nigeria must embrace state police for its survival and existence as a nation.
NPA as Den of Corruption
The Nigeria Ports Authority, (NPA)is one of the agencies of the Federal Government notorious for corruption. A body like NPA that should serve as a cash cow for the government of the Federation has unfortunately been turned into an organ for looting and stealing in high places.
Exactly a year ago, its former Group Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman was suspended from office, with an Administrative panel set up to investigate a number of allegations against her, mainly on illegal diversion of funds close to N 200 billion.
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke has demanded explanation from the management of NPA, over non-remittance of millions of dollars by terminal operators and the agency into the Federation account.
This followed the launch of a large scale investigation by the House committee into the matter. The probe came on the heels of 12 audit queries from the office of the Auditor General for the Federation on the financial statement of the NPA for the 2019 financial year. Of the number, NPA has only responded to one on the indebtedness of terminal operators to the government.
The House of Representatives has therefore began probe of the unremitted multi-million dollars by terminal operator, to the commonwealth.
The amount involved is about $852.094 million and N1.897 billion.
NPA however said the sum of N269.410 million of the N1.8 billion has been recovered while the balance of N1.6 billion “invoices processed on the encumbered areas remain unpaid”.
NPA said in its lame defence that bills raised on encumbered areas which remained unpaid is $19,169,459. This is a serious development , that should not be allowed to be swept under carpet as appears to be the case with the former GMD of the NPA.
Hadiza Bala Usman who did not conduct her self with the integrity while at the agency. President Muhammadu Buhari approved her suspension, as a result of grave allegations against her.
She had to be probed as a result at the instance of the supervising transport ministry, headed by Rotimi Amaechi.
Curiously before her sack, Usman was reappointed to continue heading the NPA in Janaury 2021 by President Buhari several months before the end of her first tenure.
But the public is disturbed that there have been attempts to exonerate her of these allegations. The former managing director of the NPA, has reportedly been cleared of allegations of failing to remit N165 billion operating surplus to the coffers of the federal government.
However, the 11-member committee set up by the ministry of transportation to probe the alleged fraud decided to shift its attention to allegations of insubordination to Rotimi Amaechi, the minister.
She was instead accused of ignoring ministerial directives and communicating directly with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Usman was originally suspended in May 2021 by the minister over an allegedly missing N165 billion but the committee did “not find any evidence” in its account reconciliation. We are calling on the Administrative Panel to make its report public for the scrutiny of Nigerians. We are equally calling on the House of Representatives to probe the Audit Report indicting the NPA of unremitted colossal amounts in local currency and in foreign ones. It is no doubt a case of a case of high level of corruption too many in NPA.
Corruption, sadly, continue to thrive in government agencies because of the present government’s lackadaisical attitude towards this monster. Matters must not and ca should not continue so for the advancement and well-being of the nation.
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