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‘We’ve Convince Ourselves a Soldier’s Job is to Die’

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By Prosper Okoye

How can Nigeria achieve peace, security, and stability? This pivotal question formed the core of discussions during the two-day national stability dialogue.

Among the panelists, Rev. Fr. Atta Barkindo, the Executive Director of the Kukah Centre, highlighted both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to address these issues.

The discourse was organized by International Alert Nigeria, in collaboration with the Office for Strategic Preparedness and Resilience (OSPRE), which is the National Early Warning Centre of the Vice President, and the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

Fr. Barkindo said, “My primary focus in the kinetic approach is the welfare of soldiers,” he emphasized.

“This is because, in 2013, my younger brother, who was 27 years old, taller than I am, and quite handsome, joined the Nigerian military. Immediately after his short service, he was stationed in Baga, a town in Borno State.

“He and his colleague had to fetch water from a well to drink during battle, and sometimes they had no food to eat. Allegedly, the well they drank from was poisoned by terrorists, and that’s how my brother met his death.

“We had to transport his body back to the village. There were no gun salutes, no uniform; he was laid to rest without any formalities. The same fate befell other families of security personnel. How can we expect people treated in this manner to provide stability and willingly offer themselves for the country?”

Nnamdi Obasi, Senior Adviser at the Nigeria International Crisis Group, noted that the country has moved beyond the traditional image of a soldier confined to boots, beret, rifle, or uniform.

“We are now dealing with a more complex situation and must consider how to enhance equipment, resourcing, and the welfare of our security services to boost their effectiveness. This constitutes a vital aspect of defense, policing, and security that we must address. Simultaneously, we need to assess the competencies we introduce into the system. It’s incongruous to assign individuals with only primary school certificates to solve crimes committed by people with higher degrees and competencies.”

However, the International Alert Country Director, Paul Nyulaku-Bemshima, called for the integration of both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches.

“We have reached a stage where certain concerns should be integrated into the military’s campaign strategy.

“I recall a conversation with the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of a region when we paid him a courtesy call to address the region’s issues. He stated, ‘You can continue with your conversations and engagement because we are the military, meant to fight, and, if necessary, to kill.’ Yet, this made me wonder: if we keep efforts separate, can we make progress?”

Citing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) menace in the South Eastern part of Nigeria as evidence of the lack of a comprehensive approach to security, Major General Bamidele Shafa (Rtd) noted that the term “unknown gunmen” was misleading. “Effective civil-military cooperation would have unmasked such anti-state elements.”

Furthermore, The priest decried weak national identity, exacerbated by poor governance, as a factor driving national restiveness and chaos.

“It’s challenging to combat terrorism in a democratic context where elections occur every four years, and politicians prioritize winning over ensuring security.

“Do we genuinely identify as Nigerians?’ he pondered. ‘I reside on the Cameroon border in Adamawa State, an hour’s walk to Cameroon, but a 12-hour car journey to Abuja. Many fellow Nigerians disassociate from the country because they feel it doesn’t care for them. To engage ordinary citizens in the fight against terrorism, they must feel a deep connection with the nation.

“In Mozambique, a professor detailed how terrorists gather information; commercial motorcycle and taxi drivers, often seen as uninformed, play a critical role. Similar challenges arose when we tried to locate Governor Fayemi; Google Maps failed, but a motorcyclist guided us directly to his destination.”

Rev. Barkindo urged the involvement of religious leaders in addressing unrest in the country.

“While we promote democracy and the rule of law here, some religious figures preach against it due to their dissatisfaction. Our differing interpretations of this concept explain why Bishop Kukah argues that we die as Christians or Muslims, or as Igbos and Hausa, but not solely as Nigerians.

“Our communities are deeply divided. Religious leaders wield significant influence, as poverty pushes people to the brink. We must create pathways for forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Also speaking at the dialogue, a participant, Gbenro Oladungbe, blamed the country’s violent condition on constitutionally backed inequality.

“We got into this situation of violence because we refuse to provide sustenance. Several leaders are unwilling to address the issues that led us here.

“Equal access to opportunities is denied; whether you attend school today depends on your economic status, and this continues to exacerbate inequality. Inequality is a critical driver of the violence in Nigeria today.

“Poverty isn’t the sole driver; what drives violence is unjust wealth and poverty. This is widespread, rights are denied, and this further fosters violence.

“We have provisions in our constitution that promotes injustice, and we think we will have a peaceful, secure nation? It’s as if we live in a dreamland.

“Today, we have a multitude of young people that couldn’t find employment. We lack a national plan to support this young population, and we continue to recruit and train soldiers who may end up killing them because they are rebelling against a society that has consistently denied their rights.

“The state is inciting the crimes that people are committing; for instance, just two weeks ago, there was a policy to support some households. A budget of 25,000 Naira was allocated to each family for three months, and in the same country, those who are expected to make sacrifices are buying cars worth 160 million Naira. Do we really believe there will be peace, security, or stability?

“I commend the organizers of this event, but it would be even more commendable if the output were a national dialogue that could revisit the constitution,” he added.”

It was supported by the UK International Development through the Promoting Stability, Access to Justice, and Accountability in Northwest Nigeria Project (Samun Adalchi Shi Ne Kwanciyar Hankali).

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BIPC activates judicial processes to eject allottees from estates

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From Attah Ede Makurdi

The Benue Investment and Property Company Limited (BIPC), on Wednesday, obtained judicial administrative order to individuals who have defaulted on the terms of payment for the BIPC Evergreen Estates located at Nyiman and Northbank axis in Makurdi of Benue State.

The Managing Director of the company, Dr.

Raymond Asemakaha, explained that the affected persons were earlier given a sufficient grace period before the judicial process of ejection was activated.

Dr.Asemakaha in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Makurdi, the decision to eject the allottees followed the expiration of the period of grace conveyed to the allottees/occupants of BIPC Evergreen Housing Estates.

He said affected allottees are yet to pay the purchase price as stipulated in the Provisional Offer letters, adding that the management is pleased to inform the general public that the company has activated administrative and Judicial processes of ejecting such allottees/occupants.

“As a business entity with a mandate to maximize profits for the shareholder, Management is compelled to explore this line of action in order to minimize the losses associated with the continued occupation of the estates by such allottees/occupants.”

“The ejection exercise is not in any way aimed at victimizing the allottees /occupants as the company has exhausted the internal remedies provided in the provisional offer letter including but not limited to verbal and written persuasion to the allottees/occupants of the Estates to pay the purchase price annually or monthly but to no avail.”

“Members of the public are therefore enjoined not to be misled by the unsubstantiated reasons advanced by such allottees as noncompliance with the ejection exercise will attract punitive legal consequences” the statement concluded.

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Give Tinubu More Time to Solve Challenges – Gowon

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Former President Yakubu Gowon
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Retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon has urged Nigerians to give more time to the  President Bola Tinubu-led administration, toward resolving the various challenges confronting the country.

He added that it was too early in the life of the administration to begin to resolve all the inherited crisis in different sectors.

Gowon said this after a meeting with Tinubu at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday in Abuja.

“Well, I was telling him that no Nigerian leader that get there and will not have all the report of what is being said about him.

“But certainly, there’s no doubt from what one hears and what one sees on the various media.

I think the government is trying its best to deal with the various problems of the country.

“Don’t you worry,  you will get criticised but people who get there know better than you know.

“I think all what one can say is that Nigerians, we’ve got to give the President time to get things really done. And it is too early to say absolute result, perfect result will be achieved now.”

Gowon said  the meeting with the President also centred on the issue of the challenges facing the ECOWAS subregions, adding that it must be settled amicably.

“Being the surviving leader, or founding fathers of the ECOWAS, I think we had to discuss some of his plans in order to see what can be done to bring the matter under control,” Gowon said.

He debunked claims on social media that he refused to attend an event organised by ECOWAS, adding that this was probably due to miscommunication.

“I think there was a miscommunication but then, it gave the opportunity for the  President to call me so that we can discuss what I was to do.”(NAN)

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Tinubu Appoints New Immigration CG

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President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of DCG Kemi Nandap,  as the new Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).

A statement by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, on Wednesday in Abuja, disclosed that the appointment is with effect from March 1.

“The President anticipates that the new comptroller-general will deepen the ongoing reforms in the service and create a robust mechanism for efficient and dedicated service delivery to Nigerians.

“As well as strengthen the nation’s security through proactive and effective border security and migration management.

He said that Nandap would take over from Mrs Caroline Adepoju, whose term in office expires on Feb.

29.

Ngelale said that before her appointment, Nandap was the Deputy Comptroller – General (DCG)  in charge of the Migration Directorate of the service.(NAN)

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