• Cleric urges restructuring, says govt merely patching cracked walls
• PDP challenges APC to popularity test, wins Taraba election
• Herdsmen, militia issues may top agenda as president meets Benue leadership
• Myetti Allah blame herdsmen, farmers conflict on attack on members
Former military President General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Pastor Tunde Bakare have strongly condemned the current insecurity in the country and charged President Muhammadu Buhari to end the bloodletting and other dangers besetting the nation. Bakare, a former running mate to Buhari in the 2011 elections, yesterday, outlined the shortcomings of his ally’s administration, concluding that the country was in urgent need of restructuring.
In a state of the nation broadcast titled: ‘It’s Time To Renegotiate Our Union,’ the head of the Latter Rain Church said although the government anchored its policy outlook on security, job creation and anti-corruption, there are signs of retrogression everywhere.Babangida has called on the Federal Government to urgently end the current bloodletting in the country.
“The Federal Government should stop the flow now,” the former leader stated in a statement on this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day.“We should eschew hate speeches, discrimination and other vices that trigger senseless violence and bloodshed.”
“I must also call on governments at all levels, religious leaders, traditional rulers, social activists and the media to serve as national vanguards in resolving some of the recent disturbing incidents affecting our national security.’’And in the aftermath of the recent violent attacks on communities in Benue by Fulani herdsmen, political, traditional and opinion leaders from the state are expected to meet with Buhari today, to address the security challenges .
According to the Presidency yesterday, the meeting has become inevitable because of the frequency and disturbing menace of such violence and the reactions that have trailed the incidents.A Presidency source said it has been embarrassed by the large- scale loss of lives caused by such repeated violence against innocent people.
The source, who did not want to be named, said that the discussions at the meeting will address the issue of the Fulani herdsmen, but may go beyond their menace to include the issue of the arming, training and financing of militia groups by some state governments. Buhari’s government appears to be merely patching cracks on the wall, Bakare said.He stressed that opponents of restructuring were doing so for political gains.
Bakare noted that despite efforts at improving enterprise and job creation, unemployment rose to 18.8 per cent from around 8.2 per cent in June 2015. He said the figure indicates that between 2015 and 2017, the number of unemployed Nigerians rose from about 6 million to almost 16 million.He faulted the economic diversification policy, saying oil still accounts for over 90 per cent of total exports revenue.
The ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption war could be seen in the loss of crucial corruption cases, he said. “For instance, in April 2017, the Federal Government lost four high-profile corruption cases in 96 hours. These are in addition to bizarre developments such as failure of the government to confirm a substantive chairman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), despite the fact that the same political party controls both the executive and the legislature. This is not to mention the public showdown between EFCC and the Department of State Services (DSS) officials, or the opposition of the director general of the DSS to the confirmation of the acting chairman of the EFCC.”
The government has not only failed to stop killings by herdsmen, said Bakare, “it has done so against the backdrop of conspiratorial silence, choosing rather to label such attacks ‘an issue of communal misunderstanding,’ as the Inspector General of Police recently did in respect of the Benue attacks. It has treated the menace with kid gloves, even after the Global Terrorism Index 2015 described militant herdsmen as the fourth most deadly group of 2014.”
He alleged that some of the killings were carried out in collusion with the military.“Despite the antecedents of the marauders, including the recent Adamawa incidents, Mr. President, in his New Year address to the nation, did not consider the menace or the pain of victims of previous attacks worth a mention. It has been reported, for instance, that as a result of the failure of government to act, there have been reprisals on herdsmen, resulting in a vicious cycle of death and destruction. Yet, Buhari is rejecting the call to restructure our nation in order to bring lasting solutions to these and other signs of sectional discontent.”
On whether he would contest the presidency, Bakare said: “I am indeed running, but not for elections. It is a race of destiny and the destination is certain. The method by which God intends to do it is up to Him.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), meanwhile, has challenged the All Progressives Congress (APC) to a test of popularity.A statement by party spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the APC as mortally afraid of going into any election, particularly at the grassroots.
“Nigerians are at pains over the poor welfare direction of the ruling party, which has resulted in the penetrating hardship now being suffered under the APC-controlled Federal Government. The APC is petrified because Nigerians have renewed their interest in the PDP as the only genuine people-oriented party,” the PDP said.
It noted that the APC is aware it could no longer return to the electorate it scammed in 2015 “with lies and empty promises; promises of bogus jobs, monthly stipends, free meals, free houses, reduction of fuel price, and bringing of the dollar to the same value with the naira.“The APC knows it cannot face the more than 8 million Nigerians it has rendered jobless with its reckless policies. They know that judgment awaits them from thousands of workers who were unjustly sacked in the states where APC governors rule, particularly Kogi and Kaduna.
“The ruling party also knows it cannot return to the families of those slaughtered in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Borno and other parts of the country by marauders, encouraged and emboldened by the indifference of the Federal Government and unguarded comments from unpatriotic presidential aides.”
According to the party, “The landslide victories of the PDP in the recent elections are incontrovertible response by the people, not only to the achievements of our government in the states, but also to the ideological disposition of the PDP as one genuine democratic platform where all Nigerians are free to socially express, politically aspire and economically flourish.”
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Bolaji Abdulahi and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, could not be reached for comments.
Prince Tony Momoh, an APC founding member, however, dismissed the PDP as a party without focus.He said the APC is working tirelessly to clear the mess of PDP’s 16 years of misrule.
“The once impassable Enugu-Onitsha Road, which the PDP failed to fix, is now passable courtesy of the APC. The Benin-Auchi Road, which used to be about seven hours’ drive, due to its bad state, is now less than two hours courtesy of the APC. The Second Niger Bridge, which the PDP couldn’t fix, is on the way.”
Momoh added: “When the election proper comes, it is the electoral commission that would conduct it while the people decide. Time will tell which party is popular.”But on Saturday, the PDP defeated the APC at a keenly contested bye-election in Taraba State’s Ardo-Kola constituency.Results from the 10 wards of the local government council showed PDP’s Dominic Bukuni had 8848 votes, while APC’s Sanusi Usman Jambawaile polled 8257.
The returning officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Manu Donga, described the election as free and fair. The APC agent, Barrister Mohammed Mustapha, however, said the exercise was riddled with malpractices.It came as the PDP in Abia State said it had learned the hard lessons of candidate imposition and would no longer repeat the mistake.
The chairman of the chapter, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, said the party would therefore throw every position open for contest in accordance with the constitution.He told reporters in Umuahia: “We have worked very hard to return to the path of peace and tranquility after what imposition cost us. Our 16 years in the saddle was stolen from us. But following our repentance and resolution, the PDP now has the capacity to change the change that changed us.”
Onuigbo said Nigerians have regretted voting for the APC at the federal level in 2015, because of the hunger they have suffered. And “as if this was not enough, the APC government is unfolding plans that may Islamise the country.”He said the only salvation left for the country is the return of the PDP in 2019 to right the wrongs of the APC. “Our life will change again for the better when the PDP, which has turned a new leaf, returns to power. We shall address the lopsided local government scenario. There must be restructuring of the country,” he added.
The Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has attributed the ongoing attacks by herdsmen in different parts of the country as a revenge for the killing of some of its members, in Mambila, Taraba State and Numan.The general secretary of the association Usman Baba, at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja claimed that the herdsmen have been neglected for so long and 732pastoralists were killed in Mambilla Jo’s including the killing of 82 women and children in Numan.
He described the anti-open grazing law put in place by some state government as draconian and to deliberately chase herdsmen away. He said the Ekiti State Government anti-open grazing law has a human face and represented the interests of the pastoralists.Usman, who admitted that the association still battles with ‘misguided and criminally-motivated elements,’ however emphasised that the fraction do not represent the mainstream of herdsmen.
According to him, there is a need for a federal judicial commission of enquiry to probe the killings and unravel the truth about those behind the attacks.