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Friday, May 24, 2024

Banditry: the ministerial idle talks – Onwubiko

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Banditry: the ministerial idle talks  – Onwubiko

 

What is happening with governance in Nigeria at the moment? Indeed, it is not a ruse to say that the quality of governance has never been this appalling and scandalous in Nigeria that is regarded as the biggest black democracy in the World.

What with the suffocating celebration of poor leadership tendencies in Nigeria’s public space that has so much angered and pushed many rational minds, to commence extraordinary contemplation and reflection on why Nigeria is so cursed with politicians in public offices who are so deficient in commonsense or who although vastly educated, deliberately chose to inundate the general public with toxic idle talks.

In other word, may I ask why there is seemingly a general climate of organised gimmickry, confusion and incoherent media communications by government officials?

Is engaging in idle talks by basically high profile government officials under the current Federal Government, their official modus vivendi, modus operandi and/or imprimatur? Has this Federal Government purchased the sole licence for annoying idle talks which the appointees are lavishly applying like their ‘ten commandments’?

The aforementioned questions must occupy the minds of rational analysts working on proffering workable panacea to the seemingly unending crisis of governance in Nigeria that has unleashed cocktails of frustrations, anger, hunger, poverty and deaths afflicting Nigeria.

When a fragile democracy like Nigeria is so unlucky to have largely self centred political opportunists as political leaders, what you get is excessive idle talks even by persons holding government offices that had been educated in some of the finest ivy league universities in the Western democracies.

This is not about sounding pessimistic or fatalistic or being unnecessarily critical about politicians. This is rather about real time apprehensions, shock and consternation arising from the publicised inability of key government officials, to swiftly adopt law-based strategies to expose terrorists and their sponsors in Nigeria.

But instead, we now have a bunch of politicians who hold some of the most high profile offices, dancing naked shamelessly and providing official cover for sponsors of terrorists and bandits whose identities are already known by them, going by their public admission.

It becomes even more annoying when it is a commonplace knowledge that EFCC, ICPC, NPF and every conceivable law enforcement agencies in Nigeria always inundate Nigerians with the identities of suspects who stole goats, fowls, yams, amongst others. Nigerian Army for instance has so much become dysfunctional that it parade in the mass media dead suspects killed by them during internal security operations.

Rarely, do these entities parade highly influential wealthy but dubious Nigerians who come in conflict with the law.

This irritating attitudes gained ascendancy with two public statements, one each from the Attorney General of the Federation and minister of justice, Mr.Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Solid Minerals Minister, Mr. Dele Alake.

Their separate but identical statements actually conveyed the idea that the central government is scared of sponsors of terrorists. You may also want to think that the government is a sympathiser of terrorists.

Before delving further to narrate to us the harm done to Nigeria by terrorists in the last one decade, let me quickly say that I rushed to take solace and heal myself of the anger that came from these two shameful statements by these two big men in the current Federal Government by digesting entirely the book by Pope Benedict XVI titled “Value in a time of upheaval”.

When reading this beautifully written book by one of the greatest philosophers of the twenty first century, I luckily ran into a highly relevant citation that I wish to share here to clearly show what a Sovereignty should look like or what function a state should render to the citizens. This citation will also show the responsibility for exercising authority by officials that enjoy the buy-in of the citizenry.

The illustrious Pope Benedict XVI who has proceeded to be with God, had written thus: “Let us begin by asking what the state in fact is. What is it for, and what is it not for? We will then look at the various answers that are given to these questions and, finally, attempt to arrive at a concluding answer.”

“What is the state? What purpose does it serve? We could quite simply affirm that it is the task of the state “to regulate human life in society,” creating a balance of freedom and good things that allows each individual to lead a life worthy of man. We could also say that the state guarantees the law, which is a precondition of freedom and of shared prosperity.

Governance is an essential element of the state, but this governance is not merely the exercise of power but the safeguard of the rights of each individual and the welfare of all. It is not the task of the state to create mankind’s happiness, nor is it the task of the state to create new men. It is not the task of the state to change the world into a paradise-nor can it do so. If it tries, it abandons its own boundaries and posits itself as something absolute…” See the book titled ‘VALUES IN A TIME OF UPHEAVAL’, BY JOSEPH CARDINAL RATZINGER (POPE BENEDICT XVI)”.

The next is to summarise what harm terrorists have unleashed on Nigeria in the last ten years or slightly more.

Global security experts wrote that Nigeria has one of the highest terrorism threat levels in the world. Despite a general decrease in terror-related deaths, the country recently recorded the eight highest number of people who died in terrorist attacks worldwide, after Myanmar. Several militant groups are active in Nigeria, leading to attacks on both civilian and military targets.

Boko Haram is by far the deadliest, mostly active in the north of the country. Certain deaths have also been attributed to Fulani extremists, while further violent outcomes have been characterizing conflicts among other herdsmen, farmers and ethnic groups.”(www.statista.com).

But in spite of the intensity, ferocity and severity of the consequences of attacks on Nigerians by terrorists/bandits, key government officials are saying there is no need for the citizens to know who the sponsors of these bloody terror attacks are, even when these persons are known to the Federal government.

This is an unmitigated insult on our collective psyche as a nation. Do these ministers take all the citizens for fools?

To even contemplate that a government put in office by the votes of the people of Nigeria, will summon courage to tell Nigerians who own the Sovereignty of Nigeria and from whose mandate the government officials derive the legitimacy to exercise authority, to tell us that the Federal Government will not name and shame identified financiers of terrorism in the country, is to say the least, an unpardonable anathema.

But whilst being unmindful of the anger of the public on the government’s inability to deliver social justice to the millions of families who are the victims of terror attacks, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), who disclosed this in an interview on the sidelines of the 27th Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) Ministerial Committee Meeting in Abuja, had earlier stated that the Federal Government has identified terrorism financiers in the country.

This show of shame by the AGF and justice minister was to be followed by another attempt to play with the collective intelligence of Nigerians when the Solid Minerals Minister raised alarm that powerful Nigerians are the sponsors of banditry.

The media report stated that this minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake said that the act of banditry and kidnappings associated with parts of the country were being sponsored by powerful Nigerians engaged in acts of illegal mining in the country.

Alake who spoke when he appeared before the House Committee on Solid Minerals to defend the Ministry’s 2024 budget estimate said those he described as heavy and powerful Nigerians were actually the ones behind the insecurity in areas of the country with solid mineral deposits.

He said the government was identifying those individuals and will take appropriate action against them as part of efforts to ensure that the areas are secured for investors who have shown interest in investing in the solid minerals sector in the country.

He said: “One discovery that we have made is that a lot of these insecurities and banditry associated with this sector are sponsored by illegal miners.

“These are not your artisan miners. They are not the people who pick gold on the ground. These are heavy and powerful individuals in our country. They are Nigerians and not foreigners.

“Yes, you can see foreigners as symptoms, but they are not the basics. Nigerians are the powers behind those foreigners that you see on the streets. We are identifying them and employing various strategies, both kinetic and non-kinetic.

“The non-kinetic with that artisan miners, I gave them an ultimatum that they should form themselves into cooperatives because every Nigerian has a right to life and necessities and if the government cannot provide these necessities, we cannot push them into the bush.” The Solid minerals minister concluded.

When the justice minister goofed on this strategic issue of justice delivery, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), immediately called on the Attorney General of the Federation and minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, to make full disclosures to Nigerians regarding the identities and particulars of offences of the daredevil financiers of terrorism in the country.

The group, however, faulted the position of the government that it wouldn’t name and shame the financiers so as not to jeopardise investigation.

HURIWA said the failure of the current government to disclose the identities of the financiers of the terrorists whose activities have led to the killings of over 50,000 citizens over the past decade, amounted to cover-up on the part of the current administration going by the fact that investigation have gone on for far too long, which led to the identification of the suspected financiers of terrorism in Nigeria.

The Rights group wondered the kind of investigation that would go on infinitum which offends global best practices, adding that in advanced democracies, theyautomatically publish and authorise the release of information on the particulars of offences and the identities of financiers of terrorism as soon as these information is generated and therefore wonders whether Nigeria is an island.

HURIWA said it was worried that Tinubu’s administration was adopting the same archaic, shady and ludicrous pattern adopted by its predecessor, which wasted over three years without publishing the names of the financiers of terrorists in Nigeria, even when in 2022, the United Arab Emirates had convicted some of those financiers of terrorism in Nigeria, when the Dubai law enforcement Agency intercepted the Nigerian sponsors of the boko haram terrorists as they arrived from Nigeria.

HURIWA also said even the USA published the full identities of the aforementioned financiers of terrorism in Nigeria convicted in Dubai.

According to the national coordinator of the group, Onwubiko, the minister of justice got it wrong for failing to give Nigerians the identities of the suspected financiers of terrorism because as far back as 2022, six Nigerians were publicly sanctioned by the United States for raising funds in United Arab Emirates for the terrorist group, Boko Haram, where they were convicted.

Besides, HURIWA maintained that the Freedom of Information Act was a law of the federation, which obliged the government to provide relevant details of the identities of outlaws and terrorist masterminds.

Only few hours back, the Defence minister who went to the National Assembly to defend the 2023 supplementary budget and the 2024 budget, said his ministry needed humongous budgetary allocations so the defence institutions which is the military in summary, can defeat terrorists in one year.

This same military has spent over ten years battling terrorists without making any verifiable success.

This ministerial idle talk on how big money budget can decisively defeat well entrenched terrorists that the same government said it can’t disclose the identities of their sponsors, the same government wants heavy financial firepower as budget for the ministry if defence so as to defeat terrorists whose sponsors government officials are protecting their identities. This is ludicrous.

Can anyone tell these ministers to desist from engaging in irritating idle talks?

I think these politicians talk down on Nigerians as if the citizens are too gullible to act and in reality, majority of Nigerians are indeed gullible and don’t have the fighting spirit to challenge these idle talkers who hold government offices at the highest levels and due to their lack of commitment and competencies, Nigeria continues to go down the drain.

I’m sure even Satan that personifies unquantifiable evil, is angry about the poor state of governance of Nigeria in this 21st century world.

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.

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