FRSC to bear arms? Perish the thought!

For some time now, the idea that the Federal Road Safety Corp officials need to bear arms in order to effectively discharge their duties has been flying in the air. As their duties often require law enforcement, and are mandated to deal with all manner of drivers, many of whom are tough and brutal themselves (partly due to the fact that a little bit of madness itself is required to even drive on our roads), it has been propounded that FRSC officials need to be armed to be able to carry out their mandate appropriately.

That should have been a straightforward argument. Except that this is Nigeria, where nothing is straightforward.

In Nigeria, the gun is seen as the ultimate symbol of power. With it, soldiers have taken control of government several times; with it, “bloody civilians” have been harassed, oppressed and suppressed. There are in fact two classes of Nigerian civilians: thoses protected by men with guns, and those persecuted by men with guns. Whereas, all Nigerians are suposed to be in the former category, the truth is that that rarely happens.

We live on a country where those who are supposed to protect us see us as people to be exploited. For months, citizens groaned and cried to the government about the excesses of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, an outfit of the police meant to prevent and attack robberies. SARS promptly turned itself into a monstrous agency oppressing the very people it was meant to protect. Because the squad was given a wide range of sweeping powers, all in the bid to make it brutally effective in dealing with robbers, who themselves are almost always brutal, SARS got power drunk. They molested at will, killed at will and went away with it. It was only when the outrage against the abuse reached alarming levels that the government felt something should be done.

Nigeria raises monsters against its own citizens. In developed democracies, the armed forces remain the citizens’ best friend. In Nigeria, no worse fate can befall a person who crosses the path of an armed official. When their vehicles approach behind ours, we swerve out of the way. When we mistakenly offend them, we’re made to frog jump and profusely apologize. I witnessed some armed officers slapping a man in the presence of his wife and kids. His offence? He didn’t make way for their vehicle soon enough.

Armed officials do not see themselves as below the law, but above it. From the military to the police, from DSS to NDLEA, from Customs to NSCDC, once you’re given the gun, you suddenly become above the law. You are permitted to drive against traffic, disobey all traffic laws, ignore financial obligations, and even until recently, refuse to pay electricity bills. A simple notice of “Military Zone, Keep Off” is all you need to ward off all those intruders.

To make matters worse, those who are supposed to change the unfortunate behavior of our armed forces towards civilians are the greatest beneficiaries of the system. They are delighted when their hoardes of security aides scare the hell out of fellow road users. They are happy when their officers hold horsewhips and apply same on citizens who are just going about their duties, all in the bid to “clear road for oga”. They like it.

So, when I heard the FRSC is about to be added to the list of gun- wielding officers, I sighed. Because I know there can only be one end to it, and it won’t be good. Without weapons, the FRSC is already a fearsome unit. They have this unique way of instilling discipline, even if temporary, into even the harshest drivers. Whatever their strategy, which makes them even more feared, sometimes more than policemen, on the road, should be maintained.

We know the argument from government would be that the privilege won’t be abused, or that the lives of FRSC officers on duty are always at risk without weapons. But the issue is that we would only be creating more power drunk officers. And civilians, unfortunately, would be at the receiving end.


Is Buhari Holding Us Down?

Since President Muhammadu Buhari travelled out of the country for a two week vacation, two major decisions have been taken by his deputy, who has been acting on his behalf. First, he promptly fired the then Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, a powerful member of the famous inner circle, (or cabal), of the presidency. That action was perhaps the swiftest reaction to any issue in particular, that we have witnessed so far from the Buhari administration. Daura had reportedly ordered an invasion of the national assembly unilaterally. He was fired, although we were all made to believe he was hitherto untouchable. And, he was fired on the day the alleged atrocity was committed.

Secondly, Osinbajo ordered a complete overhaul of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS. According to the statement released by the spokesman to the vice president, he practically only stopped short of completely dismantling the squad altogether. For months, Nigerians had screamed for a reform or the scrapping of the SARS unit. On social media, the hash tag #EndSARS trended endlessly, with videos of many atrocities of SARS attached. The outrage was in vain. Until now.

While it is not known how much of an input President Buhari made into the two actions taken in his absence, the general consensus is that Lawal Daura would probably still be in office if the president was around. And SARS would remain untouched. That skepticism is not farfetched.

For example, this is not the first time the DSS would be used to carry out rogue missions. As a matter of fact, it was the DSS, under Daura, that produced a damming “security report” which the Senate relied upon in rejecting Ibrahim Magu’s nomination for the chairmanship of EFCC; not once, but twice. The DSS broke into the homes of judges in gestapo fashion in what was ridiculously tagged a sting operation. Daura’s DSS has arrested dozens of people without charges levelled against them, keeping them indefinitely. A certain journalist, Jones Abiri, has been held for over two years without even being taken to court. All these actions took place while president Buhari was at home. No action whatsoever was taken against Daura.

Although it is believed that the invasion of the national assembly without authorization was a step too far, there is little evidence Mr Daura would have been as severely reprimanded, if it wasn’t Osinbajo that was in charge. We were made to believe the President actually sanctioned the sack, but very little suggest it was, abinitio, the initiative of the president.

President Buhari once openly admitted that the Inspector-general of police, Ibrahim Idris, disobeyed his orders. It was a strange anticlimax to realize that the IGP simply walked away unscathed from such unbelievable insubordination. Not even a rebuke followed. As a result, Mr Idris grew a thougher skin, and rode roughshod over all whom he willed. He ignored the President’s orders anyway, so when the Senate had reasons to summon him, he casually ignored them, not once, nor twice, but thrice! Would Professor Osinbajo have tolerated such reckless abuse of power? I doubt it.

When Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole decided to whip an errant minister into line, he accused the president of tolerating insubordination from his appointees. He painted the picture of a president who had no control over his own cabinet.

When eight law makers, led by the impeached former speaker in Benue decided to do the unthinkable by suspending twenty two other lawmakers, and also serving an impeachment notice on Governor Samuel Ortom, they did so with the backing of a strong detachment of police and DSS operatives. The officers were so brazen, that they practically prevented the lawmakers loyal to the governor from accessing their chambers, while at the same time, offering protection to the eight rogue lawmakers. The condemnation was resounding. However, while the president absolved himself of any blame in the illegal drama that played out, he didn’t take any action against the police or DSS which supervised the mini coup.

We cannot say yet, whether president Buhari is all out in support of the illegalities perpetrated by some of his appointees; or is actually unaware of them. We do not know whether the president is the real director of the show, or is just a spectator. What we do know, however, is that, under President Buhari’s watch, wrong things have happened, and nothing has been done to correct them. Till today, we still don’t know who ordered the reinstatement, and promotion of Abdulrasheed Maina, a man convicted and sacked for corruption in 2014. We still have not got a reply to allegations of graft and nepotism levelled against NNPC’s GMD, Maikanti Baru, by Ibe Kachikwu. Kemi Adeosun, minister of Finance, was accused of forgery. Neither the minister, nor the presidency, has even attempted responding to the allegation, two months after. All these have happened right under the nose of the president. And the perpetrators have simply walked away.

Perhaps, the words of the president himself, is instructive at this point. He had warned that his age would likely limit his performance. But it seems too many people are taking advantage of that. If truly the president can’t move at a faster pace, then he must be aware that his slow mien hasn’t necessarily helped the nation. Infact, it has slowed us down. For example, it took the president six whole months to constitute his cabinet. Boards of parastatals took almost forever to be filled. At a point, two ministers who were already screened by the Senate waited for months before being sworn in! There seems to be a general disdain for urgency in the activities of the President. He may believe his style works for him, but he must know that it has no positive effects on the country. In fact it seems to hold us down.

That’s why it always seem there is a new lease of life in the government whenever the president goes on an extended vacation. Whereas, as the father of the nation, it is from him that we’re all supposed to draw our inspiration.

The Oyo-Ogbomoso Road Is The “Boko-Haram” Of The Southwest

There’s always that one road. That one road you’re dead scared of plying. Among the dangerous roads in Nigeria, the Oyo-Ogbomoso axis of the Ibadan-Oyo-Ogbomoso-Ilorin road would rank among the very top. There are no armed robbers on that road, neither do kidnappers find it attractive. Yet, “Oyo-Ogbomoso” boasts a grim fifteen deaths every week, that’s about eight hundred fatalities every year, in avoidable, yet totally unavoidable accidents.

Just some months back, close to a dozen government secondary school principals, who were returning from a compulsory meeting in Ibadan, the state capital, perished on that road.

The Oyo-Ogbomoso road is part of the larger Ibadan-Ilorin road, the major link between the southwest and the north. The construction of that road was part of the first major projects initiated by the Olusegun Obasanjo government in 1999. Work began almost immediately. The road was naturally segmentalized into three: Ibadan-Oyo; Oyo-Ogbomoso; and Ogbomoso-Ilorin. While the first and the last parts of the road have since been completed (and have even started degenerating into stages of disrepair), the Oyo-Ogbomoso axis has been left uncompleted. For eighteen years!

It is not my intention to dabble into the technicalities or politics that has prevented the completion of the road project, but to draw attention of all and sundry to the horrors travellers and transporters, who cannot but ply that dangerous road, go through.

Sometimes in 2002, my dad and I plied that road for the first time. I was then processing my admission into LAUTECH, Ogbomoso (a school whose owner states have also ironically abandoned to rot). It took just one trip for my dad to blurt out: “You can NEVER attend that school!”. When I asked why, he wondered how any right thinking parent would allow his child travel on that kind of road, when being killed on it isn’t a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’. Well, I eventually gained admission to LAUTECH, and I travelled to and fro for six years. I survived. But it was partly because I avoided that route like a plague. The longer Ibadan-Iwo-IfeOdan-Ogbomoso route was the saving grace. And it was for one single reason: trailers and trucks weren’t plying that road. Not that they wouldn’t have loved to, but many barriers preventing articulated vehicles from travelling through it littered that road.

But as soon as the Ibadan-Oyo part of the project was completed, it made little sense going through Iwo. The new dualized expressway was too tantalizing to be ignored. And it was only a matter of time before the Oyo-Ogbomoso part was completed, or so we thought. So traffic resumed along the dreaded road. And it has been nightmares ever since.

The Oyo-Ogbomoso road is not only an important access route for those going from Ibadan to Ilorin and the entire north, it is also the major axis for goods transported from the north down south, and vice versa. So, it is a road naturally populated with trailers and trucks. The menace of the trucks, which often break down at will on the road, is enough a nightmare in itself. Hardly does a day go by without one truck breaking down somewhere along the road, causing headaches for travellers and road safety officials.

The road in itself is very shy in width. It can scarcely accommodate two vehicles side by side. And since it has very little room on its sides, many lives have been lost to head-on collisions when overtaking vehicles have missed their timing. The very narrow width of the road means there is no room for mistakes when overtaking long vehicles. That, in itself has been the cause of many deaths on that road.

The journey along Oyo-Ogbomoso road should last a maximum of thirty five minutes on a good day. But it never lasts anything below an hour and a half. Apart from being a major drain of manhours, it is also a major killer of productive people. Strangely, the road is of huge economic importance to the country. That’s why the lackadaisical attitude of government to completing that road is utterly strange. If a portion of the road that connects the entire north to the southwest could be abandoned just like that, then it is a sign that government has zero priorities.

Few days ago, Ogbomoso residents took fate to thier hands and decided to vent their anger, protesting government’s inaction on a road whose contract was awarded eighteen years ago. They blocked the road for hours, sending signals far and wide. The statistics they reeled out made for grim reading. That road has slaughtered more people than HIV or Boko Haram: 14,040, that is, fourteen thousand and fourty documented souls, have been lost to Oyo-Ogbomoso road since the contract for its construction was awarded eighteen years ago.

But it begins to make sense that government hasn’t constructed that road when you consider that politicians hardly ply it. If they’re going to Ogbomoso, they simply fly to Ilorin airport, and drive on the dualized expressway to Ogbomoso, which takes all of twenty minutes. They do everything to avoid the Oyo-Ogbomoso road, because they know it’s a literal slaughter slab. And they don’t want to be slaughtered. Leaving hapless citizens to grapple with sorrow tears and blood on a road they can’t do without.

A visit to Bowen University Teaching Hospital (formerly Baptist Medical Centre), in Ogbomoso would reveal that the greatest accident casualties they record are of victims of crashes along Oyo-Ogbomoso road. Either of people on their way out of Ogbomoso, or on their way in.

Ogbomoso is a city united in grief of casualties of the death trap known as the Oyo-Ogbomoso road. Things must change. Even if the road was actually bloodthirsty, it should be drunk by now. Enough, should be enough.

Kemi Adeosun Should Tone Down On Her Silence

Mum has been the word. Since Premium Times, an online newspaper broke the report of her alleged forgery of NYSC documents, Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s British-trained minister of Finance, has embarked on a public speaking fast. Not that she was ever the type that would want to hug the headlines at every opportunity, but she is desperately trying too hard to maintain “dignified” silence. Except that she is actually not silent; as a matter of fact, she’s been screaming at our faces.

The report was straightforward. And it should have attracted a straightforward response. Or, what part of “I didn’t do it” is so difficult to say, or write?

So, she was accused of obtaining a fraudulent exemption letter, an equivalent of the discharge certificate, from NYSC. Except that, she wasn’t entitled to one, as she graduated before the age of 30. There are so many things obviously wrong with that provision in itself. I believe the NYSC should have long been reviewed, reformed or even scrapped. Many are of the opinion that the scheme has already outlived its usefulness. But the law is the law. I do not personally see any sense in a woman in her late thirties, or early forties, enrolling for the youth service, just to fulfil righteousness, when she had practically spent her entire life in another country. Adeosun immediately became the victim of a system that is flawed and has refused to reform itself. Our country doesn’t even require a university degree to run for political office, yet requires one to register for N30,000- a-month N-Power program.

However, at the root of Kemi Adeosun’s crisis, is not the fact that she chose to skip NYSC altogether, but that she is alleged to have skipped it fraudulently, and had been more fraudulent in keeping the scandal a secret.

Sometimes in 2002, according to reports, she returned to Nigeria, where she worked for some high profile private firms before becoming the Finance Commisioner in her native Ogun state in 2011. It must have been during one of the interviews for her many jobs that the need for the NYSC document became an issue. Knowing how irrelevant the scheme had become in the last couple of decades, she must have thought getting past its barrier would be the easiest of tasks. It was. Until some senators discovered the fraud.

Mrs Adeosun allegedly applied for an exemption certificate. But when she was informed she wasn’t entitled to one as she graduated aged 22, she found another way. According to Premium Times investigative report, she obtained a fake certificate, complete with forged signatures and all. Whether she knew the certificate was fake or not, we cannot tell. But it was obtained in 2009, seven years after her return to Nigeria.

It is alleged that the fraud was discovered during the screening exercise in 2015 by senators, who promptly cashed in. They offered to suppress the information for money. The DSS, which screens political appointees, need to tell us how, with their forensic lenses, they missed that kind of information.

Mrs Adeosun had reportedly been blackmailed into releasing spurious sums of money to the senators in exchange for keeping her secret a secret. Things went awry, and it was exposed, and the rest, as they say, is silence.

If truly Mrs Adeosun chose to play along with blackmailers, she has commuted a huge fraud with Nigeria’s finances. If she was defrauded into getting a fake NYSC document, then she needs to come clean. Not even has the NYSC itself helped matters at all. In a bland statement, they claimed to be investigating how she obtained their letter. They’ve gone silent ever since. And the federal government? Zilch. The government rather appears to be pulling all the strings to let the Finance minister off the hook. If not for the fact that the NYSC DG post is occupied by a soldier, perhaps the arm twisting would have gone more according to plan.

So, the government by their action and inaction, has proved they would condone illegality, if it is committed by one of them. The least Mrs Adeosun could have done, was to have issued a statement, explaining how she got her certificate. If she got it fraudulently as alleged, she needs to step aside. But she has explored none of the honourable options. Rather, she has followed a bad advice of keeping mum. Ostensibly, because she knows Nigerians are easily distracted. In a month or two, no one would be talking about her again, she assumes. So instead of speaking, and removing all doubts, why not keep quiet, and weather the storm, until the matter dies a natural death? Smart.

What Kemi Adeosun doesn’t understand is that, she has spoken very loudly with her silence. So loud is her sound, that we advise she tone it down a bit. Does she take us all for fools? And the government that has continued to carry on as if the case of forging official documents is no longer a big deal, should note that citizens are observing them quite well. And are taking notes. If a minister accused of a crime is being shielded by an administration that touts integrity and anti corruption, the the joke is on them.

Mrs Kemi Adeosun is, by her unfortunate silence, a liability to the government she serves. She is even a liability to herself. The path of integrity would have been to step down, even if she committed the crime in error. The infamous “eleventh commandment” which says ‘Thou Shalt Not Be Caught’ was broken.

By stepping down, she would have taken a painful step, but would have secured her tomorrow, untainted, home, or abroad. But if she tenaciously holds on to today, in spite of her alleged misdeed, she would lose it. And lose tomorrow, too.

Kemi Adeosun Saga Reveals APC In All Its Hypocritic Glory

It didn’t actually take long for many people to see the APC for what they truly are, a group power-hungry, strange bedfellows who lied their way to power. They professionalized propaganda, lies and half truths. They screamed blue murder at every opportunity when they were in the opposition, claiming PDP, and Goodluck Jonathan were solely responsible for every problem Nigeria faced. Nigerians fancied a change, and gave them the benefit of doubt. They got on board, and promptly changed the rules.

APC, from all indications, had no real plan for Nigeria. Already in his fourth year, we can’t say what exactly is the blueprint of President Buhari for Nigeria. The rehashed anti-corruption mantra is perhaps the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on sensible human beings. Not only is there no war against corruption, there is actually a fertile ground for corruption to thrive more than ever before. Whereas, Goodluck Jonathan was abused for attempting to take steps to block some leakages, Buhari’s government has not only encouraged plundering of national treasures, he has given the perpetrators state backing.

As minister for petroleum, Buhari has overseen the most reckless subsidy regime in the fourth republic. Their government is also semantically corrupt, so they don’t call it subsidy, a word that would continue to taunt them for their political opposition to Jonathan’s 2012 plan to end the cankerworm once and for all; but “under recovery”. At the last count, they were spending N1.4B per day, money that can’t be verified or even audited.

When the minister of state for petroleum, a man who is no more than a figurehead in the oil industry, raised the alarm on Maikanti Baru, NNPC GMD’s abuse of power and corruption, Buhari, the anti corruption god, quickly swept the matter under the carpet. Had that letter not been leaked to the press, nothing would have been known about the corruption going on there.

Abdulrasheed Maina, a man convicted of fraud and stealing, who was dismissed from office was reinstated through the back door, and promoted. Had the scandal not leaked, it would have been swept under the carpet as well.

We have seen corruption grow into a monster under Buhari. We were told policemen won’t extort on the roads once Buhari emerged as president. Rather, what we’ve seen is an IGP who has had case after case of corrupt allegation, dereliction of duty and insubordination levelled against him. President Buhari hasn’t summoned the courage to fire him. The police officers themselves have turned up their corrupt practices some notches higher. The armed robbery gang of the force, ironically named Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS have turned full blown terrorists. They kill, extort, harass, and oppress. Neither Buhari, nor his SAN deputy has as much as responded to the scandal.

I can go on and on. But its as clear as noonday to everyone that Buhari’s government is not only as bad as PDP, they are actually worse. The latest evidence has to be the scandal around Kemi Adeosun, the minister of finance. To be fair, Mrs Adeosun in all probability was at any point never aware of the necessity of the NYSC certificate. She didn’t school in Nigeria, and worked for more than fifteen years after graduating in the the UK. Serving in the NYSC was the least of her worries. When a plum job brought her back home, she was probably asked about her NYSC certificate somewhere, or advised on the need to get it. The rest, like they say, is history.

We actually can’t know the truth yet, because we Mrs Adeosun has kept mum. Probably on the advice, or instruction of the APC.

The allegation against Mrs Adeosun is that she obtained her NYSC exemption letter fraudulently, because she wasn’t even entitled to one in the first place. The scandal was reported by Premium Times after about a year of painstaking investigation. So well documented are the evidences that they are either a libelous smear campaign, or are absolutely spot on. The least expected from a government of integity is at least a statement. Neither the government nor the indicted minister has uttered a word. Lai Mohammed simply referred to a bland statement issued by NYSC on the matter as all the Buhari government had to say. They actually had nothing to say, and they said that nothing with aplomb.

What Kemi Adeosun did was forgery. Forgery is a crime. A crime is punishable to serve as a deterrent. When that crime is committed by a sitting minister, the least a government that touts integrity as a mantra should do is to ask her to at least step aside until her name is cleared. APC hasn’t done that. Rather, they have put NYSC under extreme pressure to clear the indicted minister.

The Kemi Adeosun saga has revealed APC in all of its hypocritic glory. They harbour criminals while prosecuting other criminals. Our Finance minister may have been accused of forgery, making her a security threat, but it doesn’t matter to them. They hope by keeping quiet, the scandal can die a natural death. It may work. Kemi Adeosun, Queens English and all, may after all survive the media scrutiny and the entire scandal. But, the APC has once again shown for all, who they really are. I, for one, always knew them for who they had always been: frauds.

Normalization of Nonsense in Nigeria

Pictures of dead bodies in Sokoto being loaded into trucks for mass burial hit a raw nerve within me. Sokoto, seems to me as one of the relatively peaceful States in northern Nigeria. But not anymore. Scores were killed, without any resistance from any kind of security structure, at the national or sub national level. And so, Nigeria seems to be turning into one huge mass grave.

Zamfara has consistently been a war zone for the better part of the last thirty six months. At a point, according to Senator Kabir Marafa, who represents the state at the Senate; Zamfara became an occupied territory, occupied by militias who were as bloodthirsty as they were unrelenting. It is to the eternal shame of its Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, that he is the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, an ambiguous body that has neither focus, direction, nor relevance. When the killings in Zamfara got quite unbearably high, Yari finally summoned courage to speak out, asking bereaved residents to pray unto God. He didn’t tell residents to hold him accountable for his inaction, partly due to the fact that sparking a debate on the killings may rub off negatively on the President; a man whose second term ambition is the most important project presently which mustn’t be derailed.

Herdsmen, who have always been regarded as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world, are living up to their billing. Almost unhinged, they have carried out mass killings in many parts of Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa and Kogi. Thousands have been killed in the so-called “Farmers-Herders clashes”, but which look anything but a “clash”, rather, resembling a premeditated orgy of fatal violence being meted out in pursuance of a land grab agenda and ethnic nationalism drive.

Killings of innocent persons on a large scale didn’t start today. It started with Boko Haram, a bloodthirsty group that sought implementation of strict Shari’a in parts of the North. At least, we knew that was a war. A war on terror that rightly attracted global attention. At some points, a state of emergency was even declared in the most affected States. Death tolls were depressing, but the were sadly expected. And we all looked forward to the end of the crisis. But while Boko Haram attacks have gladly receded, it seemed fatalities have just refused to go. People are still being killed continuously.

The tragic thing about the bloodshed we are grappling with now is that, while it is going on unabated, there is denial at the highest levels of authority on whether it is happening at all in the first place. Just the way Goodluck Jonathan pussyfooted in the moments immediately after the mysterious kidnap of Chibok girls, leading to a heavy cloud of denials and uncertainty hanging over the entire scenario, the Buhari administration has refused to admit that the killings going on in the country is abnormal, and that it requires a tough approach.

The reluctance of the Buhari government in dealing decisively with herdsmen attacks has given oxygen to conspiracy theories that, not only does the President approve of the killings, he is actually vigorously pursuing a Fulani nationalist agenda through herdsmen. The president has done very little to quench the fire of such propaganda. Rather, by his utterances, reactions and body language, President Buhari has given the killers every reason to believe they can go ahead without inhibition, as security forces are rarely deployed against them. As a matter of fact, the president’s security structure often take up the unpaid role of spokespersons for herdsmen.

Perhaps, the greatest tragedy of the Buhari administration is the unfortunate normalization of the gruesome killings going on in parts of the country. During the thick of the Boko Haram crisis, every report of bomblasts or death tolls sent chills down our spine. Protests, both offline, and online, were spontaneous reactions to the killings. We all thought it was abnormal that our country could become a hotbed of terror, a bad advertisement for all citizens. We tried to force the government to do the right thing: end the killings, or step aside. It was an apparent decider in the election of 2015. However, things have changed.

The online protests have ceased. The streets are carrying on as normal. We know people can become protest-weary, but our problem isn’t that we are protest-weary. We are simply told to see the killings as normal. The newspaper headlines are silent on deaths of innocent citizens. There is a quiet normalization of the murders. When we scream about it, we are told to stop heating the polity. When we keep screaming anyway, we are called politicians. What’s worse? The presidency even goes as far as claiming we shouldn’t shed hypocritical tears about the killings by herdsmen as more people died under several tragic circumstances under the previous administration.

So, we are required to sit down, and accept the deaths in good fate. We all would die one day anyway. So, we shouldn’t see the deaths of people in the middle belt, whose time has simply come, as anything unusual. And, as the defence minister also said, if we keep blocking the routes of grazing cattle, do we in our right senses assume we wouldn’t be killed? And, as Femi Adesina brilliantly opined, if we get tired of open grazing, shouldn’t we consider that donating our ancestral lands to herdsmen for ranching is better than allowing them kill us?

So, we know what to do to avoid the swords of the herdsmen. And if we refuse to do it, and they strike, we are to blame. Getting outraged over deaths we caused in the first place then, is sheer hypocrisy.

This is Nigeria. Sadly.

No, Mr President; IGP Idris Would Never Disregard Your Orders Without Your Consent!

So, in the latest episode of Buhari’s blame-show, which is entirely what the President has inundated us with since May 29, 2015, IGP Ibrahim Idris is the protagonist – no, that has always been Buhari -; the antagonist: that person who has always been the clog in the wheel of Buhari’s master plan for developing Nigeria, and delivering simple (and not so simple) campaign promises. IGP Idris should however not be worried, as he is in a very illustrious company: persons, things, situations and deities, that have been blamed by Buhari. In that list, you have Goodluck Jonathan (of course!); 16 years of PDP; corruption, also known as kwarapshin; God, yes God!; Baba’s age; a certain deputy director; Nigerian’s impatience; and so on, and so forth. As you can see, the list is almost inexhaustible.

The problem with the latest scapegoat in Buhari’s blamegame is that the culprit is an unusual one. The chief law enforcement officer! President Buhari had expressed surprise that the inspector general of police, who he sent to maintain law and order in Benue following the gruesome murder of 73 persons by Fulani Herdsmen, had only merely reported to Benue before zooming off to greener pastures in Nasarawa. He only spent a day there. The president claims he was only getting to know that the IGP had entirely flouted his directive.

Now, wait a minute. The IGP, flouting the President’s order! Not in America, or Britain, where every office has its own level of independence attached to it, but Nigeria, where every office holder knows his continued stay in that office depends on how the president feels about him? No. Rather, they will lick the boots of the president, and dance naked if need be, to prove their loyalty to him. They will do everything within their powers, including buying SUVs for the first lady, to remain on seat, and if the president asks that they go a mile, they will go four!

Nigeria is a country where patronage is key to survival. Eye service is the order of the day. Everyone wants the oga at the top to know they are “always loyal”. If you’ve forgotten, I’ll remind you of Suleiman Abba.

He was the IGP that superintended over the 2015 election. He had, by that time, only spent eights months in office. Immediately the election results were declared, and incumbent Goodluck Jonathan lost, IGP Abba switched loyalty almost immediately. He knew Jonathan had become lame duck, and Buhari would likely change all heads of security agencies immediately he assumes power. So, to preserve his reign, he started the bootlicking almost immediately. Sending a high powered unit to protect the president elect, he also made sure he was practically present at all public events involving Buhari, including when INEC presented Buhari his certificate of return. He did his best to worm his way into the heart of the then president elect.

Initially, President Jonathan felt the IGP was merely doing his job, professionally. But when the sycophancy reached apparent levels, he had himself asking: “wait a minute, who’s the president here”? And that very afternoon, Reuben Abati put out a statement, on Twitter, that IGP Abba had been fired, with Solomon Arase, then DIG Operations, replacing him. It caught everyone, including him by surprise.

Of course, no reasons were given for the sudden dismissal. So shocked was Abba, that be started reaching out to everyone that mattered to help him beg the president. There was so much confusion, that, on the handover day, the following day, he was in hiding. He had to be persuaded, hours later to formally hand over, in mufti! That’s Nigeria for you. If you dare the powers that put you on the seat, they will remove you without blinking.

That’s why I find it difficult to imagine a sitting IGP, disregarding the orders of a sitting president! A Nigerian president, one of the most powerful in the world, for that matter.

Crisis breaks out in Benue, Fulani Herdsmen murder 73 indigenes. The people cry out for help. The president asks the top police officer to relocate there. The IGP goes there, spends few hours, and walks away. 72 days later, the president is confronted with this scenario, and he claims he never knew the IGP never obeyed his orders! Believe that at your peril.

First, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders MACBAN, never denied carrying out the attacks. They blamed it on the grazing law enacted by the state. However, the immediate reaction from the police was that the attack was not by MACBAN, but was in fact a mere “communal clash”. That was ever before the president sent the IGP there. Then the minister of Agriculture, a Benue indigene, claimed government had neglected Fulani Herdsmen for too long, proposing cattle colonies for them all over the federation. Then the minister of defence actually wondered why we were surprised the Fulani Herdsmen were killing people, since those people “blocked their cattle routes” in the first place! And on, and on, and on.

The response of the Federal government to the Benue crisis in particular, was that of “that serves you right”. Whenever the government was forced to comment at all, they NEVER blamed the herdsmen. Infact, they often saw the herdsmen rather as the victims. Whether this was because President Buhari is a patron of the Miyetti Allah Breeders, one cannot tell. But, on several occasions, the Benue state governor had called for their arrest, with no one heeding the request. Not only were the herdsmen operating with impunity, their body language, threats and statements showed they were actually above the law. The IGP got the memo. These guys are untouchables.

So when the president gave a half-hearted order for the IGP to relocate to Benue, the IGP knew it was just for the cameras, and for the wailers to stop wailing. So disastrous was his town meeting with Benue citizens that he left with his tail between his legs. He knew he lied when he called the killings a communal clash. He knew herdsmen were killing, and vowed to continue to kill as long as Benue denies their cattle the right to open grazing, destroying farmlands in the process. He knew also, that the herdsmen hoped to kill them into submission, and that Buhari’s government is not bothered about that. So he knew the President’s order to him was not to end the killings, or arrest the killers (not one herder has been nabbed), but to dance to the gallery. His mistake was that he made it quite obvious.

The IGP that will disregard the President of Nigeria has not been born. IGP Idris was actually obeying Buhari by shunning Benue. Moreover, we know those Buhari would have sent to Benue if he truly wanted to end the bloodshed. We know how crocodiles smiled and pythons danced when Nnamdi Kanu got under Buhari’s skin. We know how hate speech is being termed a redline, and how the death penalty is being readied for such crime. The IGP knows the president won’t harm herdsmen. And so the errand to end herdsmen killings is only for pages of the newspaper.

To summarize the utter incompetence of their strategy, the president alleges to not know the operations of his police chief. And he said that before the cameras! And you believed that?