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Emmanuel Onwubiko: We wail and president Buhari mourns

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Nigeria’s security has deteriorated to a catastrophic dimension.

Whether you are in the West, North or South, there is a general climate of insecurity and sadly, there is abysmal absence of political leadership at every level.

There is nowhere in this World whereby armed non-state actors unleash mayhem of horrendous proportions and have almost always gone unpunished because there is no political will to crush the killers in the most decisive way.

Importantly, the void in capacity for command and control is felt more at the centre because the Constitution has vested the powers and authority to command and control the deployment of the members of the armed forces of Nigeria in the hands of the holder of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who is legally known as the Commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

So in this case whereby the centre can no longer hold, things have fallen apart all over the Country ( to borrow from the books of Professor Chinua Achebe of the blessed memory).

Contrary to the lame argument by the minister of information and culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed that insecurity is a global phenomenon, the hard fact is that Nigeria is witnessing unique characteristics of violence in a scale that can at best be compared to the Holocaust and the killings of the 6 million Jews by Hitler and his killer Squads of pre-second World War German Army.

It is very likely that Lai Mohammed confused his understanding of our peculiar security mess with the observation made in a book by some Western authors of the book “Media and Society” which I will include some citations whereby they addressed the global problems of inequalities.

The authors wrote as follows: “Looking at the world globally, and at individual Western societies, it soon becomes evident that there are major social inequalities. Societies consist of a complex network of groups with different sometimes competing, sometimes Overlapping-interests. Some of these groups are advantaged (in terms of such social goods as housing, education, and life opportunities) by virtue of their birth, their wealth, their class position, their skin colour, and their gender.

Consequently, there are advantaged and disadvantaged groups in society, or, to put another way, dominant and subordinate groups. Three major areas of social division are class, gender, and race, although in some contexts religion, age, sexuality, caste, and education can be equally divisive in ways that are often closely related to these three primary categories. Class, race, and gender frequently restrict or create opportunities for individuals and groups to flourish and to attain coveted positions in society”.

The authors submitted further that: “Since the beginnings of colonial explorations of the rest of the world by Europe in the sixteenth century there have been major differences in wealth between different countries and cultures. While you might imagine that the world is becoming more economically equal in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the opposite seems to be true… Inequality is on the increase. In 1976 Switzerland was 52 times richer than Mozambique; in 1997 it was 508 times richer. Two hundred and fifty years ago, the richest countries were only five times richer than the poorest, and Europe only twice as rich as China or India (New Internationalist magazine).

They then affirmed: “The gap between rich and poor is also huge and increasing within Australia, the United Kingdom, and the USA. It is estimated that, in Britain in the 1970s. 7 percent of the population owned 84 per cent of the wealth; currently, it is estimated that 1 per cent owns 50 per cent of wealth. While many wars and social conflicts are presented in the media as religious or ethnic struggles- for example Muslims against Christians, Tuts against Hutus- these may be better understood as struggles caused by social and financial inequalities”. (Media and Society Fourth Edition by Michael O’Shaughnessy & Jane Stadler).

But a damning report on the carnage of bloodletting across the Nigeria this year was released recently by SB Morgen (SBM) Intelligence, which stated that at least 964 officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Nigerian military were killed in combatant attacks in 2021.

Giving breakdown of the casualties, it stated that 985 security operatives comprising 642 military officers, 322 police officers, 11 Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officers, five Customs officials, two Department of State Services (DSS) operatives, two Immigrations officers, and a Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) officer were killed in the last one year.

The report released by the research and intelligence firm, titled ‘Nigeria at war: Combatant casualties, examined combatant attacks in the period of Q4,2020 and Q3,2021.

The report, however, did not examine the number of civilian deaths within the period under review but rather highlights deaths of non-state actors.

In the non-state actors category, the report also revealed that 973 Boko Haram members, 1,989 bandits and 88 kidnappers have been gunned down between October 2020 and September 2021.
SBM intelligence revealed that 100 outlawed IPOB members, 290 cultists, 129 vigilantes, nine militants and nine smugglers were also killed in the period under review.

According to the firm, the report was based on a number of gathering tools including the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria security tracker, as well as SBM’s own internal database of security incidents around the country.

They observed that in recent years, insecurity has worsened in many parts of the country. There have been cases of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, armed robbery, farmers-herders clashes and other violent crimes.

To curb the violent attacks, the country’s military is currently carrying out operations in many parts of the country, especially in the northern part of the country.

Based on these figures of casualties, the report concluded that Nigeria is at war. “The Uppsala Conflict Data Programme defines war as a state-based conflict that reaches at least 1,000 battle-related deaths in a specific calendar year,” the report said.

“The most known and influential definition was developed by David Singer and Melvin Small in the framework of the ‘Correlates of War (COW)’ project at Michigan University which has assembled statistical data on wars around the world since 1816.

“It also defines war as any violent conflict with at least 1,000 killed combatants in a year. Both definitions exclude genocides and sporadic massacres and make efforts to include only casualties that belong to organised parties to the violence.

“This filtering has given us a total of 964 soldiers and policemen killed in the period, while 3,071 people belonging to either Boko Haram, IPOB, or various militant and bandit groups have been killed in that period. The offshoot of this is that we can only say that Nigeria is at war.”

From the above scientific compilation, it is evident that Lai Mohammed was been delusional to think that the insecurity troubling Nigeria is global.

The fact is that President Muhammadu Buhari has abdicated his functions as the Commander-in-chief and has become the Chief mourner. Governors like that of Kaduna State has also done nothing but created a ministry for internal security with a Commissioner whose job specifications is to reel out statistical data of the number of civilian deaths from the terrorist attacks unleashed on mostly Christian population of Southern Kaduna. The terrorist groups in the North West have stopped segregation of who to kill and are now carrying out indiscriminate terrorist attacks.

We will very shortly see what the functions of the Commander-in-chief are based on the Constitutional provision of the constitution of the USA. Nigeria got the idea of her Presidential system of government from the system in practice in the USA.

The U.S. Constitution says, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,” which also applies to other branches, such as the Air Force. The Constitution says nothing about what the commander in chief actually does. Constitutional experts have been debating the CiC’s duties for a long time. The debate still isn’t settled.

The Buck Stops Here: The people who drafted and ratified the Constitution believed in civilian control of the military. They invested the president, a civilian office, with the power to command the armed forces. Military officers swear to obey the president’s orders. As CiC, presidents don’t normally direct battlefield strategy. Instead, they wield CiC power in other ways: Ordering troops overseas to fight. Negotiating treaties to end hostilities. These do need Senate approval.

Uche Igwe a Nigerian born academic and a doctorate degree holder working as a researcher in the United Kingdom has put it succinctly when he concluded that President Muhammadu Buhari has done little to address Nigeria’s ongoing terrorism and insecurity. Partly, the researcher blamed the President for what he calls the deliberate politicisation of (in)security makes matters worse.

He wrote that the prevalent perception in Nigeria is that politicians from the northern part of the country are sympathisers and likely beneficiaries of insecurity in the region. Many of these politicians use religious bigotry and ethnicity as potent tools for mobilisation. Insecurity was a major part of the campaigns led to the defeat of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 by Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General. However, earlier in 2012, Boko Haram had named the same Buhari, then Presidential candidate of Congress for Progressive Change, an opposition party, as one of their mediators. After his victory in 2015, Buhari vowed to crush the insurgency. To date, attacks continue and those who profess Christian faith predominantly remain targets. Many have been abducted given the option of converting to Islam or face execution. The United States recently put Nigeria on a blacklist for engaging in religious freedom violations. A recent report published by Amnesty International revealed how older people are particularly exposed to the brutality of armed groups, including witnessing the rape of their own children.

Dr Igwe wrote: “Historically, the group founded by the late Mohammed Yusuf was known as the ‘ECOMOG boys’ and used for political ends, especially to rig elections, but it did not take long before politicians lost their control and became targets. Many politicians still pay ‘protection monies’ to these terrorist groups in order to be allowed to visit their constituencies.”

In Nigeria since the year 2015 till date, President Muhammadu Buhari has embraced the monotonous past time of issuing drab press releases mourning the dastardly killings of innocent citizens by terrorists and then he goes to bed and await another terrorist attack to issue another of the very lame media statement expressing ‘shock’ at the cruel and gruesome massacre of citizens by terrorists. And the citizens continue to WAIL. Meanwhile the national assembly has no interest in finding legislative panacea to these troubling security threats but are enjoying the Bonanza of a contract to renovate the National Assembly complex with a whooping N42 billion which is two times what it cost to put it up few years back.

In the USA, the President talks and enforces policy reforms to address cases of school shooting which is a troubling phenomenon in the USA. For instance, when Donald Trump was in office and there was a school shooting he made a moving and passionate statement that ‘No Child Should Be in Danger.’ Read President Trump’s Reaction to Deadly Florida School Shooting’.

President Trump offered comforting words but no policy prescriptions when he addressed a grieving nation the day after a deadly school shooting in Florida.

“To every parent, teacher, and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain,” Trump said Thursday morning. “We are all joined together as one American family, and your suffering is our burden also.”

“No child,” he added, “no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school.”

Times magazine reports that 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a former student opened fire on campus. It was the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 20 children and six adults.

Trump’s statement came a few hours after he tweeted that the gunman—identified by the Broward County Sheriff’s office as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz — was “mentally disturbed,” and those who knew him should have reported him to the authorities.

During his speech, Trump said the country needs to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” But he notably did not mention guns or gun control in the entirety of the roughly 6.5-minute statement. In the wake of past mass shootings, Trump has criticized talking about politics or gun policy as a reaction to the tragedy.

He said that he will plan a trip to Parkland, Florida and called for decisive steps to be taken after the shooting, but he did not elaborate on what the solutions might be.

“It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” Trump said. “We must actually make that difference.”
Read a transcript of Trump’s remarks below.

“My fellow Americans, today I speak to a nation in grief. Yesterday, as school filled with innocent children and caring teachers became the scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil. Around 2:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, police responded to reports of gunfire at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a great and safe community. There, a shooter who is now in custody opened fire on defenseless students and teachers. He murdered 17 people and badly wounded at least 14 others. Our entire nation with one heavy heart is praying for the victims and their families. To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain. We are all joined together as one American family and your suffering is our burden also. No child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning. Each person who was stolen from us yesterday had a full life ahead of them, a life filled with wondrous beauty and unlimited potential and promise. Each one had dreams to pursue, love to give and talents to share with the world, and each one had a family to whom they meant everything in the world. Today we mourn for all of those who lost their lives. We comfort the grieving and the wounded, and we hurt for the entire community of Parkland, Florida, that is now in shock and pain and searching for answers. To law enforcement, first responders and teachers who responded so bravely in the face of danger, we thank you for your courage. Soon after the shooter, I spoke with Governor Scott to convey our deepest sympathies to the people of Florida and our determination to assist in any way that we can. I also spoke with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. I’m making plans to visit Parkland to meet with families and local officials and to continue coordinating the federal repose. In these moments of heartache and darkness, we hold on to God’s word in Scripture, I have heard your prayer and seen your tears, I will heal you. We trust in that promise and we hold fast to our fellow Americans in their time of sorrow. I want to speak now directly to America’s children, especially those who feel lost, alone, confused or even scared. I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you and who will do anything at all to protect you. If you need help, turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police officer or a faith leader. Answer hate with love. Answer cruelty with kindness. We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life that creates deep and meaningful human connections and that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors. Our administration is working closely with local authorities to investigate the shooting and learn everything we can. We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health. Later this month, I’ll be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference. In times of tragedy, the bonds that sustain us are those of family, faith, community and country. These bonds are stronger than the forces of hatred and evil. And these bonds grow even stronger in the hours of our greatest need, and so always, but especially today, let us hold our loved ones close. Let us pray for healing and for peace and let us come together as one nation to wipe away the tears and strive for a much better tomorrow. Thank you and God bless you all. Thank you very much”. This was the speech of Number 45 at the White House.

Fast forward to December 1, 2021 when the Oxford High School shooting happened but President Joe Biden was decisive.

President Biden, Gov. Whitmer react, express heartbreak.

President Joe Biden said as follows:

“My heart goes out to the families that are enduring the unimaginable grief of losing a loved one,” said President Joe Biden. “You’ve got to know that whole community has to be in a state of shock right now.”

It must be recalled that in the USA, no mass shootings have happened without the suspects been arrested and prosecuted immediately and punished. In Nigeria, there are 99.9% chances that terrorists go unpunished for the gruesome massacre of over 30,000 citizens since 2015 and sadly, the killers who were arrested are later released and reintegrated into the same society whereby the committed horrendous crimes.

*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was National Commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA. He can be reached on www.thenigerianinsidernews.com.