When we were told that thousands of Boko Haram fighters had surrendered to the military, I had my fears. I was worried because I did not see the so-called fighters submitting arms and ammunition. I did not see a single weapon in all the footages shared by the military. We were even told some commanders surrendered without ordinary kitchen knife. At another point, we were told that a senior Boko Haram commander called Amir Adamu also known as Rugu Rugu, had surrendered to troops of Operation Hadin Kai in Gwoza.
Rugu Rugu is responsible for the deaths of troops and innocent citizens around Mandara hill and Sambisa forest in Gwoza. He could not have been killing people without arms. Shockingly, the gigantic Rugu Rugu also yielded without a single weapon? Also, the so-called bomb makers – Musa Adamu a.k.a Mala Musa Abuja and his second in command, Usman Adamu a.k.a Abu Darda – surrendered without a single firearm. What a country! I could not understand why the military was celebrating terrorists capitulating without their weapons. The development looked more like a charade. They can’t be fighters in the real sense of it, without weapons.
Events of the last four weeks have confirmed my fears. The real terrorists are not submitting. This is the truth. Nine days ago, the real Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, who obviously did not surrender, ambushed our gallant soldiers in Monguno, Borno State, leaving scores dead. These soldiers were killed on their way to Maiduguri. They ran into mines planted by the guerrillas. The terrorists also took away gun trucks and rifles. The guerrillas who carried out this deadly attack have not been apprehended. The snatched weapons have also not been recovered.
On August 31, ISWAP attacked Rann, in Kala/Balge LG of Borno State, killing scores, including some soldiers. The terrorists tentatively took control of the town. Heavy fighting forced hundreds of civilians to flee the area into neighbouring Cameroon. The military had to launch a combined air and ground counteroffensive, enabling them to retake Rann. Earlier on August 30, the militants invaded Ajiri, an area located south of Maiduguri, and killed six residents.
Last week in neighbouring Yobe State, a fighter jet had to be deployed to dislodge the terrorists hibernating in Buhari village, Yunusari LG. Unfortunately, it wrongly hit a civilian population, killing innocent villagers. In the same Yobe, early this month, the terrorists attacked Ngelbuwa, in Gujba LGA. The truth is that Boko Haram terrorists are still very much active along the Kamadougou Yobe River line, along the Nigeria/Niger border.
Then, just last Thursday, ISWAP fighters attacked a military base in Malam Fatori, Borno State, but were pushed back. On the same day, they attacked Babangida community in Yobe, but were also repelled.
I have listed these six attacks to show that the so-called capitulation of Boko Haram/ISWAP is a farce. They are is still very much alive and kicking with Ameer Bakoura Buduma as the new leader of the faction led by late Abubakar Shekau. They only slowed down after the death of Shekau. In fact, Buduma is consolidating and has appointed Tahiru Damboa as his deputy. The new Boko Haram leader is using Lelewa, a border area between Nigeria and Niger Republic as headquarters.
The bad news is that Buduma and his boys are already spreading out into Bauchi State. That was why some residents of Birshin Fulani, a suburb of Bauchi metropolis, blocked the Bauchi-Dass road on September 16 in protest against killings by terrorists. Days back, the terrorists stormed the area and killed two people, including a staff of the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, Abubakar Muhammad. Some persons were also kidnapped during the attack. Same day, the killers moved to Bayara, which is just about one kilometre away from Birshin Fulani and kidnapped some people. Days later, the terrorists returned to Birshin Fulani and abducted more people.
The real Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters are still with their guns and holding territories. This is the truth. They are consolidating and appointing new commanders. The military knows this and must act appropriately. They should not slow down because of this bogus story of terrorists surrendering. For me, most of the people Boko Haram and ISWAP have pushed forward to submit are not fighters. It is just a trick to trigger their sleeper cells across the country.
This talk by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Onyeama Nwachukwu, that ISWAP was embarking on massive recruitment of new members because it had been depleted by members leaving is balderdash. Nwachukwu, last Sunday, during a tour of the Hadin Kai theatre Command in Maiduguri, Borno State, appealed to all Nigerians to be vigilant. Haba! We should be vigilant? This information is not useful for ordinary Nigerians. The Army spokesman has suddenly forgotten about recent attacks by the “degraded” terrorists. ISWAP and Boko Haram are still a big threat and they are recruiting because they are still very much alive and kicking. The military should concentrate on how to truly decapitate these terrorists instead of this hopeless information that ISWAP is recruiting.
On the flip side, Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has shown uncommon courage in his bid to get President Buhari to perform his Constitutional responsibility of protecting Nigerians against terrorists. At a meeting with a federal government delegation last Tuesday, Masari urged the federal government to adopt new security measures that would liquidate terrorists across the country.
A distraught Masari declared: “From experiences of other countries, you need to liquidate bandits and insurgents completely. I said it before let me repeat it again, the issue of banditry in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, parts of Niger and Kaduna states has no religious and tribal problem. So, if you take whatever action nobody will complain to you on religious or tribal grounds. We are the same people, same language, same culture and tradition.
“We have certainly become enemies; the good ones on this part and the bad ones on the other part. In everything there is collateral damage, even if you want to clean your room completely in the process you will lose something that you like. So, in dealing with these people of the forest there may be some collateral damages but we need to take action.”
The terrorists in the North-west are inflicting so much pain because they are enjoying a free rein. According to Masari, there are over 150 camps of such terrorists in adjoining forests of Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Niger states. Buhari must act decisively. Nigerians are tired of stories.
Naira crash: What the CBN is not doing right
I always laugh whenever the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, says the apex bank has the capacity to meet all legitimate forex demand. It’s just a political statement. Manufacturers and other businesses are sweating to access official forex. An official of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry told me yesterday that manufacturers have about $1.4 billion forex request, which the CBN is struggling to meet. “We hardly get up to 20 per cent of our forest demand from the CBN,” he bluntly added. The inability of the official market to meet forex demand has been putting pressure on the parallel market.
Sadly, the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEX) is not being properly managed, resulting in the pressure it is facing. Here, only government agencies supply forex. Others are discouraged from doing so, because of price fixing by the CBN. It is currently officially pegged at about $/N413. So, there is unsuitable pricing of the exchange rate, with a huge gap in the window between the parallel market and NAFEX. Virtually everybody coming into this market wants to buy. Fixing of NAFEX exchange rate is discouraging other providers of forex, and a deterrent to export as well as hurting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). There is a lot of round-tripping because of the huge gap between the parallel market and NAFEX window. To curb this, the CBN must end exchange rate fixing at NAFEX and allow the market determine the value of the Naira.
The former Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Private Sector Advocate, Dr. Muda Yusuf, was apt when he said the distortion in the forex market, created by the CBN, was responsible for the free fall of the Naira. With the distortion, it becomes difficult to attract foreign investment to the economy.
Yusuf adds: “By fixing the rate, CBN is blocking free supply to the economy because those who are willing to supply to the market will not do so when the rate is pegged. People are doing business under the table because CBN fixed a rate that is not sustainable. There is premium of 30 per cent between the official and parallel market. This regime is creating the problem.
“The critical factors of demand and supply, if well managed, will create incentive for people who want to bring in forex. CBN should allow a system that works. You can never win when you are confronting the market. One of the major problems in the market is the insistence that people should sell at a fixed rate. That policy has created a problem of compliance.”
My dear Emefiele, please you should calmly engage stakeholders on the Naira crisis, and implement suggestions from such meetings. This is the only way to salvage the Naira. Your “I know it all attitude” must be jettisoned. In any case, you have very little result to show for this. So, let’s start with a town hall meeting on how to salvage our beloved Naira.
A bumpy federal character commission
The motion by a member of the House of Representatives against President Buhari’s flagrant disregard for the provisions of the 1999 Constitution on the appointment of two Northerners as Chairman and Secretary of Federal Character Commission (FCC) was heart-warming. Last Thursday, the lawmakers adopted the motion by Unyime Idem, stressing the need to address the Constitutional infraction in the FCC. This underscores the need for Buhari to comply with the provisions of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). I’m glad that the House has mandated its Committee on Federal Character to ensure compliance within four weeks.
The current Secretary of the FCC, Muhammad Bello Tukur, was reappointed last April by Buhari, despite the fact that he is also from the North, just like the Chairman, Muheeda Dankaka. It is very painful that those provisions of our laws were ignored notwithstanding complaints.
Dankaka was cleared for the position of Chairman by the Senate based on the understanding that the Secretary of the Commission had few months to complete his four-year tenure and that his exit is expected to usher in a Southerner as Secretary. But Buhari snubbed this and reappointed Tukur.
Those in government must avoid actions that promote division. An agency, whose roles are to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of the proportional sharing of positions at all levels of government is itself enmeshed in federal character crisis, no thanks to the President.
The position of a former minister, Osita Chidoka, on this issue is instructive. He lamented before the reappointment of Tukur: “This willful disobedience of our laws and national consensus would have disastrous consequences in the future. Those two positions were, historically and in compliance with the federal character law, shared between the North and the South.
“The reason I labour to remind everybody about the Federal Character law is that it is one of the major consensuses of our political leaders to give every Nigerian a sense of belonging in the march to nationhood. Federal Character does not exclude merit. It is a nation building strategy that should take the best from every zone to create a pan Nigerian outlook in our public institutions. Someday we will outgrow the need for zoning and federal character but for now, we should respect it.”
My message to the President today is straight forward: Withdraw the reappointment of Tukur as secretary of the FCC and appoint a Southerner instead. There should be maximum respect for the Constitution of this country. Those who swore to protect this Constitution must not be seen acting to the contrary.