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The North and the effect of Janus, by Hassan Gimba

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I had intended to continue with the topic, ‘Nigeria and Presidential Democracy: Any Better Alternative? (3)’ but I had to suspend it; it is more of a proposal for the future. I had to look at what was immediate. Boko Haram (translated to mean Western education is a sin) advocates are threatening to overwhelm the North and impose their creed on a docile, perhaps Janus-faced like people.

Since kidnapping for ransom became a fad on the Abuja-Kaduna road and in the bushes of the northwestern and central states of Nigeria, I started shouting here that it is a financial drive by Boko Haram. The kidnappers belong to their economic arm. They are only ignorant foot-soldiers being used as cannon fodder.

 On December 24, 2018, I wrote on this page: “In the North West, armed bandits, perhaps Boko Haram with a different face, are threatening to take over with Zamfara State almost under their control. It is under their control, well, almost, because they ransack communities at will, kill, maim and take as many as they can with them for ransom. The bandits can come to a marriage gathering and just demand the bride-to-be and she would be handed over to them, with thanks.

 “The North Central has become a traveller’s nightmare – from Rijau, Birnin Gwari, Gwanin Gora, Rijana through Kaduna and down to the suburbs of the Plateau. One travels at one’s own risk as even four-star generals are not safe, being killed at will. Herdsmen kill every moving object and sack villages, burning everything to ashes. Kidnappers are also having a field day. Are some of them, especially the herdsmen and kidnappers another face of Boko Haram, getting them the much-needed cash?

“Our security apparatuses possibly need a total overhaul and assistance from elsewhere. There has to be synergy among the different actors, and there is the need for modern policing methods and the revival of community policing.”

 Yet two weeks later I again wrote: “We have been at war for quite a long time but it became all the more apparent with the return of the Dapchi girls. There was a real ceasefire when the girls were returned, the type we see in areas that are in a state of war, like Syria, Columbia with the FARC rebels and in parts of Congo and Uganda, where the Lord’s Resistance Army operates.

“It is real war when a militant organisation can ‘force’ the Nigerian government to sit with it and reach an agreement brokered by international bodies under the international Law of Armed Conflict.

“The president was quoted as ordering his service chiefs not to allow the abductions of girls again. A citizen, in the first place, would expect the president to tell his service chiefs not to allow the abduction of any citizen, not only schoolgirls. All citizens are citizens and want to feel equal before the law or before the eyes of their president.

“Farmers and voiceless Nigerians are being abducted by those who have declared war on Nigeria but we have allowed them to play the music while we dance to the tunes.

“And it is this sort of thinking by governments that make the militants strong. The ordinary citizen sees them as strong and comes to see that his government cannot protect him. It makes the ordinary citizen lose confidence in the country. Little wonder some abducted Nigerians have switched allegiance while others hail the terrorists (as happened in Dapchi) as ‘saviours’ because the people of Dapchi and elsewhere saw the kind of power that should reside with their government being exercised by enemies of the state.

“What has happened to our intelligence-gathering ability, especially in front-line states like Borno and Yobe, that Boko Haram fighters would gather, strut confidently, and move in convoys, sacking military bases, villages and towns, at will? Yet our army cannot confront them without support from the air force? The implication is that our soldiers are no match for them.”

It is quite a wonder how scores of marauders riding motorcycles with sawed-off silencers can leave the bushes, come to towns, operate for hours and pick hundreds of students and return to the bushes unchallenged. In the not-so-distant past, our security agencies used to have operatives called “stool pigeons”. They were the backbone of human intelligence (HUMINT) gathering. They could be deployed in strategic areas/locations as tailors, shoe shiners, water vendors, etc.

Now, such HUMINT operatives can be scattered across the towns such that the moment insurgents or their economic arm, the bandits, come out, the operational headquarters of our security agencies will be aware. They could be farmers, hunters, villagers and even herders who are all over the places.

The way the innocent child sees its father as a superhero who will give it protection is the way the innocent citizen should consider his country. Unfortunately, we are learning the hard way that in Nigeria, no matter what happens, life goes on. The people’s innocence has been deflowered but most importantly, their confidence in their country has been shot to pieces. We should fear the day when the citizens will no longer have respect for a government or society that cannot protect its own.

But such is even what is already happening. For instance, it is because the government has not lived up to the expectations of the citizens that concerned individuals like Sheikh Ahmad Gumi are taking the bull by the horns. And on the negative side, we have people like Sunday Igboho taking the law into their hands to “rid their areas of menace”.

The terrorist is by nature a leach; give him an inch and he will take a mile. But the worst aspect of the whole thing is that it is as if the federal government is not aware that it is dealing with ruthless, very intelligent terrorist organisations that see whatever they are doing as mind games.

Because we have failed to protect the weak, governments are not concerned about the plight of abducted individuals; the bandits have now become more emboldened. They go for those that the government must talk about. And it is working for them because in doing so, they are forcing the hand of the government to do what they desire: abolition of western education.

Our schools are no longer the safe havens they used to be. Students and staff leave in fear of those who will come and take them unchallenged. The worst is that even if one is killed by them while doing it, nothing happens. Students have been shot to death in the recent kidnappings, yet the kidnappers are being thanked for “releasing” others. Who is to be held accountable for the death of the student? Is there anyone willing or ready to make someone pay for that crime?

So, the government on its own is now closing down schools – exactly what the terrorists want. For how long, not even the government knows. More numbers are now being added to our millions of out-of-school kids that we are yet to do anything for or about. What will our Boko Haram-orchestrated out-of-school children be doing? Any plans by the government for them or would they be roaming the streets with their minds idle, becoming the devil’s workshop? Does that sound like the death knell of education in Nigeria, specifically the north?

As long as criminals will not be brought to justice, as long as we continue treating them with kids gloves, so long shall we continue to play into their hands. They see how others were given “amnesty” and “deradicalised” for taking up arms against the state, wreaking havoc on communities and letting blood flow. They see that the worse that can happen to them is “condemnation”. But condemnations, like rebukes, are meant for those who recognise your authority over them. This class of criminals do not recognise the condemning authorities.

Of course one can understand the dilemma facing the government. On the one hand, there is the need to assuage public outcry and parents’ concern, hence the negotiations. On the other hand, the military and various intelligence agencies are finding it hard to end the menace posed by the insurgents and the bandits who are being fed with enough seed money to recruit, train and buy more arms. It is Hobson’s choice for the government.


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Just a reminder, Mr President, by Dan Agbese

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 Let us begin by stating the obvious, the very obvious. Presidents are busy, very busy people. They have to think and plan for the lives of millions of their people and, of course, the next level in the social, economic and political development of their countries. In addition, they are bombarded with requests from contractors and others who rely on their say-so to change their economic fortunes by the time you say contractors. Sometimes the thought occurs to me that it would be nice to restructure the ears of presidents with additional ears to help them take in all the views and the voices of the people. Four ears must be better than two. 

            It seems to me, and it is inevitable, really, that sometimes a president is quite often diverted from a particular course of action or the full implementation of a critical decision by the many pressures piled upon him daily and nightly, even. Thus, a road on the drawing board finds itself stuck there; thus, reports of panels, commissions and sundry agencies intended to address certain problems, find themselves in a lonely existence on government shelves. 

 This situation and its deleterious effect on a country is such that it reduces movement to motion. It is the duty of all citizens, old codgers like young sincerely not excepted, to occasionally remind our president of decisions waiting to be taken and policy decisions crying to be implemented to aid, if not accelerate, the forward movement. I wish to remind President Muhammadu Buhari that because the heavy pressures of the affairs of state had forced him not to do what he intended to do when he initiated the action on Ibrahim Magu, his final decision on his fate has left him in limbo and baffled the rest of us.

On July 10, 2020, the president shocked the nation when he suddenly suspended his anti-corruption tsar, the acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu. In a cruel turn of events, the chief hunter of the alleged corrupt found himself in the same cage with those he hunted and caged. Rotten eggs promptly landed on Buhari’s face; guilty as he is of poor judgement and the autocratic wisdom that have time and again done no justice to his statesmanship.

When he sought to appoint Magu in 2015, the senate, relying on a damaging report on him by the DSS, rejected him as unfit to head the commission. Buhari chafed. He did not believe the senate had any right to question his right to choose who heads the commission. He dared the senate and re-submitted Magu’s name to it for confirmation. The senate dared him and still turned him down. 

Still, the president insisted that Magu, and no other, was fit enough for the office; the senate and the DSS be damned. A faux pas. In doing so, he undermined the enabling law of the commission. Section 3 of the act setting up the commission stipulates that the chairman and the members of the commission “shall be appointed by the president and the appointment shall be subject to confirmation by the senate.” The law does not provide for an acting chairman and no president before Buhari had an acting chairman of the commission. 

Anyway, Magu supported by the illegal act, began his long reign as acting chairman of the commission. In late June or early July 2020, his reign expectedly ended when he found himself on the other side of the anti-graft war. He was arrested and detained. His nemesis was the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, who wrote a letter to the president in which he levelled 12 allegations bordering on corruption and corrupt practices against Magu. Some of the allegations were quite serious, to wit, “alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records of the EFCC and the federal ministry of finance on recovered funds; the declaration of N539 billion as recovered funds instead of N504 billion earlier claimed.” 

Some of the allegations were frivolous and amounted to silly complaints or incompetence rather than criminal offences against Magu by Malami. They smacked of a power tussle between them. Magu, of course, denied the allegations and sought to portray them as acts of vindictiveness on the part of the attorney-general.

To suggest that Buhari’s blue-eyed boy in whom he was so well-pleased allegedly allowed palm oil to drip from all his fingers must have been difficult for the president to process. He rightly decided not to act on Malami’s say-so. He needed hard evidence established by an impartial team of investigators. On July 3, 2020, he appointed a 7-man presidential investigation panel headed by Justice Ayo Salami to do just that. The panel was given 45 days for its assignment. Salami, known to be a serious-minded jurist, took on the presidential assignment seriously with, according to several media reports, Malami breathing down his neck.

On November 20, 2020, the panel submitted its report to the president. Salami noted that the panel “embarked on a nationwide physical verification of recovered forfeited assets, comprising real estates, automobiles, vessels and non-cash assets.” We, the people, perked up our ears, hungry for the full facts established by the panel. Instead, there then began this long reign of silence with Buhari keeping sealed lips over the report. The president neither released the report to the public nor did he, as is the tradition, appoint a committee to produce a government white paper on it. 

The last time I checked Magu was still in suspended in limbo. He had neither been interdicted, let alone arraigned before a court of law to fully answer for his alleged cases of corruption. But Buhari has since appointed a new EFCC, chairman AbdulRasheed Bawa, thus foreclosing any hopes that Magu, even if cleared by the Salami panel could get his job back.

The question the public wants answered is: did the panel find the allegations against Magu to be true? The whole purpose of the Salami panel was for it to answer that question. If the panel cleared Magu, Buhari should say so and let him return to his job in the Nigeria Police. If the panel found him guilty as alleged, he should be charged before a court of law and let him defend himself. These are the two options open to Buhari; unless, of course, he set up the panel to deceive the public and never intended to do anything about its report.

Two points need to be made here as important reminders to the president on why he should release the report to the public. One, the anti-graft war does not admit of secrecy for the sake of secrecy. The public has the right to know what is happening and why. Buhari’s silence would only fuel speculations that Magu was a victim of a power tussle between him and Malami and that the former lost because the latter had the upper hand, thanks to his closeness to the president. The public is aware of the role Malami has played in the Magu saga and it is in some respects unsavoury. 

Even before the ink dried on the panel recommendation that most of the assets were dilapidated and should be sold, Malami appointed a 22-man committee to sell them off when the president had not even received the report. Was Magu sacrificed to satisfy Malami’s greed and his insatiable power grab and interference in the commission’s work resented by Magu? His hands are in all the pies. Magu may have become history in the commission but he casts a long shadow on it so long as people see him as a victim of a cabal whose bidding he refused to do. In other words, he might not have been the victim of the anti-graft war but a victim all the same.

Two, from the bits and pieces filtering out from the report, the Salami panel is said to have made some important recommendations on rejigging the commission to strengthen it and re-position it to wage the war to regain public confidence in it. You are not hearing it from me that despite the long running war, corruption shows no signs of retreating. Our country is still in the same global corruption league with Bangladesh and other countries. Something must be wrong. Perhaps, it is time to do things differently such as prosecuting alleged offenders on the basis of evidence, not on the basis of incomplete investigation.Release the report, Mr President. Magu deserves to know his fate. The public deserves to know the facts about his alleged offences. If he was wrong, do not protect him. If his hands are clean, say so and let him go home with some personal respect and dignity.

Email: [email protected]


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Midway to Nirvana: The story of hope in Borno, by Inuwa Bwala

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Above should be the title of Professor Babagana Umara Zulum’s midterm report as Governor of Borno State. He may not boast of having taken Borno to where he hoped to, but there are very strong indications, that, even in the face of the serious challenges facing the State, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is only a matter of time before she gets out of the doldrum.


Unlike others, he does not need hired hands to tell his success stories, as the name of the Borno State helmsman is today the beautiful lyrics on the lips of most Nigerians, when you talk of leadership.


In the next few weeks, the media space will be awash with various analysis of how state governors have performed in the last two years. While some may say that, the security situation, cum the living conditions of most Nigerians leave little or no room for celebrations, the ritual in Nigeria, celebrating the turn of every year of governance cannot be ignored.


As such, Nigerians have adapted to listening to, or reading or even watching stories depicting performances. But Nigerians do not need to listen to, read or watch Babagana Umara Zulum as most of them are by now familiar with his leadership style. Ask most Nigerians on the street, and they are bound to single out Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, as one of the best. One cannot fault the Governor either if he beats his chest, for making his mark even in the face of the daunting challenges posed by Boko Haram and ISWAP.


Against the national outcry, that the problems of Nigeria oscillate around leadership, Zulum did not leave anybody in doubt from inception that, he would make the difference in leadership, hence, hitting the ground running, so to say, on assumption of office.


It is no longer news that, Borno has been the epicenter of Boko Haram activities in the last eleven years. It is also a fact that the chunk of the state’s resources, under successive regimes since the outbreak of the insurgency have gone into managing the situation and rebuilding damaged infrastructure.


The creation of the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement, RRR, may not have come at a better time, just as no better choice than Professor Babagana Umara Zulum as the pioneer Commissioner in charge of the Ministry.


The people of Borno state shall always pay tribute to the exceptional vision of Zulum’s predecessor, Senator Kashim Shettima for insisting on Zulum as his successor, against all odds. Professor Zulum’s exposure at the Ministry of RRR may have prepared him very well for the job of the Governor. He assumed office with a clearly defined goal, which he combined with his well known passion for peace and development. Infact, those who often analyse his ten point agenda always focus on peace and development as the fulcrum.


The immediate task Zulum set out to achieve immediately he assumed office, has been the restoration of peace in areas most affected by the insurgency and the resettlement of displaced people to their ancestral abodes.
In doing this, Zulum embarked on agressive rebuilding of structures into which the returnees will settle, even as he pushes for the annihilation of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists, by complementing Military efforts with civilian components, including local hunters, vigilantes and Civilian Joint Task Force volunteers.


Zulum took very high risks by always being at the war front with the military, for which he has been attacked several times. Many people wonder where he gets the resources from to undertake some of the tasks when they see him rebuilding communities and giving out palliatives to displaced people and returnees.
While it may be true that the hinterland is still being terrorized by insurgents, it is also a truism that, a visitor to Maiduguri and major towns in Borno can attest to the rapid infrastructural transformations taking place under the governor. I have heard people refer to Maiduguri as the new Dubai, because of the changing face of the ancient city.


I will leave the specifics for those whose job it is to compile Governor Zulum’s leadership report sheet, but suffice it to state that, the story of despair being painted does not reflect the true situation, as those on ground are smiling with hopes that we have crossed the Rubicon, and the future of a peaceful and progressive Borno under Governor Babagana Umara Zulum is foreseeable.


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TY Danjuma and Nigeria’s present and future (1), by Hassan Gimba

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Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, former Chief of Army Staff, former minister of defence, better known as TY Danjuma or TY for short, is not an unknown face to Nigerians. Though some see him as controversial, others see him as a blunt man, a man who does not mince words, a man who does not pull punches, a man who suffers no fools. He is one among a very rare crop of Nigerian leaders on whom everyone has an opinion. Never colourless for people to be neutral where they stand with him. It is either you are for him or you are not.

However, whatever one’s views of TY, what cannot be denied him is his patriotism and nationalism. TY fought to keep Nigeria one. He also leaves no one in doubt that he will do so again. And again. He believes in one Nigeria and all his adult life he has worked to protect the country’s sovereignty, working for its greatness all the time.

To be honest, there is nothing that has not been written or said about him just as there is no recognition that he has not gotten or honour not conferred on him. As of now, he is about the most decorated Nigerian alive. His accolades have not been chiefly down to his fabulous wealth. No, not at all. After all, there are scores of Nigerians who are richer than him, yet they have not been half as recognised.

For instance, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 2003 organised a special convocation to confer on him an Honourary Doctor of Science. The university’s visitor, then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, described him as his “hero and mentor”, saying he was “one of the most illustrious sons of our nation”.

For the former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who chaired the occasion, no single Nigerian has contributed to the development of education in the country more than TY. The chancellor of the university, the Sultan of Sokoto, HRH Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, in his remarks eulogised the award recipient as “a detribalised Nigerian who has transformed the lives of a significant number of people in the society.”

But Nigeria is now in perilous times that it needs the voice of people like TY Danjuma. Oh, his voice rankles those who do not want the truth, for sure. People blinded by sentiment never accept the truth from blunt, say-it-as-it-is patriots. In 2018, there was an outcry from mostly northern Muslims over his call on people to “rise and defend themselves against killers”. He made the call on March 24 that year, at the maiden convocation ceremony of Taraba State University in Jalingo, the state capital.

On April 2, in a write-up titled 2019 Election Timetable, TY Danjuma and Other Matters, I wrote: “This brings me to General T.Y. Danjuma and his call on people to defend themselves. Unfortunate as it is, especially coming from a personality no less than him, we should look deeply and dispassionately at the comments and situate them within the context of Nigeria’s current state.

“We also, side by side, have to keep in mind that it was Danjuma, once described by President Muhammadu Buhari as a soldier’s soldier, who, at the risk of his life or career, or both, led a northern revolt against General Aguyi Ironsi. Then the North believed, rightly or wrongly, that he was complicit in the killing of its leaders in the January 1966 coup. But then, the North had not been balkanised by its leaders into Muslim, Christian, Hausa-Fulani and the rest as it has now been by this crop of opportunistic, parasitic, self-serving, thieving and greedy so-called leaders.

“He fought to keep Nigeria one. He and the late General Shehu Musa Yar’adua were also there breathing down Obasanjo’s neck to keep faith with the 1979 return to democratic governance. And it was to a Northern Fulani Muslim the baton of governance was handed.

“In both major situations, Danjuma played pivotal roles for the North. He could have scuttled the 1979 hand over, but he didn’t. In all these cases he saw himself as a Nigerian and a Northerner. He is also believed to be one of Buhari’s staunchest financial and moral supporters throughout his various presidential candidacies when latter-day Buharists, who see nothing wrong in him now, were political foot soldiers elsewhere.

“Danjuma contributed at least $10m in 2014 for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Boko Haram-ravaged North East and is still contributing hugely to that cause through the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative (PCNI) while those now desperate to label him ‘barawo’ and their paymasters cannot be counted among those who have helped their suffering brothers in the North East in any material way, save, perhaps, in releasing insurgents in the name of “deradicalisation”.

“Yet, his comment is akin to giving up so late in his life of service to fatherland. So, what has happened to Nigeria now to warrant him losing faith in it – just like that? The Nigeria he fought for and served for almost all his life? This is what we must ask ourselves and answer dispassionately.

“Since the appearance of Boko Haram in the North East some ten years ago, I ask if there is anyone that, even if once, in the deepest recesses of his mind, has not thought of taking measures for self-defence? Why did we not fault Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi of Kano when he made the call on people to defend themselves? Was there no time that (some) Northern Muslim elders accused President Goodluck Jonathan of collaborating with the army to kill Northerners and reduce their voting population?

“Right now across our country, are people not feeling a heightened need to arm themselves for self-defence against armed robbers, kidnappers and bandits? That people had not done so is because they knew it was against the laws of the land but not because they believed they were secure enough. But people are frustrated and many would not dare to voice their frustrations publicly.

The Emir of Anka, in Zamfara State, Alhaji Attahiru Muhammad Ahmad, in tears, just called on the United Nations and the African Union to come to the aid of his people who are being killed like chickens almost daily. Yet Nigeria is a sovereign state.

“Let there be the rule of law and respect for human life. Government and its officials must abide by the laws. No one should be allowed to be above the law. People should not see government as vengeful or regarding courts and their judgments with disdain. People become law abiding when they see their government and its agents abiding by the laws of the land.

 A lot of wrongs have been done. A lot is being done, yet there is no justice for victims, neither are culprits seen to be punished as the law stipulates. We have not addressed a lot of extra-judicial killings and plain murders. We always move on as if we are a country of people with short memories.

“Let there be justice in the land. Let a criminal know he can’t kill, maim and abduct and go scot-free. Let those who should secure the citizens and those who should dispense justice know that they can’t be lax or collude with undesirable elements and go free or remain in their duty posts. Let a victim know that the state will always give him justice fast and in full measure.

“When the above is obtainable in society, definitely people like Citizen Danjuma won’t be making such comments. And if he does, no one will take him seriously.”

Someone who calls on people to defend themselves will know how to advise the government to protect the citizenry. Again, someone who has done more than anyone in the promotion of education will know how to resuscitate the education sector.

It is not while in service but in retirement that you know who is great and who shouldn’t be taken too seriously. He who lives a life of service to humanity in retirement should be the one to be trusted with the welfare of the people. And this is the life of TY Danjuma since retiring from active service in 1979.

Even though on a smaller scale and spread, being a non-governmental organisation, we can see that the TY Danjuma Foundation, established in 2009, has virtually taken over from where the Petroleum Trust Fund stopped.

Now that Boko Haram and its cousins – bandits, kidnappers and killer herdsmen – have shut down schools, making parents feel it is safer to keep their children at home than send them to school, Nigeria needs more of TY Danjuma as we will subsequently come to see.

Lest I Forget!

Why Are They Not Performing Umrah?

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told us that if one performs Umrah during the month of Ramadan, it is as if he does Hajj with him. But he who feeds the needy during Ramadan will enter paradise together with him.

Hitherto our big men preferred to attend Hajj with the prophet than enter paradise with him.

This time around they were all forced to stay at home because in Saudi Arabia, they have scientific ways of knowing those injected with COVID-19 vaccines and they would turn those not injected back. To avoid being found out, they stayed back. Very embarrassing for the world to know it was just a ruse; their followers were just deceived.


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