BY AGBESE PHILIP
President Muhammadu Buhari used his visit to Kano this week to reaffirm that security, the economy and fight against corruption remain the cardinal principle of his All Progressives Congress (APC) administration. Such assurance is definitely needed in a clime and place where the tendency is to latch onto the negatives as opposed to highlighting the successes and working on how to replicate them.
Equally lost in the negative casting is the reality of fulfilling the promises versus the romanticized perception. Fighting corruption for instances has the inbuilt risk for economic blowbacks as seen in the depression of certain sectors once the flow of easy revenue from corruption was disrupted. This perhaps explains why President Buhari went on to state that addressing Nigeria’s security challenges was easier than tackling corruption or reviving the economy.
One must however slightly disagree with Mr. President, who should have given himself credit for handpicking the right team to deliver his desired mandate in security. Having the right team in place is additional guarantee that things will turn out well.
In the case of how President Buhari found it easier to fulfil his promise on security with his appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar. This collection of gallant military men is proof that the right team works and works effectively to deliver results everywhere.
The team in the Defence led by General Olonishakin with Lieutenant General Buratai indisputably playing the role of Lionel Messi, Barcelona and Argentina king of football as the “Defence Gateman” has seen the military getting outcomes that tally with what President Buhari had promised Nigerians. This has of course made it possible to reach the conclusion that that Buhari is a man of his words.
Buratai’s handling of his role is remarkable in that he made Mr President to shine. Under him, the hordes of Boko Haram terrorists were halted from advancing into other cities in the country while soldiers went after them even in places that were once reputed as their strongholds. The scoundrels have not only been chased out of the areas they once stationed themselves they have also been prevented, repeatedly, from again regrouping on the scale they once did. More importantly, however, is the Army’s success in preventing the other wannabe terror groups from ever evolving to the stage Boko Haram got to.
This team also has it to its credit that the kind of right abuses that led to foreign blockade of arms sales to Nigeria were not repeated as soldiers were made to conduct operations to meet expected international benchmarks for rights issues. While critics, including local and international NGOs, had attempted to sully Mr. President’s human rights record, the pro-active approach of this team, like the Army’s Human Rights Desk set up by Buratai, took the wind out of their sails. Most, if not all the allegations dredged up by such vested interests were usually found out to be without substance.
It is for these reasons that President Buhari must give credit to his choice in getting the right team that knows exactly what needed to be done to keep would be detractors of their boss guessing while they go ahead to make exploits. All those that have constituted themselves into clogs in the wheel of Nigeria’s progress have since learnt that security is no longer a sure way to pick holes in Mr. President’s achievements.
President Buhari must therefore not lose hope as much can still be achieved with the economy and the war against corruption once the teams manning these other areas are able to marshal the determination, discipline and commitment required for the kind of results they seek to achieve.
Kano was once in the crosshairs of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups. The military saw to it that terrorists are kept away from that city as far as possible while an attack there has become something they can only daydream about. Therein lies the source of enthusiasm that saw President Buhari being received by a jubilant throng of residents, who were simply unable to hide their elation. Once the kind of right team running the military affairs begin to run the shows in other sectors the crowd will line the streets of any Nigerian city that President Buhari is visiting and each one will be a homecoming.
Agbese, a human rights law researcher writes from the United Kingdom.