The Northern Elders Forum says President Muhammadu Buhari must do more to secure the lives and property of citizens, other than continue blaming everyone else for the woes befalling Nigeria.
Spokesman to the Forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said it is clear that the government is not doing enough and that is why the results have been felt negatively across the nation.
Dr. Baba-Ahmed said it is tiring to hear the presidency continue to ascribe the complaints of Nigerians to the workings of the opposition.
The NEF representative who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily said “we can’t have a president that is just sitting there and then blaming everybody else for the woes of the country, that is not what we elected him for.”
He added that “If every time Nigerians complain about being marginalized, we (presidency) don’t want to hear this and you dismiss it as this is just the opposition, then these problems will grow. Because even if it is the opposition, it is your job to deal with the opposition.
“Ascribing problems to the opposition doesn’t solve them; because it is the job of the opposition to make you look bad, it’s your job to make the opposition less effective in making you look bad.
“If the only response of the presidency is that every criticism, every complaint, every grievance that the people say the government is not working, we don’t see the result of work, and you say that is just talk, then clearly you are not dealing with the problem.”
He asserted that it does not appear that the administration recognizes the magnitude of the problem faced by the country, adding, however, that even if in all fairness they do understand the enormity, then their response has been unsatisfactory and inadequate.
“This is a country that is facing unprecedented levels of insecurity from all angles and we don’t see any sign that they are doing anything different from what they have done in the last 3, 4, or 5 years, you cannot keep doing the same thing and expect to get different results,” Dr. Baba-Ahmed stated.
While noting that the military is under immense pressure in the northeast, the NEF spokesman said the truth remains that Nigeria is currently not winning the war against the insurgents and the bandits.
The former permanent secretary to the Federal Government said kidnapping and banditry have become big industries in Nigeria and the presidency has run out of ideas.
He emphasized that Nigerians don’t want to hear excuses, adding that the people want insecurity addressed outrightly.
With regards to the recent case of kidnapping at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Kaduna, Dr. Baba-Ahmed said, “Let the president fix security, if he can’t do it immediately then let him do something that indicates that he is capable of securing Nigerians”.
Additionally, he said: “If you are not going to pay money to get the Kaduna College of Forestry students out, then for goodness sake, use another means to get them. It’s not just the responsibility of Kaduna State government…”
“Please do something about how insecure we are, all these talks about the president is concerned, the president is doing something about it is not good enough, every single day our lives are getting worse we cannot wait for the president to get round to fixing things. He was supposed to hit the ground from day one and he hasn’t and consequently, things are just getting worse.”
‘Presidency Has Run Out Of Ideas’
Dr Baba-Ahmed accused the government of downplaying issues bedevilling Nigeria.
“You can only do that by acknowledging the failure of the government to secure its citizens. Listening to Garba, to be honest, I just think that the presidency has run out of ideas,” he said while responding to a comment by presidential media aide, Garba Shehu that members of the opposition are exploiting Nigeria’s security challenges.
“When they’re confronted with a very serious challenge, they go around looking for all sorts of diversions and excuses. Nigerians don’t want to hear any of this. We want a stop to the kidnappings.”
‘A Big Industry’
In recent times, Nigeria has recorded a spike in kidnapping and banditry, notably the mass abduction of students.
Between December 2020 and February 2021, over 670 students were abducted from their schools in the northern part of Nigeria. They were later released by their captors, a move that the government says is indicative of their quest to secure Nigerians.
But the NEF spokesman believes kidnapping has become a big industry, accusing the presidency of deflecting the issue.
“This thing has grown into a big industry right under the nose of the president. There’s no way you can deflect attention from this,” he added. “How do you explain the grown sophistication of the criminals in this country?”