A Civil Society Group, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights(CDHR) on Momday blamed the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for the seperatist movements that have emerged across the length and breadth of Nigeria, clamouring for the dismemberment of the country.
CDHR believes that “the narrow nepotism as well as the ethnic and religious sectarianism that has characterised the Buhari government has served to reinforce those who believe that attainment of justice has become impossible within Nigeria, and that the only way out is the parting of ways by Nigeria’s component peoples”.
In a press statement titled: “In these critical times in Nigeria, sycophancy is a disservice”, and signed by its President, Dr Osagie Obayuwana, CDHR said that the Nigerian people feel betrayed by a president they massively voted for, who has turned himself to an ethnic champion.
The statement stated: “After almost six years of Buhari being on the saddle, the conclusion on the part of the majority of Nigerians is that Buhari, the famed man of integrity, is actually not a man of his words. He had engaged in trickery and pretence to secure office, now being used to actualize a narrow Fulani agenda, which is actually a crisis prone misadventure, doomed to failure, but which unfortunately may consume Nigeria, if same is not abandoned”.
CDHR particularly called out the presidential and government media machinery for the venomous roles they play in the myriad of very dangerous challenges that is Nigerians lot under Gen. Buhari.
Below is the full text:
That times are hard and fear is pervasive in the length and breadth of Nigeria is not in doubt anymore: for the poor and the rich, office holders and those out of office alike, in the public and private sphere, even Traditional Rulers and the Clergy are not spared. If only the rich were targeted, perhaps the poor would have been clapping; but that is not the case. Children of the poor are being kidnapped; they are being asked to pay hundreds of millions or have their children killed. Many are already being killed.
There was a time the killing was limited as far as geography is concerned, to Benue and Plateau; that was when Governor Bello of Bauchi State argued that herdsmen are justified in having AK 47 as a tool of their trade; he also said nothing was wrong when Fulani’s do not respect national boundaries; and the members of the Islamic State of West Africa clapped.
Earlier, Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity in 2018 told the Northern Elders Forum and the Elders of the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria that they were shedding crocodile tears over the killings.
AND THEN CAME THE BANDITS
While Boko Haram and ISWAP with local and international (Arab) support have the illusion of establishing a State in Nigeria on peculiar Islamic principles, the Bandits principally of the Fulani stock have no such ambitions. How they got so well armed is a matter for another day. They simply want to make money at all costs, using whoever they can lay their hands on, rich or poor, as the bait. They invade communities in the North and take hostages. They would prefer large bulk payments from the State, hence their demand for billions and hundreds of millions for each operation.
They mix up with and use herdsmen as fronts in other parts of the Country, where they occupy forests, kidnap travelers and terrorize the highways.
CALLS FOR SECESSION V. RESTRUCTURING: TOWARDS TRUE FEDERALISM
Even though a secessionist tendency has been with us in Nigeria for some years, there is no running away from the fact that the narrow nepotism as well as the ethnic and religious sectarianism that has characterised the Buhari government has served to reinforce those who believe that attainment of justice has become impossible within Nigeria, and that the only way out is the parting of ways by Nigeria’s component peoples.
In the opinion of the CDHR, it is government’s insensitivity to this issue that has won more converts to the secessionist option and has in fact widened the call beyond Biafra to Oduduwa Republic, the Middle Belt and the Lower Niger Congress. The high-handedness with which these issues have been suppressed makes it not surprising that the rebellion would extend to attacks which Nigeria has witnessed in recent times, on the symbols of the State considered oppressive, like the Police, the Soldiers, the Correctional Facilities and Customs.
When faced with the calls for secession in the Western part of the country, a relatively recent phenomenon, it is not lost on observers that Garba Shehu opportunistically latched on the position of Afenifere, the Yoruba Socio-Cultural Group which calls for restructuring, as a reasonable demand. However, it must be remembered that restructuring and true federalism was a cardinal part of the APC Manifesto and Program which formed the basis for the nationwide mandate that made the Buhari Presidency possible, after his many failed attempts. After almost 6 years of Buhari being on the saddle, the conclusion on the part of the majority of Nigerians is that Buhari, the famed man of integrity, is actually not a man of his words. He had engaged in trickery and pretence to secure office, now being used to actualize a narrow Fulani agenda, which is actually a crisis prone misadventure, doomed to failure, but which unfortunately may consume Nigeria, if same is not abandoned.
INVITATION OF AMERICAN TROOPS
The request by President Buhari that the headquarters of AFRICOM be moved from Germany to Africa is nothing but an invitation of American troops to intervene in the Nigerian crisis.
To the CDHR, this is an act of desperation that is not properly thought out. It portends the handing over of Nigeria’s sovereignty to the United States of America at this stage of our national history. It would be a betrayal of the labour of our heroes past who immediately after flag independence in 1960, successfully fought against the Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact. General Murtala Mohammed would turn in his grave in view of his well articulated presentation at the OAU Summit in Addis Ababa in 1976 titled Africa Has Come of Age.
It is bemusing how the Buhari government on whose laps the challenge of consolidating the unity and integration of Nigeria and Africa as a whole lies, who has in our view woefully failed in this historical assignment, can imagine that it is American soldiers that can come to the rescue. President Buhari’s call gives an insight into how poorly he has defined the problem. To imagine that the sense of injustice felt by the East, West, South South and Middle Belt, as well as the poor, particularly in the North, can be wiped out by American military might, is troubling.
The greatest concern of the CDHR is the thinking within the President’s kitchen cabinet that he, Buhari, can do no wrong and is all knowing; furthermore that all criticisms directed at the quality of his leadership are aimed at bringing his regime to an end and denying Northern Nigeria of its privileges; and as such there can never be a sifting of well intentioned suggestions and even the most reasonable of them are to be rebuffed. To the CDHR, it is in this that lies the root of the pervasiveness of sycophancy amongst the President’s handlers. The most rabid embodiment of this tendency, which is actually self serving, is Mallam Garba Shehu.
THE GARBA SHEHU TENDENCY
In recent days, President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity has displayed a level of sycophancy that has put serious doubts on his choice of what he perceives as defending Buhari at all costs, even when that goes contrary to common sense, decency and the best interests of Nigeria. Clearly Garba Shehu has reached his wits end, and the question is, whether he knows it or not. His choice of blind defence of anything Buhari puts into serious questioning his sense of judgment of what is right or wrong, and thus his suitability to continue in the high office he occupies.
In view of the widespread nature of the mass killings in virtually all parts of Nigeria in the hands of Boko Haram, armed bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers, one cannot understand the logic in the point Garba Shehu seeks to make in his recent remarks that killings are not new in Nigeria, and that the widespread reportage of same is aimed at discrediting the Buhari government. We wonder how convincing Garba Shehu believes he is in canvassing his arguments that what is happening in Nigeria under Buhari is not abnormal. This is clearly an attempt to justify a clear abdication of the primary responsibility of his principal. Perhaps this is what explains the usually delayed reaction of Mr. President to these occurrences, sometime spanning periods of as long as five days after the occurrence of the event. We consider how Mr. Garba Shehu reckons that he is being of assistance to Mr. President if he cares to retain the confidence of the generality of the Nigerian People with this kind of warped logic.
It is to this same Garba Shehu that credit was given also within the past few days when he is reported to have said that killing by Fulani herdsmen would continue until Governors like Samuel Ortom of Benue State learn to cooperate with President Buhari. Given the context of the killing of persons of Benue State origin displaced from their homes and residing in camps, this sounds more like an insensitive threat that discounts the grievous atrocity that has been committed. It is certainly not an appeal for collaboration between office holders at all levels. There is a taint of unjustified arrogance that characterises pronouncements from the President’s media team headed by Garba Shehu which reminds one of the foundations for this violence laid several years back before matters degenerated to this crisis level. We have not forgotten how the Benue people were callously asked to choose between keeping their lives or letting their land go.
In like manner, one cannot forget in a hurry the unrighteous indignation with which Garba Shehu castigated those he accused of refusing to forgive or overlook the past vituperations of Isa Pantami after his alleged apologies. The CDHR has searched for the apology till date and cannot lay hands on same. It is clearly convenient for Garba Shehu to ignore the fact that the present crisis Nigeria is embroiled in is the manifestation in the here and now of the teachings of yesteryears by the likes of Isa Pantami; and the chickens have indeed come home to roost, and that the young men who were the recipients of those teachings, out of a sense of entitlement planted by their teachers, are those today parading as bandits and kidnappers, breathing life to those ideals under a regime that as best is indifferent. Those of them who went into the Security Services directly or indirectly provide aid at variance with their commitment to the interest of the country. In 2018, Garba Shehu described the Northern and Southern elders who had expressed concern over the killings as shedding crocodile tears. One would not be surprised that he still holds the same views today otherwise, why would he say the killings have always been there, even before Buhari.
Incidentally, Garba Shehu had consistently put his foot in his mouth. It will be recalled that he it was who savagely attacked Bishop Matthew Kukah for saying that Nigeria has become massive killing field. Garba Shehu was the one who also blamed the farmers for not getting clearance from the military before going to their farms. He also it was who said only 10 students were kidnapped in Kankara.
THE SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING
As the National Security Council resumes its meeting on Tuesday 4th May 2021, it must be borne in mind that Garba Shehu is not alone in this self serving game of sycophancy which actually is a disservice to national interest. Afterall, the Minister of Information found the audacity to extend the blame game beyond the previous PDP governments, before this APC government, all the way to the Murtala Muhammed Regime 45 years ago. He blamed that Regime for not faithfully implementing the free education program; holds it responsible for today’s mess.
The Security Council must appreciate that the security situation in Nigeria today has a complexity beyond bullets and guns. We suggest that of the CDHR prominent among the consideration are the following:
- Repudiation of Fulani Zionism under which President Buhari, Isa Pantami and Garba Shehu should make public statements that Religion is a private affair and affirm the equal rights of all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic origins or religious inclinations.
- Declaration of the intent of the Buhari government to implement the rights contained in Chapter II of the Constitution of the Federal of Nigeria and to guarantee the enjoyment of same to all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic origins or religious inclination.
The above are prerequisites to undercutting the secessionist threats by those who want to leave Nigeria, and is key to winning the confidence of all.
This to the CDHR is the sure way to put the sycophants to shame and lay a foundation for a united Nigeria.
We expect members of the Security Council when they reconvene and at all times, to shun sycophancy and put the interest of Nigeria and all Nigerians above all other considerations.