Northern Elders Forum has leveled a heavy criticism at the Buhari administration, saying life has completely lost its value under it. The body, while pointing out lack of political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as bandit, and kidnapping, said despite advise and concerns from many Nigerians, the President has remained tone-deaf to the reality and the situation of the Nigerian public.
The Director of Publicity and Advocacy for the Northern Elders Forum Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed raised these views in a statement on Tuesday night on the recent killings of 43 farmers in Borno.
He said; “Under this administration, life has lost its value, and more and more citizens are coming under the influence of criminals. We do not see any evidence of a willingness on the part of President Buhari to honour his oath to provide security for Nigerians. In civilized nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honorable thing and resign.
“The Northern Elders Forum join Nigerians in expressing outrage at the killings of farmers in Borno State and many other people on a daily basis in many parts of the North. Our voices have been raised without pause for a long time against pervasive insecurity in our region.
“We have consistently drawn attention to lack of political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as bandit and kidnapping. We had offered suggestions on how the security infrastructure could be improved and how the leadership of the military could be made more effective. Obviously, along with advice and concerns from many other Nigerians, these have made no impression on President Muhammadu Buhari.
“These particular killings have been greeted by the most insensitive response by spokespersons of the President. The lame excuse that farmers had not sought permission from the military to harvest products merely exposed the misleading claims that our military had secured vast territories from the insurgency.
“These killings and the reality they expose will make relocation of citizens and resumption of economic activities a lot more difficult to achieve even for a leadership that attaches priority to them, and this administration does not.
“Elsewhere in many parts of the North, many farming communities have not been allowed by bandits and kidnappers to plant crops. Those who did are being prevented from harvesting by these same criminals. The prospects for famine are real in the face of limited production of food in many of our communities.”
This criticism is coming few months President Buhari claimed he has instructed the nation’s Armed Forces to go after Boko Haram terrorists. Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman in a statement said the President disclosed this in a message he sent through his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, to the Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum; the Shehu of Borno and the Zabarmari community where 43 rice farmers were killed by insurgents on Saturday.
The statement was titled, ‘High powered government delegation visits Maiduguri, President Buhari vows to end terrorism’. According to Garba Shehu, the President in his message, described the massacre as “senseless, barbaric and gruesome murder.”
He further quoted Buhari as giving assurances of his continuous commitment to fighting insurgency and all forms of insecurity in Borno State and all over Nigeria.
He said Buhari committed himself to making more resources available to the military to prosecute the war, adding that he will “work closely with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.”
According to the statement, the President said, “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of the people. Everything is secondary when security is at a stake.
“As we mourn the loss of our sons in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis until we root out the terrorists.”
The President also commended Borno State Governor Zulum for his leadership in running the affairs of the state. Governor Zulum was also quoted thanking the President for “ensuring relative peace since his assumption of office,” stating that the situation is better than he met it.
The statement added, “The governor presented a number of requests on behalf of his people, including that the youth of the state should be enlisted in military and paramilitary organisations to play their roles in the defense of the nation.
“He called on the Federal Government to assist in the repatriation of Borno indigenes in camps in neighbouring countries and requested the National Assembly to tweak the draft budget now before them to allow better allocation of resources for the North East sub-region, which he alleged is being side-lined.
“At the palace of the Shehu of Borno, His Eminence Abubakar Umar Garbai, the traditional ruler described the gruesome killing as madness and urged his subjects to pray and offer useful information to the security agencies.
“He thanked President Buhari for his efforts in returning normalcy to the state.”
Meanwhile, Governor Zulum, has given six recommendations to the Federal Government on how to win the war against Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) insurgents terrorizing the north-eastern region of Nigeria.
He made the suggestions on Monday when he received members of a presidential delegation who visited Borno to commiserate with the people of the state following the killing of 43 farmers in Koshobe Village.
The governor believes engaging mercenaries, as well as the immediate recruitment of youths into the military to boost its strength, will go a long way to defeat the insurgents.
He stressed that it was also important to engage the services of neighbouring Niger Republic, Chad, and Cameroon to clear the remnants of the insurgents in the Lake Chad region and the Mandara Mountains.
Governor Zulum also urged the Federal Government to ensure the provision of mine resistance armored personnel carriers and other equipment for the military, police, and other security agencies involved in the insurgency fight.
He also asked the government to support the repatriation of internally displaced people in Cameroon and Niger Republic, as well as increase the livelihood support for the people of Borno State.