Last week, the Nigerian Army declared Ahmed Bolori, Aisha Wakil and Ahmed Salkida wanted. Aisha and Bolori presented themselves to Army headquarters only to be told by officers on duty that they were not aware of their being wanted. They were told to go home and return the following day!
The problem with the army is that it is carrying out a task outside its job description. It is supposed to protect Nigeria from external aggression. The DSS is the agency that is saddled with the responsibility for Nigeria’s internal security. It is supposed to protect Nigeria from internal attacks through intelligence gathering, while collaborating with the military, the army and police to enforce arrests. But the Nigerian security apparatus has no coordinating agency. The police, DSS and military behave like rivals and hardly share intelligence on matters concerning national security. While the DSS is busy hounding Zamfara legislators and raiding banks, the police is doing what it knows how to do best, collecting bribes from motorists.
The new DSS helmsman, Lawal Musa Daura knows nothing about running a modern security organization. Visit any of DSS local intelligence gathering offices and you will see an agency living in the Stone Age. No electricity, no computers, no operations vehicles or good staff remuneration and other forms of motivation. The DSS carries the most important function but remuneration is low compared to the other security agencies. The office of the NSA that is supposed to coordinate the activities of security agencies is not recognized by the Nigerian constitution. And because of that, the NSA himself is a confused man with no defined constitutional role. This has allowed the past NSA Col Dasuki to be involved in all manners of high crimes and treason, from carrying money to South Africa to diverting and distributing arms funds to party officials and rigging election in some states.
Is it legal to declare the trio of Salkida, Aisha and Bolori wanted? The answer is Yes, but not by the Army. The police and DSS are the right agencies to carry out such an exercise, if the people had refused to honour invitation, which is not the case here. The trio were never invited and are not in hiding. They are not fugitives of law. The three people, especially two of them, are very close to Boko Haram, so much so that one can rightly claim they are passive members of the terror organization. Salkida in particular, should have long been invited and questioned for not divulging information on the sect’s attacks on military and civilian targets. He seemed to know precisely when and where Boko Haram would carry out its deadly raids.
In the past, he had been a follower of late Muhammadu Yusuf and was attending his preachings. I don’t know what qualifies one as a member of Boko Haram sect since the members don’t carry ID cards or wear uniforms, but Ahmad Salkida looks like one of them.
On the other hand, Aisha Wakili has been visiting Sambisa forest, carrying food and medicines to the sect members. To me, that is treason and high crime. Feeding the enemies of state who are at war with the country is a very serious offense. Some people have argued that she was carrying out a humanitarian assignment; I disagree because the Boko elements were not war victims. In her interview with the Daily Trust she said they used to phone and request for specific items including suya. That is collaboration, not humanitarian aid. The DSS should have arrested the woman and put her on trial.
But a shambolic security arrangement like Nigeria’s is allowing such people to gain access to the president. Aisha was seen visiting president Jonathan in Aso Rock! These same groups of people, in connivance with government officials, had exploited their closeness to Boko Haram to fleece Nigerian government millions of dollars in the name of negotiations and attempts to secure the freedom of Chibok girls. Former president Jonathan never listened to advice.
We warned against any forms of negotiations with the terror organization, citing examples in history where terror only understood the language of force. It was sad our advice was not heeded and we watched as Nigeria squandered resources in all manners of phantom negotiations, which ended up in further violence.
Each day the government announced dialogue with Boko Haram, the group came out in strong denial by unleashing more deadly attacks to prove its points. It is gratifying to see the new Buhari government not giving in to such madness. But still the government needs to put its security agencies under proper coordinate control to ensure they work together as a team to secure our land.
Rice import regime
The Federal Government has banned the importation of rice through land borders and increased duty by 100% for rice that is imported through sea ports. I understand the economics of import ban on rice. I also know that the ban on rice import will save foreign exchange, encourage local production and provide employment to Nigerians. But I refuse to accept government’s decision to ban land import or increase duty by 100% for some reasons. First, the government did not do the needful by domesticating the production of rice. When there is no import substitution, a ban will only create food scarcity and inflation.
Secondly the government is only helping agriculture through newspaper advertisements and media noise. On ground, there is nothing to show, not even in the provision of the basics like fertilizer and small credits to rural farmers. A bag of urea costs N12,000 today. Meanwhile the government is deceiving itself that it is doing a good job, while in reality, people are moving around with an empty stomach. In case the government does not know, rice is Nigeria’s most important and popular staple. Its scarcity is plunging the nation into hunger and starvation. The government should also know that people will not play with their stomach in the name of patience. Government’s policies take years to yield results, and people will not want to starve with the hope that one day Nigeria will meet self-sufficiency in food production. Let there be rice while the government continues to work on its rice production programs.
Thirdly, the ban came without notice. Many land rice importers have had their goods trapped at the borders while their bank loans are running into several months of delinquency. They imported the rice at a time there was no border ban. The government should give them waivers and allow the over 6000 trucks entry to empty their contents into the Nigerian market and help bring down the price of rice. A 50 kg rice that sold for N9, 000 last year sells at N19, 000 today.
•Aliyu Nuhu DANLIMAN, PhD, is a retired Nigerian Army brigadier-general