Saturday 27th May, 2017
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Nigerian military and its strange ways

Nigerian military and its strange ways

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

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