Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign for failure to combat increasing insecurity in the country.
The call came just as the Senate rose from a marathon debate on last Saturday’s beheading of over 67 farmers in Borno State, declaring that the Federal Government had breached Section 14 (1), which made security and welfare the sole purpose of its existence.
The fury in the red chamber reverberated in the House of Representatives, where members, piqued by worsening insecurity in the polity, moved to summon President Muhammadu Buhari to appear in the House over the killing at Zabarmari village, in the Jere Local Government area Borno State.
Northern Elders, in a statement on Tuesday by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, noted that life had lost its value under the present administration due to the absence of political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as banditry, rustling and kidnapping.
Referring to the massacre of innocent farmers in Zabarmari, the Forum regretted that Buhari had failed to listen to concerns from many Nigerians about the level of insecurity in the nation.
It lamented that killings had been greeted by “most insensitive response” by spokespersons of the President and described as a lame excuse that murdered farmers did not seek permission from the military to harvest produce.
“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 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,” the statement read.
The Forum warned of imminent famine in the face of limited production of food in the region.
“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 willingness on the part of President Buhari to honour his oath to provide security over Nigerians. In civilised nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honourable thing and resign,” he added.
At the Senate, lawmakers condemned President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to fire the nation’s service chiefs as demanded in the past.
Senators argued that the continued retention of the military top brass by Buhari implied the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the country had failed in his most primary assignment of securing the nation.
They made the declaration while adopting a motion sponsored by a former Borno State Governor, Senator Kashim Shettima.
Senate equally adopted the position that any government that could not discharge the basic obligation of securing citizens was not worthy of legitimacy.
Rejecting the figure of 43 earlier released as the number of slain farmers, the upper chamber said it got a more authentic figure of 67 from residents of Kwashabe village in Zabarmari, where the killing took place.
It urged the President to probe allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure and put mechanisms in place to foster transparency and ensure all resources meant and deployed for security were used for the purpose
It also urged Buhari “to take immediate steps to restructure, remodel and revamp the security architecture and provide modern weapons and equipment to combat the insurgents.
The Federal Government, it stated, should “aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with neighbouring nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroons towards reviving and strengthening the multi-national Joint Task Force and finding a lasting solution to the scourge of insurgency in the Lake Chad region.”
It also asked the Federal Government to recruit, urgently, no fewer than 10,000 civilian JTF, versatile with the local terrain in the state, to complement the efforts of the Nigerian armed forces.
PRESENTING the motion on the floor of the Senate, Shettima, who was governor of Borno State for eight years, said over 40,000 people had been killed in 10 years by insurgents, adding that over 2.5 million people had been displaced, with thousands of security agents killed.
“Last weekend’s beheading happened about 20 kilometres away from Maiduguri. From the 1st of January to this day, we have had 2,800 attacks in Borno State. Boko Haram is virtually ruling all our rural areas. They kill and abduct people at will. They’re targeting farmers and this will create hunger in the North.
“Government officials keep saying Boko Haram has been technically defeated. This claim is not true. The primary responsibility of government is to protect the lives and property of the people. Any government that has failed in doing this has lost the legitimacy of the people.”
Even the Senator representing the senatorial District of President Buhari in Katsina, Ahmed Baba Kaita, did not spare him as he said the actions of the President had not produced any result so far.
Keita feared that if something was not done, insurgents might overrun the country. He said the Military must be probed and funds given to them must be accounted for.
“The time of truth has come. This situation is no longer acceptable to any Nigerian. We can’t be mourning our citizens every day. We can’t accept the explanation from those who should do the right thing whenever there is an attack. If the statement from Garba Shehu is true, that’s very irresponsible.
“We have to sit down with the military and assess the situation in the North East. Something is wrong here. If we allow this to go, we should be ready to have another attack soon. The President may be doing enough, but we are not seeing the results. More needs to be done.”
Former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, told the plenary that Borno residents paid Boko Haram members before they would be allowed to go to their farms or move around in their villages.
He said: “The issue of insecurity has been there. We have sent recommendations to the President. Two reports were not implemented. There are other recommendations we have made and nothing was done. We need to take a step further. Section 14 of the Constitution is clear.”
He argued that terrorism could be stopped in six months if the government was serious.
Former Kebbi State governor, Adamu Aliero, wondered why Buhari refused to visit Borno after the attacks and opted to send a delegation.
He lamented that the same story had been told after every attack and called for a probe of all that has transpired.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, warned that excuses would no longer be tolerated and asked the Executive to implement the resolutions of the Senate.
Lawan said: “This is not the first or the second case of insecurity in the country. We will take additional steps and insist that our resolutions are implemented. These are recommendations the Executive must implement.
“This is one thing that will gladden the hearts of Nigerians when implemented. Enough of excuses; people who have nothing to add should be shown the way out. We need people who can do the job. Nothing is more important to Nigerians than security.”
IN the House of Representatives, members expressed their indignation over the killing while adopting a motion under urgent matters of national importance sponsored by Satomi Ahmed at the plenary presided by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.
They insisted President Buhari should appear to brief them on national security, though they did not specify when.
Ahmed (APC: Borno), who moved the motion on behalf of ten of his colleagues from the troubled state, said he was pained that terrorists slit the throats of farmers in a barbaric manner.
The inability of security forces to stop killings by Boko Haram insurgents, bandits, and terrorists in the North East and across the country, according to them, remains a source of concern.
Before the passage of the motion, the lawmakers were, however, divided on the issue of summoning Buhari, which compelled Speaker Gbajabiamila to hold an executive session in an apparent bid to douse tension.
Ahmed had incurred the wrath of his colleagues when he deliberately skipped the prayer on the need to summon President Buhari by opting to call on the President to, among other things, declare a state of emergency on security matters.
Usman Jaha (APC: Borno) raised a point of order under matters of privileges, drawing Gbajabiamila’s attention to the omission.
“We, all the members from Borno State sat together and agreed that all the prayers of the motion must remain as they are. We all agreed that Mr. President should be invited to explain the security situation in the country, especially the North East”, the lawmaker insisted.
But Gbajabiamila said the call for a declaration of a state of emergency on security issues as moved by his colleague earlier was sufficient enough to “allow far-reaching measures to be taken”.
The Speaker said: “We were discussing a security matter and the channels through which such matters are discussed do not involve inviting the President to come and disclose security strategies. That will be counterproductive.”
This didn’t go down well with Jaha who insisted that unless it was the collective opinion of the 10 members from Borno State, who jointly sponsored the motion to step down the prayer, Buhari should be invited.
Attempts by the House Leader, Mr. Ado Doguwa, and the Chairman of the House Committee on Air Force, Mr. Shehu Koko, to toe the line of the Speaker was resisted with shouts of “no”, “no”, “no” by lawmakers in support of summoning President Buhari.
With the session turning rowdy, Gbajabiamila said “let me say this; I’m a little disappointed with the shouts of no!!!. Let’s go into an executive session and resolve this matter.”
In the face of the widespread gloom, the Federal Government, yesterday, stated it would put new ideas on the table towards securing the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave the assurance in Nasarawa State where reporters confronted him during his visit to Governor Abdullahi Sule in Lafia.
Osinbajo, who said the killers acted insanely, murdering innocent people working in their farms, said, “We are very confident and the Federal Government will continue to do what it needs to do, especially in terms of trying to ensure security in the Northeast and all over Nigeria.
“You’ve heard the President and what he has to say, especially some of the new ideas around security and the security architecture, which we are trying to put in place. We will get there.”