While political gimmicks might have been trailing the booing of President Muhammadu Buhari by a mammoth crowd on Wednesday in Borno State, it is essential that the record be set straight. It would be recalled that the large crowd of Borno residents, had booed the President, as his convoy drove from the Maiduguri International Airport to the centre of the city. The bashing came up on the scenery of a condolence visit the President paid to the insurgent troubled state, following a Boko Haram attack on Sunday where a number of travellers were wasted. It was reported that rather than welcoming the President as usual, he was booed by residents, who lined up along the airport road as his convoy moved to the city at about 1:30 pm. At the airport, the President avoided shaking hands with some traditional rulers, who came to welcome him. The booing crowd were heard shouting in Hausa; Bama so! Bamayi! which translates “We don’t want,” “we’re not interested”. Record has it that previous visits of President Buhari to Borno State had been graced with warm reception from residents of the state, which is regarded as one of his strongholds.
On the note of steaming heat, the Presidency should not take a walk away from the development by giving political colouration to it. If in the past the President had always been received with a reception of warmth, it is rational that something must have been going wrong for him to have been greeted with such demeaning gesture. It is essential that the Presidency take the bull by the horn rather than giving political coloration to the sour development. It is not oblique that Boko-Haram is gaining high momentum once again. The fact remains that there have been sustained attacks by insurgents on roads leading to Maiduguri in recent times. The report from the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum that Boko-Haram had resuscitated with spates of attack since 2019 gives clear reflection of this fact.
The Governor had urged the Nigerian Armed Forces to change strategies in the on-going fight against Boko Haram to facilitate a successful implementation of the counter-insurgency campaign. The Special Adviser to the governor on Public Relations and Strategy, Mr Isa Gusa, quoted Zulum to have said this in a statement on Wednesday in Maiduguri. Gusau said the governor made the call when the President paid a sympathy visit to the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar El-Kanemi, over the insurgents’ mayhem in Auno community.
The Governor’s words to President Buhari in quote states: “Your Excellency; between March 2019 till date, we have started witnessing horrific and spontaneous attacks by the insurgents,which has resulted into the loss of lives and properties of our people. We are calling upon the Nigerian military to change strategies and we can borrow a leaf from the success our military was able to hugely record in the years 2016 and 2017 with a view to ending the insurgency. We need to keep taking the war to enclaves of the insurgents in the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin, Sambisa Forest and some notable areas. Close to about 20 local government areas resettled under Buhari. In fact, in the year 2016/2017, we celebrated the demise of the Boko Haram insurgency that has unfortunately returned.”
The most recent Sunday attack had claimed 30 lives, 18 vehicles and several houses. The victims including children and women were travellers who were gruesomely burnt to death by the insurgents, who invaded Auno, 20 kilometres to Maiduguri. Two weeks ago, two persons were reportedly slaughtered by Boko Haram. On January 6, the insurgents attacked Gamboru in the state, with no fewer than 30 persons killed after an improvised explosive device exploded on a bridge. Also report have it that on January 18, one soldier was killed during an attack on an aid facility in the Ngala area of the state, where at least 20 internally displaced persons waiting for assistance at the facility were killed. Additionally, on January 20, many residents were abducted in two confrontations between the military and Boko Haram insurgents on the Bama-Gwoza highway.
It is unfortunate that the Presidency has resorted to introduce political gimmicks to the recent development, in accusing opposition politicians of paying miscreants to boo the President. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made the allegation in an interview with the Hausa Service of the BBC, on Thursday. Shehu was quoted to have said that it is likely “some politicians gathered some miscreants and paid them money to boo Buhari.”
It is pertinent for the Presidency to brace up its shoulders in the struggle with insurgency in the Country. While by virtue of available facts, it cannot be doubted that the weakened Boko-Haram has revived with new blood in its vein, it is a timely call to the Presidency to accept this fact and take up the bull by the horn to silence the roaring terrorist sect. Problems of insecurity are critical matters that demands urgent and concerted efforts to address. The sustenance of a nation in growth and development depends on how far secured it is.
The Presidency should accept the fact that it has begun to lose popularity over the terror of insecurity, even in the North-east which has been a stronghold of support for President Buhari up to the last election. There is no magic to gain citizens’ confidence other than ensuring their lives, properties and interests are secured. To gain wide popularity, it is essential for the Presidency to consider certain problems troubling the Country, particularly insurgency, as matters of emergency demanding utmost attention. All causative factors associated with terrorism such as economic hardship and poverty, should appeal to the Presidency as issues demanding plausible solutions, the prevalence of which will continue to render the administration unpopular. The present condition demands changing all policies and strategies (both military and economic) which have proven ineffective in addressing the challenges facing the Country. Viable and feasible ones should be devised with prompt and proper replacement.