The Nigerian Armed Forces came under fire over the weekend for the umpteenth time when Asari-Dokubo, the leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, NDVF, unleashed a barrage of allegations against them.
The Military was again accused of sabotaging the country’s security architecture, and Asari-Dokubo called it “shameful.”
The Niger Delta militant leader also termed the claim that the Nigerian military lacks sufficient weapons to battle insurgents as a “lie.”
Asari-Dokubo’s revelation re-echoed such allegations in the past against the military as a key beneficiary of Nigeria’s insecurity.
Shadows of Doubt:
For most Nigerians, the sorest point during the eight years of the Muhammadu Buhari administration was not only his government’s inability to curb rising insecurity across the country but the worrisome accusations from many quarters that the Nigerian military, rather than crush the bloodthirsty insurgent groups and herdsmen, were colluding with those terror gangs, as they unleash mayhem and perpetuate ethnic cleansing in various parts of the country.
These scary allegations started brewing, right from when Buhari stepped into power in 2015. His pattern of appointments fueled accusations of bias in favour of the North.
For example, out of the six service chiefs appointed, the North produced four appointees, while the South produced two. Also, appointments into key leadership positions of national security institutions like the National Security Adviser, Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Defence Intelligence, Director-General, Department of State Services and Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service, were skewed to favour the north. Other positions pocketed by the North are the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service and the Chairmanship of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Many Nigerians, particularly in the South, were concerned about the one-sided military. Their concerns were justified, because establishing a lopsided army may erode service chiefs’ neutrality and encourage them to support particular groups or persons over others.
However, the then-Buhari-led federal administration attempted to assuage anxieties by stating that the nominations were made on merit and to achieve the best possible results in combating escalating insecurity in the country. As a result, Nigerians gave him the benefit of the doubt for this unbalanced selection.
However, to the chagrin of Nigerians, years into the Buhari administration, insecurity remained insurmountable. Terror bombings, banditry, and herdsmen attacks did not only become more brazen, ruthless and widespread in the north but the bloodletting and ethnic cleansing began to happen in the southern part of Nigeria.
And despite promises by the government to stop the rampaging gunmen from further terrorising innocent communities, the ease with which the killers continued to attack helpless people across the country remained a shocking mystery. Fears were rife among Nigerians, as many were befuddled and wondered why the Nigerian army could not seem to crush these small ragtag insurgent units.
With the killings continuing unabated, there is a growing suspicion that the government is protecting the murderous herdsmen. Some commentators ascribed the seeming inability of the army to tame the herders to the fact that individuals in charge of the military are from the north and may sympathise with the bandits and herdsmen. This posture created severe concerns about the military’s integrity and adherence to its principal mission.
Disturbing Allegations of Bias
The outburst of the Former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma (retd) on 24 Mar 2018 during the Taraba State University convocation in Jalingo was the first time a prominent personality openly accused the military of complicity in the killings that happened at Taraba, Benue and other riverine states in the country.
General Danjuma revealed that the military was not neutral and was covering those behind the attacks, which had claimed scores of lives.
He said, “There is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in this state and, of course, in all the riverine states of Nigeria. We must resist it. We must stop it. Every one of us must rise up.
“The armed forces are not neutral; they collude with the armed bandits that kill people, kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movement. They cover them. If you are depending on the Armed Forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.”
The allegation riled up the country and ruffled the military. And responding, the Defence Headquarters denied General Danjuma’s allegations of bias but assured that they would investigate the claim and punish any personnel found guilty.
But after the army’s response, nothing was heard again. The military made no effort to state the finding of their investigation on the allegations of bias. The carnage and brigandage were reported in states such as Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Ekiti, Delta, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, and Enugu.
Calls were made for a shake-up of the service chiefs but were ignored by the government.
The disturbing allegation of bias was repeated by another former army officer, Navy Commodore, Kunle Olawunmi (Rtd).
Commodore Olawunmi during an interview on Channels Television on 25th August 2021, hinted that the Nigerian government knows those behind the insurgency in the country but has chosen to look the other way, refusing to prosecute them.
Before his allegation, the then Buhari government in April that year, told Nigerians that they had arrested 400 Bureau De Change (BDCs)-related people that were sponsoring Boko Haram. The presidency said it would publish the names of those behind Boko Haram, but years after that promise, the long-awaited list was never made public till date.
Another shocking disclosure of military alleged connivance with bandits was made by Methodist Church Nigeria Prelate, His Eminence Samuel Kanu Uche after he was abducted and later released by the kidnappers. The cleric was kidnapped in May 2022 around Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia state. And after paying N100 million ransom, he regained his freedom.
Narrating his ordeal in a press conference in Lagos, the cleric revealed that their abductors were Fulani and that they were operating right behind army checkpoints. He said military personnel of Fulani extraction were aiding the kidnappers who disguise as herders in the daytime, but are kidnappers at night.
New Phase, Renewed Hope?
These and many more were the sorts of nasty allegations that stained the reputation and questioned the integrity of the Nigerian military under the Buhari administration.
However, the newly installed government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu seems poised to reinvigorate the army with the service chiefs’ appointments he made on Monday.
Unlike the previous administration, President Tinubu’s appointment was not only acclaimed for the pedigree of the personalities he chose, but for also respecting the principles of federal character.
Former Kaduna State Senator, Shehu Sani, in his tweet, praised the new administration’s appointments and policies which he said have revived the hope of Nigerians.
“Wherever he is, the former President is watching how power can be effectively used to reawaken and reinforce the spirit of a nation. This a contrast to his boring era that was characterised by deficiency of vision, subservience to a parasitic cabal and notorious for its emptiness.
“He called all the previous Governments ‘kwarapt’ while he cultivated, incubated and harboured the most larcenous and opaque Federal Cabinet in Nigeria’s history,” Sani wrote.
Also, rights activist, Deji Adeyanju, while applauding the new service chiefs, advised the President and all the other appointed officials to move fast and halt the rot experienced by Nigerians.
He said, “As Nigeria gradually exits a period where political appointments, once made, were retained for the duration of their term, irrespective of the appointee’s incompetence, it is important to remind President Tinubu that military appointments are not to be made as political patronage.
“If the new service chiefs fail in their duty, they should equally be sacked without much ado. Only through this means can we have service chiefs whose loyalty is to the Nigerian state.”
Adeyanju also called on the new service chiefs and the acting Inspector General of Police to eschew inter-agency conflict and corruption.
In the same vein, a faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo- an Igbo socio-political organisation, applauded President Bola Tinubu for appointing an Igbo man, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla as the Chief of Naval Staff.
A chieftain of Ohanaeze, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, had told the reporters that Ogalla’s elevation as a Service Chief is cheery news.
“We applaud Tinubu for making an Igbo man the Chief of Naval Staff, which is one of the things that fuel agitations in the Southeast. Ohanaeze commends the president for respecting federal character by ensuring that all the political zones are represented in his appointment of Service Chiefs.
“This appointment has given a sense of belonging, and the Southeast appreciates this, and he has proven to be a progressive president, and we expect more infrastructural revolution. The appointment is the right step in the right direction to arrest oil theft and all the corruption seen in the military.
“We applaud Mr President for giving Ndigbo this sense of accommodation and honour for finding our beloved son Ogalla worthy of being the Chief of Naval Staff. We are expecting more appointments to come our way,” Isiguzoro said.
High expectations from Nigerians and the international community are already before the new service chiefs. And all eyes are on them to not only curb insecurity and restore calm in the country, but to rebuild the damaged reputation of the Nigerian defence structure.
FG to deploy 100 electric buses
President Bola Tinubu has said Nigeria is taking a significant step towards a sustainable and eco-friendly future by introducing a pioneering initiative to deploy a fleet of 100 electric buses.
The President spoke at a high-level meeting with stakeholders and investors on the Nigeria Carbon Market and Electric Buses Rollout Programme on Saturday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the margins of the COP28 climate summit.
President Tinubu explained that the strategic initiative is aimed at significantly reducing Nigeria’s carbon footprint and modernizing the country’s transportation systems as part of a larger effort to position Nigeria and Africa as the pioneering frontier of green manufacturing and industrialization with a focus on natural gas as a transition fuel alongside other renewable energy sources.
To spearhead this transformative plan, the President announced the appointment of the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, and the Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC), Mr. Dahiru Salisu, to co-chair the Nigeria Carbon Market Activation Plan.
”This initiative stands as a testament to our dedication to environmental stewardship as clearly exemplified through our collaboration with the Africa Carbon Market Initiative. Our visionary plan is a strategic guidepost, directing Nigeria towards becoming an investment-friendly destination for carbon market investments.
”We recognize the imperative of fostering an environment that not only attracts investment but also upholds standardized and sustainable industrial practices. As a manifestation of our forward-thinking approach, we are actively looking to implement robust, enabling policies and frameworks that will serve as the catalyst for the burgeoning growth of the carbon market within our national borders.
”In further driving my commitment, I have recently approved an Inter-governmental Committee on Carbon Markets to be chaired by the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change to drive this visionary plan,” the President stated.
The President assured prospective investors that this initiative transcends being a mere pilot project.
”It is a concrete manifestation of our unwavering dedication to a carbon-neutral future. I assure you; this is only the commencement of our ambitious plans, with many more impactful initiatives on the horizon,” he said.
President Tinubu, while acknowledging the pressing need for a comprehensive global collaboration on climate-related challenges, called on global partners to join hands in accelerating collective efforts towards a net-zero future.
”As we unveil our initiatives, I challenge other nations to emulate our strides in mapping out their sustainable futures with a clear understanding that Africa is a beacon of innovative solutions to climate-related challenges.
”In this pursuit, we acknowledge the pressing need for comprehensive global collaboration, and we reiterate our commitment to being an active participant in international efforts.
”Nigeria’s plans for a greener and cleaner economy can serve as an inspirational narrative for nations worldwide. Our comprehensive approach, rooted in visionary leadership and pragmatic action supported by our technical partners, is poised to become a blueprint for countries aspiring to also develop and catalyze their markets for sustainable growth,” the President concluded.
In his remarks, FIRS Chairman, Mr. Zacch Adedeji acknowledged the visionary leadership of President Tinubu as the guiding force behind Nigeria’s commitment to harnessing its vast carbon potential.
At COP28, Sanwo-Olu seeks funding to address supply of clean water in Lagos
Governor of Lagos Babajide Sanwo-Olu has sought global support for funding in Lagos state to be able to provide clean water.
The Governor speaking at a side meeting with the theme: “Valuing Water: A Lifeline in Climate Transition”, organised by Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum and Sustainable Market Initiative at the ongoing 28th session of Conference of Parties (COP28) at Dubai Exhibition Centre pitched a sustainable funding proposal in order to raise private and philanthropic funding in addressing inadequate water infrastructure and supply shortages in Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that Lagos, with 22 million population, has a daily demand of 700 million gallons of portable water, but said the State could hardly supply 210 million gallons per day due to shortage of infrastructure.
The Governor said, although provision of clean water had been generally considered a social service, it was an essential element of economic necessity, given its importance to keeping humans healthy.
Lagos, he said, is challenged by increasing demand for clean water. Sanwo-Olu said the inadequacy of supply infrastructure could raise disease vulnerability in underserved communities, pointing out that the State, despite being surrounded by abundant water bodies, could only manage to utilise 40 per cent of its installed water facilities.
He said: “Lagos has an investment of about $2.8 billion in water infrastructure, but there is a burden on the huge population, as we need to create an ecosystem where we can have access to basic needs in the 21st century. Given our meagre resources, it is really a challenge but we certainly cannot continue to give excuses. This gap is being felt by underserved communities and the risk to the public is high.”
“We have continued to allocate resources to this sector from our budget, but the intervention is hardly enough to serve the needs of the residents. Four years ago, I gave a commitment of $100 million, but this is like a drop, given the number of investments required to fully explore the potential in the sector. We have huge infrastructure that is not being utilised, making us to operate at less than 40 per cent of the installed capacity.”
“Out of the $1.7 trillion needed globally to address the gap in clean water adequacy, Lagos requires less one per cent of the funds to provide safe water. It is my belief that this conversation would lead to sustainable solution that would meet the needs of millions of people that want water adequacy. Our goal is making committed partners believe in economic viability of their investments.”
Sanwo-Olu listed the country’s energy crisis as another factor slowing down the provision of clean water, stressing that irregular power supply rendered resources allocated to the sector inefficient.
The Governor called for equity in global investment towards accelerating water adequacy, noting that humans, regardless of their gender and geographical location, need equal access to clean water.
With 65 per cent of its population made up of young people of under 30, Sanwo-Olu told the funders that Lagos remained an African asset on which viable investments could be made.
The side meeting, which was moderated by the Secretary General of Insurance Development Forum, Ms. Ekhosuehi Iyahen, had seven other panelists, including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of WaterAid, Tim Wainright, Chief Sustainability Officer of PepsiCo, and CEO of Dalmia Cement in India, Mahendra Singh.
Others are Chief Operating Officer of Water.org, Vedika Bhandarkar, Managing Partner of AquaForAll, Josien Sluijs, Assistant Director General of Food and Agriculture Organisation at UN, Maximo Torero, and former CEO of Mars, Incorporated, Grant Reid.
COP28: Gov Eno joins President Tinubu in Dubai
Akwa Ibom State Governor, His Excellency Pastor Umo Eno, is part of the delegation led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR at the ongoing COP28 climate conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Delegates from nearly 200 countries, leaders in business and finance, and representatives of civil society are gathering in Dubai from November 30 to December 12 for the COP28 climate conference, aiming to fast-track the transition to a clean-energy future.
COP28 stands for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), occurring annually.
Also in the President’s entourage are the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo, President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Group CEO of NNPCL, Mele Kyari and the newly appointed Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Okokon Ekanem Udo, among others.
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