It is fortuitous that last week’s expanded meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan has moderated the discordant voices and acrimonious exchanges that preceded it.
Only a couple of days earlier, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State had written a long memorandum to his colleagues in the Northern States Governors’ Forum in which he all but accused top officials of the federal government for the persistent security challenges in the country, particularly the puzzling endurance of the insurgency in the North-East region, despite nearly nine months of a suffocating state of emergency in the area, and the preponderance of military personnel deployed there as a consequence.
In the backdrop of both developments was the apparent suicide bombing at the Nyanya Bus Terminal in the outskirts of Abuja in which more than seventy people were killed in the morning rush hour and the abduction of over 200 female students of a government secondary school in Chibok in Borno State.
Nyako’s tirade against the perceived lack of commitment by the Jonathan administration to bring the drawn out insurgency to an end took on a more pointed accusation of complicity last month when he made a presentation in the United States.
Speaking at a three-day symposium on Security Challenges in Northern Nigeria at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC., the governor sought to establish that the apparent resilience of the insurgents to strike at will was only possible because they could be getting safe passage from top federal government officials and the military brass.
Nyako followed up by mading similar arguments in his letter to the Northern governors.
While the Forum took no specific position on the content and implications of Nyako’s letter, reactions from other quarters in the region have been largely to call for caution in the manner both federal officials and state governments engage in verbal brickbats on the issue of security and who is to blame for its breakdown.
The Presidency issued a statement condemning Nyako’s assertions. The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said Nyako’s letter was a deviation from the more cautious disposition of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
However, top echelons of the same PDP did not help matters when they tried to link the carnage in Nyanya to the activities of opposition political parties. Even the president at one time claimed that the governors of the region were not doing enough to contain the insurgency, an astonishing statement by the Commander in Chief.
It is such political colouration that gives rise to suspicion that certain individuals fuel the ongoing instability for personal gains and for the impoverishment of marked sections of the country.
Indeed, last week’s security meeting came only days after another one held on the same subject called by the president that had all PDP and two non-PDP states in attendance but excluded all the governors of APC-controlled states, including Borno, Yobe and States that should without question be the primary stakeholders in any such gathering. It was an ill-advised exclusion that rightly was condemned.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) both expressed misgivings regarding Nyako’s letter, noting that it would not advance the search for solution to the security challenges that have damaged the economies of many states in the region. But their words were also directed at the president, who in recent week appeared to have decided that political campaigns should be accorded higher values and thus requiring more urgent attention than the loss of lives and the predicament of the more than 200 school girls whose fate still hangs in the balance.
With last week’s meeting, there should be some honest sharing of the intelligence that the president may possess with the governors and other relevant agencies in the affected states. No one would hesitate to berate and condemn Nyako if he and his colleagues had been taken into confidence in intelligence sharing, and he ignored it gone ahead to make his claims.
The bottom line in all this is that the president must eschew the tendency to politicise security issues that affect states that may not be in the same political alliance with him, and governors of those states should desist from making statements that they cannot provide empirical evidence in support.