The General’s promise of deliverance and low-class performance
Despite promises to secure the freedom of Leah Sharibu and other students in the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists and bandits, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), will on Monday exit office leaving parents of the students and other Nigerians disappointed, FRIDAY OLOKOR writes
It was Mehmet Murat ildan, the Turkish playwright, novelist and thinker, who summarised politicians and their mastery of deceit. He said, “A silver-tongued charlatan and a half-wit society are made for each other! When these two come together in an election, a great disaster happens: Charlatan comes to power!” He also said, “Yes, there are plenty of politicians who are liars…” While in saner climes, politicians are held accountable for their electoral promises during campaigns, such may not succeed in a country like Nigeria which is plagued by deceit and other forms of subterfuge, and where electoral promises during campaigns are only for the rich and their godfathers.
With a few days to the eclipse of his regime, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), will be making history as a political messiah with a penchant for unfulfilled promises especially in the security sector.
Although the Boko Haram insurgency started in the North-East in 2009, the menace got velocity and reigned supreme during the Buhari years. While kidnapping, killing and rape were reckless in the North-East, ethnic clashes were rife in the North-Central. Despite promises to free Leah Sharibu, Chibok and Dapchi girls, Buhari slept with his two eyes closed, amidst the growing bloodshed in the South-West and South-East. The country appears united in the fight against a common enemy. The refrain now is that Buhari should know that history would judge him as the President who lacked the political will to fulfil the promises he made to his countrymen and women, especially those whose daughters were stolen from their schools under his two terms in office.
Leah’s parents, Nathan and Rebecca Sharibu, have bitter tales of Buhari’s failed promises to free their daughter.
The President of LEAH Foundation and Spokesperson of her parents, Dr Gloria Puldu, said Buhari should act “for the very last time to redeem the promises he has made to the parents of Leah Sharibu to return their daughter back into their arms. She told The PUNCH that Leah had marked six birthdays in captivity as she even turned 20 on May 14. Puldu said, “What a tragedy to a nation that does not care about its citizens! What is so shameful is that despite all the cries, pleas, protests, demonstrations even by school children, the calls and every form of pressure exercised on this government to secure her release, seem to fall on the deaf ears of General Buhari.”
Sharibu was one of the 110 female students of the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, who were abducted on February 18, 2018, by Boko Haram terrorists. While others were released by the terrorists following negotiations, Leah, then 14 years and now a mother, is still being held captive because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. The PUNCH learnt that the plea by the parents of Leah Sharibu and other families of the abducted girls asking for their daughters attracted only empty promises from Buhari. The questions begging for answers include what legacy Buhari would leave behind on the issue of these abducted girls. The mother, Rebecca Sharibu probes further whether the President would leave her daughter in the forest with the terrorists or relieve her of the constant heartache and trauma. Puldu said, “We join her as mothers with empathy to please secure the release of Leah Sharibu and all the other girls in captivity in the hands of Boko Haram/ISWAP bandits, kidnappers and the militia who are holding them captives. We want our daughters reunited with their families, just as you are united with your daughters and granddaughters. “This will be the last demand that we make on you, General Buhari, and we do so because you still have the opportunity in these few days before the expiration of your second term as the President of Nigeria to make history by securing the release of Leah Sharibu and all other girls in captivity.
“We are hopeful that you will make right your wrongs all these painful years to these families. You still have the chance to clean this deep stain on your garment which, if you don’t, would be the legacy of your Presidency.
Apart from the Dapchi girls, many persons have been held captive by insurgents, especially in northern Nigeria. The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund decried the high rate of children’s abductions and violations among others in 2021. The UN organisation had classified Nigeria, Somalia, Congo, Chad, Cameroon and Niger as the countries with the highest cases of verified abductions while a tally conducted by Saturday PUNCH revealed that no fewer than 821 students were abducted in multiple school attacks across northern states in 2021. The tally also revealed that about 61 students still remain in captivity 199 days after their abduction. On July 5, 2021, terrorists kidnapped 121 students of Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna, North-West Nigeria, and started releasing them in batches, with some spending about 250 days.
In 2017, a Jos-based international human rights organisation, Stephanos Foundation said no fewer than 75 people were killed while 23 others were injured following attacks by suspected herdsmen in two communities in Irigwe Kingdom, Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State. Its Executive Director, Mark Lipdo, said about 13,726 persons had been displaced from the communities after the hoodlums burnt 489 houses during the attacks, which occurred between September 8 and October 17, 2017.
In July 2022, terrorists used explosives to breach the correctional facility in Kuje in Abuja, leading to the escape of over 800 of the 994 inmates. They were Boko Haram fighters, convicted criminals and other inmates. The Islamic State West Africa Province claimed responsibility for the attack in a viral video 24 hours later. On March 28, 2022, they attacked an Abuja-Kaduna train killing eight persons, including the Secretary-General of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Musa Lawal, and kidnapped no fewer than 61 passengers, including a student of Agricultural Science at the Kaduna State University, Lois Azurfa.
The terrorists later demanded a N100m ransom for each of the 43 abducted Kaduna train passengers in their custody, totalling N4.3 billion. As part of their demands, they requested the release of 15 terrorist commanders, their children detained by the military and an undisclosed amount of cash. On June 12, the terrorists released 11 hostages after 75 days in captivity, while another seven regained their freedom. The victims were reportedly released through the assistance of the Publisher of the Kaduna-based Desert Herald newspaper, Mallam Tukur Mamu, who has been negotiating with the militants.
On the night of April 14-15 in 2014, 276, mostly Christian female students aged from 16 to 18 were kidnapped by the Boko Haram Islamic terrorists from the Government Girls Secondary School at the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Prior to the raid, the school had been closed for four weeks due to deteriorating security conditions, but the girls were in attendance in order to take final exams in physics.
The Federal Government entered into negotiations with the Boko Haram terrorist group for the release of the Chibok girls who were kidnapped from their school dormitory on the night of April 14, 2014. But Buhari’s promise to free them has now become a political statement.
The Secretary of CAN, North-West Zone and its former Director of National Issues, Sunday Oibe, told The PUNCH that the eight years of Buhari’s administration is ending on a very shameful note bearing in mind the high hopes the Nigerians were made to believe he was the awaited messiah. He said, “On security, he failed shamefully, the economy is in a sorry state, while the unemployment rate is the worst ever in the history of the nation.”
Oibe said while the debt profile is on the increase, social life is below average. He said, “The worst of it all, Nigerians have never been divided as witnessed under this administration. The electoral scam is the worst legacy he is leaving behind. As Nigerians, Buhari’s administration will be remembered as the worst administration that has inflicted hardship on the common man. The summary is that Buhari and his administration are a total failure that we don’t pray to ever witness its type again. The only success story in this administration is the only one that never keeps promises. It’s the best administration in destroying the education of our children, in the humiliation and destruction of the judiciary, and in the destruction of innocent helpless communities by bandits under the watch of this failed government of Mr Buhari. The list of the ills of this government is endless.”
Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State and former Vice President of CAN in the 19 northern states and Abuja, Reverend Joseph John Hayab, in an interview with The PUNCH, captured the failed promises using statistics and flamboyant metaphors. He said, “To make an honest comment about security in Buhari’s administration, you must acknowledge that almost 63,111 Nigerians were killed in his eight years reign. He promised to get all the Chibok girls back home but will be leaving the President’s office with many of the girls still in captivity.
“Leah Sharibu just celebrated her birthday but in the hands of her captors. Buhari was only able to make a failed phone call promise to her parents but did not secure Leah’s freedom. The recent killings in Kaduna and Plateau are further proof that this outgoing administration’s fight against insurgency is mere rhetorics without a strategy and concrete action.”
He added that Buhari was pressured by Nigerians to change new service chiefs, an action that did not also solve the problem because of the many mistakes already made by the government in tackling insecurity and the wrong deployment of personnel, which did not bring any useful results. Hayab, an activist and Executive Director of the Global Peace Foundation Nigeria said although security is and should be everybody’s business but Buhari’s men felt some stakeholders should not be carried along in the fight, adding that unfortunately, the result was also not good for celebration.
He declared that “Nigeria’s security would have been best achieved if there is unity. Sadly, Buhari’s administration did not help in uniting Nigerians. Instead, the country went deep into disunity and division across religion, region, and many other identities.”