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Memo to Minister of Defence on challenges of insecurity

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Abba Dukawa

All eyes are now on retired Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi to consolidate the technical victory against   Boko Haram insurgency and other insecurity challenges facing the country.  In the early stage of Buhari’s administration Boko Haram suffered one loss after another until the authority boldly declared on national television that the militants had been “technically defeated”. That “technical victory”, it is apparent, is fast becoming a Pyrrhic victory with the renewed wave of attacks by the insurgents on soft targets.

In a wave of attacks by various militant groups   spanning a ten year period, families have lost their loved ones. Many women are now widows. Children have become orphans with no hope for the future. Many lives and properties have been lost and a large number of citizens rendered homeless. The latest insecurity challenges facing the country are kidnapping and attacks carried out by Herdsmen on some communities in the North and South.

During your ministerial screening in the Senate when reacting to a question by the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu on insurgency in the country, you have said the relationship among the service chiefs was not cordial.

Magashi assumes office as Defence Minister

What Double Ministers should do for Kano

“Regarding the issue of the service chiefs, in my own view, we are caught in a situation where you find out that each commander or service chief tries to please the nation.

“Anytime the service chiefs conduct operations, you find radio coverage that the Air Force has done this, the Army has done this; thank God we are not near the ports where we can see that the Navy is also involved.

“If the Navy was around here, then the three services would have been on the same collision course. In an ideal situation where I served as an ECOMOG commander, it was a single unit that was overseeing the needs, the aspirations, welfare of our troops in combat zones.”

You also elaborated that “In Nigeria today, what we call command structure is now being seen as weakness. We have almost disseminated all our forces and I do not think the current structure is a true reflection of the manpower requirement in this country. We only have divisions probably by name but I do not think we have the required manpower to man them”.

You added  that to fight an insurgency or general insecurity, the Army, Air Force and the Navy should have a common troop working together and should not operate independent of one another with a   need for  a single commander who should take care of reinforcement, operations, change of troops, among other needs.

General, you had wealth of experience in warfare having served as chief of staff ECOMOG in Liberia. What Nigerians expect is a military victory not technical victory.  Militants of all kind should be boxed into a corner where they will be forced to negotiate peace terms which should be devoid of exchange of cash.

What you and the President need to do

The only action that will curb insecurity in the country is for services chiefs to relocate to the hotspot areas. The Chief of Army Staff has accused Nigerian soldiers of not being committed so he should permanently be in Borno, where he will coordinate his troops. The Chief of Defence Staff should have an annex office in Zamfara rather than sit in the   comfort of his office in Abuja. The Chief of the Air Force needs to also be on his toes. We need a new paradigm in terms of methods and personnel to fit into the sophistication of these crimes.

Nigerians need to see a different approach in terms of choosing the right personnel to dispense with the responsibilities of safeguarding the country. The present Chiefs seem to have reached their nadir and the motivation to deliver the right modules for effective security is tellingly missing.

Some Nigerians have been saying that it is about time the President rejig his service chiefs. Let these tired legs leave the scene for more robust and result-driven younger minds that will come up with a new perspective on how to combat our insecurity challenges.

ANALYSIS: Kano has the oldest governor, ministers

The army should be trained in counter-terrorism strategies and tactics, asymmetric warfare, and desert warfare. The Nigerian military has lost its morale due to overstaying in the battlefront, lack of proper medical attention, as well as poor salary and allowances.

Those within the ranks of the military who give controversial orders that impede efforts to crush the insurgency should be court-martialled and punished appropriately. There is need to reduce the shortage of security personnel by creating  a National Guard and a Special Forces Unit tasked with the responsibility of protecting the Nigerian state from internal and external aggressors.

It is about time the President goes beyond mere sloganeering, and sprouts to action. We are tired of weather-beaten rhetoric that has become so repetitive and boring. For about ten years, the country has had its own bitter taste of different kinds of insecurities   which practically stalled development in many areas that have direct impact on human capital development indices.

Finally, I am wishing you Allah’s guidance to witness real victory against all kinds of insecurities facing the country not  “technical victory”.

Dukawa can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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Opinion

Remembering Ja’afar Mahmud Adam

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Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga

Sheikh Ja’afar foresaw the imminent monster called Boko Haram, but was brutally silenced by the assassins bullets!

Today marks the 14th Anniversary of the assassination  Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam, who was fatally shot by yet to be identified gunmen on April 13, 2007. His death was like a defoliation of the tallest tree in the forest of knowledge. He was one of the greatest preachers that ever lived; he was a scholar par excellence. In fact, he defies all the superlatives that you can ever find in  the dictionary.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam was not only famous for his erudition, but also for his amazing ability to foresee an imminent danger(what today becomes known as Boko Haram). He posed the most potent intellectual challenge to the outlandish and poisonous extremist ideas of Muhammad Yusuf, the notorious Boko Haram founder. He advised Yusuf, his former student, to renounce those dangerous ideas and apologize to his blind followers for misleading them.

Caught between ego and doing the right thing, Muhammad Yusuf rejected the advice because he didn’t want to lose face by admitting to his brainwashed followers that he was wrong. The rest is history. We are today paying heavily for his stubborn resistance to reason. His poisonous ideas have so deeply settled in the hearts and minds of his credulous Boko Haram  followers that they thought God is on their side and that  any Muslim  who opposes their violent extremism is automatically an infidel or an enemy.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam was thus vindicated; the grave danger he foresaw is now consuming us, destroying lives, schools and disrupting our social and economic life. Since 2009, more than 15,000 lives were destroyed by the Boko Haram terrorism. Because extremism paralyses a man’s capacity to think and reason, the terrorists are not even perturbed by the consequences of their atrocities, let alone give a moment’s thought to compassion and humanity.

I won’t challenge anyone who thinks Boko Haram had a hand in Adam’s death because putting two and two together, it is impossible not to reach that conclusion. Because of their extreme brutality, taking out a scholar who represented the greatest intellectual challenge to their poisonous ideas is not beyond them.

May the soul Adam continue to rest in peace! May Allah  forgive his shortcomings and eternally  reward his great deeds! Amin!

NOTE: I originally wrote this tribute to Sheikh Jafar Adam on April 13, 2018. As we mark the 14th Anniversary of his dastardly assassination today, I find it worthy to reproduce the tribute. He was an extraordinary scholar that deserves such honour.

Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga is a media consultant at Atiku media organization

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Opinion

Meet unsung court registrar, Ustaz Sunusi Khalifa

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Ustaz Sunusi Khalifa, Principal Registrar of Chief Magistrate Court 9, Nomansland.

Sunusi Umar Sadiq

When our courts’ business has for long become a cash and carry business, when the attention your case gets depends on the amount of money you give, when everything smells and breathes of money, when even the welcome you get depends on how much you give, there stands out one person, alone on a very high moral ground, and to whom public service is a sacred trust that must be discharged against all odds, without expecting any benefits in return. His name is Sunusi (Khalifa). He is the Principal Registrar of Chief Magistrate Court 9, Nomansland.

He doesn’t ask for money. He is too noble to do that. Not only that, he only takes what is necessary from lawyers to render the services they require, compilation of record of proceedings in most cases.

I once gave him money as ‘deposit’ with the intention of giving him more when I came back for the records. He insisted that the ‘deposit’ was enough and I shouldn’t care to pay anything more. At another time I gave him what other registrars will definitely ask for more. Khalifa insisted that I should reduce something out of it as the amount I gave was too much for what I wanted.

For Khalifa, his salary is his consideration for which he is under an obligation to discharge duties. While other registrars will demand thousand of Naira to enroll order and have it signed, Khalifa does that as a matter of course, a normal course of business.

It is a pity that this rare gentleman is unheard and unsung. I have not heard of any award of excellence for him from the Branches, the MULAN or any other organization or association.

Heaven rewards. The world appreciates. I will be glad if Khalifa gets appreciated though he is not in need of it. It will, however, send a very strong message to those who make our court some sort of market places and our machinery of justice (or is it machinery of law) a booming business in which every situation is exploitable.

Kudos, bravo and gracias to my namesake. We are aware of your gentle and sterling qualities and I personally always tell your story. And I do so in the most colorful of language. Something like this:

‘There is a court registrar that never asks for money. If you need anything he only takes the exact cost. If you give him more than that, he will return the surplus and say “wannan kudin ai ya yi yawa”.’

Barrister Sunusi Umar Sadiq is a legal practitioner based in Kano

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Opinion

RE: In defense of Salihu Tanko Yakasai

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Salihu Tanko Yakasai

Salihu Tanko Yakasai

The above article written by Sule Yau Sule, the spokesperson of Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, might seem like a defence against my unlawful detention on 26th February 2021 in Kano, but soon after the first paragraph, it morphed into an attack on me while I was still in detention.

Though the writer superficially intended to “defend” me against the injustice meted against me for justifiably and conscientiously expressing my opinion on the current drift of the country toward cul-de-sac in apparent deviation from the vision of the ruling party to take the country away from the abyss in 2015, Sule Ya’u Sule ended up castigating me for simply exercising my constitutional rights of freedom of speech as enshrined in the constitution.

The article also bordered around ethics and professionalism of the work of a spokesperson as highlighted by the learned writer. If he had stopped there, one would have taken it objectively and picked all the lessons therein, which truly, are valid and worthy of being noted. Unfortunately, the writer digressed far away from the subject matter and delved into politics, bringing to the forefront a grudge he has been nurturing against me for over a decade, because we were on opposing sides politically with his principal when we were in the defunct ANPP.

To set the record straight, I joined APP back in December 2000 and a couple of years later, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau equally joined partisan politics and contested for the governorship election in 2003. When I joined politics, Alhaji Al-Amin Ibrahim Little was the leader of the party in the state, but when he lost the party to Shekarau and decamped to PRP, I remained in APP and went on to serve as the returning officer for Shekarau’s election, which he eventually won largely due to Buhari’s huge influence. But soon after that, Shekarau drew the line against us, Buhari’s supporters in the state, which birthed our rivalry with the Shekarau’s camp. My political mentor then was Hon. Balarabe Wakili who was instrumental in Shekarau becoming a member of the APP at that time. This was the genesis of our crises in Kano APP which led to our exit from the party in 2011 to form CPC.

I was in my mid 30s during the 2011 general elections and, of course, I went all out in my attacks on Shekarau which I later regretted and posted on my Facebook page, apologising for such a behavior; a post which is still there on my page if he wishes to look it up. I do remember Sule Ya’u Sule’s call one evening, a few days before I made the apology, and in that call, he gave me some sound advice on the choice of words whenever criticising Shekarau, a point I took to heart, and unlike what he has stated in his recent article, I have never attacked Shekarau again after that phone call till date.

Now back to the part of the article in which he has talked about ethics and what not. I am a person that take corrections to heart and I have picked all his points like a student in his class. But you see, the funny part about life is that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Let me refresh Sule Ya’u Sule’s memory about how when he was the spokesperson of the then Governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, he fabricated a letter allegedly from the EFCC claiming that Shekarau had been cleared of all charges, which turned out to be a big lie, thereby causing a huge embarrassment to his principal to the extent that he was suspended for six months only to be reinstated after several pleas and interventions.

As stated by Sule in his article, “A spokesperson’s best tools are decorum, decency, belief and passion.” So I ask Sule, is embarrassing your principal also among the tools of a spokesperson? May I also ask, what punishment did he receive from NIPR at that time? If he did not receive any, perhaps he should include it in his note to the professional body in order to come up with a suitable punishment against others that will try to emulate him and ridicule their principals with fake clearance letters.

Let me also take this opportunity to set the record straight on the issue of my comments that resulted in my unlawful detention. I neither planned it nor did I have the intention of provoking such reactions. It was a spontaneous reaction on my part triggered by a number of the recent rise of insecurity in the country particularly in the north. I have personally suffered two major security issues in the last four months; the murder of my younger sister’s husband in Bauchi in front of my sister and her kids and the kidnapping of my sister’s husband’s younger brother in his house in Kaduna. N5 million had to be paid as a ransom to secure his release and in the process of raising the money, armed robbers carted away N1 million of the amount. I was certainly not thinking about ethics when I reacted to the devastating news of the abduction of the over 300 Zamfara girls. I believe anyone with a tiny bit of conscience will certainly be moved by the abduction.

Perhaps Sule is too pre-occupied with enforcing PR ethics of a spokesperson that he has lost all his conscience to the extent that he cannot see that I am a human, which comes first, before any ethics or even a temporary position that I will not occupy for life.

On a final note, though Sule is a PhD holder in Mass Communications and a professional by all standards in the field, both in terms of qualifications and experience, when it comes to human relations, I believe he is merely a kindergarten pupil. If he truly regards me as a brother as he had claimed in the article, he would not have written such a politicised opinion at a moment when I was still in unlawful detention and my family and friends were equally terrified as to what might happen to me. Irrespective of whether I was out of line or not, that is certainly not the action of someone you consider a brother. I remember when I was first appointed as the Director-General, Media in 2016, the first thing I did was to pay a visit to my predecessors to seek for their blessings and guidance, namely: Baba Halilu Dantiye, late Umar Saidu Tudun Wada and Sule Ya’u Sule. Sule promised to provide me with all the support I needed to execute my work, but little did I know that he was holding a decade-long grudge against me. Indeed with friends like Sule, who needs enemies?

Salihu Tanko Yakasai (Dawisu) is the Founding Curator of the Global Shapers Community Kano Hub of the World Economic Forum. 

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