Buhari’s Incompetence Worsening Insecurity – Aisha Yesufu - News at its peak

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Buhari’s Incompetence Worsening Insecurity – Aisha Yesufu

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Socio-political activist, Aisah Yesufu, in this interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA laments what she calls “absolute incompetence” and “total failure” of President Muhammadu Buhari in reining in insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes constituting insecurity in different parts of the country. Yesufu also speaks on sundry national issues. Excerpts:

It appears the noise about #EndSARS have gone down after the incident that occurred at Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020. What’s your take on this?

Well, first of all, what I will say is that #EndSARS is never a noise, and so when we refer to it as a noise I must say we are doing ourselves a great disservice; that’s it.

#EndSARS is a demand to be allowed to be alive in Nigeria, and the way Nigerians don’t think it paid off baffles me. People are feeding from hand to mouth, people are being killed, families are going through the pains and the grief which #EndSARS protesters did not want them to go through. And one of the things that I find really funny is that as Nigerians, we seem to delegate advocacy to certain people. We seem to delegate the fight for our rights. And the fact that we should not be killed or we should not be oppressed by certain people should be carried by all because there are not perfect people that will carry on this fight. Everyone is supposed to be on ground to stand against what we don’t want in our society. SARS are still on the streets killing people. Between October and now, there have been a lot of people reported killed by the Police. Police brutality has caused a lot of grief in families and so for me that’s the first thing that we need to get.

On the issue of the #EndSARS advocacy, this did not start in October. It actually started around 2017. I think by 2018, the first protest was called, even though not a lot of people turned out in Abuja. It happened at Unity Fountain; and so it is a protest that will continue, because it is a protest for survival. People are fighting to be allowed to live. We have a country where people are being killed anyhow, where a policeman will tell you he will kill you and nothing will happen and actually nothing happens and when people come out to protest, they are chasing them. This should worry every one of us. It shouldn’t be about people protesting on the streets alone, every one of us should be an #EndSARS protester because being a victim in Nigeria is no longer a matter of if, it is a matter of when. The shifting card is going round and it is waiting for whom to fall on, which family is going to cry next that the police have killed one of their loved ones. This will continue to happen so long as we are not rising to put an end to it. On the protest of #EndSARS, anybody that thinks it has ended is not getting it right.

Attempts by the protesters to revive the protest in different parts of the country after October 20, 2020 met with various sanctions by government using the law enforcers. How do you see this?

Government might think by using brutality to intimidate people, they will go silent, but I tell you, this is no strategy. There’s no intelligence, there’s no competence in this. They use brutality and kill people and oppress people and begin to put fear in them by looking for people that are vulnerable and defenceless, going after them. This is just pathetic.

What the #EndSARS protesters were asking for was the right not to be killed anymore and I believe that everyone has the right to life. It’s really sad that as a nation we just sit down and continue to allow ourselves to be intimidated by the people we put in offices; who are supposed to serve us. If we don’t have a country that works for us, everyone will be waiting for the worst to happen. Yesterday’s victims were once survivors, today’s victims were yesterday’s survivors, tomorrow’s victim will be today’s survivor. Those who have been killed before will not be killed again. The next to be killed are those of us that are alive.

Kidnapping in recent times appears to have taken roots in the country. A good example is the case of Kankara school boys that were later rescued. Do you see the government ably curtailing this menace?

First of all, the Kankara boys were not rescued, they were released and there are lots of different things on that matter. When you talk about rescue, it means that they were able to get them out. But that was not the case. The boys were released; according to the spokesperson of the state government, there was a negotiation between Miyetti Alah and the terrorists. The statements of the President and the governor will tell you where we are in this country. It shows that we have a very incompetent leadership, a failed leadership. The Commander-in-Chief is an absolute failure. He is nowhere to be found in terms of strategic leadership, and because of this, insurgency has continued. So, if you are asking me to rate this Buhari government, I will say minus hundred. I mean zero will be a pass mark for them, because this government has failed so badly and so woefully that insurgency that was in one part of the country has practically spread to other parts of the country. We have more insecurity today in Nigeria and they come in different forms. We are talking about kidnapping; we are talking about the insurgency, we are talking about rape. As it is now, in some parts of the country, you cannot easily ply the roads without being kidnapped.

 So, across Nigeria, things have gone wrong. I don’t believe a man who was an Army General will fail in that aspect of security. Even the opposition will never think he will fail in that area. I believe Buhari should defeat insurgency because that is what he was trained for with lots of money. And now that he is the Commander-in Chief, we all believe he will never fail in this area. But instead, he has failed woefully.

They haven’t done anything, they have worsened the situation, as it were. We have a situation whereby things happened and there’s nobody, there’s no leadership. Just take for example, If you really want to know, what defines Buhari’s failure in the area of insurgency and the area of insecurity is the fact that on the day kankara kidnapping happened, first of all it happened in his state, his home state, Katsina and on that day the President himself had flown in to that state, to his home town, Daura, which they say is about two hundred kilometres or there about from kankara. The fact that the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was in the state did not deter the terrorists from kidnapping those children.  And that will tell you that we do not have a Commander-in-Chief in Nigeria. The fact that the kidnappers took hours to conduct their operation and nobody challenged them will tell you that we do not have any security apparatus in Nigeria. The same place where the President was, was the same place that the insurgents carried out their operations. In a sane country, you would have expected that security men would lock down the whole state in order to discover any suspected movement because of the President, but nothing as such. The fact that the President was in the state didn’t deter the terrorists. They carried out their operations for hours without any challenge. They kidnapped the children and walked for hours freely without anyone challenging them. This will tell you that the war against insurgency in Nigeria is zero.

On a good day, a real President, a commander-in-chief, who is up to the task, would have taken that as an insult and gone after the terrorists. But here in Nigeria, we have a Commander-in-Chief who is nowhere to be found. We are just here at the mercy of the terrorists. I have heard some of their officials saying the terrorists are no more throwing bombs on the streets because of their efforts. That is a big lie. Let me tell you, this is not because government did anything, it is just because the terrorists decided to change strategy and decided to go into the villages for attacks and kidnapping. Our government is not fighting any war against the terrorists.

Today, farmers pay taxes to terrorists, people in the villages are paying taxes to terrorists; farmers have to pay tax before they are allowed to harvest their farms. That tells you all the fight against insurgency is zero.

But President Buhari vowed at the beginning of this year that insurgency will be dealt with. Do you believe him?

In 2014, before Buhari was elected, did he not say the same thing? And six years now, they have grown bigger. I do not believe any word of what President Muhammadu Buhari says. He has repeatedly shown that he has no integrity. Consistently, he says one thing and he goes on and does exactly the opposite. I’m sure you are referring to his New Year speech and I believe nobody was interested in listening during the speech. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Do they think over two hundred million Nigerians will be insane by sitting down and listening to the same thing when they have seen that you have nothing to change for them? Dealing with insurgency is not by words of mouth and you go to sleep. It is by taking action, it is by competence, it is by strategic leadership, it is by getting intelligence gathering working on it, it is by ensuring that the morale of the troops are high, it is by ensuring that their welfare is taken care of, it is by ensuring that the ammunition that are needed by the men at the war front is provided, it is by listening to the foot soldiers who are at the war front when they cry out to you and they feel that they are being short changed. That’s how you can win the war.

How many times have Nigerian soldiers written to the President? Some of them have put their lives on the line to fight for this country. General Adeniyi was speaking out of frustration when his men were being killed and somebody somewhere recorded it and put it on the social media. At the end, he was demoted, and then you think you are going to win the war? No, it can’t happen like that. We will all sit down and wait for our turn to be killed and we will go. May be the next people that will come in this country will have better things to do and move the country forward.

Talking about women’s place in the administration, how will you rate this government?

What do you expect from a government led by a man who said the only role his wife has in life is in the kitchen and the bedroom? So, where is that coming from? This is a man who proudly came out and ironically he was saying that to one of the most powerful persons in the world, who happened to be President in Germany.  So, what do you expect? And today you will see young men using this speech for ladies and women, saying, ‘oh you belong to the kitchen and the other room.’ Repeatedly, we have seen the President; whatever he is doing, he does it with hundred percent men and he gets away with it and then you can see how upside down the government is at the end of the day. You can’t disregard a gender in the society and you think things will go well. And we are all getting the consequences of this bad leadership.

Nigerians believing they have seen it all with the Buhari administration are anxiously waiting for the next president. Many of them believe we should try a woman this time. Do you support this?

Absolutely!  In 2019, I supported a female presidential candidate, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, and as far as I’m concerned, she was the best candidate to be there.

Nigerians should stop all this thing about saying a woman cannot be president. Leadership is not gender-based, it is merit-based and we should look for people who have the capacity and there are a lot of women who can. If you look at the world today, the countries that are better prepared in battling corona virus pandemic have been those ones led by women! It has to get to leadership of empathy. Who are the people who run the home, people who know how to multi task? I am not saying it has to be all women alone. What matters here now is competence; I will encourage women, absolutely one hundred percent, to go into politics. Don’t stay back, don’t be afraid. What is the worst thing that will happen, you will not win; you’ve not already won any, so it won’t be anything.  

The President is in his second term. Those who voted for him in 2019 and people who didn’t vote for him are all facing the consequences of what voting for him has brought and I’ve never gone to market and see a place where they say this price of gari is for those of you that did not vote for the current president and this price of gari is for those of you that voted for the current president. All of us are in it together. So, I think that is time for Nigerians to go for people who have competent character, irrespective of the gender, irrespective of the age, irrespective of the class, irrespective of the religion because at the end of the day, we are all the ones who are suffering from the whole incompetence that is happening in governance.

Do you have a preferred woman candidate you will like to see as Nigeria’s next president?

I don’t have any preferred candidate.  The candidates haven’t come out and if they do, one person who I will love to see to be the president of Nigeria is Dr Oby Ezekwesili. And if she becomes the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will be here to hold her accountable at every moment.  I will be on the streets and make demands on her whenever she doesn’t do things right and that’s one woman I know that has empathy, that has competent character and attitude.

A bill that encourages underage marriage was allegedly signed by Katsina State Governor, Aminu Massari. What is your take on this?

Well, it is just pathetic what some of those state governors or what people in office are doing. Why should a child under the age of 18 get married, and some of them will bring Islamic perspective into it?

The prophet Mohammed (SAW) they are using as a reference, though married Aisha at early age, he didn’t consummate the marriage until she was older. I think what happens is that people are selfish not just looking at things the way they should be. There is no reason why a girl under the age of 18 years should be getting married. Let her go to school, let her finish school.

And since Kastina State is battling with insecurity, all the children that they are giving birth to, that they left on the street, that they were not shown love, empathy, no parental upbringing, they have turned to terrorists. That is why you will see the brutality of the mother and other people. This is a protest, a protest against the parents, the society, the government, which didn’t care for them while they were roaming the streets, protest against the governor, who did not show them empathy and compassion; that’s what we have today. Katsina is a place where there is so much insecurity, there is so much poverty, there’s so much illiteracy, yet under age marriage is what their problem is so that they can be carrying small girls and marrying them off in the name of marriage. Islam talks about child support, why are they not legislating on that? Why are they not compelling parents to take care of their children? It is so pathetic, and that is what happens when you have a society ruled by the majority of one gender.

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