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2023: Scavengers of insecurity, By Bode Elerande

Like scavenger birds hovering above a decaying carcass, Nigeria’s out-of-job politicians have been gathering all over the country turning the alarming state of insecurity into a politically perfect ploy to short circuit the constitutional schedule and process for 2023 elections with subterfuge summits where mega-party formation is the hidden agenda. Capitalizing on insecurity also inflames the prevailing political tension confronting the Buhari Presidency as an additional catalyst for destabilizing the status quo to enlarge the scavengers’ buffet. The restless politicians have thus become scavenging beneficiaries of the agents of insecurity, from Boko Haram to the bush bandits!

The ulterior motive is so glaring even from the crass incompetence of the summiteers to go beyond cheap talk on security issues. A typical list of the repeatedly recycled speakers comprises the prominent traditional rulers, religious leaders and so-called leaders of thought all of whom share a strange extra-curricular political exuberance that discredits their declared calling. They represent a publicity-prowling variant of their professed occupations which are in dire need of their unsolicited crusades. Like their failed political counterparts, they lack the democratic mandate that they  undermine so callously! 

The hidden agenda is also exposed by the pedestrian communiqués which are prepared in advance of the summits as rehashed renditions of rhetoric on insecurity, offering nothing useful or new but unmistakably identical in propagation of partisan slogans like sovereign national conference and restructuring in feigned ignorance of the National Assembly and constitutional processes, democratically designated for such pursuits.  

On this score, the latest insecurity-scavenging summit held by the southern governors exhibits all the symptoms of a contrived conclave of irreconcilable 2023 ambitions, hurriedly herded around the mega-party manouvers of an unrepentant kingmaker. Under political seduction, the southern governors whose collective clout for security management ended with the creation of glorified local police squads now overwhelmed by local gangs of secessionist gunmen. The south eastern governors were still summiting for state police while IPOB’s security network gunned its way to the command and control of the region, imposing a stay-at-home order that was more effective than their curfews.   Add the daring destruction of INEC structures in the region and you know that not even an unrepentant kingmaker can guarantee these governors  a stake in 2023 elections.

However if any doubt remains about the political proportions of the sporadic security summits being staged to camouflage 2023 undercurrents, the mother of all security summits, powered by a donation of N50 million, the 700-Seater ABUAD Hall and the Five-Star ABUAD Inn is surely fit to launch the Security Party of Nigeria. But it is just a “Summit of Hope” aimed at “halting the country’s drift into imminent anarchy or resorting into another civil war”.

And just who are the war-averting, anarchy-annihilating eminent Nigerians shortlisted for this  mega summit ? The list comprises all former Presidents, all leading traditional rulers, religious leaders and leaders of thought.  Among them:  Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Prof Wole Soyinka, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Senate President and his deputy, Speaker of House of Rep and his deputy, Chairman of NGF, Speakers, and deputies of State Houses of Assembly,  leaders of Boko Haram(!!!!!), Miyeti Allah, IPOB(!!!!), Chief Gani Adams, Arewa Consultative Forum, and Chief Sunday Ighoho.

 Indeed, with the  exception of “leaders of BokoHaram” and IPOB, none of the enlisted has ever approached the “kinetic” zone! The organizers obviously have a lot of confidence in these eminent citizens’ capacity to ward off even asymmetric assault on the nation’s territorial integrity, seeing how, despite the petrifying presence of Boko Haram and IPOB delegates, theye did not deem it necessary, nay compulsory, to ensure that at least the service chiefs are on the list!

But it maybe that after a decade of futile “technical” encounters, it is high time to try political summiting, at any rate, they are not taking chances as invitees are assured that  ABUAD it is safe, has a Federal Ministry of Aviation -Certified Helipad and a  well equipped 400-Bed Multi-System Hospital.”  The only thing missing from such a meticulous arrangement for an emergency national assignment is the identity of the non-academic off-campus masquerade  who will be the beneficiary of all the wonderful political security strategies that will be in communiqué. Here one must deploy native intelligence to fathom that which the “stakeholders” consider premature for mention.

The unthinkable inclusion of “leaders of Boko Haram” among invitees to a summit supposedly aimed at “halting the country’s drift into imminent anarchy or resorting into another civil war,” provokes lingering thoughts of past liaison of this sort which in retrospect pulled more political weight than the emergency national assignment cover in which it was packaged. None other than ex-president Obasanjo held talks with Boko Haram said to be focused on how to free the kidnapped Chibok girls through negotiation. The sensational event which included a visit to Maiduguri and later a meeting at Obasanjo’s farm in Ota with relatives of senior Islamist fighters and intermediaries was widely reported and marked a highpoint in Obasanjo’s penchant for making political hay while the sun of imminent transition of power is shining.

To this remarkable flashback we cannot but add helpful insight of the uncommon philanthropist behind the Summit of Hope and proprietor of the ABUAD, Chief Afe Babalola’s fanatical faith in the former president’s political stature. In 2017, he made headlines describing  Obasanjo as “the best president Nigeria ever had.” Then last year the chief expressed his own position on the “progressive agenda” when he told The Sun “ we should not have the 2023 election until we have changed the constitution to people’s constitution, until we have sovereign national conference, because the way they are going the same people repeat themselves, they will be there again. We are going to change the voting pattern.” The Summit of Hope is obviously a hybrid of OBJ’s 2023 king-making agenda, for which he has been zig-zagging from Sokoto to Sapele and the “restructuring” of voting pattern.

Not to be outdone in the pre-emptive ambush of the 2023 transition process, the tireless presidential aspirant, former VP Atiku Abubakar has also recently joined the summiteers with a call for all parties summit by Nigerian governors to discuss the political and economic problems facing the country which he said were “created by those with a regional mindset, and will not be solved by those with a similar mindset,” a guided missile.

The crux of the matter is that all these summits deliberately bypass credible constitutional channels for whatever changes intended for the enhancement of good governance, peaceful co-existence and restoration of national security. There can be no argument to legitimize the much talked about sovereign national conference or make it superior to the existing state and national legislatures as platforms for pursuing such aspirations. Moreover why the undue emphasis on President Buhari to do what is the duty of every concerned Nigerian, especially those agitating so menacingly?  Simply activate the due process through the legislature and pursue it with all the resources devoted to sponsoring smokescreen summits!

In the final analysis, we must see the frank submission by eminent professor of law, Itse Sagay (SAN), on these surreptitious summits as patriotic and instructive especially when he remarked that “ if all the insecurity is part of a move by people to destabilise the country and give the impression that Nigeria is ungovernable under the president, therefore, an unconstitutional measure should be introduced to remove him, that is unacceptable”. Scavengers to note !

Bode Elerande wrote from Osogbo

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