Who Then Speaks for the Federal Republic? By Issa Aremu

rp_Aremu-300-150x150.jpg“My country is my country, even though it is unjust to me”-a Moroccan proverb.

With all its acknowledged limitations, 1999 constitution is premised on profound national security considerations. Chapter One dealing with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy says among others that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government” .  The drafters of this constitution never envisaged that some 15 years after, as many as over 20,000 sq km of land of the almost 1 million sq km Nigeria land mass would come under occupation of some local insurgents without any official declaration of war. According to Daily Trust reports, 10 LGAs with more than 2m people affected are under the heel of Boko Haram insurgents in three North Eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. According to Daily Trust reports;

“The area is larger than Imo, Abia and Ekiti states put together, as big as Bayelsa and bigger than Gombe State. The land mass under the control of the insurgents is about the size of Wales in the United Kingdom or the state of Maryland in the United States, and bigger than Northern Ireland. The LGAs affected are Bama, Dikwa, Ngala, Kala-Balge and Gwoza in Borno; Madagali, Michika, Mubi North in Adamawa; as well as Gujba and Gulani in Yobe. The combined land mass of the occupied areas is 21,545.86 square kilometers. In comparison, the combined land mass of Imo, Abia and Ekiti states is 18,203 square kilometres. Gombe State sits on 18,768 square kilometres of land, while Bayelsa covers 21,110 square kilometres.

Since this remarkable scary reports about the gross violation of the territorial integrity of Nigeria, it has been bussiness as usual by the President, legislators and governors who have taken the oaths to protect the Federal republic. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives adjourned last week not on account of the scandalous invasion of insurgents in the affected states but due to sickening disagreements over scrambles for party tickets for 2015 elections and security of house leadership. There have been partisan star words between politicians over who gets what but certainly not patriotic assurances that the advance of the insurgents would be halted in the North East and that serial bombings and killings of defencelss civilians would come to an end. Who then speaks for Nigeria? It’s time President Goodluck Joanthan addressed the nation on the unending advance of the insurgents. 1999 constitution also says as much that it shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution. The most significant provision of this constitution is security and welfare of the citizens. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the occupied territory and are now sheltering in displaced people’s camps in safer areas in the three states. Tens of thousands more have crossed the borders into neighboring Niger Republic and Cameroon. However, a great deal of people, who remained behind, including women and children, are now trapped. Many among them are being killed in a systematic manner.

President Goodluck Jonathan recently revealed during his recent trip to New York for the UN General Assembly session that over 13,000 people have so far been killed since the Boko Haram violence erupted in 2009. The country is losing territory; soldiers are being killed and losing equipment to insurgents. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative in Nigeria, Ms Angele Dikongue-Atangana, had said there are currently about 650,000 internally displaced persons in North-East Nigeria and the number is increasing. The constitution also provides for  the National Security Council made up the President who shall be the Chairman;

(b) the Vice-President who shall be the Deputy Chairman;

(c) the Chief of Defence Staff;

(d) the Minister of the Government of the Federation charged with the responsibility for internal affairs. (e) the Minister of the Government of the Federation charged responsibility for defence;

(f) the Minister of the Government of the Federation charged with the responsibility for foreign affairs; (g) the National Security Adviser

(h) the Inspector-General of Police; and

(i) such other persons as the President may in his discretion appoint. According to the constitution the  Council shall have power to advise the President on matters relating to public security including matters relating to any organisation or agency established by law for ensuring the security of the Federation. The question is that out of all these council members, who will speak for Nigeria that its territorial integrity is still intact and inviolable? With a President and 36 governors and hundreds of legislators, Nigeria is not short of leaders. What is missing is Governance and indeed good governance measurable through an urgent end to current insurgency.

Issa Aremu mni

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