Zamfara And The Leadership Disease, By Kassim Afegbua



By now, President Muhammadu Buhari must be counting his losses in a most bizarre manner. He must be wondering how his mythical status got easily deflated by sheer incompetence and lack of political will to confront the hydra-headed problems confronting us; chief of which is the humiliating insecurity situation we have found ourselves in.

I am not just disappointed in the President and his coterie of incompetent aides, I am appalled that he has allowed this leadership disease to fester for so long, frustrating Nigerians across the political divide. Whenever President Buhari exits power, he would look back in reflection to assess his distratrous outing in his twoterm tenure and perhaps bite his finger over the failure of his leadership hypothesis.

He will agonize and lament, and the reality of the situation would stare him in the face; at a time when there would be no psychohantic aides to rain praises on him in the glaring face of failure. He will carry the burden of failure and the failings of his leadership experiments.

He would review his directives and see for himself how uncreative they have been. He would wonder aloud, why he could not abate the insecurity situation in the country. He would sit alone in his house, almost a lonely man, to soberly reflect on his regime of underperformance.

Buhari’s leadership comes with a lot of baggage. His style is unproductive, his disposition utterly antiquated. Even when his aides and appointees are not able to deliver on their responsibilities, Buhari hardly does anything about it. He takes forever to jump-start his productive engine in the factory of ideas. He’s taciturn and walks snaily before he takes action. He’s never pro-active, and his reaction is loaded with habitual rhetorics. When his aides get so frustrated, they issue statements abusing our collective sensibilities.

When blood is spilled, President Buhari cares little. At the slightest prompting, he hops into the next available plane to travel abroad, rendering his Foreign Affairs Ministry almost helpless. His foreign policy agenda is still the same afro-centric repetition. No new initiatives in the face of growing insecurity and terrorism in Africa, nay West Africa sub-region. Nigeria’s insecurity problem is still on the increase, worsening by the day. Kidnapping, armed banditry, and insurgency have rubbished whatever security architecture that has been put in place. We wake up everyday to breaking news of blood and blood-letting.

Kidnappers are becoming more daring, while the vicissitudes of life are astronomically on the rise. Poverty and hunger are grinding the social fabric of the society to a halt. We are agonising everyday, and on each occasion, the language from the presidency remains the same weather beaten rhetorics of “We will crush insurgency”. The Buhari presidency is taking the wrong prescriptions for a different ailment. It is addressing the solutions from the wrong side of the divide. It is applying the wrong doses each time it has opportunity to take a decisive action on the insecurity situation. It is like rotating on the same axis.

A government that really wants to address the insecurity situation would not allow its able-bodied youths to be roaming the streets instead of being in the four walls of their universities. While government is killing the dreams of the vibrant youths, because they have become idle, devil takes possession of their humanity.

They get recruited into all manner of crimes and criminality, and end up becoming footsoldiers, because their school gates have been shut down by a needless strike action. Any serious minded government must take full responsibility for the failures and failings of the present system, and stop paying lip service to a most crucial aspect of our national life; education.

Each time discussions are started, they end up with monologues. With education sliding down the slope to abyss, one can be sure that the country will be in a free fall, and crimes would undoubtedly increase. The killings across the board also expose the weaknesses in the system. From one end to another, the country is gripped with bloodletting and mindless killings. In the fullness of this ongoing madness, a helpless Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, came up with everyman one gun project.

To him, the only way to guarantee some level of security is to arm the ordinary folks out there so they can withstand the rampaging unreason of the bandits. He called on the security operatives to grant licenses to those who are willing to bear arms in defence of their communities.

Given Governor Matawalle’s step, it is very obvious he was operating from the frustration end of the narrative. He couldn’t possibly understand why his therapies have been the needed elixir to quash this mayhem. His frustrations have led to another frustration; he wants the people to bear arms, and how to manage such a project is almost unthinkable. To allow people to carry arms is one, to manage the process in the event that the reasonability of it crumbles, is the real crisis that will fall-out from such an initiative.

Moreover, a governor of a state has no power to give directives to a state Commissioner of Police or any other security agency for that matter. What Governor Matawalle has done is just to raise concerns over the increasing security rot in Zamfara State and raising public consciousness to the dastardly situation. Armed banditry and kidnapping have been upscale. Zamfara has become a killing field. The governor is visibly helpless such that his last option is asking that his people be allowed to bear arms for self defence.

The law allows for light arms but the Nigeria Police would always go against the practice. Zamfara presents a metaphorical verbiage for a country that is helplessly in the throes of crisis. It would be interesting to learn how the mind of President Buhari works each time he sits down to take stock. Governance has not only collapsed in Zamfara, nay Nigeria, the people live in morbid fear everyday as a result of the unwholesome activities of bandits and kidnappers. It is a reflection of the general breakdown of law and order in the country.

Surely, Buhari will be leaving the country worse than he met it. All the grandiose recommendations that propelled his election on account of his military background have petered out like dry leaves. The glamour of his coming in May 2015 has become gloom; leaving regrets and sobriety on his trail. Rather than celebrate Buhari and his presidency, the level of decay in the system has taken off the shine from the system.

The whole fuss about Buhari’s competence has been badly thrashed and rubbished by his poor performance thus far. What the Zamfara Governor ought to do is to sustain healthy communication with the presidency in order to get the cooperation of the security operatives each time Zamfara issue comes to the front burner.

The Army, Airforce and Police appear overwhelmed in the circumstance, looking fatigued and unable to rein in the bandits in all ramifications. Nigeria has therefore become an endangered specie in the midst of all the challenges confronting us as a country. It does appear the government has gotten to the acme of its creativity, and its effort becoming a drop in the ocean. Nigeria needs a total overhaul, a new thinking, a new approach and a paradigm shift in its security architecture.

We have heard from Chief Executives of states how helpless they could be in taking proactive actions to nip this crisis in the bud; because of our unitary system. It is often difficult to shoot the right arrow. In Kaduna State, Governor Nasir el-Rufai was helpless explaining away the problem of combating bandits in their hideouts even when their locations were known.

The bandits run a complete ecosystem with their families and children in their colonies. Why our security operatives have not been able to device a strategy to rein them in leaves more questions than answers. It is part of these frustrations that have led Governor Matawalle to ask for an overkill; “let’s carry guns”.

It bothers me so trepidly that a military General of Buhari’s configuration could not bring something new to the table in its fight against insurgency and banditry. The whole idea of supporting him in 2015 was based on his military background; especially when the incidence of Chibok girls kidnap struck the airwaves. But under President Buhari, we have even more people in captivity, from Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states.

Many of them are languishing in forests, waiting for when they would breathe the air of freedom again. As usual, what the presidency does at such occurrences, is to release statements; a now ubiquitous practice since this administration mounted the rostrum. The Zamfara Governor’s declaration is a confirmation that the system has failed woefully.

Despite repeated claims that the government has invested so much resources into our security architecture, they seem to be a drop in the ocean. The bandits and insurgents seem to have superior firepower than our soldiers and police. The motivation is definitely waning, the conditions of service are not getting any better.

While the officers are growing potbellies, the other ranks are lamenting every now and then, over unpaid allowances and hunger. What we need to do is energize an awakening call; to raise citizens consciousness, to see how we can collectively pull our determination together to confront this monstrous situation.

The Zamfara episode is a leadership disease that requires all the intellectual know-how to fix. The government must take the fight to the bandits, exploit dialogue where necessary, and or use force to get the desired result. May God heal our land from the North to the South, and East to West. This unfurling cloud must birth a new dawn.