Leave Bishop Kukah, Face Nigeria’s Security Challenges — Northern Elders Forum Slams Buhari

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has advised the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to focus on how to solve the country’s persistent insecurity challenge rather than blaming the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah.

The position of the group was made known by the Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who faulted the Presidency over the way it responded to the criticisms.

His comment trails the Presidency’s claim that Kukah had a hatred for the Muhammadu Buhari administration and was working with the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party to stop the sale of Super Tucano fighter jets to the Nigerian Air Force.

The group further said the federal government should ensure that the military operations satisfy the basic standards demanded by the weapon suppliers in order to avoid what gave rise to delays in weapons procurement from Western countries.

It reiterated the earlier call for President Muhammadu Buhari’s resignation if unable to resolve the nation’s security problems.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Baba-Ahmed said Nigeria has a problem with procuring weapons because of the conduct of the armed forces and related agencies on human rights issues, dealing with prisoners of war and people caught up in conflicts.

He said, “You know, the presidency spokespersons have a way of deflecting criticism by making it personal. When you say that there is a shortfall in the quality of government, they find something to stick you with.

“People like Bishop Kukah and I, are used to this. We don’t take it seriously. This organisation should be criticised and must be criticised, and those who are ready to do so should be willing to take some of the words that Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina recycle every once in a while when we point out certain facts about the failings of President in terms of securing the country.

“But the truth is, maybe they know this, maybe they don’t know, the Nigerian government has problems procuring weaponry from Western countries, because these countries, in most cases, have standards regarding conduct by their armed forces and related agencies, in terms of dealing on human rights issues, dealing with prisoners of war, dealing with populations caught up in conflicts.

“Everybody knows this. They will not sell you one bullet unless they are satisfied that you’ve met certain criteria. And they have raised issues over and over and over again. The Nigerian government knows this. But they need to improve the conduct of the Nigerian military, in the fight against the insurgency, against terrorists. They know this.

“And when someone points them out, either it is because of lethargy, it takes them a long time to adjust, or perhaps the challenges of the conflict don’t allow them to make adjustments while they’re also fighting, I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is, it is true that if we have met, or comply with standards, set by countries that should give us weapons, well, sell us weapons, we would have a lot more weapons that we have now.

“So, whether it comes from Bishop Kukah, or it comes from me, we made this point. We want to buy weapons from some countries and improve the way we wage this war. It can be done, it must be done if you want these weapons.

“You certainly don’t want to go the option of some other members of the government who say procure weapons from anywhere in the world, or just bring in mercenaries to fight a war for you.

“So, I agree with Bishop Kukah that the government needs to review its attitude, some of those issues raised by countries that are creating problems, well, seemingly creating a problem for us in terms of selling weapons, and that the onus is on us to improve those conditions. It’s fact and we need it now.

“We must not go to the 2023 elections with the current state of insecurity or worse state insecurity, not just because of the elections, but because life is getting worse by the day and it’s time to reverse this trend.

“We cannot continue to live like this. Every inch of this country has one form of security challenge or the other and there are solutions to them. It cannot be that there are no solutions to the insecurities.

“There must be something wrong in the way we are running the country. We should say so. We should raise our voices and demand that the people we voted into office, the President, the National Assembly, and governors, they must do better. We can’t live like rats hiding in holes and running away every year from criminals.

“We just can’t. We’re tired. If they can’t operate in the country, there is an option. There is a provision in the constitution for stepping down if you can’t perform the most basic function available to you, which is to protect and secure citizens.

“That’s what we’re saying but a few people thought that extreme but it is a statement of fact.”