Chief Of Defence Disclosure On Unmanned Nigerian Borders And Buhari’s Unfulfilled Promise To End Terrorism Worrisome- Afenifere

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has described the disclosure on Thursday last week that more than half of the borders in the North East and North West of Nigeria are unguarded as very worrisome and disturbing because of the immense danger it poses to the security of Nigerians.

In a Press Release by the organisation’s National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere expressed regret that less than a year to the end of Press Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the government is yet to take necessary steps on what the Army Chief considered as “a key source of criminality and violent crimes in those parts of the country”.

It would be recalled that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor who confirmed that “our borders are largely unmanned”, further revealed that 137 out of about 261 borders in the North-East and North-West regions of the country are unguarded and that these porous borders accounted for the easy access of terrorists from neigbouring countries into Nigeria.

He stated this last week Thursday, August 25, 2022 while delivering a lecture on “Security, Defence and Development in Nigeria” at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos.

Irabor, who asserted that there are about 364 approved international border points in Nigeria added that out of the 261 approved borders in the two northern regions, only 124 are manned, leaving the remaining 137 unmanned by security agencies.

“Intelligence suggests that violence actors are using some of these normal border points to move freely from countries into Nigeria to cause mayhem” he said.

Ajayi also recalled President Buhari’s expression of concern “on the rise in insecurity” when speaking during this year’s Democracy Day on June 12 as well as his declaration that his government is “working hard to contain and address these challenges.”

“Taken the President’s declaration and that of the Chief of Staff together, one finds it difficult not to wonder what the administration has been doing in the past seven years if this is the period that the government is “working hard to contain and address” security challenges in the country. As we all know, the administration has less than one year to wind up. What have the security agencies been doing about the vast unmanned borders and what has the government been doing for insecurity to keep rising as its years in the saddle increase?” Afenifere queried.

The pan Yoruba organization which observed that the country’s borders did not just spring up, wondered whether they had always remained unmanned or the ‘unmanning’ was of recent.

“We are raising this issue because, if the borders have always been so porous, security agencies and the past governments had always managed to checkmate would-be criminals and terrorists from infiltrating the country. The infiltration began during former President Goodluck’s administration but got accentuated during the reign of the incumbent President Buhari. What went wrong? How? Why waiting till now before thinking of employing technology to man the borders as indicated by the Chief of Defence Staff in his speech at the NIIA?

”Gloating over President Buhari’s desire to “ensure that the 2023 general elections are safe and secure for all Nigerians.”

Afenifere spokesman submitted that the government has more to do if this promise is to be fulfilled. Reference was made to a Cable (online newspaper) report of August 23, 2022 quoting state governors as informing President Buhari that elections may not hold in the North-West of the country due to increasing security challenges. The zone has seven states.

In the same vein, reports have it that at least 75 secondary schools in Zamfara state have remained shut since 2021 ‘because of security concerns’ as confirmed by Mr. Kabiru Attahiru, the Permanent Secretary in the State’s Ministry of Education while speaking last week Saturday during a two-day meeting on gender in education organised by the state’s Basic Education Board in partnership with UNICEF.

Reference was also made to reports of several communities that have been taken over by bandits in some states particularly in the northern part of the country as well as reported infiltration of bushes in the South West and South East by bandits. Worthy of mentioning also is Kaduna Governor El Rufai’s disclosure that bandits are setting up a parallel government in the state.

“All these and more are reasons why Nigerians are very worried about the country’s security situation and the chances of the President’s promise to end insecurity soonest coming to fruition. The reality on ground does not give the people reasons to be so assured – much as they would want to be so optimistic”.

Alluding to a statement by General Irabor on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 in Abuja that “The Armed Forces of Nigeria is working round the clock to implement several new strategies that will bring about an end to various security challenges in Nigeria”, Afenifere urged the government and the security agencies to buckle up as time is running out.

“So many lives have been lost. So much resources have been wasted. Many people have been forcefully ousted from their ancestral homes while living is getting more uncertain for the vast majority of Nigerians. The government should back up its claims with action. Security agencies should be strengthened.”

Ajayi concluded by further calling on the government to employ technology and vast majority of youths to man the said porous borders. It should also allow state governments to establish state police.

“Doing so would reduce unemployment and enhance security in the country. As a lasting solution to Nigeria’s myriad problems, the government should set in motion the machinery for Restructuring”.

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