Current Economic, Social and Security Challenges Facing Northern Nigeria, in Washington DC, USA Organised by US Institute of Peace – March 17-19, 2014 [By Murtala Nyako]

First, I should like to sincerely thank the United States
Institute of Peace (USIP) in support and collaboration
with the Governments of Norway and Denmark for
hosting this 3-Day Symposium on current economic,
social and Security challenges in Northern Nigeria. I
should also like to believe that this is being done
because of the realisation that Northern Nigeria is facing
daunting challenges in these sectors and you have
resolved to help the region out of its difficulties.
The region lies in the Sahel belt of West Africa and is
inhabited by a large number of tribal/ethnic groups, the
biggest being the Fulani, Hausa, Kanuri, Yoruba and Tiv
who have demographic linkages far beyond the region. It
became a British protectorate in the Year 1900 and had
since remained virtually peaceful until the early 1990s
when signs of rapid deterioration of the social and
economic life of the people in the region began to
manifest. We could now all see the squalor around us –
the growing number of young people out of school and
without skills; the increasing number of the poor and
hungry people around us, the increasing number of the
unemployable and the un-employed among the youths
and even grown-ups and other negative indicators too
many to be mentioned here; all of it very scary stuff. It
is, therefore, no wonder that there is presently
heightened insecurity not only in Northern Nigeria, but
the whole country.
Today, the level of armed robbery in the South-West of
the country is such that most Banks do not observe
regular hours of doing business; it is piracy and
lawlessness on continual and massive scale by
delinquent militants in the South-South; it is kidnapping
for ransom at an alarming degree in the South-East of
the country; and of course there is the series of atrocities
by the so-called Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. It is
lawlessness all over the place.
Boko Haram:
The initial assumption was that Boko Haram was
religiously motivated. Nobody now associates the group
with any religion; their targets have largely been within
the Muslim communities. What, therefore, are the
motivating factors of the so-called Boko Haram? We
must answer this question correctly to enable us
determine what type of war we are fighting. The Boko
Haram itself has not helped matters since it has never
come out by its actions to define what type of war it is
fighting; it has bombed facilities of the United Nations
and those of all and sundry; it has destroyed churches
and mosques and targeted and killed a large number of
Muslims and Christians irrespective of the ethnicity of
their victims. It is therefore most unfortunate that inspite
of professional advice to the Presidency including two
Memos submitted by my humble self (hereby attached) it
does not seem to know what it is facing and the type of
war it should be fighting; is it a war against terrorists,
insurgents or as people are coming to believe a nurtured
war against the people in Northern Nigeria? In short, is
the massive killing of people and destruction of property
and the environment state-sponsored?
Let’s face it ! Neither the Federal Government, nor the
Nigerian Military has ever linked those few persons
paraded as Boko Haram suspects with any of their
strategic commanders or sponsors ! The locations of
Boko Haram camps such as those at Sambisa Game
Reserve which are said to be well established and
stocked are known by all traditional Defence and Security
units in the North-East, but we hear about them from
the authority only on selective basis !We now notice a
new trend; the random destruction of life and property in
the style of Boko Haram in the North-East and the illegal
carting away of herdsmen’s cattle now take place in all
the States of Northern Nigeria and is being adjudged by
the public as deliberately aimed at bringing conflict
amongst the ethnic groups and between Muslims and
Christians of the region.
Sponsors of Mass Killings and Destruction of Property
Let me request this gathering to note that the arms,
ammunition and explosives being used by so-called Boko
Haram are not manufactured in Nigeria. Somebody must
have brought them from abroad to the scenes of
attacks. With military check-points mounted everywhere
in far greater numbers than we had during our civil war
and with only the President, the Vice President and their
key staff and Governors of the States on one hand and
the Nigerian Military on the other who pass these points
unchecked, we could safely assume that it is one of the
two groups who conveys these weapons up country from
the Port(s) after Custom and Security clearance. The
security situation we are therefore facing in Northern
Nigeria today could be sponsored, financed and
supported by evil minded and over-ambitious leaders of
Government and the society for political gains. There is
simply no person(s) in the North-Eastern zone rich
enough to foot the financial and logistic bills on Boko
Haram activities. Somebody outside the zone must have
bought these arms, ammunitions and explosives
somewhere which is easily traceable, paid the freight
charges to Nigeria, cleared them at the Ports, conveyed
them up-country through numerous check-points and
put them in safe-houses in the States ready to be used
by the appointed killers. Also, somebody must have
deliberately substantially increased illegal drug traffic in
the North. Today a youth in the village might not see
drug against his headache, but there would be all sorts
of illegal and dangerous drugs available for him to
purchase! Who are the barons behind all this?
Identification of the Strategic Commanders of the Illicit
So-Called Boko Haram Operations:
But most importantly, who are the Strategic
Commanders of these illicit and murderous operations
against innocent citizenry including women and children?
It is now clear to all and sundry that there is an
unhindered coordination between the activities of Boko
Haram cells and some strategic commanders sitting in
some high offices in our national Defence system. How
else could there be such timely actions regarding the
immediate withdrawal of the Military near vital positions
such as schools and colleges with the immediate arrival
of Boko Haram squad of murderers. Not only are these
withdrawals of the Military and the attacks of Boko
Haram timely, it is noticed that such attacks would last
for hours without counter response by the Military even if
they are located at a hearing distance. We have had
cases where a fleet of Airforce aircraft was being burnt
by Boko Haram near a unit of the Military, yet the latter
did not respond. We have had a case when a retired
General and a civil-war hero was being shot to death by
allegedly Boko Haram attackers in front of soldiers
detailed to protect the area, yet there was no response
from them. There are numerous other revelations which
time would not allow me to narrate. I should however
add that virtually all the regular Military units in the area
are poorly equipped; they have arms without
ammunitions and are poorly fed and quartered inspite of
the trillions of Naira said to be spent on them by Abuja.
In contrast members of the Abuja-nurtured Task Force
being deployed in the areas are better equipped and
cared for perhaps to guarantee that they rain enough
havoc on the communities whose domains they are
Clearly these Strategic commanders are waging a war of
Terror (‘making’ a statement to influence an outcome)
as well as adopting Insurgency tactics of using terror to
achieve a political end against Northern Nigeria. Boko
Haram is therefore being viewed as a tool by some evil-
minded conspirators to kill key Traditional and political
leaders of Northern Nigeria and to cause the
disintegration of Nigeria. The people in the North have
also begun to suspect that the Objective of all this is to
create enough mayhem for an excuse to deny them their
democratic right of Vote by cancelling the forthcoming
General Elections in the region and also reduce the
Voting power of the people there now and in the future
through mass killings of its populace especially its
Who give the ‘Orders-to-Kill’ the Innocent
The real big question in all this is who have been giving
the ‘Orders to Kill’ the victims of all the Boko Haram
atrocities and those who have been targeted but saved
by the Almighty God? There have been attempted
assassinations of a number of States’ Governors
including my good-self and the Governor of Benue State;
a number of top Traditional Leaders of the North
including the Shehu of Borno and the Emir of Kano, our
Senators and top Business people have also been
attacked in broad daylight and escaped death by the skin
of their teeth ! Who had given the executive ‘Orders’ to
kill us? Is Northern Nigeria facing another demonic
Agenda similar to that which wiped away its Political
and Military Leaders and killed a number from the
Western Region in January, 1966? The Presidency should
give us answers to all the foregoing serious questions
and we do not want insults by aides in response or
harassment by detailed Security operatives ! We want the
ANSWERS; Nigeria also wants the ANSWERS; the
international community too should want the ANSWERS.
Let me briefly touch on a few other factors that induce
and promote Insecurity in Northern Nigeria and indeed
Nigeria namely Corruption and Mismanagement of public
affairs nourished by impunity and lawlessness on the
part of senior leaders in Government and the ruling
political Party as revealed in President Obasanjo’s
letters/write-ups and the observations by the outgoing
Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria on missing billions of
dollars of public funds. The responses of those who
should clear the air show how far they could go to falsify
record. Their impunity and lawlessness have become
legendry ! They think they could cajole us to believe that
16 is greater than 19 and 5 is greater than 27. Their
emasculation of the Judicial system is also
unprecedented. In the security situation we now find
ourselves we in the North are already not free from
danger, injury or death emanating from executive
‘Orders’ of the evil-few in Abuja; the wise amongst us
now ‘sleep with one eye open’, the wisest do so ‘with
both eyes widely open’! How could we trust those that
we suspect are behind all this? Who can now trust and
do business with these leaders? No wonder the
international community and those that could be our
business partners are staying away from Northern
Nigeria and the rest of the country. My State’s U.S.
technical partners who are to upgrade Kiri irrigation dam
in my State (Adamawa) to Hydro-power-generation
facility on Built-Operate-and-Transfer (B.O.T.) basis had
to abandon the site when an unwarranted ‘State of
Emergency’ was lumped on the State by Abuja. The case
of Okomu LNG project speaks volumes on this ! On the
political front, we in the North had stuck out our necks
to support their political ambition, but they have now
turned round and are attempting to burn us alive. No
decent man should do business with this lot !
Lawlessness galore !
Distinguished organisers of this timely Symposium, whilst
once more thanking you for it, it is clear from the
foregoing that Northern Nigeria and indeed Nigeria need
your understanding and support.
Thank you & God bless!

Murtala Hammanyero Nyako
Governor of Adamawa State

Source: Nasiru el Rufai’s facebook status.


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