Peter Obi, Bode George, Middle Belt Forum, tackles Tinubu over insecurity

Peter Obi, Bode George,

Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 election, Mr. Peter Obi, has said that despite the funds released for the fight against insecurity, the rate of kidnapping and banditry has increased under President Bola Tinubu.

His criticism came even as the President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr Pogu Bitrus and former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bode George, lambasted the current administration for performing badly in tackling the insecurity situation in the country.

In a series of posts made on his X handle yesterday, the former Anambra State governor, said even though President Tinubu declared security his top priority, more than 3,600 people were kidnapped in 2023, the most ever, according to Acled Conflict Index, a global monitor of conflict and that the kidnapping rose sharply after Tinubu took office.

He said how much politicians in Nigeria care about national insecurity has long been correlated with how close it gets to their mansions in Abuja, recalling that in one incident last week in the South East, 45 people were kidnapped and are still missing, yet few leaders spoke out. He said the deadliest zone is the northeast, where jihadists linked to Islamic State attack the army and villages and that the north-west, too, is riddled with gangs that routinely kidnap for ransom. He said a decades-long conflict between mostly Muslim herders and largely Christian farmers rumbles on in the country, where on Christmas Eve, gunmen mowed down at least 160 people.

He said: “Defence got a fifth more than it did last year. Yet inflation is running at 29%, so in real terms the defense budget has fallen. The government tends to splurge on fancy weapons systems that fail to tackle the roots of the problem, which are poverty, poor education, and anger at army atrocities. The latest budget includes funds for six t-129 Turkish attack helicopters on top of the 12 costly Bell choppers bought last year from America for $1bn, not to mention 12 Super Tucano attack aircraft. Buying strike drones has become so popular that the army runs in a fleet alongside that of their force. But drones are very good at guarding schools from kidnappings and heavy weaponry risks disaster. A drone recently killed at least 85 civilians at a festival in Kaduna state—not the first such cock-up.

The army promised to “fine-tune” its operations, but more radical change is needed. The police, well equipped but able to use better human intelligence, should lead on domestic security, not the army, which has been deployed in all 36 of Nigeria’s states. Another huge problem is graft in security spending. “Defence is a prime part of the budget where you can take large quantities of money without people being any wiser,” says Mathew page of Chattam House, a think-tank in London. Much of the budget, he says, is still about rewarding those who paid to get Mr. Tinubu elected.”

Meanwhile, the President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr Pogu Bitrus has backed Obi, the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in 2023, on his assertion that the insecurity in Nigeria has worsened under the President Bola Tinubu-led government.

Pogu blamed the situation on northern extremists, whom he said are not happy with the Tinubu administration and have resolved to make the country ungovernable.

He said, “Yes, it is true that the insecurity situation is worsening under President Tinubu’s administration, you don’t have to be told. But my interpretation is that we are victims of some political struggle. Our people in the North seem not to be happy with what the President is doing and they are determined to make the place ungovernable.

Majority of these insurgents are from the North and it appears they are not happy with the system and these exposes them as being responsible for insecurity all along; they better stop so that Nigeria can move forward. If they don’t want to stay in Nigeria, let them not keep messing those of us that want a progressive Nigeria up. Even those of us who are not happy with the way INEC handled the election have accepted the outcome, at least a government has been established through legal process; we have to respect what is there whether we like it or not, let them give peace a chance and lets have a country that is moving forward and not one sponsored by criminals to kill people and rob them of their ancestral lands.”

Former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bode George, said the sudden increase and high prevalence rate of lives lost is an indication that the administration of President Tinubu has failed Nigerians.

Reacting to the recent incidents of kidnapping especially in Abuja, George said Nigerians are looking to the government to instill security amidst fear and atrocious crimes being committed in the country, which he said is destroying the stability of the nation, making the country very volatile and has made it almost impossible to attract the much needed international economic investment that can only prevail in a politically stable environment.

He said: “Nigerians are perpetually engulfed with fear and so they are asking what is happening to the government in power. Why are they refusing to put the national security of this nation in front and centre of their political agenda? The government of the day has failed Nigerians once again. The fundamental duty of government anywhere in the world is the protection of lives and property of its citizens. It also must put adequate well-coordinated security plans that prioritise national security and ensures an atmosphere that is peaceful and conducive for its citizens. Pitiably, this is not the case in our country today. On the roads, farms, market and even in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the seat of government, it seems terrorists and kidnappers have now taken the battle to the city of power.

Kidnapping for ransom is already creating fear all over the country and Nigeria is close to the precipice and any little push can lead to a total disintegration. That is why the Bola Tinubu administration should put on its armour and tackle this menace in the society now. The cost of living is just going up and the quality of life is going down. It appears the government is helpless and unprepared. Government must stretch out its hands to foster partnerships with all relevant stakeholders and agencies, to ensure immediate relief for those most vulnerable in our society.”

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