Nigeria’s presidency seems to have lost its “counter-attacking” voice in the wake of a prominent cry over the state of insecurity in the country.
During the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in Abuja, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, raised alarm over the surge in violent crimes in the northern part of Nigeria.
The religious leader’s open concern was an indictment on the government’s failure to arrest the plague of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and other violent crimes.
But days after the sultan’s alarm, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina — who are usually quick to fire back at any comment critical of their boss — are yet to find their voices.
“A few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day,” Abubakar, who is the most revered Ismalic authority in Nigeria, said at the summit on Thursday.
“I was there alongside the governor to commiserate with the affected community.
“Unfortunately, you didn’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the north. We have accepted the fact that the north doesn’t have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits.
“People think north is safe, but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country. Because bandits go around in the villages, households, and markets with their AK-47. They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed. These are facts I know because I am at the centre of it.
“I am not only a traditional ruler, but I am also a religious leader. So, I am in a better place to tell the story. I can speak for the north in this regard because I am fully aware of the security challenges there.
“We have to sincerely and seriously find solutions to the problem, otherwise, we will find ourselves soon, in a situation where we would lose sleep because of insecurity.
“As religious leaders, we must promote peace, love, unity, and tolerance among our followers.
“We will discuss all these issues at the close door session of the meeting and possibly come out with strong suggestions for government,” the Sultan of Sokoto said.
Adesina and his colleague Garba, who are yet to issue the sultan a rejoinder, were not this mute when former president Olusegun Obasanjo criticised Buhari for “mismanaging” the country. They called Obasanjo “divider-in-chief”.
Only weeks ago, Buhari himself called revered pastor Enoch A. Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and those calling for restructuring the country “unpatriotic”.
It has been days since the Sultan of Sokoto spoke. But the presidency is yet to give a robust response.
Meanwhile, Buhari says he cannot perform his duties well under the current cloud of insecurity.