Finally, President Goodluck Jonathan vindicated the rumor mills last Tuesday evening when he slammed State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States. STANLEY NKWOCHA writes on the events that culminated into Jonathan’s action
Convoys of armored tankers, reports said, had started being moved to the cities – an indication that perhaps decision on the -to be presidential order had already been taken.
The marathon meeting the President had been having with his security chiefs since returning from South Africa and cutting off his planned trip to Namibia, suggested that something serious was in the offing. The virtual unabated series of meeting thereafter with the governors of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, suggested that indeed push had come to shove.
By the next day, however, the rumor mills had gone ballistic with the media buzzing with reports of widespread condemnation of the intended state of emergency. From the Governors’ Forum, pressure groups, from opposition political parties to even some federal lawmakers, it was heavy kick against State of Emergency. The polity was charged, forcing the Presidency to issue a release to that effect.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati said that the federal government had not taken a firm decision on what should be done in those states facing rising security challenges. This was last Monday.
According to him, “People should stop speculating. The federal government is studying the situations in the affected states and would take a decision that would be in the overall interest of the security of not just the people of the states affected by the country.”
Dr Abati said the clarification had become necessary because of the wide speculation in the media which didn’t reflect government thinking. But the next day, Abati’s words betrayed him as President Goodluck Jonathan went for the kill.
In a nationwide address, the President said the action had become necessary due to the recent spate of terrorist activities and protracted security challenges in some parts of the country, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Plateau and most recently Bayelsa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states.
“These unfortunate events have led to needless loss of lives and property of many innocent Nigerians including members of our security forces.
“The recent killing of security operatives by a cult group in Nasarawa State is particularly condemnable. I have directed that no effort or expense be spared in identifying and bringing to justice all those who had a hand in the killing of the operatives.
“The activities of insurgents and terrorists have been reprehensible, causing fear among our citizens and a near-breakdown of law and order in parts of the country, especially the North. We have taken robust steps to unravel and address the root causes of these crises, but it would appear that there is a systematic effort by insurgents and terrorists to destabilize the Nigerian state and test our collective resolve,” the President said.
He then proceeded to reel out the state of emergency in three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, adding that hence forth it shall be total lock down in terms of military powers but added the elected institutions remained in the various states.
“Following recent developments in the affected states, it has become necessary for Government to take extraordinary measures to restore normalcy. After wide consultations, and in exercise of the powers conferred on me by the provisions of Section 305, sub-section 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, I hereby declare a State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
“Accordingly, the Chief of Defence Staff has been directed to immediately deploy more troops to these states for more effective internal security operations. The troops and other security agencies involved in these operations have orders to take all necessary action, within the ambit of their rules of engagement, to put an end to the impunity of insurgents and terrorists.
“This will include the authority to arrest and detain suspects, the taking of possession and control of any building or structure used for terrorist purposes, the lock-down of any area of terrorist operation, the conduct of searches, and the apprehension of persons in illegal possession of weapons.
“The details of this Proclamation will be transmitted to the National Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. But in the meantime, let me make it clear that within the purview of this Proclamation, the Governors and other political office holders in the affected states will continue to discharge their constitutional responsibilities,” the President hammered.
A flash back will reveal that in the 8years former President Olusegun Obasanjo ruled the country, it was only Plateau State, then under Governor Joshua Dariye that smelt the proclamation. Lt Gen. Tunji Olurin rtd had taken over the control of the state as its sole administrator for a six month period before returning the reigns of power back to Dariye when his reign came to an end and Obasanjo suspended it. But did the crisis stop?
It is therefore commendable that the elected institutions and governors have been left intact to run the affairs of their states.
The simple question, however, on the lips of many a Nigerian is whether this is the best of antidotes to the current wave of insurgency in the country? If it is, will it bring a halt to the continued wanton destruction of lives and properties and does the government need to do more, especially on intelligence gathering and also in its avowed quest for reach out? All eyes are cast out!