A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Abdulrahaman Bello Danbazzau, has faulted the use of the army in internal security operations that could have been handled by the Nigeria Police.
He spoke just as the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, traced insurgency in some parts of the northeast to ignorance, poverty and misinterpretation of Islam.
The occasion that was graced by eminent Nigerians such as Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Most Rev Mathew Hassan Kukah; a university don, Professor Larry Diamond; Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; was the inaugural lecture of the Freedom House Democracy Lecture Series in Lagos, with the theme, “Nigeria’s Governance Predicament: Poverty, Terrorism and Democracy”.
The former army chief, who spoke in his capacity as the chairman of the occasion, urged all Nigerians to take a collective approach to the fight against terrorism in the country even as he noted that the people of the country had resolved to live together as one big family.
“It is not normal, I mean the situation we find ourselves in this country: in Nigeria today, the armed forces are the ones doing the duties of the police.
“In a fight like this, the police should take the lead but the opposite is the case”, he said, adding that the momentum of fighting the scourge must be sustained in order to achieve successs.
In his welcome remarks, Tinubu, who is the convener of the group, flayed the response of the federal government to the problem of insurgency, saying rather than tackle the problem, the federal government has been using state institutions to harass its opponents.
“This is why they shut down newspapers recently and restricted the freedom of movement by prohibiting key APC members from travelling to Ekiti State prior to the elections. That is why they deployed more security people to hover over elections in Ekiti than they can do to protect the people and tackle security challenges in Borno”, he stated.
On his part, Bishop Kukah called for caution in the way the people perceive themselves as a nation, just as he admitted that the country had underachieved since it secured independence from colonial rule in 1960.
“One of the greatest problems with us is that we have not really defined ourselves as a people; we allow others to define us. I agree with those who are agitated about the state of the nation because really this is not where we ought to be”, he said.
The respected cleric, however, urged politicians and the ruling elite to make politics and politicking noble, especially in their utterances and conduct.
In his remarks, Gov. Amaechi posited that for the nation to eradicate the scourge of corruption, the citizens must be vigilant and proactive in their engagement with those in authority.