KUJE JAILBREAK AS A SYMPTOM OF ABSENTEE GOVERNANCE

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Again, the Kuje prison tragedy is but one more symptom of collapse of governance in our country – and no thanks to President Buhari’s administrative style ‘of delegation by abdication’, euphemism for absence of governance. At an age when government has become a science, President Buhari puts round pegs in square holes and while not flying around the world in search of loans for his legacy projects, he simply sits back watching his ‘loyal gatekeepers’, serving other tendencies in his government sow seeds of social dislocations that today threaten the very survival of our nation. Since there are no rules, his political appointees set their own standards which make accountability or sanctions unnecessary.

While our children spend several months at home because of ASUU strike, the president said little as self-conceited ministers of education and labour arrogantly strut and swagger around. They even breached the constitution trying to seek elective positions as government employees paid by taxpayers. The naira is said to be worth less than the paper on which it was printed while the CBN governor, in pursuit of his presidential ambition was setting up structures and hiring lawyers to defend his abuse of position.

Fuel scarcity whose daily consumption moved from 35million litres per day in February 2018 to 65.7million per day in January this year and jumped to 72.07 million litres a day, in May this year, is biting hard. Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of NNPC blamed increase in fuel consumption which attracted over N500b subsidy so far this year on smuggling across borders.

Bandits, herdsmen and other insurgents call the shot. Kidnapped train victims have been kept in captivity for close to three months.  Relatives of recently released seven were said to have raised N800m to liberate their loved ones while 57 remain in captivity. The president who is under stress and strain got little relief from ministers of information, defence, petroleum and digital technology while Abubakar Malami, another round peg in square hole, chose the moment of the president’s tribulation to assault sensibilities of Nigerians by increasing his harem to three with solemnization of marriage with the president’s 41-year-old divorced daughter which, newspapers reports claim, already have six children.

If we needed more evidence of absence of governance, all we need to do is to interrogate the president’s lamentation as to “how terrorists organize, have weapons, attack security installation and get away with it” during his brief stop-over at the damaged Kuje Medium Correctional Centre en route Senegal where he secured more international loan for his legacy projects and Senegal’s highest national honour for his service to Africa.

But then President Buhari is the only one who can answer those questions. He alone knows why he appointed Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi as Minister of Police Affairs. Dingyadi, a former secretary to Sokoto State Government and one-time chairman National Commission for Education is undoubtedly an accomplished Nigerian. But without any form of training or experience in the security department, it is only the president who can say if there is anything that qualified Dingyadi for the job other than the accident of coming from Dingyadi Sokoto.

Dingyadi was honest enough not pretend to be what he was not while

explaining the relative ease with which the terrorists accomplished their mission. He had said to reporters: “I think what helped them was the number of people they came with and their superior weapons”. But to underscore the tragedy of our security architecture, his answers contradicted that of the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola who insisted there were enough forces and equipment in Kuje which he said is “medium by size but maximum by the security provided”. He then spoke of a “a platoon of military officers and men … the highest grade of military police and other security forces for deployment for protection.”

And since both are round pegs in square holes, they did not bother to explain how 300-armed terrorist travelled for hours through the various police checkpoints and military formations around Abuja and why their exits with their priced haul of 60 hardened Boko Haram terrorists could not be blocked.

Again, only President Buhari knows what qualified Rauf Aregbesola for Minister of Interior after his uninspiring outing as governor of Osun State with a legacy of unpaid salaries. His other enduring legacy was fanning embers of religious intolerance among a people that had coexisted peacefully for centuries as traditionalists, Muslims and Christians with Hijab controversy to cover his inadequacies.

It is no surprise that as a round peg in a square hole, Aregbesola has spent the greater part of his seven years as Minister of Interior trying to derail his successor’s more focused administration. According to a recent Daily Trust editorial “Between him and the Controller General of Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, there has been more prison breaks than at any time in living memory”.

In fact, some said there has been an epidemic of jail breaks during their period. There had been jail breaks in Imo, Edo Bauchi and Lagos during which thousands of criminals were set free just as last week’s attack on Kuje was the third in the last two years. Yet the facility’s perimeter fence was not reinforced while both the president and the president of the senate raised questions about the functionality of the CCTV if at all available.

It is within Aregbesola’s department to address the daily flooding of Nigerians by immigrants who take refuge in the ungoverned forest of the north from where they visit violence on innocent Nigerians. Many of them ferried by lorries to the south take refuge in the urban slums with no name or any form of identification. Sheik Gumi who has visited those he described as aggrieved Fulani herdsmen making outlandish demand such as government pardon and integration into our security architecture seems to have been more visible than the Minister of Interior.

It is tragic not only for President Buhari who often shoots himself in the leg by the manners of his appointment but for the country that bear the consequences of such actions. President Jonathan back in 2013 admitted that Boko Haram had infiltrated his government and all other levels of government in the country. But President Buhari’s trusted aids still went on to populate his government with Boko Haram sympathisers. Although it was elder statesman, Theophilus Danjuma that first spoke of infiltration of the military by criminal elements, some of governors of besieged northern states today believe the military is compromised.

This why it is therefore not enough for the military top hierarchy to say “the claim by Femi Fani Kayode that soldiers were withdrawn from the

Kuje Correctional Custodial Centre before the attack is laughable” or “that he is ignorant of whose responsibility it is to guard prison,” as recently argued by the Defence spokesman, Maj.-Gen. Jimmy Akpor.

They should tell Nigerians how ‘the platoon of military officers – the fighting wing of the army in the most sophisticated battle’ Aregbesola talked about, melted into the thin air at the approach of Boko Haram terrorists and why between them, the DSS and the police, the movement of over 300 heavily armed insurgents in and out of Kuje was never captured by intelligence.

Frustrated Nigerians, safe neither in their homes, work place or places of worship have come to terms that they are on their own. But the successful daring rescue of incarcerated terrorists from subdued state actors that could not rescue their kidnapped citizens from terrorist den even with payment of ransom, is a warning to those playing the ostrich in Aso Rock that there are no more sacred areas.

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