02 Oct

The week ahead – Ambode has to sit up

Gang violence erupted in the Oshodi area of Lagos on Independence day leading to injuries and a breakdown of law and order. Within Nigeria’s economic hub, stealing and maiming of commuters is escalating, and becoming an increasing source of worry, especially as the traffic situation in Lagos worsens. Meanwhile, security in Nigeria’s most important entry point, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, is also a source for concern. A survey showed the presence of phone call retailers in the airport terminal, dozens of foreign currency money changers and compromised staff of Federal Airport Authority, NDLEA, & Customs.

Crime, especially kidnap remains an issue. A few days after he was kidnapped, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae, was eventually released after a ransom of N5 million was paid. This ransome payment was made contrary to the claim of the Police that he was rescued. A few days after Falae was kidnapped, the traditional ruler of Bunu Community in Kabba-Bunu Local Government of Kogi state, Oba Adebisi Obademi was abducted by gunmen. He is yet to be found as of the time of preparing this report.

President Muhammadu Buhari was at the United Nations in New York for the 70th annual general assembly. His address to world leaders was mainly focused on some of his domestic policies and how the world can tackle some of the issues on a global scale. He made mention of the rescue of the Chibok girls and promised to bring them back alive. As soon as he returned to Nigeria, he sent the list of his nominees for ministerial positions to the National Assembly, and the Senate President has promised to read it on the floor of the Red chamber before subsequent confirmation.

Yesterday, the President addressed the nation in commemoration of Independence Day, and admonished Nigerians to behave in an orderly manner, and discard unruly conduct. He made mention of being slow in order to achieve better results and enumerated some of the early gains of the administration in national security security and intervention to bail out states who couldn’t pay salaries. However, and crucially, the President’s neglected to mention the ongoing violence in the North-Central geopolitical zone and the brutal tit-for-tat activities of Fulani Herdsmen and communities indigenous to the region.

Boko Haram appears to have resorted to biological warfare. Earlier this week, the army raised announced that the group may have poisoned water sources causing the death of camels and cows that drank from streams and rivers around some villages that have been liberated from the group. Meanwhile, last week, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members invaded the office of the Department of State Services in Kogi state and in an exchange of gun fire that lasted more than an hour, lost three of their comrades while a policeman was killed. Very worryingly, the army, last week, issued a statement accusing unnamed groups within the Borno state establishment of aiming to truncate the war against Boko Haram.

JP Morgan has de-listed half of Nigeria’s bond from its portfolio, leading to a downgrade of the country’s rating and adding to the cost of external borrowing as a result.

Recommendations

  • The Lagos state governor, Akinwumi Ambode, has not shown leadership since assumption of office. A comparative analysis of his first 100 days in office with his predecessor shows a lot of inaction and a general disinterest in governance. However, he has an opportunity in an area where Babatunde Fashola failed, if he can contain petty crimes and violent gang wars.
  • The Murtala Mohammed International Airport, not only has notoriety for being one of the dirtiest airports in the world, but also ranks amongst the most unsecured. The security survey that highlighted gaps in security at airport terminal must be addressed or we may have a successful terror attack there.
  • The claim by no less a personality than the Inspector-General of Police that Olu Falae was rescued, when in fact a ransom was paid, is not only shameful, but provides us an insight into the capabilities of our police. They are not doing much. We have in the past pointed out the value of the “kidnap industry” in Nigeria (N20 billion per year), and the payment of ransoms fuel that industry. Even worse, the denial encourages the kidnappers. We recommend that the Police set up a tactical team to dismantle the kidnapping syndicates across the country instead of making a mockery of themselves. We also suggest they run a sting operation within the force to eliminate the collaborators of the kidnapping syndicates.
  • The fact that President Buhari omitted to mention the crisis in the North-Central gives a window into the thinking of his national security team – the North-Central does not figure. It is disheartening that the need to find a solution to the daily savagery is not on the front burner for this presidency and we strongly urge the President to reconsider his approach to the killings in the North-Central.
  • While we must commend the military for a good job done so far in bringing Boko Haram to heel, they should always attempt to stay ahead of the thinking of the group by employing quality analysts and strategists. Nigeria must not allow the terror group to resort to biological war before we start responding. The poisoning of water sources is a troublesome dimension.
  • We urge all the security agencies to beef up security at their offices and HQ and strive to provide same for the populace. The attack on the DSS office in Kogi is unacceptable.
  • The JP Morgan decision to de-list Nigeria hasn’t changed or challenged President Buhari to quickly appoint a Minister of Finance and Economic Adviser to instil confidence and chart a policy direction. The submission of the ministerial list on last day of September, with screening to commence in October indicates a stubbornness that is disquieting.