The week, 14th to the 20th of February was another eventful one in Nigeria, with a new set of controversies and tragic events that may have unfortunately become normal in Nigeria’s national life.
Events ranging from the abduction of 27 students and 15 staff of the Government Science College (GSC), Kagara, Niger State to the appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa as the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the gale of defections to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Nigeria’s exit from recession dominated the news in the past week.
Except for the exit from recession, nothing much called for cheers in the past week, as the media space was again dominated by one controversy or the order.
In the early hours of Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, gunmen, reportedly dressed in military uniform and believed to be bandits, stormed the Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.
According to reports, the bandits first overpowered the security guards at the school before going ahead to conduct the business of the day, which is to take students and staff of the school into captivity. At the end of the operation said to have lasted about two hours, one student, apparently trying to escape just like others did, was shot dead while 27 students and 15 members of staff were taken away by motorcycle riding bandits.
The attack on the school in Kagara, though the first attack on a school in Niger State, came barely 72 hours after 18 passengers of the state transport company, NSTA were abducted in the same LGA.
The state has been ravaged by the bloody activities of bandits who raid communities, kill and kidnap innocent people at will, with four local governments said to be worse hit.
– Captured Daniel
On Tuesday, February 16th, 2021, a former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel announced his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling APC, saying he has been ‘captured’
In a short statement, Daniel wrote: “I have since experienced an avalanche of encouragement to come on board.
“However in the last 48 hours things took a dizzying speed with the decision of the APC National Chairman requesting to visit me at Asoludero on Wednesday with about three Governors.
“While planning for the visit, Governor Abiodun also decided to visit me later today with another set of Governors.
“It, therefore, means that I have finally been ‘captured’. I thought I should quickly brief the house before the news go viral. Thanks for your understanding.”
With this brief statement, Gbenga Daniel’s journey to the APC, which started during the 2019 general election became official. At the election, despite being a campaign manager for former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar in the South-West for the PDP, Daniel threw his weight behind Governor Dapo Abiodun, who was then the candidate of the APC in Ogun State, directing his followers to vote for him.
For many, Gbenga had been in the ruling party since then, especially with the defection of his former deputy, Alhaji Sinatu Badaru and majority of his followers to the APC almost two years ago.
– Iyiola Omisore
Similarly, a day earlier, Monday 16th of February, another big fish jumped the political boat in Osun State, when a former deputy governor and a two term Senator, Iyiola Omisore dumped the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for the APC.
Omisore’s defection seals a romance that started shortly after the inconclusive governorship election in Osun State. Coming third on the election result, Omisore became the beautiful bride to the APC after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ordered fresh polls at some polling units in the Ife axis, Omisore’s stronghold, where election were cancelled for one reason or the other.
Abdulrasheed Bawa’s Appointment
On Tuesday February 16, the chequered tenure of the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu was finally brought to a conclusive end with the announcement of Abdulrasheed Bawa as the new boss of the anti-graft agency.
Bawa, 40 and a pioneer cadet detective of the EFCC, also a Deputy Detective Superintendent, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in complete departure from the norm since the inception of the agency, coming as the first Chairman of the Commission that is not either a retired or serving police officer. He also comes as the first core staff of the EFCC and the youngest person to occupy the position.
Though his appointment has brought up new controversies, bordering on alleged corrupt practices, especially allegations that Bawa illegally sold off 244 trucks seized from alleged treasury looters at ridiculous prices, thereby denying the nation of about N4.8 billion in recovered loot, the EFCC has, however, come to his defence, claiming he was never involved in such a shady deal.
Also, there are arguments over his qualification to occupy the office of chairman, with arguments that as a level 13 officer, he was not qualified since he is not at the level of an ACP as stipulated in the EFCC Act. However, to ensure that does not become a problem, reports have it that the agency has since promoted Bawa and his Course 1 mates to level 14, therefore, paving the way for a smooth screening and confirmation by the Senate barring any other matter.
Ex-CDI Usman’s Revelation About Dapchi Girls Abduction
Nigerians were taken aback on Thursday, the of 18th of February, 2021 with the confession of the immediate past Chief of Defence intelligence (CDI), Air Vice Marshall Muhammad Usman, that the military had intelligence report that Boko Haram insurgents will attack and kidnap female students from a school in Dapchi, Yobe State in 2018.
Usman, who is one of the retired top military brass appointed as ambassadors-designate by President Buhari, made the confession when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for his screening.
He said: “There was an intelligence report on Dapchi before it occurred. We saw indicators building up but it was not managed properly.
“State governors have a role to play because if you are given intelligence, we expect troops to move in but this does not happen in the North-East because of bad roads and difficult terrains.”
Though the retired CDI tried to defend the failure of the military to act on the intelligence at its disposal, blaming bad roads and difficult terrains and tactically shifting responsibility for their failure on state governors, many Nigerians believe the failure to act and prevent the girls from being kidnapped is the same reason the war against insurgency has continued to wobble.
Matawalle’s Not All Bandits are Criminals
Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle on Thursday, February 18, 2021 added to ongoing debates over armed bandits terrorising the North-West and parts of the North-Central geopolitical zones when he was quoted to have said “Not all bandits are criminals.”
The governor, whose state was at a point the epicenter of bandits activities, with the vast forests in the state firmly under their control till date, said: “Not all of them are criminals.
“If you investigate what is happening, and what made them take the laws into their hands, some of them, sometimes were cheated by the so-called vigilante groups.
“They normally go to their settlements and destroy property and take their animals. They did not have anyone to speak with, so sometimes, they go for revenge. When the vigilante group attacks them, they go for reprisals.”
Matawalle, who made the statement while speaking to State House Correspondents shortly after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, came under attack, with Nigerians wondering how a governor, who had to contend with the criminal activities of these bandits be claiming that not all of them are criminals.
The statement credited to Matawalle, however, fits into the narrative being pushed by respected Islamic scholar, Ahmad Gumi, who has consistently said lately that the bandits are fighting against injustices done to them.
Gumi’s Mission to the Bandits
Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, again remained in the news in the past week, thanks to his advocacy for amnesty for bandits and the his interface with bandits who allegedly abducted students and members of staff from the GSC, Kagara, Niger State.
Gumi was at the Government House, Minna on Thursday, a day after the abduction of the students and school workers, where he pledged to work for the release of the abductees. And true to his promise, he was in the forest of Dutsin Magaji, bordering Niger, Zamfara and Kaduna states, where he, allegedly met with the bandits. It is however, yet to be seen how effective this interface maybe and how soon the abductees will be released.
Exit from Recession
The most cheering news in the course of the week ended 20 of February is the report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the country has exited recession and back to the path of growth.
The NBS report said: “Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.11 percent (year-on-year) in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2020, representing the first positive quarterly growth in the last three quarters.
“Though weak, the positive growth reflects the gradual return of economic activities following the easing of restricted movements and limited local and international commercial activities in the preceding quarters.
“As a result, while the Q4 2020 growth rate was lower than growth rate recorded the previous year by –2.44 percentage points, it was higher by 3.74 percentage points compared to Q3 2020.
“On a quarter on quarter basis, real GDP growth was 9.68 percent indicating a second positive consecutive quarter on quarter real growth rate in 2020 after two negative quarters.
“Overall, in 2020, the annual growth of real GDP was estimated at –1.92 percent, a decline of –4.20 percentage points when compared to the 2.27 percent recorded in 2019.”
Reporting the exit, Bloomberg said “Africa’s largest economy unexpectedly exits recession”, underscoring how the news was taken even outside Nigeria.