Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has come under increasing pressure from critics and allies as the country is reeling from multiple security crises that have claimed hundreds of lives in recent weeks.
An alarming wave of violence has left millions of people in Africa’s most populous country in turmoil over the collapse of security. Attacks by jihadist groups in the northeast have been compounded by a sharp increase in kidnappings against civilians in schools and on interstate links in Nigeria. There has also been an increase in mass killings by bandit groups in rural cities, an increase in armed robberies in urban areas, and increasingly daring attacks on security forces by pro-Biafra militants in the southeast.
In April alone, nearly 600 civilians died across the country and at least 406 were kidnapped by armed groups, according to an analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations. The violence has left much of the country on the edge and Buhari faces the fiercest criticism since taking office.
Governors, politicians, including those of the president’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and civil society groups have called for urgent action and criticized the 78-year-old president.
Among the most scathing criticisms in recent weeks have come the allies. “This is the worst instability we face. Our security system has broken down, it has failed, ”APC Senator Smart Adeyemi said in the Senate last week. “The security infrastructure we have today cannot cope with what we are faced with. From north to south no one is safe, no one can travel 50 kilometers in our nation, “he added before breaking down in tears.
Soyinka, who in recent years has been an ardent critic of the Buhari government, has lamented the lack of leadership. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a government. It was quite evident, even before the end of Buhari’s first term, that he was not capable of taking on the task of being president, ”he told The Guardian in a recent interview. “Human lives have become expendable and the president has shown that he cannot protect.”
The former military general returned to power in 2015 and vowed to tackle Boko Haram and corruption. However, some of the progress made in the fight against the jihadist group has been undone, with multiple groups now active. In other parts of the country, insecurity has skyrocketed as the president has become a silent and remote figure.
The lives of millions of people in Africa’s largest economy have become increasingly difficult, and Nigeria has suffered two recessions in the past five years. The number of unemployed has more than doubled since 2015 to 23 million.
As the economy has suffered, crime and insecurity have grown and the failures of Nigeria’s underfunded and under-equipped security forces have become more apparent.
On Tuesday, the distraught parents of 17 college students, among the 22 people abducted from Greenfield University in Kaduna in the northwest last month, protested in the streets of the capital Abuja, accusing the government of abandoning them and pleading with the authorities. to ensure your safety. children’s liberation.
This year’s serial kidnappings by armed groups against students in the north have sparked outrage and despair.
The Greenfield University kidnappers killed five of the students after the parents were only able to collect half of the demanded $ 263,000 ransom. On Monday, an assailant who claimed to have carried out the kidnapping told Voice of America radio that the remaining 17 students would be killed if the remainder of the ransom was not paid by Tuesday.
The policy of the Kaduna government is not to pay ransoms, which it says fuels an “industry” of kidnapping. But families have been left homeless, with many criticizing that the policy has not been backed by increased local security measures.
Shehu Sani, a senator from the opposition People’s Democratic Party in Kaduna, said on Tuesday: “We must not wait for the bandits to throw the bodies of our 17 children at our doors … If the government has a better solution to free the kidnapped students. , other than the one undertaken by the parents of the students, to get to work immediately ”.
Reforms are urgently needed to restructure and better fund the police, Sani said. “The government has simply not lived up to its responsibilities and expectations. Corrupt security officials who feed off the defense budget must be dealt with and the welfare of the troops must be improved. The military and the police must be better armed to match bandits and terrorists. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism