Banditry: Gumi’s position self serving, threat to national security- PGF boss

The Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Dr Salihu Lukman, has faulted the Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, for calling on the authorities to grant amnesty to bandits in the country.

The APC chieftain said Gumi’s position was not only self serving but clearly a threat to national security.

Lukman also applauded the role played by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace, Allen Onyema in the recent victory of the Super Eagles in Cape Verde.

The PGF boss in a piece entitled: “Nigerian Democracy and Challenges of Nation Building” Thursday in Abuja, said bandits cannot be placed on the same pedestal with Niger Delta militants granted amnesty by the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua led administration.

Lukman who applauded the authorities for waging full scale war against the bandits in the North-west geopolitical zone said there is the urgent need to regulate the conduct of religious leaders in the country.

He said: “With all the lamentation about alleged inability of the APC led government of President Buhari to mobilise response to end the security challenge in the country, around the second week of August 2021, the narrative is beginning to change. In line with the instructions of President Buhari, the security agencies are speaking the language best understood by the bandits and insurgents. 

“All arms of the security agencies are fully mobilised and are working in a coordinated way to crush the bandits in Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna forests. Interestingly however, there are Nigerian leaders who have dismissed the military campaign going on to crush the bandits. 

“So-called media commentators, religious and other leaders have discredited decisions of government to shut down communication services, markets, etc. in the states where the military operations are taking place. A religious leader has already proclaimed that the military operations against the bandits will fail.

“What a jaundiced view. May be Nigeria should return to the era when hundreds of millions meant for arms procurement to fight insurgency, banditry and other criminality will be diverted and given to religious leaders for prayers.

“Instead of mobilising security agencies to fight the criminals, resources being deployed to fight insecurity in the country should be given to religious leaders to pray for the bandits to come back to their senses. 

“This is perhaps what Sheikh Ahmad Gumi is preaching when he insists that government should grant amnesty to bandits in the North just the way the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua handled Niger Delta militants.

” Anybody who argue this way is already part of Nigeria’s national security problem. Nigerians need to rise to the challenge of regulating the conduct of so-called leaders, including religious clerics. Being jaundiced makes most of these leaders to be antagonistic to initiatives towards nation building.

“Beyond religious clerics, there are other category of leaders in the country with similarly jaundiced views. Individuals, who in their own rights count as elders and have paid their dues to this country have become very vocal almost virtually against every decision and action of government. 

“Ideally, elders should speak with strong moral voice based on capacity to say more than the ordinary on account of their lived experiences. But when elders speak with the same voice as that of politicians, it weakens their authority and diminish their influence in society.

” If the weakness of politicians is that they are unable to project a national identity, how different could elders whose mission only seek to entrench divisive politics in the country? The hallmark of being elders should be to bring something completely different from what the political class are offering. In which case, instead of claiming to be speaking as elders, so-called elders who promote Nigeria’s fractured reality should just honestly disclose all their political objectives.

“However one looks at it, there is no way a nation can be built with leaders and elders whose views are antithetical to national development. Nigerians cannot be facing the challenge of insecurity and some leaders are working to undermine the efforts of government to crush the criminal elements responsible for all the pains citizens are going through, including loss of lives of citizens.

” Anytime leaders dismiss actions of government against bandits and insurgents, they embolden these criminals to continue with their nefarious activities. Yes, Nigerians may be angry with government and our political leaders. 

“On no account should anyone take advantage of the anger of Nigerians to furtively support criminal activities. There must be some defined boundaries to these debates, if at all the Nigerian nation is to have a common purpose and a strong national bond.”

While commending the Chief Onyema, the PGF boss said: “The good thing is that there are some inspiring exceptions that gives hope that notwithstanding all our challenges, there is a good prospect for a Nigerian nation. One of such exception was demonstrated by Mr. Allen Onyema, the CEO of Air Peace, who on Monday, September 6, 2021 addressed Super Eagles player onboard Air Peace to Cape Verde for their World Cup Qualifying match.

“Mr. Onyema told the players that ‘you are not just going to play a football match, you’re going to carry on your young shoulders the aspiration and the hope of a nation almost in distress.’ He appealed to them to do everything they can to win the match for the country. He pledged an award of N20 million once they win the match. 

“Mr. Onyema’s inspiring words of encouragement to those young Nigerian players, among many other positive factors, must have contributed to the 2-1 victory of the Super Eagles against Cape Verde on Tuesday, September 7, 2021.

“It is quite therapeutic hearing those words from Mr. Onyema. We need more leaders in this country like Mr. Onyema. In particular, we need more leaders like Mr. Onyema in politics. 

“If Nigerian democracy is to develop the capacity to drive processes of nation building, our political parties must develop capacity to recruit leaders like Mr. Onyema. There are many leaders in Nigeria in the mold of Mr. Onyema from every part of the country. The big barrier against recruiting them into politics is that debates about expanding membership of political parties is limited to protecting the personal ambitions of political leaders.

” Largely because political debate is almost all about ambitions of political leaders, nationalists of the mode of Mr. Onyema may just be limited to being financiers and sponsors of candidates for elections, and in return get rewarded with contracts, etc.”