GUEST Column by Hassan Biu
When the expired 8th Session of the Senate under the leadership of the former Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki slammed a six-months suspension on Sen. Mohammed Ali Ndume, in March 2017, the action invoked empathy and condemnations from some of us.
We faulted the frivolous reasons the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges adduced for the suspension of Ali Ndume. But strongly, the 181 sitting legislative days he was barred from plenary were prolonged, ill-timed and absurd; much as it constituted unfair depravity of his constituents from parliamentary representation.
Ndume has been in the National Assembly since 2003 when he was first elected into the House of Representatives to represent Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency, where he served until 2011. He morphed into the Senate in 2011 as Senator representing Borno South Senatorial district and currently serving his third term in the upper chamber of the National Assembly (NASS).
By Ndume’s service records, it’s clear he was already a leader when Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram formed the sect; its years of incubation and eventual explosion into a national insecurity problem, years later. Unarguably, Borno South Senatorial district remains one of the most ravaged and devastated part of the state by Boko Haram. Until now, Gwoza was once Boko Haram Caliphate headquarters.
And in spite of Sen. Ndume’s prime and privileged position as a parliamentarian whose jurisdictional enclave was directly affected by the heat of Boko Haram, his voice was rather muffled nor his actions ever felt as his contributions to ending insurgency. But most of us felt, he may have been hamstrung. Alas, his appointment by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan into a committee to anchor talks with Boko Haram was a golden opportunity to deepen dubious contacts with Boko Haram.
Then came the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari which channeled all energy and resources in quelling Boko Haram terrorism, with the glaring positive impacts under the leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai. I reasoned that Nigerians needed an insider like Ndume who would explain the imperative and nuances of the intermittent monetary demands on fighting Boko Haram as presented before the Senate for approvals and also, intimate the lawmakers about the plight of the people of Borno South worse hit by the menace of terrorism. So, to me, his suspension was against national interest.
But unknown to me and many Nigerians, Sen. Ali Ndume is a celebrated disappointment and a study in confusion. Infact, his actions and inactions on the festering Boko Haram saga under the Jonathan Presidency might have betrayed him as not doing well enough to quell insurgency, perhaps for political gains. And not much seem to have changed.
Ali Ndume’s mouthing and the quick resort to inciting sentiments on the anti-insurgency operations in the Northeast, which is incontestably at its lowest ebb have pricked me strongly that Sen. Ndume could assist us to unravel why remnants of insurgents still terrorize the people.
It is understandable that Ndume currently chairs the Senate Committee on Army. But I could neither reconcile nor discern the rationale propelling Ndume’s recent outbursts on the floor of the Senate that 840 Nigerian soldiers murdered by Boko Haram terrorists in the course of battle from 2013 till date are committed to mother earth in a military cemetery located in Maiduguri, Borno State; while a dozen others are buried in other military cemeteries scattered all over the Northeast region.
What immediately assailed my mind is, what was Ali Ndume’s motivation for such disclosure, I asked myself rhetorically? What is the wisdom or logic in the revelation or would it in any way give verve to finally routing out Boko Haram terrorism from Nigeria? When soldiers die in battle, is the military cemetery not the right place for their burial with full military and national honours? Are they supposed to be buried in their respective villages by Ndume’s reckoning?
I immediately deciphered Ndume’s emphasis on this angle as a crafty and clever way of stoking sentiments and condemnations against the Federal Government of Nigeria and a subtle indictment of the military leadership. The unvoiced intentions of Ali Ndume and his cahoots for embarking on this doomed voyage reverberated very loudly.
And any Nigerian who has monitored Ndume’s inactions on Boko Haram these years would have reasons to accede to my postulations. We all know Boko Haram derives its strength from the large pool of idle youths it freely recruits into its fold and consecrate to perpetrate atrocious acts and heinous crimes against humanity. Strangulating poverty, unemployment and idleness nourish and have sustained resurgence of Boko Haram terrorism in the Northeast.
I was excited when the incumbent Borno state Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum accurately dissected these problems. Boko Haram bounces back because there is a sea of unemployed youths to be exploited and lured into the sect. Zulum’s focus now is how to arrest the mass poverty and underdevelopment of the state which has made it susceptible for the breeding of insurgents.
Leaders think positively and Gov. Zulum’s posture is positive thought. A leader has no business in stoking sentiments over very serious national security issues as Ali Ndume and conspirators are pleased to do. And I find it strange; extremely strange that aside the political advantage Ali Ndume enjoys from exploiting the plight of his depressed people by cornering undeserved reelection victories into the parliament at every political dispensation, it is inexplicable.
What have the people done that the likes of Ndume cannot allow the ghost of terrorism to be permanently chained? Does Ali Ndume know the psychological impact on troops in the frontlines, when he churns out such unconfirmed and obviously inflated figures of military casualties in the anti-insurgency operations? It is a tacit instigation of revolt within the ranks of troops fighting for the peace and security of Nigerians. This is unpatriotic and uncharitable.
From 2003 to date, Ali Ndume has been in the NASS. What empowerment schemes has he launched for unemployed youths in his senatorial district with the billions of constituency allowances that have accrued to him in the span of over 16 years? Is there any concrete development he can pinpoint as a legacy for his representative sojourn? Why is Sen. Ali Ndume apparently uninterested in pairing up with Gov. Zulum to explore the problems that trigger terrorism and solve them?
Therefore, when a leader like Ali Ndume turns a blind eye to the rightful path and actions, but prefers to drum such inanities with insane embellishments, it beats me hollow.
I also challenge Ndume to tell Nigerians and the world why the war has not ended and why politicians don’t want it ended? I have noticed over time that Ali Ndume particularly is fond of making unguarded utterances on the state of the war against insurgency. Why is it like that?
Let me advise Ali Ndume that Nigerians are aware that some politicians in Borno use their diplomatic immunity against the eagle eye of our security agencies to supply Boko Haram with food and hard drugs, because they have perceived an endless insurgency as personal protection and means of illicit wealth acquisition.
If Ndume doubts my assertions, let him disprove these suggestions. It’s better than shedding the crocodile tears in pretentious empathy for slain soldiers in the war.
Biu sent in this piece from Maiduguri