Home » Peter Obi Criticizes Tinubu’s Security Policies Amid Rising Insecurity

Peter Obi Criticizes Tinubu’s Security Policies Amid Rising Insecurity

Obi Highlights Surge in Kidnappings and Misdirected Funds

by Oluwatosin Racheal Alabi

In a recent statement, Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s Presidential candidate in the 2023 election, has voiced serious concerns regarding the escalating rates of kidnapping and banditry in Nigeria under the administration of President Bola Tinubu. This critique comes despite significant financial allocations made to combat these security issues.

Obi, who previously served as the Governor of Anambra State, expressed his concerns via a series of posts on his X handle on Monday. He highlighted the stark increase in kidnapping incidents since President Tinubu’s tenure began, citing statistics from tAcleded, a global conflict monitoring organization, which reported over 3,600 kidnapping cases in 2023 – a record high. These incidents have surged notably since President Tinubu assumed office.

In his critique, Obi remarked on the irony of how politicians’ concern over national security seems directly proportional to the threat’s proximity to their residences in Abuja. He recalled a recent incident in the South East where 45 individuals were abducted and remain missing, noting the lack of substantial response from leadership. Obi emphasized the severity of the situation in the northeast, where jihadist groups linked to the Islamic State frequently attack the military and local communities. Additionally, the northwest is plagued by rampant gang kidnappings, and a long-standing conflict persists between predominantly Muslim herders and mainly Christian farmers, exemplified by a tragic incident on Christmas Eve where gunmen killed at least 160 people.

At his inauguration, President Tinubu declared security as his “top priority.” Despite this, the country has seen not only a spike in kidnappings but also nearly 9,000 deaths due to conflict in the past year. The Nigerian government has allocated approximately 12% of its most recent budget to defense and police, with defense spending receiving a 20% increase compared to the previous year. However, with inflation at 29%, the real value of this budget has diminished.

Obi criticized the government’s focus on expensive weaponry, such as the procurement of six T-129 Turkish attack helicopters, 12 Bell helicopters from the U.S. for $1 billion, and 12 Super Tucano attack aircraft. He questioned the efficacy of these investments in addressing the root causes of insecurity, such as poverty, poor education, and resentment towards military atrocities. He highlighted the recent drone strike in Kaduna state that tragically killed 85 civilians as an example of the risks associated with heavy weaponry.

The Labour Party candidate advocates for a more radical approach to security, suggesting that the police, equipped with better human intelligence, should lead domestic security operations instead of the military, which is currently deployed in all 36 Nigerian states. Obi also pointed out the rampant corruption in defense spending. According to Mathew Page from Chattam House, a London-based think-tank, defense budgets are often exploited for personal gains, a practice that has persisted and may increase under Tinubu’s administration.

General Christopher Musa, chief defense staff, acknowledges that military efforts alone are insufficient to restore lasting peace. He notes the army’s role in building schools in the northeast, emphasizing the need for broader peace-building initiatives.

Despite these challenges, Obi observes that politicians often prioritize personal expenditure over creating conditions for peace or addressing the nation’s fiscal deficit. For instance, despite plans to remove the petrol subsidy, debt servicing might consume 61% of the country’s revenue in 2024. He cited the national assembly’s recent approval of expensive SUVs for lawmakers and a substantial budget allocation for presidential accommodations as examples of misplaced priorities in a nation where over 80 million people live on less than $2.15 a day and fear kidnapping.

In conclusion, Peter Obi’s remarks highlight the urgent need for a reassessment of Nigeria’s approach to tackling insecurity, emphasizing the importance of addressing underlying social issues and reevaluating the allocation of resources in the defense sector.

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