Insecurity: Shettima fails to lead military against criminals as promised during 2023 campaign

NIGERIA’S Vice President, Mr Kashim Shettima, has failed to live up to his promise of leading the military against nation’s criminals as promised during the 2023 election campaigns.

Shettima had on August 25, 2022, promised to lead a campaign against criminals across the country and concentrate on fighting insecurity if elected vice president in the 2023 election.

Mr Shettima said this while he was a panelist at the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, stating that his principal, Mr Bola Tinubu, would pay more attention to the economy while he concentrated on security.

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 “I have been in the theatre of conflicts for 18 years. I will lead the troops, my principal is an economy wizard who has transformed Lagos into the third largest economy in Africa. He will concentrate on the economy.

“By God’s grace, I will handle the security, and not only handle the security, I will lead the troops to battle across the length and breadth of this country,” he said.

Literal interpretation and constitution

Mr Shettima said this without recourse to the constitutional provision in Section 130(2) of the 1999 Constitution, which says that it is the president that has the powers to lead the military.

A lawyer, Mr Gerard Eboigbe, noted that it was within the president’s exclusive powers to lead the military against criminals, including kidnappers, stressing, however, that the statement should be taken on its literal form.

READ ALSO: Ibadan blast, widespread kidnapping show no part of Nigeria is secure under Tinubu

“VP Shettima has no such constitutional powers, but Tinubu does. However, I see this from the literal point of view, which is that he will use his experience to support the military in the fight against criminality,” he said.

Shettima and military experience

Mr Shettima has no military or paramilitary experience despite promising to lead military fight against criminals. He was a banker and managed the Maiduguri branch of Zenith Bank before joining Governor Ali Modu Sheriff’s cabinet in 2007. He had studied Agricultural Economics at University of Maiduguri, graduating in 1989.

He also had his master’s degree in the same discipline at University of Ibadan and finished in 1991.

Mr Shettima has not featured prominently in security-related discourses since he became vice president. He has only made casual statements about the situation, as exemplified on January 13, 2024 when he said that the government would protect Nigerians’ rights irrespective of their religion or ethnicity.

A carry-over problem from former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, insecurity has persisted under Tinubu and Shettima’s government.

The Civil Society Joint Action Group said on January 30, 2024 that no fewer than 2,423 people had been killed and 1,872 kidnapped in the first eight months of President Bola Tinubu’s government – the People’s Gazette reported.

READ ALSO: International firms exit Nigeria leaving oil communities worse off

Similarly, data from the Council on Foreign Relations and National Security Tracker in 2022 claimed that 4,545 people were mowed down by non-state actors, while 4,611 others were kidnapped in 2022.

A local firm that monitors security issues, Beacon Consulting, said 87 Federal Capital Territory (FCT) residents were killed and 176 kidnapped between May 29, 2023 when Mr Tinubu and Mr Shettima came to power and January 20, 2024.

The current administration has failed to deploy technology to fight insecurity, experts say, wondering why they are unable to deploy the recent National Identification Number (NIN) registration to track and catch criminals.

“The current government has shown unwillingness to deploy technology to battle kidnapping and other violent crimes. Why can’t we use technology to fight insecurity? We just did NIM-SIM registration yet can’t deploy that to fight kidnappers. This is pathetic,” said a Lagos-based IT expert, Mr Joshua Okpala.

Shettima changes gear

Mr Shettima has changed gear asince he became vice president of Nigeria on May 29, 2023.

On December 5, 2023, Mr Shettima, now a vice president, said the use of non-kinetic ( non-violent or non-forceful) method to tackle insecurity in Nigeria’s South East was the best.

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“The approach is the most beautiful I have seen so far. We need to build bridges, and there is a need for a handshake. That way, those that have not been radicalised can be captured,” Mr Shettima said when he received a delegation led by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Benjamin Kalu, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

On January 31, 2024, Mr Shettima said that insecurity and poverty were major concerns demanding attention in Nigeria, stressing the need “to unite as a people and address our common challenges.”

Mr Shettima said this when Arewa Broadcast Media Practitioners Forum paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja,

Experts say Mr Shettima’s statement on leading military campaign against criminals was a mere political comment that should not be taken seriously.

According to Mr Eboigbe, earlier quoted, the Nigerian government must now begin to take technology seriously to deal with criminals while also improving insecurity.

READ ALSO: For shutting down economy 4 times in January 2024, South-East Nigeria loses N355bn

“Insecurity is partly fuelled by the poor state of the economy. Our economy is not looking good at the moment and people are hungry. It is the role of the government – which includes the VP- to fix it to reduce this high spate of insecurity,” he added.

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