Since this man became minister of interior, all that has made headlines about his ministry or person are prison breaks and shoe shinning. Early in his administration, he did go visiting some prison complex after attempted breaks; since then nothing has been heard of him. Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau was the head of security during the campaigns leading up to the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. Before then he had been chief of Army staff. He is an academic as he holds a PhD in criminology. So he has not just risen to the height of his military career, he embellished it with a sound civilian resume as a criminologist. His appointment therefore to lead the Interior ministry was one of the highlights of President Buhari’s cabinet picks.
With the myriad of social issues which lead to drug abuse, wielding of arms, insurgency and secession cries, there is no better person in the cabinet today that should understand Nigeria and our ways better than Danbazzau, by qualification. He has seen it all and has the agencies under him to work with. I had expected new approaches in fighting crimes with all the agencies under his watch. Since he happened on the ministry, even the Nigeria Police Force, was added for his supervision. Consequently he has the police, immigration, Civil defence, prison, etcetera under his belt. Yet I can’t see any synergy or new thinking in the way crime is treated in Nigeria. Surely money is needed to push through reforms, but the question is, where are the reforms? And I dare say, there are certain strategies that do not require money to implement. Minister of Interior, to be fair has been a colossal failure in the past one year and few months that he has occupied that office.
One of the glaring failures of this minister is the situation in Southern Kaduna. I am not here to apportion blames on what may have happened or not between the indigenous peoples of Kaduna south and the itinerant herdsmen or people I rather call murderers. The crux of my southern Kaduna intervention vis-a-vis Gen. Danbazzau has to do with his failure to take charge. His attitude to such crisis appears to present himself as bigger than his posting. He doesn’t want to engage. He is not proactive, neither is he reactive in a positive way. He is just there deaf and dumb doing nothing. Except when some stakeholders challenged his docility did he issue a statement! Up till as I write this essay, he has yet to visit the theatre of crisis. He doesn’t know that he is the chief missioner of the president within Nigeria. He is supposed to be at any crisis point within 48 hours.
That was why a criminologist was appointed as minister of Interior with a view to overseeing internal security apparatus of the country. Perhaps if he had visited Kaduna south, both the antagonists and protagonists would have sheathed their swords much earlier because they would have seen that their madness had attracted the attention of the administration at the highest levels. Even so, the minister would be in a position to assess the carnage himself. He would be in a position to appreciate the amount of human and material resources required to quell the killings. He would have been in the best position to report back to the commander-in-chief on situation report. With that, no one will pad figures of death or escalate the crisis beyond what it is. But because the victims of the crisis had seen that government was lethargic about their plight, it became incumbent on them to fix figures to attract attention and sympathy.
The minister failed woefully in this regard. In fact, it is his visit and personal assessment that would attest to the possibility of the president himself visiting. This also is another blind spot of this president. Granted that he is advanced in age, but his job role includes optics too. Which means showing up as mourner-in-chief to console the bereaved and assure them that their sadness will not repeat! That connection between the people and their president has a way of rubbing off on the overall wellbeing of the country. In this aspect, President Buhari’s handlers have done a shoddy job. A president who is quick to hop into a plane to The Gambia to settle political squabble, should equally be ready and able to hop into a copter to the Niger Delta to engage with the leadership of the area.
The Niger Delta crisis, the Biafran agitations, the Boko Haram insurgency and the herdsmen attacks should have made the president leave his comfort zone in Aso Rock to these places to hear first-hand from the people. Visits like this will not kill the president; instead it would make him stronger. Visits like this will not kill Dambazzau instead, it will help ameliorate some of these crises.
It is my contention therefore, that the minister takes his job seriously. The President must also realise that he doesn’t need docile ministers to drive his change agenda. In fact he cannot drive any change with the likes of Dambazzau in charge of elite ministry like The Interior. It is important that the president begins to look closely at the work of those he appointed in order to show them the way out if indeed he had a marking scheme when he engaged them. Dambazzau has failed woefully. It’s either the president likes failed ministers or he is under a spell. The minister has shown no creativity in running that ministry, the president who appointed him and the senate who confirmed his appointment should look at it again.