WAI: Taking Nigeria Back To Military Rule? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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WAI: Taking Nigeria Back To Military Rule?

PIB, FIFA, buhari
Posted: Aug 24, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

President Muhammadu Buhari a fortnight ago re-launched the War Against Indiscipline (WAI),which he first introduced during his reign as military head of state in 1984. However, many Nigerians have described the scheme as a misplaced priority especially coming at a time when Nigeria is wallowing in economic distress without any clear-cut direction from the government.

Speaking in January on the desire of the federal government to reintroduce the para-military outfit which went into extinction 31 years ago when President Buhari was ousted from office,  Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the  Minister of Information said “the government  would be relaunching WAI after they had rebranded it into another programme, “Change Begins With Me”,. According to him,  the CBWM will be a “bigger and deeper version of the old WAI and it is aimed at solidifying our (party’s) change mantra.

Also speaking at the launch of the outfit, Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, Garba Abari, the government  “reposition the WAI Brigade for enhanced civil intelligence gathering towards an orderly and secure society in line with the change mantra of the present administration” and that in times of “insecurity, violence and other forms of social vices, the role of the WAI Brigade in civil intelligence gathering could not be overemphasised.”

According to Abari  “The ills and woes that bedevilled the nation at that time are still very much with us today. That is why, when the National Orientation Agency was established in 1983, the…WAI Brigade was automatically drafted to be part and parcel of the agency to fight against indiscipline, disorderly behaviour in public and private places, disobedience to traffic rules and regulations, disrespect for constituted authorities, filthy environment, bribery, corruption and other social vices”.
Under the old WAI, Nigerians were pressed to “behave.” They began to queue for buses and other services in places like Lagos, notorious for jumping queues. That was the greatest achievement of WAI: Nigerians learnt to queue. Military governors sometimes arrived the gates of government secretariats very early, and waited for government workers who arrived late.
Late-coming civil servants were humiliated, made to kneel down irrespective of their office or positions, or age, and frog-jumped as punishment for coming late to work. In some cases, they were “summarily dismissed.”
Also singing about Buhari’s War Against Indiscipline, the late Afrobeat maestro, Fela  Anikulapo- Kuti in one his songs also wondered  how a military institution that disobeyed its country’s constitution by toppling a democratic system of government could accuse anyone of indiscipline. To him, it is absurd for a military ruler to use derogatory terms on civilians describing them as “useless, senseless and indiscipline”.
In view of the prevailing economic hardship, eminent Nigerians have voiced their opinion on whether the re-itnroduction of WAI to instill public discipline should be the primary focus of the Buhari administration now. With the daily free fall of the nation’s currency, rising unemployment occasioned by what Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance described as ‘technical recession, rising cost of living, massive job loss and capital flight,  many believe WAI will do the public and the image of the present administration more harm than good.
The latest action of the federal government may have justified the claims of Ayodele Fayose, Ekiti state governor, who said the president and his aides need to be purged of Acquired Immune Military Dictatorship Syndrome (AIMDS).

Speaking on the issue, a public affairs analyst and social commentator wrote “If Nigeria would at all launch a needless programme like WAI, (after similar failed programmes like MAMSER, Rebranding, “Good People Great Nation”) is the timing not inauspicious? Nigeria is currently in a very poor shape, inflation is rising while peoples’ purchasing power is falling. A number of Nigerians have lost their jobs and the country is experiencing gruelling hardship. Yet, the government’s response is to launch a programme to combat indiscipline?

“It is very tempting to relate the many problems of Nigeria to our personal and collective faults; to blame our lack of ethics, and then propound the theory of attitudinal change by telling us that the change will change our circumstances if we gave up parts of ourselves. The truth is, until the immediate concerns of the citizen and the many challenges that confront them are addressed, we may as well be wasting time”.

Revive Economy, Not WAI – Nigerians
Speaking with Independent, a former governor of Kaduna state,  Balarabe Musa called on President Buhari to urgently provide the right response to the current hardship across the country, lamenting that the nation at present has no need for War Against Indiscipline.

While calling on the Presidency to urgently restructure the economy, they warned that if appropriate answers were not provided within the shortest possible time, the country might experience a total economic collapse.

According to Balarabe Musa, what Nigerians need is not WAI but a complete restructuring of the economy.
He said “What Nigerians need is not WAI. What we need is restructuring of the economy. Instead of the economy being based on self interest first and national interest second, it should be restructured so that public interest will be first and self interest second”.

“To do this, government must play the leading role in the economy as opposed to what is happening today where the private sector is playing the leading role in the economy.  Government must play its role effectively to ensure peace, equality, and progressive development”.

Speaking in a similar vein,  National  Publicity  Secretary of pan- Yoruba socio- political organization, Afenifere,  Yinka Odumakin According to   Odumakin, the introduction of WAI is an unnecessary diversion by the Buhari administration from the myriads of criticisms it is facing from disenchanted Nigerians.

“There is nothing WAI is going to do in the midst of where we are as a country today.  The country has collapsed and except we put on a new structure, we will continue to go from one crisis to another. So, WAI is an unnecessary diversion. A problem is not resolved by pretending it does not exist or ascribing it to the wrong source”.

“To me, WAI is software. When you buy software, you have to put it in hardware.  Where is the hardware at the moment?  So, let’s face the right priority and get things right.
If we do the proper thing for the country, you will realise that we won’t even need WAI. Indiscipline will begin to crawl away on its own” he said.

In his remark, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  also said there is nothing Nigerians  will gain from  WAI. Rather, he urged the president to devote his time and energy into giving Nigerians the change they voted for.

“I want to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to concentrate more on ensuring that our economy is stable so that we can feed our people.  People are suffering and dying. There is hunger in the land and I don’t think there is nothing anybody will gain with War Against Indiscipline”.

“It is only a man who is able to afford three square meals a day that will subscribe to the idea of discipline or indiscipline. A man becomes disciplined when everything is going on well for him. So, let him concentrates more on giving food to Nigerians and save Nigerians from this terrible economic starvation” he said.
For  Kayode Anisere, a lawyer, “ President Buhari should focus on what he is elected to do. During his electioneering campaign, he never promised to re-introduce WAI. I am sure nobody would have voted for him if he had said that. He promised to pay stipends to unemployed Nigerians but has reneged on that. I don’t see any sense in bringing WAI back. It will do more harm than good except the president wants to use it as another avenue of giving employment to our teeming youths” he said.

Temidayo Akinsuyi