By Bisi Lawrence
We would have thought that the authorities of the Nigerian Youth Service Corps would naturally take the initiative about the decision to send the young men and women involved in the scheme only to the areas that are not seriously affected by the scourge of the Boko Haram at this time.
It is so obvious a sensible action to take that the pleas in its favour appeared unnecessary, until the NYSC declared that postings to different parts of the country would not in anyway be affected by the horrible circumstances of life in those states that seem wide open to attacks by the Islamist terrorists. But an upsurge of protests and additional pleas, made the NYSC to shift its position appreciably, though not to the entire satisfaction of many of the young people’s kith and kin.
The House of Representatives also passed a resolution directing that the postings should be done with consideration for the dangerous situation in the embattled states. However, before a sigh of relief could be fully released, the Minister of Youth Development, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, overruled those decisions and re-stated the original arrangement.
To say the least, this is an obnoxious stance. It typifies the “I don’t give a damn” mold in which the executive mind is cast in the present dispensation, about some grievous issues that concern the populace. A matter on which the House of Representative has passed a resolution definitely deserves less than a cavalier reaction than that. That attitude demonstrates little regard for the deliberations and position of responsibility by the legislative arm of government.
In another vein, Alhaji Inuwa may not be of the same mind if he had a close relation included now among the young people due for deployment. As a father or brother, he would have second thoughts if his relation were to be sent out to any of the terror-stricken states unless, of course, he was desirous of making a point—and there is no telling how far power-inflamed personalities would go to prove a point.
In fact, the gentleman’ is even poised to establish a position right now. His position, he says, “is that of the law”. The law, according to the Constitution, directs the “posting of Corp members to states apart from their own, except in some special circumstances, and must be adhered to.” (I am quoting from the Minister’s statement.) What circumstances, then, are more special than a virtual “state of war”, in which innocent and defenceless citizens are open to mass murder? Or does the minister have a better way of describing the massacres that are committed in marked states of the Northern part or ‘this country?
But the situation has now taken on another dimension. The Boko Haram has now come out of the closet, as it were, and disclosed their proper motive. “We do not have any agenda than working to establish Islamic Kingdom like during the time of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) no matter what will happen to us.” We can no longer claim not to know what they want. They want an Islamic State of Nigeria. That is all—no more, no less. And so, ladies and gentlemen, we are face-to-face with a “Jihad” .
The question to ask ourselves is, where is the window for dialogue in this policy statement? If there is none, then let the advocates of “dialogue, dialogue” confess that they had been misled. Let them apologize for almost misleading the country and nearly lulling the rest of us into a fatal assurance. They have tried to force-feed us with a false hope. The expectation they presented us was hollow. You cannot “dialogue” with an AK 47.
All those who put themselves on the line in this manner may now come out with a new tune, if they wish their voices to be respected any longer. They should now talk about reprisals —to be or not to be? Total confrontation —at once or much later? We have to bring this consistent pain to an end. We cannot continue to change our high security personnel like dirty underwear. And those who are in charge must now openly accept the challenge of the Boko Haram.
soldiers for democracy
Edo State goes to the polls today. Someone has described the state as a microcosm of the citizenry of Nigeria. There you have elements of almost all the peoples and cultures of the country. Such diversity does not make for easy governance. It calls for a personality as colourful as the terrain, with a massive attraction and appeal as the expanse of the territory itself. Fortunately, the people of that area are not in want of such traits in their character.
More than the normal tension that must attend any gubernatorial election anywhere, the events building up to the election have raised not only the normal issues of politics, but also others of general security ad personal safety. There are present fears about “manipulation”, but there tended to be the introduction of incipient assassination also in direct connection with the hustings. These naturally instructed the invitation of the military to participate in the conduct of the elections.
It is significant that the two leading political parties in the state, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the Peoples Democratic Party, the PDP, both welcomed the idea. Of course, it put everyone on a slippery terrain. To oppose it could be factually interpreted, or mischievously defined as an inclination to benefit from what is meant to be a deterrent measure against rigging and other malpractices. Everyone has to be seen to be for a clean, free and transparent election.
All the members of the House of Representatives would also naturally wish to be numbered among those in support of it. However, Mr. Bimbo Daramola from Ekiti State, tried to raise a point against it, relating to a contravention of the Constitution. Since the nation was not war, he took a dim view of soldiers being deployed to take part in the proceedings of an election.
He was shouted down. And ensuing voice vote which the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, ruled to be against Mr. Daramola in the first place, was then later reversed by the Speaker himself. He admitted that he had inadvertently not fully applied the rule on voice votes. And a new vote by division was then announced for the following day.
It was a display of democratic observance for that voice vote to be challenged by members of the ACN whose candidate at the Edo polls appeared to have been most supportive of the invitation of the military to take part in the exercise. They seemed to have raised the issue of compliance with the Constitution above what may be a party advantage. But beyond that, the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, once again showed that rare quality of fairness enabled by sterling humility to reverse himself, even from his high seat.
All in all, no one has hinted that the presence of soldiers, some 3,500 of them, would add anything but orderliness and propriety to the proceedings in Edo State today. Time out.