BY CHARLES ADINGUPU
For sometime, the Nigerian media was awashed with speculations that the President Goodluck Jonathan was in a secret dialogue with members of the Boko Haram sect, ostensibly to end the unwanton carnage it unleashes on unsuspecting Nigerians.
At some points in the media report, names of some eminent northerners were penciled down as representatives of the terrorist group to negotiate with the president. As the report continues to generate more heat on Nigerians and the government, those listed as representatives began to decline their appointment.
But President Jonathan took Nigerians by surprise when he opened a can of worm that those stories reported on the Federal Government’s dialogue with the group were mere fallacies, probably crafted out of the figment of the imaginations of the reporters.
In a two-hour broadcast session on television and radio network, President Jonathan declared unequivocally, that the Federal Government had never been in any negotiation with the Boko Haram sect. “How can you dialogue with a faceless group,” he enthused.
Since the President disclosure of the Federal Government stand on the Boko Haram insurgence, conflicting signals have continued to trail his revelation.
The United States government said there is no magic formula to ending the Boko Haram insurgency. The United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Micheal Posner who made this declaration at recent press briefing in Lagos, however, implored the Federal Government to adopt a multifaceted approach to combating the sect’s violent attacks on Nigeria.
The United States government representative who expressed his country’s concern about human rights abuses and violations by security agents in an attempt to end the sect’s insurgence, noted in dismay that excessive use of force might be fuelling and apathy for the group.
Posner however observed that numerous reports of mass arrests, extra-judicial killings, torture and prolonged detention without due process were of serious concern to the United States government.
But Nigerians’ concern goes beyond the president’s recent revelations. For most Nigerians, they were disturbed by the decision of the Federal government to deploy well about six hundred soldiers to tackle the insurgence of Islamic fundamentalists who had torn Mali apart and captured the northern part of that country. President Goodluck Jonathan in his address to ECOWAS leaders in Abuja stated that the deployment of troop must be done to avert costly consequences on the sub-region in particular and the Africa continent in particular.
“Guinea Bissau and Mali need our help to stabilise and recover lost grounds. The long suffering peoples of Guinea Bissau and Mali will be looking up to us to end their nightmare and open the door of security and prosperity to them. We must not fail them, the President declared.
Since this announcement, Nigerians have been reacting differently moreso, as the same Islamic fundamentalists appears to hold the nation by her jocular, bring the nation to near standstill.
A Catholic priest, Reverend Father Micheal Iroh, the Principal of Saint Vincent De Paul Secondary School, Oraifite, Nnewi, Anambra State reacting this way:
“If we are to compare President Jonathan and his predecessor, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, it might seems, President Jonathan is too slow in attending to the Boko Haram insurgency.
Although, if we are to look at the President’s decision to deploy troop to Mali within the ECOWAS’ treaty, it was a laudable obligation, because it is part of the responsibilities of member states to accede to such call whenever the need arises to defend the territorial integrity of the region.
Also, if the issue is viewed within the prism of the civil society, it is a mission that is laughable because we, as a country have our peculiar security challenges. Hence, the President must first tackle his own problem before addressing those of other countries.
Already, the Nigerian people and even the government seemed overwhelmed by the Boko Haram insurgency.”
But a lecturer at the Ogwashi-Uku Polytechnic, Tony John in an interview with Saturday Vanguard, criticised the Federal government for deploying troops to Mali, when ironically the same soldiers have failed to tackle the menace of the dreaded Boko Haram. The Don dismisses insinuations that tackling the source of Islamic fundamentalists, as Mali, rightly identified by some intelligence report would help to put to check the infiltration of members of this sect to the Nigeria’s soil.
“It behoves on the Nigerian government to make the country uncomfortable for the sect members by deploying all its security arsenals. They will relocate if they discover that the country is no longer safe for them to operate on,” he said.
He described the Presidents decision of troop deployment as a waste of human and material resources.
This big brother role we have played over the years in Africa continent has not paid off. Despite efforts we have made in the past to maintain peace, and restore the value of human dignity, what have we benefitted,” Mr. John stated.
Consequent upon this, the Teacher stated that the time has come for Nigeria to review her foreign policy so that her people can benefit from it.
He noted in dismay that despite the enormous resources the country commits to maintain peace in the sub-region and the African continent in general, Nigerians were still made the weeping boys in whichever countries in the continent they find themselves.
A political analyst, Micheal Okade urged President Jonathan to be more preoccupied in addressing the immediate needs of Nigerians and Nigeria rather than demonstrate more seriousness in addressing the political crisis of other nations while his country is on fire.
The Catholic Priest observed that though not every measures taken by the Federal Government to addressing security challenges were made public.
“That is good. But people, Nigerians in particular want to see a more proactive action taken by the government to address the continuing insurgence of terrorism.
Against this backdrop, Reverend Father Iroh stated that the President must talk about the continuous reinforcement of the Joint Military Task Force raised to tackle the insurgence of terrorism.
“There is a difference between development of military intelligence and military hardware. In military intelligence, the President should be more concerned in training and retraining of military personnel to withstand the soldiers of terrorism and also by unmasking those behind the dastardly act,” the clergyman stated.
Reverend Iroh who enjoined the President to equip the Joint military task force with modern and sophisticated military gadgets to confront head on the tedious task before them also called on the Federal Government to solicit help from the international community as the Boko Haram insurgence has gone beyond what the Federal Government can handle alone.
“I strongly believe that seeking help from the international community will help greatly in addressing this menace once and for all. Military intelligence which most advanced countries are good at, and comprised mainly information gathering and execution will nip this problem on the bud,” he said.
The Catholic Priest who implored Federal Government to use the culture of the people as a tool in addressing their aggression, advised President Jonathan to ignore assumed political messiahs who act as gate keepers at Aso Rock in Abuja.
“The President can use the peculiar culture of the north as a tool in addressing the insurgence in the area by first coming out of his political cocoon and by shunning political messiahs who only drag him back in reaching a decision,” he said.
Reverend father Iroh however advised President Jonathan to make bold in mustering the political will to address the unending security challenges that have become a festering sore in the nation’s thumb.