By Ochereome Nnanna
MANY commentators are not pleased with President Goodluck Jonathan over his Borno/Yobe outing last week.
Some said he should have outlined his agenda for saving the North East from terrorists, including development agenda. There were those (including, predictably, the opposition political parties) who described the visit as a “wasted opportunity”. I have slightly different views.
There were only two things I regretted about the state visit. Number one was that the President had to wait for the governors of the merger-bound political parties to storm BornoState before he made what some call his “forced” visit. By keeping away from the theatre of terror he gave the impression that that part of Nigeria was unsafe for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of its Armed Forces to visit. He allowed the opposition governors to lead while he followed. That was unfortunate.
The second was that he sat in the Town Hall meeting with suspected Boko Haram sponsors who should be behind bars: former Governor Nmodu Sheriff, Senator Ali Ndume and others yet to be unmasked. Nothing has been done by this regime to teach any prominent figure the lesson that it does not pay to finance the levying of war against this nation; nothing is there to deter those still intending to do so.
That is why more political figures, including one “Honourable” Husseini Dei Dei, a former FederalCapitalTerritory, FCT, chairmanship candidate, are still allegedly financing bomb factories and procuring heavy ordnance for the terrorists.
But as for the President’s assertion that he would not negotiate with faceless people, that is less than what the terrorists deserve. Mine is, we should not negotiate at all. Of course, there cannot be any talk of withdrawing soldiers from the trouble spots when the job for which they were mobilised is yet to be completed successfully. Needless to say! Finally, I also believe that the leaders of Borno and Yobe in particular, and the North in general, will have to bear the main burden of getting the terrorists to rethink.
After all, they created the
conditions for mass poverty and incubated the terror cells for political self-aggrandisement. So long as they remain unwilling to turn a new leaf and help in restoring normalcy, there is little a president can do. Even if the Federal Government will play some role in rehab, it can only take place when the North’s “civil war” ends. It is left for the North and their leaders to decide when they are tired of fighting themselves and enlisting the services of foreign terror legionnaires to destroy their homeland and its economy.
Going back to the assertion of Sultan Sa’adu Abubakar that a total amnesty should be declared for the terrorists “without thinking twice”, I hold the view that the call is not viable. In other words, it will produce more harm than good. In the first place, and as I have noted before, the terrorists are not a group of Nigerians fighting against injustice. Nigeria has not done anything to the North or North East that it has not done ten times worse to Eastern Nigeria (South East and South-South). If there is “injustice”, it was foisted on the Talakawa (downtrodden) by the Northern Oligarchy. Leaders like Mallam Aminu Kano spent their lives fighting through political means to liberate the impoverished masses from the Oligarchy. They lost the fight.
Boko Haram and others are part of a global movement to impose a brand of Islam which vows to eliminate Christians, Jews and moderate Moslems. It found a breeding ground around the Sahel/Sahara Desert zones of Africa. The terrorists are no longer just the Mohammed Yusuf enclave of local Islamists which the Yar’Adua regime busted in 2009. Since that victory, the Arab Spring took place. Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi was killed, while his followers were scattered in the four winds.
The Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib (AQIM) ballooned in size and joined the Tuareg rebels in Northern Mali to seize power or create their own nation out of Mali. The intervention of the French and Nigeria-led ECOWAS troops drove out the Islamists from Mali and many of them headed towards Nigeria. The groups have multiplied and now consist of Malians, Nigeriens, Chadians, Somalis, Sudanese and of course, Nigerians. Granting the terrorists “total” amnesty means we will start feeding these evil, mostly foreign enemies of the nation with post-amnesty bounties? People will be crawling from all over the Sahel to line up for hand outs every month? Those we have managed to put behind bars will have to be released to join the dole line: a veritable reward for killing Nigerians and destroying property? Then they will regroup?
There is one fact that the Sultan and many Northern Muslim leaders are running away from: THE TERRORISTS ARE AFTER THE OLIGARCHY PRESIDED OVER BY THE SULTAN! They want to overthrow the Northern Oligarchy. Two top Northern Emirs – Ado Bayero of Kano and the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Umar Ibn Garbai, escaped assassination by whiskers on separate occasions. The terrorists want to put an end to an order where government goodies are only for the elites while the poor are trampled underfoot or simply left to their own devices. They are fighting with hopes of establishing a new Islamic rule that will make the common Muslim the primary target of governance and welfare.
But being driven by foreign interests and made unpopular by their mindless campaigns of mass murder and destruction they were not able to focus their mission to make it politically correct or acceptable.
These people are not interested in amnesty, dialogue or negotiation. If you make an offer some will accept it for the bonanza that it is, but the terror will continue. They are fighting to win or be defeated. Since they cannot win they must be defeated. Let us resolve to do so. Now.