WE choose selective amnesia whenever it is our desire to score cheap political points. When the intention is to corner political power, our unflattering past is covered with the ageless toga of “progressives”. When the idea is to deflect investigation from our direction, we turn emergency whistle blowers.
The ploy is not new; it says baldly: the problem is not on my side, it is on that other side! We have seen the manifestation of the bestiality called Boko Haram. All sorts of commentators have been abroad with their views, most of them placing the blame of the Boko Haram blight on the doorsteps of President Jonathan.
I know for certain that the President has a collective of spokespersons paid to make his pitch, to defend his every position, to propagate his policies and programmes. However, I also believe that, as Nigerians, we must tell home truths to each other. There comes a time when the voice of employed people is simply not enough to do the job. Such a time is now.
It is a matter of public record that a certain Chief Olusegun Obasanjo – saint of the latter-day variety – was in power as the President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. It was during 2002, while Obasanjo was very much in power, that Boko Haram was created in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
The antecedents of Mohammed Yusuf, the late Boko Haram leader, especially as someone drunk and fixated on the propulsion of Jihad, could not have possibly escaped the attention of General Obasanjo and his army of intelligence and military strategists. Yet his administration did nothing tangible or sustainable to staunch the Boko Haram bleeding well before it turned into a veritable hemorrhage.
In Borno at the inception of Boko Haram was Ali Modu Sherrif – the Governor who presided over the state’s affairs for eight straight years, at the same period that elements of the Boko Haram turned the entire place into an inferno. Modu Sherrif will have us believe that President Jonathan should simply wave a magic wand to halt and reverse the impunity of this murderous sect. Yet, there is precious little evidence of what he did to fight Boko Haram, even though he pocketed security votes that ran into hundreds of millions for every of the 96 months he was in office and power.
People expected Sherrif to remain in Borno State and stew in the juice created by his negligence, if not outright connivance. Instead he relocated to the safety of Abuja, using it as a base for his broadsides against those who are doing something tangible to destroy Boko Haram. It is left for Nigerians to decide whether or not it is wonderful for elites to bask in the comfort and safety provided by government in some parts of the country while employing their incendiary comments for purposes other than national stability.
If you put Sherrif aside and considered Kashim Shettima, the incumbent Governor of Borno State, you will find that neither their banter nor their actions tally with known tenets of progressive ideology. Kashim Shettima announced that Boko Haram was better armed and better motivated than the Nigerian Army. He did not say that the murderous sect appeared to be better armed and better motivated. On what did he peg his certainty? Who has been motivating the terrorists and who has been arming them? It is obvious that Shettima and Sheriff are of one side of the dubious coin now buying negatively into efforts to rid the country of terrorists!
Another fellow in their camp is Lai Mohammed, the mouthpiece of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who claimed that his party would stop Boko Haram in one month if it won the 2015 presidential ballot! This means that the magic wand Sherriff wants the President to wave is actually in the hands of the APC! It raises questions that have to do with patriotism. If the APC knows how to stop Boko Haram in one month, why doesn’t the party let the Jonathan administration into the secret? Why must it allow Nigerians, including students and nursing mothers, to continue to suffer death, injury and material destruction for another 12 months before applying the solution?
The surprises are not over yet. Senator Zanna Ahmed Khalifa from Bornu State was on Al Jezeera on March 6, 2014. There he told his interviewer that the Nigerian Military should accept defeat and seek other methods of ending the Boko Haram insurgency! He didn’t suggest the “other methods” to try. But he claimed knowledge of the modus operandi of the insurgents. He said, among other things, that Boko Haram members operate under the cover of the indigenes. Why didn’t the distinguished senator pass the details of the relevant indigenes to the security agencies? Statements of this kind, and their implied or expressed consequences, from a grassroots politician as highly placed as a senator questions our collective faith in the country called Nigeria. If a man knows what’s wrong with the entity, but refuses to reveal same, while incessantly criticizing those in authority, the sensible conclusion to draw is that we are in dire straits.
One perceptive sports writer once observed that Nigeria was a country of 170 million soccer coaches. Every Nigerian knows what Stephen Keshi must do for us to win the 2014 World Cup! Everyone, apparently, knows how to wipe out Boko Haram, save President Jonathan. Characters who have never been in the military, who have never bothered to read up anything on ballistics, who have no inkling pertaining to specific challenges tied to fighting terrorism are on air, in newspapers, in the social media, attacking the President on a daily basis. Those in this category may be forgiven. Their problem is ignorance. Our common enemies are the sectional and partisan politicians who appreciate the score but push it aside in order that they will continue to rail at the President – simply to score cheap political points. Shame on them!
President Jonathan is a considerate leader, a compassionate President. Without any infrastructure on the ground for fighting terrorism, the country has, under his leadership, been combatting a deranged sect who insists he must convert to Islam in order for them to put away the guns and bombs they have been using to kill and maim their innocent countrymen and women.
Those politicians hoping that Jonathan will not win re-election because of the Boko Haram debacle will be tragically disappointed because the masses know those fueling the insurgency, just as they know that the Jonathan administration is doing its utmost to crush the terrorists who, although they appropriate religious toga, do not represent the Islam.
Mr. IjELE AGHA-IBEKA, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Enugu.