By Rotimi Fasan
BEYOND any thing we’ve ever seen in the past, Nigeria is today under the siege of terrorist insurgents. We are a besieged people. The yet unresolved abduction of nearly 250 school girls in Chibok earlier brought home loud hints of this.
Last Thursday’s attack at Nyanya motor park confirms it beyond any doubt. With this confirmation the terrorists have placed two clear choices before President Goodluck Jonathan: either he accepts their invitation to visit their hideout in Sambisa forest or risk their permanent presence at his doorstep in Abuja. This puts the President between a rock and a hard place if he truly understands the import of this open challenge to his authority and presidency.
But the choice is his- to respond to this ‘in-your-face’ challenge or go down in history as the worst politician yet to take up the tenancy of Nigeria’s seat of power.
And if the President thinks he can continue to play the ostrich, holed up in endless meetings inside the presidential chamber when he is not on one of his interminable campaign rallies for 2015, events in the last several days during which Nigerians across the country and people in different parts of the world have demanded through street protests and the social network that the President stop seating on his hand- the rising calls across the world that he acts like the leader he is supposed to be, should tell him that he’s been mistaken all the while he thought he could drivel his way through the whole abduction fiasco in his usual manner. Mr. Jonathan must, hopefully, be coming to the sobering realization that there is more to being president than flaunting the unimpressive credential of being the fortuitous candidate of a ‘minority’ group or gorging oneself on cassava bread.
Three weeks after Goodluck Jonathan sought to clear his thoughts of the nightmare of the Nyanya bomb blast that had claimed nearly 100 lives with even higher figures of the injured; three weeks after he thought he could cut off scenes of his dance macabre at a Kano campaign rally less than 24 hours after the Nyanya gory attack; indeed three weeks after the outrage of Chibok, thunder once more struck at the same place, when bombs shattered the fragile silence of Nyanya motor park and prematurely sent more Nigerians to their grave . This happened right under the nose of the heavily-armed troops which Jonathan as Commander-in-Chief had sent to secure Nyanya motor park!
We have read of the traffic gridlock created by these troops in their efforts to keep Abuja safe from terrorist attack. Nigerians have had first hand experience of travelling in the direction of Nyanya and Abuja as a whole in the wake of the terrorist attacks and have unpleasant tales to tell of it all.
The last thing they could have expected is another attack at the same place that is yet a crime scene under Jonathan’s ever watchful security personnel. But it happened, incredible as it might sound, telling us that the terrorists are set for a showdown with Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling cohort that have become hostage of their own shadows in the country’s capital.
While they spurned the direct invitation to Sambisa forest that the Chibok abduction demanded, the terrorists have decided to take the battle to the oligarchs of Abuja. They know what cowardly blather is being spewed at Nigerians by the braggarts in power and are no longer ready to keep things on a low key.
Like Elijah and the Prophets of Baal, the terrorists have issued an open challenge to Jonathan and the battle ground is Nyanya, not Mount Carmel or any other place Jonathan may choose to go. Jonathan and his men can not, must not ignore this challenge.
They must either prove their presence in Nyanya and other places where the insurgents have taken over or they would have washed their hands off the safety and security of Nigerians. I have recently asked in this space if Jonathan can go to Sambisa forest.
It didn’t look like he was prepared to even though that was an opportunity to let off his inhibitions about bringing down fire on the terrorists. Even when Chibok mocked his Janus-faced approach to fighting terror and made nonsense of his pacifist rhetoric, Jonathan continued to prove to Nigerians and the rest of the world that he is a politician incapable of making hard choices, that he is only fit to attend meetings where empty threats are issued.
Jonathan might not have given a damn about offering excuses for the corruption in which his ministerial aides swim; he may not see any thing worthwhile asking questions of his footloose ministers who continue to pile up hundreds of thousands of carbon footprints in extravagant air travels; the President may surely not see any reason why he should be expected to be firm against terrorism when politicians from the region most affected by terror all but invited it into their home and gave it a large room to grow.
But he was the one Nigerians made their president, the one millions through an electoral process, however flawed, invested with the presidential authority to act on their behalf. He it was who swore on oath to serve and protect Nigerians. It is to him Nigerians now turn for answer to the menace and curse of terrorism. He must do what he swore to do. It is neither a favour nor something he could choose to do or not without losing the basis of his present position. This is his duty, his manifest destiny as the Nigerian president.
President Jonathan must know that as president he carries the fate of Nigeria in his hands. He has failed up to this point to meet the expectations of the people. Like a confused child he has blundered his way through many fateful events. He must give up his childish ways and begin to act like a true parent aware of his responsibility by his children.
The power he has must be exercised in the service of Nigerians as a matter of course. He cannot continue in the same helpless manner he has so far maintained his presidency like someone beholden to his aides, one who looks up to them like a child looks up to his parent in confusion.
The forbidden territories of the Goodluck Jonathan presidency must be stormed. They must no longer stir fear in him or make him weak at the knees. Among the previous disasters of his presidency, Sambisa and Nyanya are proving the most tricky and dangerous. They are the immediate elephants in his room of dereliction. He must either go to Sambisa forest today or cede Nyanya to terrorists.