JUST as the war against Biafra was not General Yakubu Gowon’s war, the fight against terrorism is not President Goodluck Jonathan’s war. The Nigerian civil war was of those who vowed to keep the country one and the others who swore to make it two.
The Boko Haram war is against Nigeria, not against the individual called Goodluck Jonathan. Despite the ostensible religious orientation that initially beclouded its operations, Boko Haram has clearly mutated into an extremely violent movement similar in all respects to the appalling bestiality of the Islamic state currently tearing hearts and boundaries to bits in Syria and Iraq.
This is Obi Nwakanma in an article entitled “Time For The Liquidation Of Boko Haram” (Vanguardof Sunday July 27, 2014): “Imagine this scenario: Boko Haram grows more sophisticated; more daring, recruits wider, establishes better training facilities, acquires deadlier arms and more potent military capacity, enough to subdue and carve out a wide swath of Nigeria from the Chad basin, to the Adamawa hills.
It secures swaths of land from parts of Chad, parts of Cameroon, and parts of the Central African Republic, and it creates an effective new country in the very heart of Central West Africa. This scenario is not too far-fetched, and ought to worry Nigeria’s security analysts, because it seems to me that we have a new scale of a vast and unthinkable problem shaping from this insurgency.”
If things escalate along the fears expressed above by Dr. Nwakanma, every talk of eventual containment and reversal of the problem would largely border on the academic. However, Boko Haram in its current state, is liable to comprehensive defeat.
The main obstacle to the realisation of this hope is The Flank, a pathetic collective that has deluded itself into believing that the fight against Boko Haram is solely that of President Jonathan.
The Flank has three main appendages: the politicians who think that Boko Haram atrocities are a vehicle destined to transform them into tenants of Aso Rock; the grinning spectators who expect terrorism to lead to the ascendancy of their religion; and the coterie tweeting, posting, writing and broadcasting rubbish under the guise of aiming for a better society whereas their agenda is unambiguously partisan. The Flank is traitorously roasting rodents while the homestead is on fire.
The Islamic State may murder and chase Christians out of Mosul in Iraq. But it is impossible to wipe away or convert the over 80 million Nigerian followers of Jesus, just as only delusion can generate the thought that a similar fate could befall Nigerian Muslims.
Any Nigerian not attuned to these realities belongs to The Flank sabotaging the war against Boko Haram. The remorselessly strident pillorying of President Jonathan in the wake of every terrorist outrage was configured by The Flank to be deleterious to his political fortunes.
That has not happened for the simple reason that Nigerians are far more sophisticated than the average politician ever imagines. “Jonathan has run out of excuses for not ending Boko Haram terrorism”, was the chant previously in vogue. But The Flank made little traction from it because not on one single occasion of its criticisms did it posit any options for quelling terrorism.
From the third appendage of The Flank composed of journalists and social media commentators have emerged the two-pronged infamy of deceit and hypocrisy. Take the United States. If MSNBC railed against a Republican politician or policy, it is because, as everyone acknowledges, its media outlook is irreversibly Democratic. Similarly, if Fox lambasted a Democratic policy or politician, it is because, as is general knowledge, its truck is unremittingly tied to Republicanism.
Not so with the laughable lot, whether inside or outside Nigeria, that has put itself up as quintessentially all-knowing. “There is no power supply in the country. The roads are deplorable. Insecurity is chronic. Corruption is rife. The Ministers are inept. The citizenry is docile.” Day-in and day-out, these professional critics, toneless and tuneless, belt out the baleful litany of their personal and collective futility. In truth, had they a fraction of the brains they claim, it would long have occurred to them to ask why scarcely any notice is being taken of their rants.
The cacophony of their criticism amounts to a simple proposition: This Child is sick! Which is where the train left them, because there is a consensus on the Child’s sickness. What is required and what, unfortunately, they are not making any effort to address is this question: What should be done to enable the Child to shake off the sickness and return to good health? Chibok girls have been in terrorist captivity for months. Dreadful. But what suggestions have they got for their rescue? Blank! “Politician A is corrupt.
Politician B is epically corrupt.” Indeed, the country acknowledges the existence of corruption, not just in government circles but inside other sectors of national life. But, what actions do these critics propose for subduing the cankerworm? Blank! The raison d’etre of government is the provision of the good and meaningful life for the citizens. The role of the opposition, whether political or media, is to provide alternatives for righting society’s wrongs. But because the professional critics have neither time nor space for options, all they do is quibble.
In wasting everyone’s time, The Flank is incapable of considering one crucial truth. This is that, if anything was ever arduous, it is the fight against terrorism. Moving against terrorism is like carrying out brain surgery at the ocean’s bottom. Boko Haram has cadres already trained in making improvised explosive devices.
The existence of just one cell of the bomb-makers in any one town could guarantee its residents exposure to sporadic or incessant explosions. Combating this unconventional war is not as easy as brewing a cup of coffee. If rescuing the Chibok girls was ordinary, they would since have regained their freedom.
The screams of “Bring Back Our Girls” may be unimpeachable. But, months ago, the Americans, the British, the French and the Israelis, et cetera, introduced their expertise into the struggle. Yet, all there is for now is the ardent hope that the spectacular rescue will eventually come to pass.
The country’s current security challenge does not lend itself to irrational criticism and opposition. Had General Gowon experienced a hundredth of the partisan obstacles and opposition needlessly strewn on President Jonathan’s path by The Flank, the 1967 to 1970 fight to keep Nigeria one would have ended in ignominious capitulation. That is why the call for all hands to be on deck cannot cease.
Nonetheless, the government should remain single-mindedly focused in the prosecution of this war against terror, learning from past mistakes and reducing collateral damage to the barest minimum. This war is winnable.
Chuks Iloegbunam, a journalist, wrote from Lagos.