By Obi Nwakanma
An Australian hostage negotiator, Dr. Stephen Davies made some startling statements last week, and it was widely reported by the on-line news magazine, Sahara Reporters. There was a certain inordinate glee in its reports, being as some of its critics now aver, that the folks at Sahara Reporters like to throw sand in the eyes of the Jonathan administration. To be fair, it is the professional duty of Sahara Reporters to throw sand in the eyes of the administration whenever it could, particularly where the administration is belligerent and hard of hearing on matters of grave national concern.
There are many who will certainly say that in certain matters of urgent national concern, the Jonathan administration seems hard of hearing. On the matter of Boko Haram, certainly, the administration seems hard of hearing because it is trying the same failed tactics over and over with the same result; or properly speaking, lack of results. Those who try the same things and have the same results and yet continue to do the same things to invariant results are either too dumb for words or are candidates for the loony bin. Let me be the first here to accept that governing is not an easy task; it requires a certain level of scrotal foundation and fortitude of the kind that can coldly lop off a head in the interest of a nation. Sometimes also, what the governed see is not always what is; there are dimensions of truth that may be too haunting to tell, and too sublime to even communicate to the public. Yet, even with these facts, it requires a willing and steady hand to steer nations through murky waters. Such a stea
dy hand is what Nigerians are looking to see in President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, on this matter of national security. Nigerians are not seeing a steady hand.
They see a totally overwhelmed president weakened both by his inexperience on national security matters, and his unwillingness to deploy the awesome power of the presidency upon which has been placed further emergency powers granted to him by the National Assembly to root out Boko Haram; its sponsors, and its insurgents. The president has been unwilling to reorganize, rebuild, and reposition his National Security Advisory team, infuse new ideas, and deploy alternative tactical approaches to this question. He seems unwilling to initiate tactical contact with the National Security Committee of the Nation to launch a groundsweeping investigation into the funding sources and powerful individual forces behind Boko Haram’s clearly successful tactical, operational, and financial successes.
A lackadaisical air hangs around the president on this Boko Haram issue, and this has generated a very partisan mood, in which the two contending parties for federal offices – the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – now trade barbs at each other about who is sponsoring the insurgency. At a time when serious bi-partisan action is needed on the single most dangerous national security challenge before Nigeria since 1967, the leaders of these parties have resorted to recondite language rather than the protection of Nigeria’s sovereignty. But the president is the man in charge – and right on his watch, Boko Haram is capturing Nigerian towns and planting their sovereign flags on captured territory while Nigerian soldiers flee to neighbouring countries, from a supposedly rag-tag army. The president continues to seem confused and overwhelmed by this movement. But it ought to be clear that Nigeria by all indications is now officially at war, and Jonathan’s head on the spike i
s one of the prizes sought by Boko Haram. But Goodluck Ebele Jonathan seems struck by the “Ironsi-disease” – inertia, inaction, indecisiveness, and pointless political correctness.
We seem primed once more to continue to go to the well until we smash all our calabashes. Boko Haram is clearly not only winning the ground war but as the columnist Nnanna Ocherome has very aptly noted, it is also winning the propaganda war. One such issue which has raised the proverbial hackles of many a Nigerian is the “revelation” last week by the Aussie that Nigeria’s former Chief of Army staff, General Azubike Ihejirika is one of the sponsors of Boko Haram. Dr. Davies left his home, Perth, Australia to come to Nigeria to negotiate the release of the Chibok girls. In his various contacts with Boko Haram commanders, he said, they told him that aside from Governor Modu Sheriff, the other sponsor of the insurgency is General Ihejirika. Stranger things of course have been known to happen, but the question is who the hell is Davies and what really does he know?
When did Ihejirika begin to fund or sponsor Boko Haram? The story does not seem to add up but only points to the dangers of toxic dependency on “foreign experts,” spies, and mercenaries, who presume, but hardly know where the proverbial bodies are buried in Nigeria.Boko Haram’s insurgency had started long before Ihejirika was appointed Nigeria’s Army Chief.
Did Ihejirika begin to sponsor the insurgency before then? When he was appointed Army Chief, he established a tactical command, the 7th Division Maiduguri with a special anti-terrorism task force on a brigade level which was fully deployed and which checked the Boko Haram onslaught. Indeed, Boko Haram itself accused Ihejirika of being “high-handed.” There is also the far more crucial question, having left office and command, by what means does the General sponsor the insurgency? Where is the money trail? What would be the direct personal benefit to him? I raise these questions, not to clear Ihejirika, but to register my skepticism, because it is a clear war propaganda tactic that the Boko Haram is unfolding: sow distrust, keep your adversaries confused and guessing, divert attention, and execute a blinding operation. They have certainly used a clueless Australian to deliver their message. But it is all an indication of the inability of this administration to determine this process.On the pretext of Boko Haram
, Jonathan has opened Nigeria wider to all kinds of foreign espionage activities and control; Nigeria is now the staging post for all kinds of dangerous mercenary and foreign espionage activity that has left its national security backbone weakened and vulnerable. The last news on this is that a major foreign power is now poised to “help” Nigeria run its borders to check Boko Haram.
Well, then, we should all pack up our bags and go, because it is officially nunc-dimitis for Nigeria; otherwise the National Assembly, the last resort of the Republic, must compel the President, give him a timeline to clean up this mess, or submit his resignation to the National assembly, failing which be impeached for inability to protect Nigeria’s sovereign interest.
If our legislators are unwilling to hold the president responsible, then the Nigerian people must begin recall movements for any representative unwilling to do their jobs. I agree with Ndigbo Lagos, Jonathan must establish a high powered panel to investigate the claims against Ihejirika on the strength of evidence and either clear his good name or try him for subversion.