“It is easier to get yourself in to a situation, than to get out of it, because “entering a bathroom isn’t like leaving it” – Egyptian Proverb.
BOKO HARAM seem to be gathering the confidence of a thing that has come to stay in Nigeria. They have grown from a small cell of violent persons,to a big international terror group within the last six years, and even more with their allegiance or affiliation to ISIS. They have won and lost caliphates within Nigeria, and are very committed to wasting the blood of more people in this country.
Since the inauguration of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, PMB, six weeks ago, Boko Haram has created more confusion in the North East, killed over 400 persons, rendering many more families disoriented in every sense in their struggle to regain the momentum they lost during the last period of the past government of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GEJ.
It may be that Boko Haram is taking advantage of the distractions necessarily associated with the relocation of our military Command Head Quarters from Abuja to Maiduguri, as directed recently by PMB, or that their affiliation with ISIS is beginning to yield results for them, giving them more confidence and ferocity.
Whatever may be the seasons for their recent strength, Nigeria as a nation must not let any type of pussyfooting allow this group to recover the momentum they lost already. We must use all tactics, including distractions, delays, weakening of morales, hot but undercover intelligence gathering to deal ruthlessly with this evil, especially as they have changed tactics to killing anybody irrespective of religion or tribe.
Boko Haram is the worst enemy of Nigeria, assisted so far, by sabotage, corruption and lack of vision by sections of those put in-charge of this war. That we have a retired General as a President is encouraging and comforting, but the rate of policy summersaults, the slow pace, and the body language of favoring mostly Muslims in the appointments so far, give cause for concern.
While some of us believe that PMB needs time to ride these bulls we call Federal Ministries and their Parastatals directly, in order to understand the system, before bringing in some hawks who will parade themselves as Ministers, there is absolutely a very urgent need for him to pay a different attention to Boko Haram.
It is important that he takes advantage of the momentum built up by the military during the last days of President GEJ in office.
There are many in his party APC, who are yet to realise that; they are no longer in opposition, the time for propaganda has passed, it is now time to take charge, and deliver change as promised during the campaigns. Those leaders and governors in his Party, who are more committed to political vendetta, than bringing change to the livelihood of Nigerians must be discountenanced in every effort to deal with Boko Haram. People like the governor of Edo State, who are focused more on distractions like chasing the former Finance Minister, for whatever reasons, and others who speak from both sides of their mouth on crucial issues, having jumped through parties to APC, should be handled carefully in order to contain Boko Haram.
The type of politics that played out recently and still raging at the NASS and Senate cannot be allowed to influence strategies to deal with Boko Haram, if PMB intends to prevail over the terrorists.
The recent transfer of Boko Haram detainees from the North East to Ekulobia in Anambra state is therefore an ill-advised step.
Since we know that the modus operandi of the terrorists includes to seek to attack places where their members are kept in an attempt to release such members, keeping such people in the South East, that has been struggling to keep terror out of their zone, is like spreading the virus. While some have reasoned that Prisoners can be put anywhere by government, after all, we are running a Federal System, and the South East is part of it. Such reasoning should not be allowed to stand, for the myopia in that thinking. It should be dropped by government, for the simple fact that when a genuine protest of a people is ignored, it breeds a greater resistance over time.
If for the first time in several years, the major markets in Onitsha, and Enugu were shut down in protest against the transfer of these Boko Haram detainees to a medium security facility in Ekwulobia, the next protest might take a wider dimension in nature and form, if nothing is done.
Except if this is part of a big plan calculated to distress and dislocate the economy of the South East, by engineering frequent restiveness in the region, the detainees should be removed.
Majority of South Easterners ab initio, view this administration with suspicion of disliking, and of Islamising them, and there is no better way to confirm their fears than for PMB to lend a deaf ear to their call for the Boko Haram detainees to be removed from Ekwulobia.
It is even rumoured that more terrorist detainees will be transferred to Enugu prisons very soon! If nothing is done and fast too, about Ekwolobia detainees, political jobbers may seize this moment, and PMB will have widened the political chasm between himself and the South East. I pray this does not happen.
Ignoring the voice of the South East over their security will be the first step to creating the nemesis of this administration, politics or no politics. Put another way, a government that ignores and disparages the sentiments, feelings, aspirations and yearnings of those it claims to be governing must be deep into self-deception and delusion.
PMB in his quiet time, may admit that this Nigeria as we have it today, is not the Nigeria for which many South Easterners were killed in the 1966 civil war. The main path to changing Nigeria must include a necessary change from the present attitude, to that of respect of the strong views, feelings and aspirations the South Easterners, irrespective of their political leanings.
Mr Clement Udegbee, a legal practitioner, wrote from Lagos.