By Kingsley Omose
A while back there was this advert being run on both print and electronic media on behalf of one of the GSM communications companies in Nigeria that was quite effective due to its direct and simple message, but was discontinued because some in our society saw the advert as discriminatory.
It was about a young man in the city who called his mother in the village to inform her that his wife had put to birth, using three words that resonated in the hearts of many Nigerians, but which some felt supported the belief that a male child was more important than a female child, ‘Mama na boy’.
Sadly the advert was discontinued when the simple solution would have been to make a complimentary advert using the words, ‘Mama na girl’, to assuage the feelings of those who had mounted sustained media attacks against the communication company that was scared of losing market share. Recently, there were twin bomb attacks against the nation during the celebration of its 50th Independence anniversary at Eagle square, Abuja which had in attendance average Nigerians, including Nigeria’s top political, military, judicial, business, and public officials.
We also had in attendance 15 foreign heads of state and other foreign dignitaries in addition to global media attention which was focused on Nigeria in the week leading to 10/1 while CNN was running special features on Nigeria on places of interest, business opportunities and conducting interviews. Although a group claiming to be MEND issued a statement accepting responsible for 10/1, President Jonathan had come out to dispute this saying that the bombings had nothing to do with agitations in the Niger Delta but was the work of criminal and terrorists elements both outside and inside Nigeria.
Since making that statement, President Jonathan has come under sustained attacks from sections of the media and public commentators for supposedly acting presumptuously, and even his political foes have accused him of being spokesperson for MEND who have emphatically declared, ‘Na we do am’. Ordinarily, those responsible for terrorist attacks are satisfied with having succeeded in carrying out the attacks but 10/1 will probably go down in history as the first time that a terrorist group is fighting to dispel claims that it was not responsible for bombings that killed 14 people and injured 30 others.
This same group has also taken the unprecedented step of apologizing for the said deaths and blaming security operatives for not being proactive enough from finding the bombs it had planted despite their best efforts to warn them as the bombs were not planned to kill.
Then from deep within a South African jail came the voice of someone claiming to be Henry Okah, that he had been under pressure from inside the Nigerian presidency to get MEND to withdraw its earlier claim of responsibility for 10/1 and to blame political foes of the president as responsible. Such a statement would probably have read, “MEND hereby disassociates itself from the twin bombings that occurred in Abuja and for which advance notices were issued and now blames the political foes of the president and disgruntled ex-members for being responsible for the bombings”.
Based on the Henry Okah revelations the political foes of President Jonathan went ballistic in their attacks calling for his resignation and impeachment, claiming that the supposed plan to frame their principals was an attack on entire populations in a section of the country.
Why is it so important that MEND be seen as responsible for 10/1, and why has Al-Jazeera been in the thick of the revelations visiting a supposed camp of MEND and conducting the telephone interview with Henry Okah, and why has the victim that should be attracting sympathy become the villain? Why is it that claims made via emails and a telephone call supposedly made from a South African jail have been elevated to the status of proven facts and as overriding the public declaration made by a nation’s president that there is more to the claims of responsibility than meets the eye? Why is it so difficult to believe the open declarations of leaders and commanders of MEND made on national television that they and their foot soldiers have nothing
to do with 10/1 and that Henry Okah is not synonymous with MEND?
Why is it so difficult to believe that MEND which did not at the height of the Niger Delta agitations and even when late President Umaru Yar’Adua was incapacitated come near Abuja, would more than a year after embracing the amnesty program and disarming, come to Abuja and detonate two bombs?
Why would MEND resort to twin bomb strikes on 10/1, clear proof of terrorists who wanted to inflict maximum damage, the first explosion to draw people near and the second explosion to wipe out as many people as possible? Why would MEND target an event that had in attendance foreign heads of states and guests who were attending the celebrations as to attempt to put their lives at risk, knowing that targeting an event with such an assemblage of local and international guests could trigger crisis?
What did MEND stand to gain for 10/1 when the Niger Delta is receiving unprecedented attention probably since 1914 through President Jonathan who is from the Niger Delta area, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Niger Delta Development Commission and Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs?
What does MEND stand to gain if President Jonathan is disgraced out of office, when those angling to replace him probably have a worse agenda for the Niger Delta and see it only as a region that provides the crude oil and gas earnings that are shared monthly by the three tiers of government?