By Sam Eyoboka
Events in northern Nigeria, particularly the prevailing security concerns in that region have occupied centre stage of public discourse in the last couple of years as fellow countrymen and women were pitched against one another trading blames. One good thing about the Nigerian phenomenon is that the citizens know how to blame the other for their woes and are fast to take the glory for each success.
Various commentators have painted all kinds of pictures and have postulated causes and effects of the unfolding developments from North Central and North Eastern zones of the country. They have proffered various solutions to the problem which is currently threatening to consume the corporate existence of the country.
While many believe that the ongoing ethno-religious crises in the North is not an offshoot of the Usman Dan Fodio jihad of 1754, arguing that activities of Boko Haram and the Fulani fund-amentalists in Plateau State are politically motivated; some others swear with the last pint of their blood that there is a grand design to islamise the nation despite its secularity.
The voice of reason is often dwarfed and overwhelmed by the ferocious might of either petrodollar associated with a well thought-out and organized plot by divisive forces working in consonance with those who control state machinery or who occupy top flight positions and take crucial decisions that affect our collective destinies.
National President, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Sunday Ola Makinde, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie and a handful of well respected and influential Nigerian clergymen have consistently drawn attention to the growing pattern of emerging terrorism in the country, arguing that the government must wake up to its responsibility or risk the danger of the Sudanese or Somalian ugly experiences.
Instead of taking their early warning and tackling in-security in the country, they had been accused of incite-ment and heating up the polity by sometimes even members of their own Christ-ian constituency. They have been vilified and called all sorts of names by newspaper columnists, commentators on national issues either on radio or television programmes.
Daily and in very unkind words, comment-ators describe this category of Nigerians as rumour mongers and agents of destabiliza-tion, arguing that the government should check their activities. Who loves Nigeria more? Those who are the conscience of the nation, warning the nation against impend-ing danger or the armchair critics?
Why will a man who presides over millions of indivi-duals fan the embers of war? Does the timely warning of a clergyman in the face of terran-ny and deliberate attempts to annihilate a people amount to heating up the polity? Who pays for the continued editorial terrorism by a supposed instrument of social account-ability which takes delight in feeding Nigerians with half truths and blatant lies?
Hitherto, several Nigerians have argued that terrorism is not a Nigerian until a young Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to celebrate his 23rd birthday by detonating plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route from Amster-dam to Detroit, Michigan, on December 25, 2009. There were 289 persons aboard the plane.
Dr. Lateef Adegbite, Secretary General of Nigeria’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affair, NSCIA, condemned the attack, saying: “We do not think that there is any organised Islamic group in Nigeria that is inclined to such a criminal and violent act. We condemn such an extreme viewpoint and action”. We know better.
On August 16, when the news of the arraign-ment of the former Commander of 33 Artillery Brigade, Bauchi, Brigadier-General Murrai-na Raji before a special court martial over the escape of two suspected Boko Haram memb-ers from the Brigade’s detention facility, one had looked out for the columns and comments of the modern day apostles of deceit.
It’s sub-judice to comment on any matter before a law court, until the inevitable happened when a suicide bomber attacked the UN House, Abuja two months after a similar attack on the Police Headquarters in Abuja.
On September 1, President Goodluck Jona-than assured “Nigerians and members of the international community that we now have strong leads as to those involved in this terror war on Nigeria and Nigerians. I have directed security operatives to go after them no matter where they may be hiding. This administration is fully determined and able to deal with all threats and agents of instability who continue to test the resolve of our nation and its democratic institutions and leadership. As President and Chief Security Officer of the nation, I will employ every means and instrument at my disposal to secure this nation against forces of evil, which seek to divide and sabotage our country. There shall be no sacred cows in our efforts to expose, contain and defeat this network of terror and its sponsors.”
Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief. But few days after the presidential expose, a newspaper quoting Wikileaks, revealed the real sacred cows of Nigerian politics. It exposed a deal that helped northern terrorism suspects to escape trial and prison after arrest. The cable with reference id: #08ABUJA538 was sent to the US State Department by former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Robin Rene Sanders, on March 20, 2008, revealing that the State Security Service, SSS and the north-ern traditional system reached an understanding for the secretive release and non-trial of terrorism suspects from the region. The deal provided that terrorism suspects would be released to a carefully selected group of traditional rulers and Imams shortly after their arrest. The report further stated that nearly all the terrorism suspects arrested in the North belong to the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram and part of ther deal stipulates that terrorism suspects who benefit from the programme are expected to submit to routine monitoring by
the SSS, report regularly to the SSS and abandon extremism.
Needless to say that mum has been the word! Those loud critics have suddenly gone cold. Since the real sacred cows are being stripped naked, their pens have run dry. Sadly, there had been several prophecies that unless the government takes a decisive step to arrest the growing trend of terrorism, President Goodluck Jonathan may just be the last president of the geographical entity known as Nigeria. Much more worrisome is that government until Monday appeared helpless, despite the avowed resolve to tackle violent crime in the country. One hopes that the new wave of terrorism will not fulfill the American prophecy that Nigeria, as it is presently constituted, will disintegrate by 2015? It’s simply amazing how Nigerian politicians who sponsor Boko Haram and similar terror groups, are colluding with eminent traditional rulers and security agents to sign deals that would eventually actualize an American prediction about the most populous black nation in the world. Which way Nigeria?