BY MUDIAGA OGHENERHO
IT is a very instructive observation by some concerned Nigerians that, when the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) failed to force its way politically within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Ciroma branch of the proverbial “Kaduna mafia” was unable to gain the type of foothold it had within the NPN after its struggle with Shehu Shagari in 1979, in 2011, all hell was let loose. When efforts by a few ‘born to rule’’ individuals, to warehouse the office of the president failed, anarchy in the guise of Boko Haram became the next choice.
The operational tactics of Boko Haram(western education is sin), a supposed religious sect with curious objectives changed and has since become a tool to return presidency immediately to a few who claim that holding on to political power in Nigeria is their god given right.
As an elder politician, a former Central Bank governor and a major stakeholder in the politics of the North East, is it not a matter of great quandary that, while the North East burned and the instigators of the bloodletting in the region extended their bloody hands to the federal capital, the news media, is voluminously silent on a single comment from Ciroma and his NPLF associates. Comments of agreement or disagreement, no matter how distasteful or insipid from the man who presided over the coffers of Nigeria over a lengthy period of time is worthy listening to?
As a major player in the politics of Nigeria, he came third in the NPN contest for the presidency in 1978/79 behind Shehu Shagari and Maitama Sule. Despite his sponsorship by the astute administrator Hamza Rafindadi Zayyad, Ciroma knows what is at stake regarding the wielding of political power in Nigeria.
He was in good company when he co-opted Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau and Abubakar Atiku, all prominent men who have presided over the appropriation of the Nigerian fiscus over a lengthy period of time to claim the Nigerian presidency as a northern heritage, with the north defined along their very narrow perception; a northern Nigeria where northern minorities particularly the people of the middle-belt or north central are second class citizens.
Hence, knowing what is at stake, it is no surprise he swore to do everything within his power to ensure that himself and his associates do not play second fiddle to anyone who was not on their side, and that they ‘’would make Nigeria ungovernable’’, if Jonathan or anyone who is not within their anointed circle became president of Nigeria.
This type of threat was taken then in the heat of the struggle as part of political angst and dispensed with.But with benefit of hindsight, and with what has happened so far, we know better and now must take it seriously because it was similarly used against Chief MKO Abiola until he was killed.
Also, immediately after the PDP primaries, came the first extensive use of incendiary materials by unspecified persons at an INEC office in Suleja. This marked the beginning of many such incidents of carnage recorded at his door step to destabilise the peace of the country. What perhaps is worrisome is the loud silence of Ciroma at a time such as this. And the question to ask is where does he stand?
For in truth, looking at the vision of Boko Haram and their current tactics, can we not assume that the bellum sacrum of Boko Haram has aligned with the casus belli of the NPLF? Should we not see their role as those of the political paymasters who have fueled the Taliban in Afghanistan waiting in the wings to devour the political carcass left behind, when the fanatics have had their fill of blood?
Does the silence of the NPLF and their associates not indicate acquiescence or accord? If not, where do they stand? For as William T. Cavanaugh indicated, religion is just a subterfuge and “religious violence” can be and is used to legitimate violence against “others”. So where does NPLF stand? With Nigeria or with the fanatical dissidents? Let us count the victims of Boko Haram and review their targets and see if it has much to do with western education.
Insipid statements have been made by top associates of NPLF to the effect that the ongoing security threats are symptomatic of the failure of the security system in Nigeria, which should be overhauled. One agrees wholly with this assertion, but Aliyu Mohammed Gusau was in charge of setting up most of the current security system in Nigeria, having spent decades as the head of Military intelligence and later National Security Adviser of several governments.
In fact, if doctoral qualifications were awarded for on-the-job experience as a security chief, Gusau should have several doctorates on Nigerian security. One can even wager that many of the top operatives in the Nigerian security apparati report first to Gusau before anyone because of recruitment loyalties.
As one of the beneficiaries of Ciroma’s dispensing of the power to rule as a representative of the NPLF, as well as his background on how lapses develop in Nigerian security, what has been Alhaji Gusau’s advise to secure the North East, and more important what was the view of Ciroma on effecting such views. In other words, where does Ciroma stand on the security of the North East and Nigeria?
Ciroma was born in Potiskum, where Christianity and Islam have co-existed side by side for decades. In December 2011, 30 shops owned by Christians were set ablaze in Potiskum, while scores of people have been slaughtered in nearby Damaturu.
Through all these, we have head the voices of Muslims like Aregbesola a governor and devout Muslim, as well as Fashola, also a Muslim governor condemning such inhuman act of brutality, at the very doorstep of Ciroma and his associates. Yet,there has been no responses from Ciroma and friends.
One would distance someone like him from such an act, knowing that the actions of Boko Haram as they are currently been executed would obviously lead to a point where he and his associates may eventually be left with 100 percent of nothing as against the current share of something which they are fighting to gain more of.
But it is a fact that the operatives of Boko Haram who have been caught so far, do not have the financial reserves, the banking proficiency to execute cross-country arms purchases, nor can they afford an extended recruitment of unemployed youths over a lengthy period.
In addition, they are unable to pay for the use of Honda vehicles as expendable bearers of suicide bombs. Is it not therefore logical to ask; if the funds expended to recruit operatives of Boko Haram, has been associated with a Senator and former diplomat from Yobe sate, the very doorstep of Ciroma, is he unaware of these activities? If he is not, where does he and his NPLF associates stand?
The loud silence of Ciroma and his associates on the operations of Boko Haram when placed against their vow that Nigeria will be ungovernable if they failed to gain political power purchase on the platform of the PDP remains inexplicable.
Is this struggle a prelude for the control of the northern political space ahead of 2015 or a persistent assertion of power at the centre by proxy on behalf of the NPLF? Can Nigeria afford the outcome of this struggle?