BY GBENGA OKE
NORTHERN leaders have come under hammer over their palpable reticence concerning the murderous activities of the deadly Islamic sect, Boko Haram. Known for their loud protestations and comments whenever northern interests in the affairs of the nation are affected, most northern leaders have not been outspoken since Boko Haram started unleashing the reign of terror on the polity since 2009 and for which about 1000 persons have been killed.
The silence of most northern leaders have sent wrong signals that some of them are sponsoring the sect and want to use them to pursue a political agenda in 2015.
Although, few voices like those of Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, Senate President David Mark, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) have been heard, many observers feel it is not enough as a bulk of the leaders has refused to lend their voice to condemn the activities of the sect.
At an Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) gathering recently, Mark had berated Northern leaders over their inability to condemn the activities of the group.
His words: ‘Won’t we be able to condemn current degree of insecurity in the North occasioned and heightened by Boko Haram? Are we afraid to openly condemn Boko Haram either for political reasons or out of fear of possible attack by the sect?
How can we keep quiet when a group begins to propagate the ideology that Western education is Haram? Western education today remains the pivot of development’.
“Have we forgotten that evil thrives when good men are silent? A Northerner killing a Northerner, a Northerner maiming a Northerner, a Northerner disrupting business activities in the North, a Northerner destroying properties in the North and so on and so forth cannot be helping the North by any stretch of imagination. Can this help Northern cause?” he maintained.
On his part, former military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon lamented that Northern leaders had allowed things to degenerate to unacceptable levels in the North and that it was time to halt the activities of the group.
“We have, over the years through our action or inaction, directly or indirectly allowed the gradual descent to the present disagreeable and unacceptable behaviour in our communities and the entire North. We now must show seriousness, courage and responsibility in addressing these challenges squarely without fear, favour or mudslinging,” he said.
Alhaji Balarabe Musa maintained that Boko Haram could not speak for North and that the group was un-Islamic in their activities.
Aside Mark, Gowon and Musa, mum has been the order of the day among other northern leaders.
Contacted, most of them refused to make comments. Some of them cited security situation as the reason for their reservations. This is unlike what obtained when Niger Delta militants held the nation hostage as Niger Delta elders took a position on the state of insecurity that ravaged the zone in particular and Nigeria in general.
As Boko Haram ceaselessly bombed many parts of the North targeting police stations, army barracks, markets, churches, killing and maiming people and destroying properties worth billions of Naira, the question on the lips of many is why have Northern elders refused to openly condemn the incessant attacks of the sect?
While some few voices in the North continue to condemn the attacks, some are of the opinion that for government to arrest the situation it needs to dialogue with Boko Haram.
However, no Northern Governor has walked up to the group either to dialogue or find out what their real grievances are aside not wanting western education.
The inability of Northern governors to arrest the situation shows that they are not on top of the situation. Already, some are pointing accusing fingers to some governors for sponsoring Boko Haram
Behind the loud silence
On the reason some Northern elders have refused to condemn the activities of the group openly, a former National Assembly lawmaker, who spoke with Vanguard on the condition of anonymity, said that the fear of Boko Haram was the beginning of wisdom.
He said the activities of the group had thrown a lot of Northern leaders into confusion and that was a major cause of their silence.
He maintained that majority of them were not in support of a group that kills innocent people but could not condemn them openly as their lives and those of their family would be threatened.
Northern leaders ‘ve to convince us they ‘re not sponsoring Boko Haram – Ezeife
Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, a Third Republic governor of Anambra State criticised northern leaders over their silence, arguing that an average Northerner listened to his leaders.
“I think those who argued like this are right because it is the belief of most Nigerians that northerners listen and follow their leaders. Therefore, if the leaders of the North were really against what the Boko Haram stands for, they should be able to stop them. But the things we are seeing about the way they are handling it is making us to think otherwise. We Igbo leaders did not support that reprisal attack from our people because it is a taboo to kill in Igbo land.”
Don’t blame us for keeping quiet — Isyaku Ibrahim
Second Republic politician, Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim has a different view over the silence of Northern elders. In an interview, he said the government was being economical with the truth if it said it did not know the sponsors of Boko Haram.
His words: “The government is economical with the truth when they say they do not know the originators of Boko Haram when the originators are here in Abuja. A former Governor of Borno State created the sect and he has bribed the security agencies in order not to be arrested. I would not blame Northern leaders because Borno leaders, whot really have the inside information find it difficult to talk for the fear of being attacked.
As the Chief Security Officer of this country, President Jonathan needs to expose the so called Boko Haram members, whom he claimed he knew because this killing of innocent people cannot continue.”