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THE PRESIDENT’S ENEMIES

By NBF News
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The Oxford school of wordsmiths in their authoritative 'Advanced Learner's Dictionary', describes an enemy as ' a person who hates somebody or who acts or speaks against somebody/something', and also as ' anything that harms something or prevents it from being successful: Poverty and ignorance are the enemies of progress'.

In all honesty, one must admit that one has never heard or read about President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR, using the word 'enemy' anywhere, or referring to anybody as his enemy. However, he does not have to say so before we can reach our own conclusions.

It is easy enough to observe and interprete the social, political and economic situations (after matching them with the actions and utterances of certain personalities over a time – frame), to come to your own conclusion about whom the word enemy fits. Or who may most likely qualify for listing in that category, by virtue of what they did, said, or failed to say or do. That is the mission, here and now.

Let us begin from the seventh schedule of the constitution, the President's oath of office, part of which reads: 'I …… do solemnly swear/affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that as President….. I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will strive to preserve the fundamental objectives and directive Principles of State policy contained in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions…..'

There is no doubt that from the political experience of people like John F. Kennedy; Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton of the United States of America; of ex -Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain and our own President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, anyone who occupies the top-most political position in a polity is bound to feel or be regarded as being 'between the devil and the deep blue sea.'

It is therefore pertinent to recall that while welcoming guests to the Ijaw National Day held Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, in March last year, the President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Dr. Atuboyedein Obianim, ' said the new Kaiama Declaration is to reorient the people on the need to adopt non-violence in their genuine agitation for equity and justice within the Nigerian State', according to a national newspaper of March 7, 2010. That statement needs to be read and understood as a message to all Nigerians around the world, that in whatever they say and do, strands of justice and equity must never be lacking.

As far as one is concerned, President Jonathan – whenever he feels he is between the devil and the deep blue sea by the suggestions or advice put to him – should remember that, like the Ijaw man with an inherent ideological orientation that he is, he will have no problem punching the devil and diving into the deepest blue sea. And that is because he knows, like the others, the way back to the surface any time, and at any point below the sun. No shaking!

This is another way of stating that the president needs to avoid endorsing rabidly partisan, devilish and unconstitutional propositions – naïve quick – fixes – from hare-brained, double – dealing 'courtiers', who must really be seen as the President's enemies. They are only latter – day Machiavellians!!!

MAIL BAG
Not isolated phenomena
It has become the tradition (as the North is embroiled in her frequent religious disturbances) to hear that Islam is a religion of peace. Methinks that ordinarily, we should not be told that; at least, for the following reasons:

It inadvertently consigns other religions to the other side of the_religious divide;

No religion preaches war; all of them preach peace.

Hardly are all religions at peace with one another (in the real_sense of the word; otherwise, we would not be hearing about the_burning of places of worship here in Nigeria).

Where no open hostilities are apparent, there is cold war. And this_is quite often the case in their respective religious sects or_denominations. At times, they have had to go to court to settle their_differences. And war of any kind negates peace.

Behind any claim is the justification for it; and beyond any claim_is the body language; just as behind every action is the underlying_cause and beyond the action are the intended and unintended_consequences.

If we are to go by the claim that Islam is a religion of peace, then, peace would have been a defining feature of socialization and inter-ethnic and denominational relations in the North. But the frequent ethno-religious crises in the North leading often to the wanton destruction of lives and property negate that claim.

Believing Islam to be a religion of peace, I had expected that in the North, His eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, would have mobilized all the Moslem faithfuls to flush out the tendencies posing as religious sects that defame Islam. That way, the claim that the activities of the Boko Haram sect, etc. do not represent the true face of Islam would be taken seriously. In other words, to grant sanctuary to those sects (as members commit all sorts of atrocities at will), does not serve the cause of Islam.

Bad leadership has been blamed for the activities of the members of the Boko Haram sect, who have signaled their desire for the strict application of the Sharia law in 12 core northern states; and would resort to terrorism to press home their demands. Instead of blaming it on leadership, I think it would be better to blame it on the injustices which have been our lot since we were colonized; and those colonies formatted into so-called protectorates that later became amalgamated into a lop-sided federation called Nigeria; without the consent of the constituent parts.

Hence the claim that Nigeria is the mistake of 1914. It is as informed by the spirit of accommodation, that the following demands were made:_o To negotiate with the members of the Boko Haram sect;_o Asking government to withdraw troops from Bornu;_o Warning soldiers to be mindful of the possibility of being tried for war crimes, etc._Given that injustice is behind the activities of members of the Boko Haram sect, only the spirit of accommodation can inform granting them sanctuary in any part of the country; resort to acts of terrorism to press home their demands notwithstanding.

Sanctuary can only mean that there are those who are sympathetic to the sect; instead of coming hard on them for giving Islam a bad name. If those who provide them with logistics think that the sect is perfectly in order as their religion accommodates holy war, the Jihad, then, they should reckon with the fact that times have also changed; and that salvation is not forced on people. In my considered opinion, the issue of Boko Haram can not and should not be handled in isolation, so as not to make the mistake of revisiting it in due course, as has been the issue of the Niger Delta, MASSOB, etc.

These are not isolated phenomena; but closely related issues that call for exhaustive dialogue on the state of our togetherness. I am persuaded that after the dialogue, peace will reign in a more united country or in our capacities as sovereign nations. We should not be afraid to go our separate ways; and should not accept to remain together out of fear. But we must dialogue. Let it be noted that if those who should bring about changes would not, then, nature would lend a helping hand in its uncanny ways. I am afraid that it will be a catastrophic end.

Wisdom comes from God; and the wise would always beckon on us to shun greed and listen to the voice of reason._Finally, if we stretch the demands of the Boko Haram sect any further, what we arrive at is that among the northern states, there are the core ones and the peripheral ones. And like in all such situations, the core ones would always take decisions that are binding on the peripheral states. May it serve well their interest! And may others have peace!