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THEWILL Editorial: Presidential Softness On Boko Haram

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“It has to be stressed that a country that daily terrorises its citizens cannot combat terrorism. This is so as utterly neglected Nigerians may only end up as foot soldiers for Boko Haram because the group is providing the jobs – even if suicidal - that the government is not providing.”

SAN FRANCISCO, December 18, (THEWILL) - Critics who insist that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is too soft can easily point at the menace of the Boko Haram sect as the terrorists have now become hydra-headed.

The hydra-headedness of the Boko Haram phenomenon was acutely driven home to discerning Nigerians when a new Islamist sect, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (JAMBS), claimed responsibility for the attack on the headquarters of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Abuja recently.

The reality that Boko Haram must not be seen as just one group was clearly pushed forth in bold relief.

Boko Haram is now akin to a franchise, and the government would find it well-nigh impossible to identify the authentic group to negotiate with if it all comes down to the much-touted dialogue.

It therefore calls for the deployment of undercover intelligence by all the country’s security network to break into the different cells of the sects making up the Boko Haram franchise.

The internationalist bent of the new Islamic sect, JAMBS, which name translates to “the Vanguard for the protection of Muslims in Black Africa”, means that the Nigerian authorities may even need to extend the searchlight to the Al Qaeda affiliates holding sway in northern Mali.

Incidentally the Commander of the United States Africa Command (Africom) in Stuttgart, Germany, General Carter F. Ham, while recently appraising the operations of militant Islamist organisations on the African continent, had warned that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is strengthening its hold in northern Mali.

Ham also said the group was exporting terrorism to the northern part of Nigeria through the provision of arms, explosives and funding Boko Haram operations.

The sobering matter of course is that the security agencies must look inwards firstly before venturing farther afield to Mali.

It smacks of the failure of intelligence for the security agencies to be caught napping whilst the military church was bombed in Jaji only to be followed hours later by the storming of the SARS headquarters in Abuja.

There is no doubting the fact that terror franchise in Nigeria owes its growth to government’s lack of will to tackle the manifestation from the roots.

As it was evident in the case of the Niger Delta militancy where the government could not tackle the manifestation until it had to settle for the Amnesty option, it could even be argued that the same plot may be playing out in the Boko Haram insurgency.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has had cause to argue that Boko Haram has grown to become the huge sore that it now is only because it was not spiritedly tackled when it started manifesting.

But then the joke is on Obasanjo because Boko Haram which is all about the Islamisation of the entire country cannot really be separated from the introduction of Sharia as a state religion which the former president failed to address during his tenure, save to say that he felt that the “political sharia” would fizzle out in due course.

The so-called political Sharia may well have transformed into the current Boko Haram terrorism.

Boko Haram to all intents and purposes is about politics and religion. It is indeed damning that President Jonathan admitted that Boko Haram had even penetrated his government.

The question that needs to be asked then is what the National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) has been able to achieve since his appointment to the esteemed post in replacement of retired General Andrew Owoye Azazi.

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) MD Abubakar is also caught in the blinds of the security nightmare. The systemic failure of the security process is a clear and present danger in the land.

Time is therefore running out on the NSA and the IGP to proffer the necessary solutions, and it is now incumbent on them to resign if indeed they are overwhelmed by the challenges.

More importantly, President Jonathan ought to be mindful of his utterances because it bothers all when it appears that he has admitted that he has all but surrendered to the terrorists.

Undoubtedly, Nigerians are sick and tired over President Jonathan’s equivocations on Boko Haram. Earlier in the year, at the Commonwealth Heads of State’s meeting in Australia, Jonathan promised that Boko Haram would end in June. It is now year-end, and there is yet any end in sight.

He should be reminded that a President who superintends over the huge vote for security ought to hold his appointees accountable, especially when the security vote is not effectively utilised.

It is shocking and embarrassing to know that even ordinary devices to track down the terrorists in an intelligent manner are neither here nor there.

Indeed, it is like the country is at war. The government therefore needs to re-strategise urgently to be able to put up a good fight in the present circumstances.

It has to be stressed that a country that daily terrorises its citizens cannot combat terrorism. This is so as utterly neglected Nigerians may only end up as foot soldiers for Boko Haram because the group is providing the jobs – even if suicidal - that the government is not providing.

President Jonathan should therefore face up to the fact that leadership is by volition and not conscription. The burden of leadership entails that the Boko Haram franchise must be tackled to its roots.

Like in the United States where the war on terror led to the coming together of all the politicians across party lines, it now behoves on President Jonathan to provide the leadership needed to bring the politicians and all Nigerians together to tackle this menace.