BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY: TIME FOR SOME HOME TRUTH
On my way home from work on Monday, the bloody day in Nyanya, Abuja, a lot of depressive thoughts were going through my mind as we encountered a huge traffic situation on our route, a major road in the city. In any case, I had achieved nothing in office that very day after news broke that the merchants of death have finally struck again in Abuja, leaving scores dead and many more critically injured. The television footages of littered corpses and mangled body parts irresponsibly and constantly flashed at intervals did not help matters either. Yes, as I tried to interrogate the sad occurrence of the day in my mind, especially how life has become so cheap in our country in the past three years, I was woken from my pensive mood only by the innocent sighs of the taxi driver behind the wheels.
Without any prompting, the driver had told me that with what his eyes saw that very day at the Nyanya bombing site, he had lost every hope in our leaders. I was at least glad that, he has only given up on the politicians, not our country. The driver told me how disappointed he was that every morning there is no longer any encouraging news other than bloodletting, harvest of deaths and melancholy. He even went ahead to question his own sanity by remaining in the city where life is no longer safe to earn a living. 'Oga, wetin I dey do for this town sef? Imagine if this wicked people come to attack us in this traffic, who will defend us? Well, it is only God that can save us!' At this point, I jerked into life. Wait a minute; have our security people who are clearly overwhelmed by this new vista of terror in the land figured out this? Is there anything they can do about it? Do they have enough personnel and equipment? Are they getting enough support from the people by way of information or encouragement? Or are they demoralised by the wrong public perception that they are not doing enough?
Perhaps this is the time to start telling ourselves some home truths about our security situation in the country. First, how did we get to the point that we are now that nobody is safe in the homes, schools, churches, mosques, parks and other public places? When the former National Security Adviser (NSA), the late General Andrew Azazi spoke up and put the blame squarely on those politicians who began to appropriate their right to rule while disqualifying others, he was shouted down. But the question which nobody has provided the answers to is: why did the Boko Haram insurgency escalate after the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as President? Yes, those trying to obfuscate the truth pontificate how the insurgency predates Jonathan in a deceitful attempt to erase every nexus between the emergence of the Jonathan presidency and the escalation of insurgency in the northern part of the country.
We all lived in this country when President Yar' Adua was in power. The nation was very peaceful then except for the destructive agitations of the militants in the Niger Delta, which the amiable former president admirably dealt with. The hint of what was to come became evident with the manifest opposition against the constitutional empowerment of Jonathan as Acting President by some politicians mainly from the North when it became obvious that President Yar' Adua was no longer fit to carry out his functions as president. This anti-Jonathan stance resurfaced when he sought to present himself as the candidate of his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). People like Adamu Ciroma, Atiku Abubakar and their like never ceased from shouting how Jonathan was not qualified to run on the basis of a nebulous zoning clause in the PDP's constitution. For those who have forgotten, Atiku was presented as the northern consensus candidate against Jonathan at the PDP presidential primaries and the former vice president was taken to the cleaners. But from then on, statements purported to make Nigeria ungovernable should Jonathan be elected began to emerge from some northern politicians and as it is said the rest is history!
Those who are interrogating Jonathan's handling of the Boko Haram terror are not entirely wrong though. He is the President whose job is to protect lives and property. Has he been alive to this responsibility? The answer is yes. Has he succeeded yet? No. Is the President getting the necessary support or assistance from the opposition? If you ask me the way that some politicians especially from the opposition clan seem to be gloating over the sad tragedies that Boko Haram is unleashing on us as a people is really worrying. Many of those who should know are wrongly seeing the tragic attacks on defenceless citizens as the problem of President Goodluck Jonathan. Yes, Jonathan is the president on whose table the buck stops yet that does not justify the unpatriotic comments and body language of the opposition, particularly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership, that seem to suggest that they are happy that President Jonathan has issues on his hands to deal with. This was exemplified in the statement of APC leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on the Nyanya bombing when he stated that the shedding of blood has continued because the Jonathan administration has not devised a grand strategy against the menace, either locally or internationally. And as if gloating over incident, Tinubu remarked that, 'just as Jonathan laps up praises, he must bear responsibility and accept blame over the Boko Haram's deadly attacks.'
Sometimes, it is difficult to decipher what the leadership of the opposition and a section of northern elders want from Jonathan. We are all witnesses to the severe pressures that President was put to force him withdraw the soldiers in Borno and Yobe states by the so-called elders who accuse the soldiers of harassing 'innocent' citizens. When you factor in that the presence of the soldiers inspires confidence in the locals on the ability of the state to protect them, you definitely question the motives of those calling for the withdrawal of soldiers from troubled areas. Ironically, whenever the insurgents strike, it is this same group of elders that will question Jonathan's efforts in protecting the people. A while ago, not a few Nigerians were shocked by the call of some northern leaders for the prosecution of the former chief of army staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika, for war crimes simply because he apparently fought the terrorists ferociously.
While it is easy to condemn and abuse Jonathan whenever a terrorist bomb goes off and leaves sorrows, blood and tears in its trail, the opposition are not suggesting any strategic option to the government as responsible citizens the world over would do. Instead they are simply gloating over the tragedies and blaming Jonathan who is, in fact, a victim of what germinated as a product of their incendiary comments!
Written By Abba Adakole