WHO BENEFITS WHEN NIGERIANS BOMB NIGERIANS?
Bombs first became instruments of assassination in Nigeria on October 19, 1986. The target then was Dele Giwa, a journalist. According to available records, forty-eight hours before, the SSS summoned him to their offices for questioning on allegations that he was smuggling arms into the country. They said that his motive was to launch a social revolution. Two days after, someone delivered a parcel bearing the coat of arms of government. When he opened the parcel, Giwa was blown to shreds. Unlike today where all manner of persons and groups claim responsibility for detonating bombs at whim, nobody has done so about the Giwa bombing. Speculations were rife too that the order seemed to have come from the man atop the government then. For any intent and purpose, those who delivered that bomb got what they wanted and blazed the trail for the use of bombs to settle scores.
Because the perpetrators got away with it, the bombing option grew in attraction. From that day till today, bombs explode in Nigeria as if we are in a war, or as if it is Christmas where everyone can light a firecracker at whim. Toni Kan in an article on Nigeriansinamerica documented the frequency of bomb blasts since the Giwa incident thus: May 31, 1995, Ilorin Stadium just before launch of family support programme; January 18, 1996, Durbar Hotel, Kaduna; January 20, 1996 Aminu Kano Int'l Airport, Kano; April 11, 1996 Ikeja Cantonment, Lagos; April 25, 1996 Air force Base, Ikeja; November 14, 1996 Murtala Mohammed Airport, December 16, 1996, a blast rocked Colonel Marwa's convoy; December 18, 1996 a bus belonging to Lagos State Task Force on environmental Sanitation was hit by a bomb; January 17 1997, a bus belonging to the Nigerian army was hit; April 22, 1997 a blast in Evans square claimed 3 lives and injured several; December 13, 1997: Lt Gen Oladipo Diya escaped death at Abuja airport; May 12, 1997 Ibadan got its first dose in front of Federal Min. of Works and Housing at Eleyele Road, near Jericho Hospital. January 27, 2002; Bombs stored at Ikeja cantonment exploded leading to the deaths of over 1000 Lagosians fleeing in fear.
Again, these bombs and bombings remained unresolved just like the Giwa case. And just like the consequence of these unresolved cases, anybody with a grudge in Nigeria took to the bombing option. First was MEND, a group in the Niger Delta fighting against the Nigerian state for control of oil proceeds. At first, these bombings were used to draw attention to the environmental problems in the Niger Delta. The MENDers used to be in touch with the public and with the media, to the extent that they gave advance warning before their bombs went off.
Their bombs were not targeted at innocent Nigerians but at oil installations. Perhaps that is why most Nigerians now believe that the organization has become a tool in the hands of politicians interested in causing mischief. There are allegations that several of its splinter groups have sympathies with the highest bidder to the extent that if a bomb goes off now, any of the groups on the payroll of these politicians claim it and declare, ‘MEND takes responsibility!’ Just take a look at the incident on Independent Day in 2010. If the people of the Niger Delta have ‘their’ man in power, what justifiable reason would they have to want to kill him if not that certain politicians are bent on discrediting him, or want to state that the man cannot provide us security? The scale and magnitude of bomb explosions in Nigeria escalated in recent times particularly with a situation where children who are supposed to be in school stuff their pants with explosives to blow planes up.
Let us look at this with the coming general elections in April. Rather than prepare for the elections by debating and campaigning, politicians are preparing for war. Who among them imported those bazookas and bombs from Iran? Who among them bombed and murdered innocent Nigerians on Christmas Day in Jos? Who organised the reprisals? Who is hurling the bombs in Bayelsa state? Which one of them hired the hands that wired the Mogadishu bomb? But these questions will not reveal much if we do not understand some things first of all. That whosoever is responsible for these atrocities is a Nigerian or a group of Nigerians. He is, or they are very rich [if they could afford the mercenaries who are delivering the bombs], have some sort of military background, are politicians and hell bent on killing everyone to get their hands on Aso Rock. They want to simulate a state of anarchy and instill fear in the minds of Nigerians and create doubt as to the ability of the government to provide security. After they have done dinning with the Devil, they should quickly wipe their mouths and come forth to begin to play mind games by saying, ‘See now, the government is weak. It cannot handle security and instead of grappling with the situation, it is trying to implicate us as the masterminds behind these terrorist activities’ [as least that’s what anyone can say].
To a large extent however, those trying to paint the kettle black as weak, with bombs are succeeding. And that is because the government set the tone in the first place. Some of its decisions, particularly with how it handled certain issues last year, portrayed it as lacking the ability to take hard decisions and stand by them. Just like the way the Giwa bomb remained unresolved and opened up a vista of bombing incidents, so does the inability to take a stand as government, expose you to all sorts of ‘rats and cockroaches’. I do not see any reason why those within the radar of government as suspects have not been hauled in. ‘Ah, these are big people o! Ah this will bring a lot of wahala o! You might say, but haven’t we all been wahalaad enough by the atrocities of these politicians?