HOW TO BE A GOOD POLITICIAN
Bornu State politicians have set aside their political differences to unanimously declare that the federal government of Nigeria should withdraw the Joint Task Force of military operations in the state. That is a good development and an honest response to a bad decision. These are true politicians who have their ears to the ground and are conscious of and sensitive to what their people want. Politicians and people from the other places of the death-causing one-Nigeria who talk of the situation from the standpoint of the outsiders are either ignorant or out rightly dishonest. Politicians derive their relevance from the people who elect them into offices and they must always listen to what the people want or what they are saying. The members of Boko Haram group who are bona fide citizens of the Northern states of Nigeria have repeatedly made clear what they demand and why would they be either ignored or treated as if their wishes do not matter. Who decides what matters for the other people?
But fortunately the politicians from this part of Nigeria know better than just choose to live in ignorance of what their people need or what is good for them because they know that their relevance only emanates from the people’s mandate. They know that political correctness or compromises in order to please outside constituencies, so as to be acceptable or regarded as belonging and being more educated in Western education/culture than the Westerners, to the detriment of the interests of the people you are elected to represent is a betrayal of trust. A good politician represents the interests of their people and will always stand by the people no matter how seemingly ridiculous their demands. In this and in many other areas the Boko Haram politicians are right and will always be.
The Boko Haram movement have repeatedly emphasized that the local people are quite comfortable with their operations and methods hence they protect the members of the group from the government forces who are in the northern states committing extortions and other criminal activities as alleged by the group. It should be interesting to note that there has not been a single case where members of Boko Haram movement have been betrayed by the general public by informing on them to the government agents. Is that not something? That tells the reader that what the government and detractor press are reporting is not taking cognizance of the facts on the ground.
We want to make it clear that Boko Haram which is translated as Western education is sin is not against education but the Western kind of education. If this is understood by the reader then it will make more sense and the reader can begin to appreciate the fact that Boko Haram Islamic State Movement, BHISM is not made up of some stupid, ignorant and uneducated people as some people would want you to believe. The members of this group in the overall are better educated than most of their detractors and critics. It therefore becomes an insult on the members’ intelligence when anyone takes their demands and agitations for granted or insists on forcing down their throat what the “all-knowing” one-Nigerianists think Boko Haram members should want. The question is how long would the government of Nigeria continue to force unity on the people at the detriment of the peoples’ lives, culture and all the things they hold dear? Such a forced unity is being insensitive to the people’s feelings, even criminal. Indeed it is a crime against humanity spelled in capital letters.
The difference between Northern Nigeria politicians and their Southern counterparts is the fact that the politicians from the north are practical, realistic and actually represent the people who elect them. And with that consciousness they boldly work to meet the demands of their people. The Southern politicians on the contrary are detached from the people they claim to represent and act with impunity. This is why the Southerners find it difficult to understand why the prominent politicians from the north could apologize publicly to Boko Haram for the presumed offense against the Boko Haram movement. Such apology would be unthinkable and would never happen in the South and it is a shame. This simple incident and its handling gives the reader a good picture of who the Southern politicians really represent or serve. Not the people, as this demonstrates.
One other example will suffice as we further illustrate this claim. In the past ten years several separatist movements such as Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, Middle Belt Federation, MBF, etc have arisen to make demands for the partition of the Nigerian state along ethnic/cultural lines, but their politicians and other leaders from their constituencies have never tabled their people’s demands before the general assemblies. They never had the courage or they have been too ashamed.
Some critics have carelessly labeled Boko Haram as a terrorist group. This is wrong. If you call the group, political, religious/cultural, ideological or jihadist organization, that is closer to the truth than classifying them as terrorists. They have a legitimate demand; a separate state or country where their religion and way of life are respected and not where they are forced to live by a strange and foreign culture; where they are told to compromise everything they hold dear in order to be regarded as “educated” and “civilized”. We should not forget that it is the responsibility of the other groups in Nigeria to either treat their own culture, religion and way of life with respect or trample them in the mud and compromise them so as to be called “civilized” and “educated”. The Boko Haram movement cannot be expected to advocate for the other groups, in politics it does not happen that way.
Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan will be making the biggest mistake of his life to think that he has what it takes to defeat the Boko Haram movement by a head-on confrontation approach. For Nigeria’s government to defeat Boko Haram as they think they must have to declare an all-out war on half of the Nigerian state, that is the North and they must be ready to use every force available to the government on the civilian population. But the truth is that the entire population of Nigeria is a member of the Boko Haram movement. Every part of Nigeria is agitating to separate from the Nigerian union so, how does the government plan to wage such a war? The reality on the ground is that we can actually replace “Boko” with “one-Nigeria” and the whole thing will spell, one-Nigeria Haram. From East to West and from North to South the various separatist movements have actually come to the right conclusion that Nigeria is a haram. Can’t we see or why should it take any honest observer so long to read correctly this very plain and quite legible message: Nigeria Haram? Yes, ever since the days of Lord Lugard in 1914, Nigeria remains a haram until it is finally disbanded into its naturally occurring sovereign and independent nations.
For the past many years Iran and some other Arab/Islamic countries have consistently supplied enough arms and ammunitions to the North of Nigeria and right now there are enough weapons in the North of Nigeria to wage a successful war with Nigeria’s government. So, when Boko Haram boasts that they will attack Nigeria’s president’s residence, the naïve Southern politicians should not take it as an empty boast. Boko Haram and the rest Northern politicians know that they have the capability, they have been preparing for this day for so long and no one should make any mistake about it. The weapons are stockpiled both within Nigeria’s North and around the bordering countries. So it is now too late for Nigeria under Jonathan to think that they will win this war, the Boko Haram war. Over the years the Northern leaders had successfully weakened the Nigerian military by buying and arming them with obsolete weapons while they are busy stockpiling up-to-date weapons in preparation for today.
If the 13 containers of rocket launchers of last year at Lagos seaport imported from Iran have been so easily forgotten how about the seven hundred boxes of explosives impounded at Lugbe on Airport Road in Abuja last week? Those will always be explained away to the satisfaction of a gullible people living in total dishonest denial. A construction company can always come up to claim ownership that is an easy thing to do. Jonathan can go ahead and put members of his family to head all the Nigerian security outfits but that will not save him and his government if he is not prepared to take very drastic and pragmatic steps. Politics and government are games that all experienced players have come to know that they are never won on luck and chance but through strategy and hard thinking. No doubt, his security and other advisers will dismiss the reality of this situation by assuring Jonathan that they will use state power to crush the “rebellion”. But this is a different kind of war. They must be prepared to fight on all fronts or choose the sensible and honorable way out. Biafra of 1967 was unprepared for a war but today is a different day altogether. Every part of Nigeria is battle ready.
The solution and a smart thing to do about this seemingly difficult situation is actually simple. When we recognize the fact that Nigeria has always been a haram as a united country because it has been forcing peoples against their will in a union that can never work, our job will becomes easier. When this is recognized, Jonathan will actually see that the only honorable path left for him is to become Nigeria’s Gorbachev by being honest and bold to grant the various peoples their wish: Split up Nigeria along the natural dividing lines, the ethnic/cultural divides.
The lesson that the politicians from the other parts of Nigeria should learn from the Boko Haram politicians is, rather than condemn them they should admire them. Rather than detest them they should emulate them. The Southern politicians should go back and listen to the people within their own constituencies. They should ask the people in their constituencies what they want, if they still pretend not to know what the people want. They should take their people’s demands to the center and present to the rest people what their people want. Their people cannot all go and do this themselves, it will look like a riot scene, that is why they have representatives. By this reasoning, MASSOB expects the politicians from their zone to take their demands to the center without being ashamed of their people and their wishes. Let the representatives present their demands to the rest of Nigeria rather than wait for them to take up bombs first. That is how to be sensitive to the needs of the people one represents. The same thing goes for the people representing OPC, MEND, MBF, etc, constituencies; let them do the right thing for their people. Represent them for the first time, pay attention to what their people need. Tell the rest of Nigeria what their people want: They all want out of the one-Nigeria retrogression. When they do this they will come to agree that Boko Haram are no terrorists but true, honest and sincere representatives of their people who are only taking life and society seriously and would want to be taken serious too. They will come to agree that all the people condemning or disapproving of Boko Haram movement and their methods are the dishonest and rogue politicians who with that mindset do not merit the mandate of their various constituencies.
We have a few questions for those who still claim that Boko Haram’s method for pressing home their demand is wrong; how serious have you taken the methods used by the other separatist movements from the other parts of Nigeria? Has any of you taken those other groups serious enough to actually push their demands in the right places? Or you still think that the business of running societies is not a serious one? Since you think that the so-called “civil” method should be used; MASSOB has always been non-violent and civil, has anyone of you thought it necessary to take up their case in a civilized manner and attend to what they want? The truth is that the one-Nigeria advocates are uncivilized and dishonest and live in denial and the only way to reach through their thick skin of insensitivity is to hit them hard where it is most painful. Unfortunately they are yet to be hit hard enough. When that happens, which we hope will be very soon, perhaps then the one-Nigeria advocates will finally take the demands of the various separatist movements seriously. Maybe it will be on the day that those Katyusha rockets from Iran, already stockpiled in places where they will come in handy, begin to fall inside Nigeria’s seat of power in Abuja. For sure that day is coming and there is nothing any of those deluded optimists of one-Nigeria would do about it.
Written by Osita Ebiem.