A nation at war with itself – the dawn of the second Nigerian Civil War
To say the least, the submissive and tepid reaction of the Nigerian President to the latest round of violence unleashed on the citizenry by Boko Haram was irksome and left a sour taste in the mouth. This belated reaction of Goodluck Jonathan, coming several hours after many world leaders had condemned the attack, was most un-reassuring and spoke volumes about the hopelessness of the current state of insecurity in Nigeria. Confusion and disarray had been the official response to the growing calamity. Whether any nation has ever survived two civil wars is something that only time would tell.
The latest in the series of Boko Haram atrocities was wrought on the Nigerian people on Christmas Day. I write with a heavy heart. I write this as a memoriam to those who have lost their lives to the dastardly acts of this satanic group. I write this in sympathy with the numerous families who have lost dear ones and bread winners as a result of the deficiencies of the Nigerian state. A state despoiled by its rulers and one that nurtured the birth and growth of terrorism. Nigeria is a nation in bondage. I write to express my horror and anger with the continued state of anarchy reigning in our land.
The signs are ominous and the message frightening. Nigeria is at war. The much dreaded Nigerian second civil war has commenced. A nation at war is a nation in turmoil; it is one reeling from one catastrophe to another. A nation at war is a nation that knows no peace, one in confusion. Such is the sad tale of present day Nigeria. The second Nigerian civil war commenced on the day Boko Haram was formed. Nigeria has been in denial of the reality of this second civil war. However, the Nigerian people would benefit better from accepting the fact of our second odyssey with war.
In 2002, Maiduguri became the arrowhead of what the combustive process threatening to tore Nigeria apart. Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf started Boko Haram, an organization formed principally to main, destroy or conquer the Nigerian nation. Mohammed Yusuf was an avowed enemy of democracy and Western education who promised that his war would continue for long “if the political and educational system in Nigeria was not changed”. His group sought to implement Islamic type of education and political order in Nigeria, akin to what was obtained in Afghanistan during the Taliban era. The seed laid by Yusuf in Maiduguri about nine years ago has become a festering sore that has devoured many innocent souls and one that is promising to bring an end to the entity called Nigeria. Whilst the growing legion of unemployed youths has made the possibility of Arab spring type of social disorder a possibility in our dear country, Boko Haram has exposed the hypocrisy in the underbelly of our sociopolitical order.
The Biafra war was fought along a mostly conventional line with standing armed forces. However, the Boko Haram war has been completely non-conventional and barbaric, borrowing in the psychotic principles of war made popular by the brainwashed fanatics of the monolithic era of the Taliban in Afghanistan. By its very modus operandi, Boko Haram has thrown Nigeria into the league of nations reeling under the turbulence wreaked by frenzied religious psychotics. In this infamous roll call are countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now Nigeria.
Though Boko Haram strategy has been unconventional, yet the stigmata of war abounds. Families are mourning and licking wounds, infrastructures are paralyzed, children made orphans and wives made widows. Generally, citizens are living under an atmosphere of fear and apprehension. The land is filled with destructions, agonies and sorrows. How did we get to this stage? What really went wrong?
Nigeria was a tumescent conflagration that was just waiting to get to boiling point. It is tempting to say that Boko Haram stemmed from entrenched sociopolitical inequalities and iniquities borne out of insincerity in the acts of governance. Nigeria has been besotted with incorrigible and ignominious leaders' right from independence. The focus of leadership has been despoliation and pillaging of the land. Our leaders neglected the basic ethics of governance and showed monumental disdain for the needs of the governed. The end result was the poverty and ignorance that pervaded the land. In this festering mess, Usaz Yusuf found a comfortable bed. He exploited the existing mess to provide a false solace to a people disenchanted with the status quo. He clothed his sick ideology in the guise of a much-abused and exploited religion (Islam) to foment anguish on Nigeria. Yusuf needed Islam to convince ignorant and hungry Northerners. We are all living witnesses to the consequences of the staggering failure of the Nigerian state today.
Anarchy as a Weapon of Power
Boko Haram as a by-product of bad governance is perhaps true, but the decisive factor in the emergence of our present day socio-political instability stemmed from the election of Goodluck Jonathan as President. Many of us foresaw this a long time ago. We warned Nigerians. In particular, I wrote an article that was widely published online and even by some Nigerian newspapers in December 2010. The article was titled: “Anarchy as a Weapon of Power”. Here are some links to the published version:
In the said article, I attempted to raise public consciousness about the impending state of anarchy that was about to descend on our land as voiced by the Northern Oligarchy. I quote:
“I have never been a Jonathan supporter, nevertheless, I remain convinced that another dimension was introduced into the concept of political misadventure and unabashed hooliganism in Nigeria with the recent pronouncements of the duo of Atiku Abubakar and Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, the two leprous arms of the same diseased body. The diseased body being Northern Nigeria. That these unapologetic Northerners could use brazen blackmail and intimidation in their desperation to cling to power is most shameful and a situation that should not be condoned. The pervading Northern madness was further confirmed by the haste with which CANSU (Coalition of Atiku Northern Supporters) endorsed and magnified the insane threats of the duo. CANSU under the leadership of a sick Islamic scholar, by name Dr Yakubu Ahmed, glorified the barbarity of Boko Haram and threatened a magnificent showpiece of this brutality on the rest of Nigerians in the event that the Northern birthright is denied. The ordinarily treasonable statement by this non-descriptive and criminal organization called CANSU has only confirmed the suspicion of madness with which the other parts of the country view certain segments of the North. It is also significant to state that Atiku Abubakar and Ibrahim Babangida have so far refused to condemn the pronouncement of CANSU.”
The cycle predicted has now come to full maturation. The threats of the Northern Oligarchy are now being implemented with unimaginable ferocity. They felt cheated in the power game and would do anything to make Nigeria ungovernable for Goodluck Jonathan. Chillingly, it appears as if they have succeeded so far and may continue to do so for a long time, if Nigeria still remains as one.
To an average Southern Nigerian, Boko Haram connotes terror and anguish only possible in the far Northern states. However, this myth is being gradually destroyed as the reality of a boundary-less conflagration is beginning to dawn. The Boko Haram activists have successfully terrorized most Northern states and have gained a strong foothold in the Federal Capital Territory. It is forlorn to attribute an artificial boundary to their dastardly activities. It is perhaps more realistic for all Nigerians to accept the burden of this national shame and the severity of its dimensions.
Between July and December 2011, Boko Haram has killed over 250 Nigerians. And at the last count, over 40 people have died from multiple explosions which rocked different parts of Nigeria on Christmas Day. On this day, five deadly attacks were recorded and two were on Christmas church services. The first explosion tore a church in Madalla, near Abuja, into pieces killing about 27 worshippers. The St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla still bear holes in its roof and blood stains on its walls. Two men on motorcycles also threw bombs into a church compound in the city of Jos. This second attack elicited gunfire from policemen who were passing by but the chaps still threw their bombs and escaped in a hurry. Police sources confirmed that a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden car in Northeast Nigeria with two other bomb attacks in other parts of Northern Nigeria. The last three attacks led to un-quantified loss of lives and damages to structures. Boko Haram seemed capable of attacking and has actually attacked whatever caught its attention.
Sadly, there has been almost no response on the part of the Nigerian government. We have been fed with rhetoric, denials and falsehood. We have been inundated on several occasions with assurances about our safety. All these fly through the window each time Bako Haram unleashes its arsenal of terror. The latest in the embarrassing attitude of government was the denial credited to General Owoye Azazi who claimed “successes” on the part of the Nigerian government despite the ongoing carnage in the land. This gaffe was topped by the tepid and timid response of President Jonathan.
In my article, I concluded thus:
“Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has succeeded in making himself the focus of Northern hatred by his discreetly manipulative political style and his opportunistic fascination with power. In his unbridled desire to ensure the perpetuation of his presidency beyond May 2011, Jonathan may be the catalyst that would test the much dreaded Northern political and military stranglehold of Nigeria. He may yet turn out to be the nemesis that the North should have left in peace. He could as well turn out to be the panacea for ridding our body polity of the nuisance of PDP. Only time would tell.”
For once in the annals of this country, the government should admit that it is faced with something beyond its control. Boko Haram is a different ball game from harassing and victimizing political opponents. Indeed, it may still turn out to be the nemesis that may yet liberate the Nigerian nation.
Despite his legendary incompetence, Goodluck Jonathan is standing on te threshold of history. It is for him to embrace the opportunity he has to re-work himself into the good books of history. He also has a magnified opportunity to blow everything away.
Perhaps now is the time for the Nigerian nation to take its destiny in its hands. Now is the time to utilise the opportunity created by the madness in the land to find a lasting solution to the Nigerian problem. While Boko Harm has been mindless in its operations, we as the recipients should become focussed and resourceful. Something good can still come out of this whole scenario such that those who lost their lives would not have died in vain. Everyday, it becomes evident that the real “haram” is in the atrocities performed by this despicable group.
Nigeria is in a quandary. Attempting a sophisticated solution using advanced technology is simply beyond us as we have never, as a nation, emphasised the importance of technological advancement in our approach to government and community development. Advanced military solution, apart from the fact that it has not proven to work in other climes, is equally beyond us. Even the basic art of effective intelligence gathering is impossible for us. What then are we left with?
The obvious solution seems to be nothing but political. One that has been pursued so far is rallying the top echelon of the religious and political structures in northern Nigeria towards pacifying Boko Haram. While this does not appear to have yielded a meaningful result, yet it represents a state of humiliation for the Nigerian state. It is nothing but capitulation and can only further worsened the socio-political problems of the country. It is not a path to be encouraged.
The second option is that President Jonathan, having demonstrated his inability to curtail the menace of these demons, should urgently hand over to the military. However, this option is filled with so many holes. Which military is he to hand over to? The Northern Military?
The most obvious solution is the reality of the futility of the Nigerian state as presently constituted. Now is the time for Goodluck Joanthan to re-write history, if he chooses to.
Boko Haram is a pointer to the inherent structural imbalances in the Nigerian state. Its solution is political and one that can be achieved only through a sincere approach. The solution appears to be a simple return to basics and granting what Nigerians have been clamouring for. The conveyance of a Sovereign National Conference seems to be the only way out of this imbroglio.
A Sovereign Conference provides the opportunity to jaw-jaw as opposed to the continued state of war-war. It ultimately provides the opportunity for each region of Nigeria to develop the way it wants. This way, Boko Haram can fully implement its Islamic ambitions in the northern hemisphere without the unnecessary task of trying to impose same on the south. Furthermore, such a conference would provide an opportunity to decide on the benefits or futility of Nigeria continuing as a nation. This is an issue we can no longer push under the carpet.
A Sovereign National Conference is not an opportunity to sing a dirge to the nation called Nigeria. However, if this becomes its fall-out, so let it be. In any case, we are already on the steps towards this in a very chaotic manner in the first instance. The conference would only provide an opportunity to salvage, if possible, or resuscitate the moribund Nigerian state. It is the mother of all solutions to the current imbroglio we face in Nigeria. This mess should not be allowed to continue.
Enough is enough.
Dr Olusegun Fakoya