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JONATHAN: LION OR A GENERAL?

By NBF News
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Lest we get Jonathan right or wrong. Much has been said and written about President Goodluck Jonathan's statement that he is neither a lion nor a General. This statement could be euphemism. sarcasm, similitude, an irony, a parable or, at best, a metaphor.

Jonathan knows he is a General since he is the commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Jonathan cannot truly be a lion because he is not an animal which a lion is. So there is more to this statement than meets the eye. Taking his statement literally as many have said or written may be wrong. I cannot say this or that is what he means because I am not Goodluck Jonathan.

However, I can say I know where the whole thing anchors. There is a feeling by many Nigerians that the president is not performing yet. The reason is that Boko Haram's activities which have been intensified in recent months in the minds of many Nigerians has been wobbling in recent times due to Boko Haram insurgency.

Jonathan's emphases during his election campaign were mainly anchored on security, power and infrastructure. There is no doubt we now have light almost twenty-four hours in Lagos, Festac Town to be precise, steady and strong power supply for that matter. The roads are being fixed all over the country with apology to the rainy season which has taken a greater chunk of his 100 days of administration.

The President and in fact the entire security outfit seem not to know how to handle the Boko Haram challenge. The question we should ask ourselves is why is Boko Haram thriving in Borno State?

Some of us who have served in Borno State can answer this question. As a former paramilitary officer in the state and a security officer, I encountered proliferation of porous international borders in the state covering Cameroonian, Chadian and Nigerian international borders. My officers were in command of ten of these borders.

The greatest headache I had as at that time (1995 - 2000) was that posed by the Chadian rebels. Another challenge was that the Chadians spoke Hausa more fluently than those of us Nigerians who came from the Southern part of the country. They are more accepted and integrated in Borno State than those Nigerians who do not speak Hausa fluently. So, the Chadians, Nigerians and Sudanese mix freely in Borno State than many other Nigerians residing in Borno State. Besides, many of them are Muslims.

However, my officers at the border stations were able to control the influx of Chadian and Sudanese rebels into Nigeria for which I was given a letter of commendation by the Nigerian Customs Headquarters Abuja dated 7th January, 1999.

Boko Haram is succeeding in harassing the federal and some State Governments because of heavy presence of foreign elements in Borno State and not because of social or economic problems in the state as some people claim. Why do we not have Boko Haram in other States of the Federation, other than Borno State? Borno State is a beehive of foreign elements where insurgent elements thrive because of porous international borders there.

The late and former Shehu of Borno could have attested to what I am saying because we worked hand in hand to rid the State of activities of Chadian rebels. Let us not judge the president on the effects of activities of Boko Haram alone because some well known Nigerians are capitalizing on the free and easy mingling of foreign insurgents with Nigerians in Borno State. Such well known Nigerians are not sincere to themselves. Let us be objective in assessing the president.

Nwosu writes from Lagos.