On assuming office earlier this year, after the purge of Nigeria’s top military echelon owing to what President Goodluck Jonathan described as “Lack Of Cooperation” amongst top military brass, the Chief Of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh declared that the insurgency in the North East of Nigeria will be brought to an end by April. Not only was a church in his hometown bombed, this is May and the latest bombing incident was last night opposite the bus park in Nyanya which was bombed more than a fortnight ago, in which more than 75 people died and many more injured, in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja.
Last night’s bombing can be said to be in keeping with Abubakar Shekau’s (Boko Haram’s leader) warning made in claiming responsibility for the Nyanya park bombing two weeks ago that they were now “…in your cities”. That bombing was immediately followed later that night in Chibok with the abduction of more than 200 female students, where armed men in military fatigues came in numerous hilux pickup vans, ordering the Girls from a Secondary School there into the vans to an undisclosed location. How they were able to do this (though not the first time) in a state under a State of Emergency, and with military checkpoints every few meters befuddles the mind.
Interestingly, in Shekau’s latest video made available to the press, he made no mention of the abduction of the more than 200 female secondary school students, neither did he claim responsibility for the abduction, though before an earlier case of abduction he’d claimed they would pursue such as part of JIHAD, intending that the women so captured will be used as sex slaves. Latest report indicate that most of the girls recently abducted are not even in the Sambisa forest base of the Islamic Insurgent group, but elsewhere in neighbouring West African states of Cameroun and Chad, where they have been sold and married off to other jihadists and Boko Haram members who have the means to possess them, if the words of a senator representing that area of Borno State are anything to go by.
In attending a political rally in Kano the day after the unfortunate deaths in Nyanya and the abduction of the girls in Chibok, President Jonathan once again demonstrated the tactlessness that has been a hallmark of his administration, besides the indecision and foot-dragging that has dogged his fight against insecurity nationwide and terror in the North and NorthEast in particular, even after admitting that the violence were attempts by his detractors to pull down his government to bring to fulfillment earlier threats to make Nigeria ungovernable for him should he emerge President. Curiously, none of those who made those statements or even inferred it, or even countered it in defence of Jonathan were ever brought to book for it, even when many Nigerians paid the ultimate price during the post-election violence that rocked some parts of Northern Nigeria following Jonathan’s victory in the 2011 elections.
You’d think that Something concrete will come in the way of proferring solutions to the problems in the North when the Northern Elders Forum met some weeks back, but unfortunately all they came to, in their communique was to place the blame of the woes of the North on all but themselves even though they formed and were the elite and power brokers that benefited while the military headed by their own held the reins of power.
After the declaration emanating from that meeting, Northern elders and elite bombarded the media with theories that attempted to absolve them of blame over the insurgency in the North-East as championed by Boko Haram, going as far as even claiming that Boko Haram has it’s origin in the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN. No mention was made of the impunity with which Northern Muslims kill and maim southerners (Christians and Muslims alike) and Christian and minority groups indigenous to the North with irregular frequency over the years. They couldn’t even find fault with Fulani herdsmen who have made sport of killing inhabitants (male and female, suckling, infants, young and old) of lands to which they have migrated to graze their cattle, most times unprovoked.
Alhaji Adamu Ciroma warned us later that insecurity in the North-East and indeed any part of Nigeria is insecurity everywhere in Nigeria, and it is only a matter of time before other parts of Nigeria begins to feel the heat. It didn’t take long before the truism of those words became reality in Abuja, not once but twice in a space of just seventeen days.
While Nigerians were still grappling with the aftermath of the April 14th Bomb Blast at a Bus Park in Nyanya, Adamawa State governor and former Chief of Naval Staff, Murtala Nyako wrote a damning letter to his peers at the Northern Governors Forum, NGF attempting to rewrite history, even throwing a mention of Nigeria’s hurtful civil war for effects while at it. What is unfortunate isn’t that he wrote that ugly missive loaded with inaccuracies and a distortion of facts, but rather that there are people mostly of Northern Nigerian descent who believe and actually propagate the wordings of that letter as fact and true.
Many Nigerians who hitherto believed that President Jonathan was solely responsible for the situation we find ourselves today securitywise, especially in the North have now begun to see things differently especially relating to the desperation with which the Northern oligarchs and elite appear to want a power shift by all means possible by 2015, the same year an American tink-tank predicted that Nigeria will break into her constituent units.
The political angle to this Boko Haram mess is so diverse to explore, and not one I wish to pursue here and now, besides just hinting about it. What should be uppermost in the minds of all, beyond simply mouthing the depoliticization of the issue is concrete action towards turning the tides against Boko Haram.
Allegations that some elements of Nigeria’s military are working in cohort with the insurgents should be investigated, not just simply because of the recent VOA-Hausa Service exposé, where a soldier claimed he saw one of his military instructors at the military academy at Jaji, Kaduna in the camps of the insurgents during one of the operations targeted against the insurgent group, but because such allegations have been severally made and have been linked with the low morale of the security forces involved in the battle against Boko Haram over time.
It might not be unwise for the government to seek foreign intervention, even boots-on-the-ground involvement seeing that the insurgency has taken on an international dimension as revealed by the recent BBC documentary which revealed involvement of people from neighbouring West African countries who are paid handsomely to infiltrate Nigeria and plant bombs, even fight on the side of Boko Haram. American drones were recently employed to track and kill about 65 members of a militant group in Southern Yemen, with approval by the government. I still don’t understand why the Sambisa forest, known to house the insurgents haven’t been bombed heavily to smoke out the terrorists.
The removal of political structures in the states affected by the State Of Emergency, should be considered strongly as it appears that politicians are undermining the efforts of the military in the affected states. Interestingly, when it suits the politicians, like when local elections are to be held, there’s relative peace even in areas known to be very volatile.
The abduction of more than 200 girls from their hostels in Chibok appears to be the last straw for most Nigerians, drawing them out to the streets in their numbers demanding action from a docile government, whose body language before now appear to be that of nonchalance at the sad event. These Nigerians are no longer satisfied with calls for prayers for the return of the abducted girls by members of a government equipped with all the State’s tools of coercion.
What is true is that the current strategy has failed woefully, and any strategy in the opposite direction (maybe) holds hopes for positive change, if this government can muster the cojones and political will to do the needful.