He wasn’t surprised that for the umpteenth time, Shekau appeared in another video after he was said to have been killed, this time even after pictorial evidence was presented by Nigeria’s military authorities, and disputes with Cameroonian counterparts over which of the country’s forces actually did the killing. He however didn’t doubt that the party which had the body, must’ve probably killed him, and that was the Nigerian forces.
In the video that was posted by the insurgents on Youtube days after the purported killing of ABUBAKAR SHEKAU, early 2014 the head of the group laughed hysterically, mouthing abuses at the Nigerian government and military for once again deceiving Nigerians with news of his death. He was downcast when he saw the video, because he was one of those who believed that indeed Shekau had been killed and this time for real, some of his friends even claimed they had seen videos of Shekau pleading before he was killed by federal forces. He was now sure, just like the military had always believed that each time a Shekau was killed, another in like manner rose to fill his place, to create an air of invincibility about him. He was however impressed by how the Bokosites managed, at all times to bring someone in his likeness, with only very minor differences that can only be deciphered on close scrutiny.
The war against the insurgents kept on dragging, with any gain made by the Nigerian military followed almost immediately by losses and Nigeria’s map was been redrawn with each passing day, as more local governments in Nigeria’s North-East (at some point, the size of three states in the South) fell into the hands of the insurgents, with names such as “THE CALIPHATE”, “BOKOSTAN”, and the likes been bandied about as the likely names that the insurgents may choose to call the areas under their control. On the sidelines, abductions and kidnappings continued, at some point on a daily basis, desertions and mutinies amongst the rank and file of the army prosecuting the war became commonplace, with resultant court-martialling even of senior military officers. Letters from commanders and their subordinates were been sent to the president, many times via the print media warning of dire consequences to the nation unless the corruption amongst senior officers diverting funds meant for prosecuting the war into private pockets was nipped in the bud, while lamenting the paucity of weapons, with what they had appearing to be inferior to the firepower of the insurgents, who many times came for an AK-47 fight with rocket launchers.
The Nigerian government on the other hand complained of lack of support from western foreign partners and friends, who only mouthed support in diplomatic circles and media while doing absolutely nothing on ground to help the Nigerian government and its military. The British unlike the French which intervened in Mali (a former French colony) to drive out Islamists from the North peopled mainly by the disgruntled TUAREGS, appeared to have left its former colony to its devices, while the Americans, Nigeria’s former biggest trading partner (before SHALE-OIL turned their sights away from Nigeria’s BONNY-LIGHT Sweet Crude) turned down Nigeria’s request for military hardware over and over again, first over claims that they wouldn’t allow Nigeria’s military use American equipment to perpetrate HUMAN RIGHTS abuses in the North-East, as alleged by AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, encouraged by certain groups in Nigeria’s North, many of which are opposed to the Presidency of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a Southern Christian. Secondly, the Americans, responding to an angry comment made by Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, after the latter voiced his country’s frustration at not getting much needed military aid from America like the Egyptians, Iraqis and other countries facing homegrown or international terrorist organizations, claimed that they couldn’t place sophisticated military hardware in the hands of an inept military, to which Nigeria responded by canceling future military programs and exercises which had been ongoing with the Americans before the spat. Interestingly, as if to prove the Americans right, just a few days after the diplomatic clash mid-2014, a drone operated by the Nigerian military on a reconnaissance mission crashed within Nigerian military-held area in the North-East, without even making it to the heart of the insurgent-held areas, which on close scrutiny revealed no scratch or hint that it might have been knocked off the air by insurgent missile.
When news broke of a misadventure by some Nigerians and an Israeli, who had chartered a private jet belonging to an influential Nigerian pastor, indeed the president of the CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CAN), who were arrested by South African immigration authorities, and the millions of dollars in their possession seized, while they were charged with carrying in excess of amounts legally allowed into the country, the opposition ALL PROGRESSIVE CONGRESS, APC party made a Mountain of what the government would rather consider a Mole Hill, trying to cover the embarrassment with tale of resorting to such means because of its inability to source weapons via legitimate, intergovernmental means. The government claimed the money was meant for the purchase of weapons from a South African company, interestingly at a time the South African arms industry was being probed for contract indiscretions. Many Nigerians, like him were particularly miffed by the fact that Nigeria, the so called GIANT OF AFRICA, would attempt to procure weapons like a rogue or rebel group from the BLACK MARKET.
Most of those he’d known way back while he lived in Maiduguri who had joined vigilante groups such as the CIVILIAN JTF (Joint Task Force) in a bid to secure their localities from armed insurgents, would once a while will send him bloodcurdling pictures, sometimes videos of their activities via WHATSAPP and BBM. He wondered what must’ve happened to some of the boys he once knew that had turned them into the vengeful monsters they had become today. He knew that these set of vigilantes will become some of tomorrow’s trouble if after all these they aren’t rehabilitated and fully reintegrated into society.
The security challenges in the North-East was soon met with politics as 2014 wound down, and the ruling PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY, PDP coerced party members into accepting incumbent President Jonathan as the party’s flag bearer even when the president continued to insist that he was still consulting with stakeholders (even traveling to Israel to possibly pray over it) before making his decision. He was frustrated by the President’s inability to nip the insurgency in the bud, even angered by the fact that the man under whose banner Boko Haram gained traction as governor (though back then in the opposition party), was now walking free with security agents as escorts after decamping to the ruling PDP, when he should be facing trial in Nigeria, even at The Hague. By the time President Jonathan declared his intention to contest, he had already given up on supporting the incumbent.
He eagerly awaited the APC’s Presidential Candidate Primaries to come, to produce the right candidate that will be the alternative that Nigerians will see to oust Jonathan from power democratically, but when the party primary election was held in Lagos towards the end of the year, Buhari (the same one he loathed for not condemning his supporters while they massacred innocents following the last presidential elections in 2011, besides the fact that he appeared to openly encourage violence while campaigning in the North, if he lost) emerged victorious by a landslide. That nailed it for him, he couldn’t vote a Buhari whose past he knew while sojourning in the North all this while, nor his party, the APC which contributed nothing but a denouncing of every step and attempts by the PDP led government to quell the insurgency. Even Buhari had once stated that the attack by the military on Boko Haram, and the State of Emergency imposed on some North-Eastern States by the PDP-led federal government was akin to war against the North, comparing the Islamists to the Niger Delta militants whose agitations were more of FREEDOM FIGHTING than TERRORISM as with the Bokosites.
When the PDP congratulated the APC for choosing Buhari at their primaries, he like the PDP felt that Buhari will be a walkover just like the three times previously when he ran and lost against the PDP, but this time around backed by the ferocious media power in the South West, controlled by the APC, Buhari was given a complete makeover and before you could say Bok…he had been rehabilitated into a saint, and Nigeria’s so called “only hope”, while painting the incumbent as achieving absolutely nothing (even when some of the statements were made right atop infrastructure built by the same government the criticize) and overrun by corruption and the corrupt to much success before a listening public, many of whose woes were directly caused by state governments, even of those in the opposition.
By January 2015, the “wind of CHANGE” as espoused by the APC on behalf of Buhari had swept through the nooks and crannies of the land, and had the GENERAL ELECTIONS scheduled to begin with the presidential and federal lawmakers on Valentine’s Day not been postponed till the 28th of March, 2015 it was quite clear that Buhari would’ve stolen the show. He, at first thought twas solely because the PDP and President Jonathan felt they were going to lose, but with time it became very evident that the electoral umpire wasn’t even ready, a week to the elections, and somehow the military may have helped save his blushes by claiming that they couldn’t guarantee security for the elections as most of the men are been deployed to combat the insurgents in renewed offensives brought about by receipt of military hardware from sympathetic countries in Eastern Europe and Asia, other than from Nigeria’s western military partners who left the government in the cold when it needed them most.
Since, the postponement of the elections by six weeks, no day passed without report of gains by Nigeria’s military in conjunction with her neighbours, Cameroun and Chad, with subsequent recovery of territories hitherto under the control of the Bokosites, with talks about the possible capture of the “latest” Shekau alive, to the chagrin of the opposition APC who claim that there’s a plot to tutor the “would be” captured Shekau to implicate members of their party, even their presidential candidate, as the ruling party’s earlier attempt to discredit their candidate had done very little to dampen the enthusiasm of his followers, and supporters to vote in his favour.
He felt that apart from the fact that the postponement had helped douse the tension that had risen to a head at the point the announcement was made, it had also allowed the ruling party a breather to restrategize, and he hoped that it will be worth the while in the end, especially if President Jonathan does not go shooting himself in the foot. Once it had been shown that online polls and activity, especially by Nigerians in the diaspora who couldn’t vote, does not translate to electoral victory on ground, hence he was very optimistic that the tide will switch in favour of the ruling party by the time elections are held.
He prayed only, for peace and that there be no post-election violence seeing that he wasn’t ready to embark on another Hegira. It was with a heavy heart that he received news from friends of the death of more than twenty Southerners (as they made to escape the outcome of elections, days before it was postponed in what seemed to be a “once beaten twice shy” dictated move) who died following an accident involving the luxury bus they were traveling in, out of Maiduguri when it collided with an oncoming truck. It saddened him that with all of the potentials and kinesis Nigeria had in human capital, the best the leading parties could present was a choice between the DEVIL and the DEEP BLUE SEA. He shook his head in dismay!