I write as an ordinary Nigerian, covered today in sackcloth and ashes, who does not belong to any political party, to ask our political elite to quit using terror, either of the soft or the hard variety, as an instrument in what is no more than a mere food fight for them.
After reviewing the nucleus of operative facts in this season of mindless blood letting orchestrated by Boko Haram, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that what has brought Nigeria to her knees today is hard terror being used as an instrument of politics niftily tucked under the banner of Islamic fundamentalism.
A Culture of Terrorism
We have a political culture that treats terror – whether soft or hard – as a necessary nuisance factor in regime change and political power play.
Terror strikes deep inside the heart of humanity and reaps it to pieces in a motion that keeps killing long after the terrorists acts are over. Here is a country whose leaders firmly believed that starvation is a proper instrument of war. While war is a game of death played by soldiers, Nigeria showed no compunction in going after innocent kids and women with soft terror and today the most enduring image of the Nigerian-Biafran civil war is that of innocent kids and women starved to death by their countrymen. Not all is fair in war between family members. Death by starvation is soft terror that is in many ways more painful than hard terror.
But that is half the story. The soft terror of the Nigerian-Biafran war was preceded by the hard terror of the pogroms of 1966 in the same Northern Nigeria in what many will argue is no less brutal than what is going on in Northern Nigeria today.
Then as at now, the motive was the same – power play. In the intervening years, terror or threat of it has been used to make political statements. Many would argue that Jonathan’s political ascendency was to quell what was becoming an orgy of terror in the Niger Delta in the hands of MEND.
Nucleus of Operative Facts
There appears to be a coded message being conveyed to President Jonathan in the script of blood letting being played out in Nigeria today. The message is this – Quit while you still have life. Here is an enumeration of the key operative facts:
1. While Jonathan declared Sambisa the mother of all showdowns against Boko Haram and began to amass military armor and men around Sambisa, Boko Haram stepped up its spate of carnage by suicide bombings in Kano, and Jos, and attacks at Borno Villages sending a message to Mr. President that the entire Northern Nigeria, including Abuja, is Boko Haram’s playground, and if necessary, the rest of Nigeria.
2. Meanwhile, in its first military showdown around Sambisa, at Bita, Nigeria’s elite special forces got its first rude awakening. They were ambushed and decimated by Boko Haram but not before Boko Haram sent a message to Mr. Commander in Chief that they knew the plan ahead of time and were lying in wait leaving the President without a doubt that the Nigerian military has been infiltrated by Boko Haram operatives.
3. As if that is not enough set back, ten Nigerian Generals are allegedly facing court martial for selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram.
4. Meanwhile in Borno and other States in which State of Emergency had been imposed, Boko Haram is able to move heavy military equipment and logistical vehicles willy nilly at night even in the face of dusk to dawn curfew in what is again a chilling message to Mr. Commander in Chief that not everyone in the Nigerian Security Machinery is interested in stopping Boko Haram.
5. Meanwhile, in what is becoming more and more apparent as politically motivated, Boko Haram goes after Christianized areas of the North such as Chibok, Sabon Gari, Kano, and Jos, in order to tuck their operation under the guise of promoting Islam.
6. Meanwhile, the morale of Nigerian soldiers has dipped because they are overmatched and overwhelmed both by superior weapons, by superior logistics, and by information that gives Boko Haram a tactical edge. Our gallant soldiers can no more trust their Generals as they can trust their bunker mates in what is also becoming a sad waste of the blood of Nigerian soldiers by enemies apparently operating both inside and outside the Nigerian military.
7. With Boko Haram having apparently infiltrated the Nigerian military, it is clear that there is a standing order not to strike the President, at least not yet, but any illusion at this point that they cannot strike the President is just that – an illusion – not with some of his Generals in apparent sympathy with Boko Haram.
8. Meanwhile, the President himself has acknowledged that his administration has been infiltrated by Boko Haram operatives and Gov. Shettima has declared Boko Haram unbeatable. Surely these two men in the battle front are seized upon superior information than the rest of us but there is no way President Jonathan can defeat what has since been transformed from a rag tag Yusufites to an efficient terror machine in bed with operatives at every level of politics, government and apparently, Nigerian military.
Glad Handing in a Nation in Sad State
While Nigeria is reeling from the deadly blows of corruption in high and low places;
While a trillion Naira military has proven to the world that it cannot handle mere home grown insurgency;
While the blood of Nigerians is flowing in our Motor parks and club houses all over Northern Nigeria in a steady stream of carnage that has lasted over five years;
While well over 200 Nigerian school girls remain unfound in a dastardly act of terror that has shocked the whole world;
While Nigeria is beginning to register a steady trickle of refugees out of Northern Nigeria into cities and states southward;
While Christian communities all over the North remain unprotected prime targets of Boko Haram terror;
While people as far away as Thailand, United States, Canada, Malaysia are holding vigil praying for the rescue of Chibok girls;
While the largest economy in Africa and the largest military in West Africa has openly solicited for foreign help in fighting an insurgency within her borders in a move that has far reaching implications on Nigeria’s sovereignty and has degraded the country’s prestige;
While many Nigerians are today covered in sack cloth and ashes with many not being able to locate or piece together the remains of their family members in order to try and bring closure to their grief;
While many Nigerians today live in severe apprehension of being blown to pieces while going about their lives;
APC was in Ado-Ekiti yesterday holding a mammoth political festival, broom sweeping and glad handing, decked in bright clothes with festal shouts ringing from the voices of APC leaders in a mood that leaves little doubt that not only is APC not in tune with the mood of the country, it may very well be an incidental beneficiary of the festival of blood letting in Nigeria.
Many would argue that APC is an intended beneficiary of this season of blood letting but it is a weighty allegation I would not make without clear and convincing evidence of it. What I am prepared to say at this point is that Boko Haram has aiders and abettors in the Nigerian government and Nigerian Military and amongst some Nigerian political elite and a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Victimizing Islam as a Religion
While Shekau laughs at his cruel jokes in the holy name of Allah, many Nigerians are confounded by the role of Islam in the terror that is sweeping the country. Shekau appears more and more like a decoy sent out there to confound the world and Nigerians that what is at play is purely fundamentalist Islam run amok.
It is a cruel joke against that Holy religion because this is no longer the rag tag army of misguided fundamentalist founded by Mohammed Yusuf. This is a well oiled, politically motivated and well-funded operation flying under the cover of Islam. Unjust killings is not one of the teachings of Islam and well-meaning Moslems should no longer tolerate the victimization of Islam by this terror group.
Nigerians Should Reject Blood Politics
The future of our great country has become a bargaining chip in a food fight between Nigerian Political parties. There is no political party, whether PDP or APC, that can justify glad handing while the Nation mourns. As condemnable as PDP’s rally in Kano right after the Nyanya bombings and abduction of Chibok girls, is the glad handing that took place yesterday by APC in a show that leaves very little doubt that APC is unconnected with the hopes and aspirations of ordinary Nigerians who just want to go about struggling peacefully in a miasma of corruption without being under constant apprehension of death and grievous bodily injuries.
Boko Haram is not President Jonathan’s fight to fight while the rest of us stand askance calling for a plebiscite on his political future like Jonathan’s exit will instantly heal our hearts rend by terror. Boko Haram is a fight for all well meaning Nigerians regardless of partisan affiliations. It is as much a fight for Tinubu as it is for Buhari as it is for Jonathan and the rest of us. If the rest of us are in mourning and holding all night vigils praying for the safe rescue of Chibok girls, Tinubu and Buhari and the rest of them cannot be glad handing in the name of opposition politics.
For Nigeria failed by her military, by her politicians apparently engaged in bloody food fight, the last hope for Nigeria are citizens of all walks of life, citizen militia and vigilante who must rise now and say no more to blood politics. What is going on in Nigeria may be blood sport for some but it is a matter of life and death for ordinary Nigerians who have invested over one hundred years in this grand experiment called Nigeria. Politicians may be eager to dispense with it, but for the average Nigerian who has tasted the promise of a great country, one hundred years of Nigeria is a terrible thing to waste.
Against Femi Kayode’s call for secession of the South West and dismemberment of the Country, I call first for Nigerians of all ethnicities to say no to terror of every sort – soft and hard – in our political discourse. If Jonathan must leave, let it not be said that terror was a key factor because it will keep propagating an endless cycle of terror politics and culture that will not necessarily go away by dismemberment of the country.
I speak for all Nigerians when I say that the responsible thing for APC and Tinubu to do right now is to trust Nigerians, and not to keep highlighting the deficiencies of Jonathan but to shore up those deficiencies against a common enemy which has brought the nation to her knees. In the face of this existential threat, the failure of Jonathan is the failure of Nigeria and when Nigerians can neither be kept safe nor free, there will be no Nigeria to govern. Whether APC is an intended or incidental beneficiary of Boko Haram’s terrorism, it has to show in both words, appearance and actions that there is no room for terror politics in Nigeria anymore.
Let me conclude by felicitating citizen militias in Borno State who have taken the war to Boko Haram. Let me also thank well meaning Nigerians of every works of life who will no longer brook terror as an instrument of political food fight. Let me also thank those who in spite of the trying times still keep faith in the ability of Nigeria to come through this season of blood letting as a united country full of promises for her citizens and the world at large. I ask that you continue to join your prayers with those of our fellow country men and women who are writhing in pain in the Nation’s hospitals, who are grieving for their departed loved ones, who are holding vigils for their lost or abducted ones, and who now live in constant apprehension of death or severe injuries. I also ask that Christians and Moslems rise alike to repudiate the terror that has gripped the country under the guise of propagating fundamentalist Islam.