The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth
Without further ado, I think it’s high time I did some justice to this issue of BokoHaram and The Chant For Amnesty. In a multi-lingual, multi-religious country like Nigeria, sensitive issues like insecurity must be approached with extra caution especially when it has got something to do with the ever volatile nature of Northern Nigeria. There has never been any crisis that has rocked this country to its foundation that doesn’t at the end of it all boil down to either religious or tribal sentiments. Even though bigotry thrives in our land, one cannot but put into consideration our tribal and religious differences when tackling issues of national interest.
Personally, I’m one of those who opine that the problem of insurgency in Nigeria has a knot deeply rooted in the sheer negligence of the government.
Before I plunge into the endless conspiracy theories behind the northern Nigeria insurgency, I will like to cast a glance to what we had in the Niger-Delta region. Ethnic bigotry is the sole proprietor of the reasoning that the South-South have been marginalised for too long. The truth behind this conspiracy is that the South-South never had a shot at presenting a president to Nigeria but they held top government positions. The fact that Niger-Deltans never had a shot at the presidency doesn’t mean they’re never at the helm of affairs. With reference from The Accidental Public Servant by Mallam Nasir Elrufai, except for the Buhari-Idiagbon junta, every administration headed by a northerner had a southerner as number two with key positions like secretary to the government, ministers of defense, finance and petroleum shared equally between the two regions. The false theory that southerners never had a shot at power remains the basis for the creation of MEND in the South-South, coupled with the fact that no trace of development was forthcoming to the region where Nigeria gets its wealth from, their grievances were well grounded. But at that, they NEVER took innocent lives to make their demands known. With all these in mind, amnesty was granted to the Southerners in cashand other juicy packages. Now, we have peace in that region and we can boastfully proclaim we did the right thing.
Now, can same go for Boko Haram? Maybe, maybe not. Which ever one we intend to go with, let’s look at this from different angles.
As A Southerner/Westerner:
When the MEND started their trouble in the South-South, they made their grievances and demands known clearly to the government. They never took to the streets killing innocent Nigerians to prove their point. Well, they destroyed public properties worth billions of Naira but isn’t that acceptable given the fact that most of all the facilities destroyed were replaceable? Nobody has been able to place a cost on human life no matter how little. Boko Haram who on the other hand, had/has no respect for human lives. The earlier we agree that Boko Haram isn’t a pressure group but a gang of terrorists, the better for us all. These faceless cowards have never put forward any reasonable demand whatsoever. Instead, they bore us with unattainable demands just to justify their ungodly acts. They’re nothing but mere confusionists with the aims of destabilizing the nation. We cannot afford to grant criminals amnesty. We stand the risk of empowering the same monsters we helped create by show of sheer negligence, corruption, insincerity and continued enmity among politicians. Boko Haram has done too much damage to be granted amnesty. Of what purpose will the amnesty serve? How sure are we that they will actually take a bow after the amnesty grant? Isn’t this blackmail? What’s the guarantee that they won’t rise again in the future and declare the ‘ceasefire’ over? Won’t they have grown stronger and more sophisticated by the time they’ve been granted billions of Naira as amnesty? How do we get justice for the thousands of people who have died for no just reason in the hands of these vicious men? Won’t the amnesty look like a reward for insurgency thereby encouraging budding terror outfits? And the main question, which faction of Boko Haram actually wants the amnesty? These and more should be put into consideration before anybody chants the songs of amnesty.
As a Northerner:
The streets of Borno and Yobe are nothing but in shambles. Bloodstains and potholes can still be seen everywhere, the indelible effects of continued bomb blasts and gunshots. People live in constant fear because they don’t know who or where’s next. Businesses have folded up as densely populated areas are sure targets for suicide bombers. The streets are deserted except for those who dare to look for a means of livelihood. Now everybody suspects his or her neighbor as it’s now a confirmed fact that the terrorists live amongst the vulnerable civilians. Endless checkpoints/roadblocks coupled with the frustrating and humiliating harassments meted out to civilians by men of the JTF isn’t helping matters save for the extra-judicial/prize-killings carried out by these security outfit.
How much longer can the northerners keep up with this kind of life? All they want is a stop to these senseless killings. All they want is the return of peace to their lands with little or no consideration of the effect an amnesty may bring forth. Shall we blame them for wanting peace at any cost? Most families living in the North are in one way or the other affected by these wicked acts directly or indirectly. Now the North is a place where people dread. Even NYSC grants corp members free redeployment on grounds of insecurity. Over 700 of the 2500 corp members that were posted to Kano have been redeployed and more will still be redeployed. How did we get here?
It’s a fact that the insurgency had been in existence before the inception of the Goodluck Jonathan administration but that’s not a justification for negligence of duty shown by the regime recently. During the 2011 post-election violence, one would have expected the government to have nipped the insurgency right in the bud before it became full blown. Instead, the Goodluck administration and the ruling party were busy pointing accusing fingers at General Muhammadu Buhari, claiming his infamous ‘Dogs and Baboons’ utterances were what fuelled the insurgency. The government lost focus on the issue of security at that point, they were busy playing the blame game while the terror group gathered momentum under the vigilant watch of the SSS. Instead of tackling the insecurity problem, they preferred to politicise the situation.
Our security fell short of international standard so much that Boko Haram chose where they will bomb next, announced it and will still go ahead to launch the attack successfully. Despite the international security alerts from the western countries, Boko Haram chose their targets and carried out their trade. Finally, our security agents were able to lay hands on two major kingpins of the terror group, Yusuf and Abu Qaqa. In what seemed like a dramatic turn of events, both of them were killed while in police custody. A while later, a certain Kabiru Sokoto was traced to the Yobe State Governor’s Lodge, he was apprehended and was taken into custody for proper investigation. Sometime ago he escaped custody while on transit from a prison location to another. Later, we learnt his escape was facilitated by the estranged police boss, CP Zakari Biu who had been dismissed from the force on charges of violent misconduct, abuse of office, extra-juicial killings and his conspiracy effort in a religious cleansing. How he found his way back into the force is still a question the former IGP Hafiz Ringim is yet to answer. Instead of a presidential inquiry into what and who killed Yusuf and Abu Qaqa, how Zakari Biu got back into the police force and why Kabiru Sokoto was found at a Governor’s lodge, the government decided to keep mum over the conspiracies. Even Mr. President claimed apologists of the terror sect have infiltrated his cabinet. One would expect that a responsible and sincere president, after finding out about such an infiltration, would embark on a thorough shake up of his cabinet. Alas, he continued to embark on a harmless and baseless verbal war blaming opposition politicians. As much as the government neglected its duty as the custodian of national security, conspiracies and cover-ups flew everywhere right under the watchful ‘nose’ of Mr. President.
Now, in what seems like a frustrated, last minute rush to stamp out the fully blossomed terror group, the JTF embarked on massive killings of civilians under the guise of fighting Boko Haram. As a matter of fact, I can categorically state that the men of the JTF have killed more civilians than Boko Haram members. While some are applauding this dangerous turn of events, some are appealing for amnesty. Meanwhile the government is confused because at this point, the insurgency has become a franchise company which has different factions some of which haven’t been identified. The Ansaru which happens to be the newest baby of the Boko Haram family seems more tougher than the others. How BokoHaram evolved from a group of illiterate Hausa men who’re being used by politicians to destabilize northern Nigeria into an Al Qaeda linked terrorist group under the watch of Mr. President, his tons of security advisers and of course thousands of internal security personnel says a lot about how porous our national security is.
Since Mr. President visited Borno only this year after almost 2 years of bombings and killings for fear of being attacked, what hope does the government give to the ordinary man on the streets security-wise? It’s funny how the heads and men of the Police/SSS who couldn’t unravel the mystery behind the death of Bola Ige up until now, can make heavenly promises to Nigerians on security of lives and property.
The insincerity of the government in fighting this wave of crimes is the basis for the growth of Boko Haram. If truly the government wants to fight this problem, they should start with an in-house purge of themselves. Let them start by revisiting how Yusuf and Abu Qaqa died in police custody, how Zakari Biu got back into the police force under Hafiz Ringim and what the deal about Senator Ndume actually was. That’s where the answers lie. If the government isn’t ready to go back and find answers to those questions, they can as well forget about the fight against terrorism and just surrender to Shekau.
I am @OccupyNaija on Twitter