Boko Haram:It’s Time to Scrutinize President Jonathan By Danlami Nmodu



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No president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has gotten away with so much glib talks and platitudes like President Goodluck Jonathan.Even the military   rulers like   Generals  Ibrahim Babangida and late Sani Abacha did not have anything on a platter of gold.Nigerians ensured that their regimes were under constant scrutiny and pressure   with  protests  and agitations for a return to democracy .In spite of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s experience  and mastery of statecraft , the people were not fooled as his attempts to pull a fast one on Nigerians  and extend his regime was swiftly detected and foiled by alert Nigerians.When the cabal under the late Umaru  YarAdua chose to hold the nation to ransom, Nigerians rose to the occasion and checkmated  them, a struggle which paved the way for Goodluck Jonathan to emerged first as acting President and now as President.

But the nation appears to have  virtually gone to sleep and Jonathan his having his way despite evidence of multiple blunders which the regime ought to be made to account for. He told us he had no shoes and Nigerians fell for him with uncritical sympathy.He promised to give us “fresh air”.We now know better. Let it be known, we are not seeking his ouster through any undemocratic means.But this  president needs to be honest and address Nigerians on national issues with utmost frankness and transparent statesmanship. From all indications, the President seemed cocooned in his limited view of himself.He has failed to realize that the entire Nigeria is his primary constituency.He has been less than presidential in Nigeria’s moment of  crisis thus far.

Here is the proof:Jonathan visited the Niger Delta  in the process of seeking solution to the  Militancy which affected the region and forced  oil production  down. But he has failed to visit Maiduguri and  Yobe states that are at the heart of the Boko Haram  insurgency thus far. Worse still. In his last presidential broadcast ,he gave some specious reason about the Maiduguri airport not being in good condition and all that. But Nigerians know that airlines fly into Maiduguri airport. Even more, one of the first trips of the new National Security Adviser,Sambo Dasuki was to Damaturu,Yobe State.How could an NSA  be able to reach such ‘danger zone’ and a commander -in -chief is having problems visiting.It is a failure of strategic thinking by the Jonathan handlers.He has an opportunity to be a hero who saved Nigeria, but his indecisions may be his regime’s undoing.History may be very unkind  to him if this problem lingers and a civilian successor in the years ahead succeeds in taking bold decisions that will ensure peace.Jonathan is letting a golden opportunity of play the true Nigerian hero slip by.He needs to be woken up from his presidential slumber.

It is sad that some commentators  are already accusing the Jonathan regime of having  hidden agenda either to prolong his stay in office or in the alternative fuel a crisis which will see to the disintegration of the country.All these are speculations and they must be clearly identified as such for now.Equally, it should be noted that the president ,perhaps in response to such allegations not long ago said  that Nigeria will never never break up.But his words are not being matched with action.Ogoni autonomy has been declared.Reports of some Bakasi activists  rumbling  are out.And even the President’s Bayelsa state has  joined states seeking their own identity .There are ominous signs.And it must be said that his failure to tackle the Boko Haram insecurity may be fuelling this ‘to thy tents’ tendencies  which may not actually help Nigeria in the long run.It is very evident that Nigerians from all parts of the country want to stay in one united,well -structured country.What has been lacking thus far  is the leadership to galvanize Nigerians into the greatness we all dream about.

Worse still,Jonathan  has refused to act on the  suggestions by Northern elder that  to start genuine dialogue and reconciliation,soldiers be withdrawn from northern states ,to save the society and economies of the North  from collapse.In fact, the argument in some circles is that some northern cities have been  deliberately targeted for decimation because of their economic and historic values to the north perhaps as a prelude to the realization of an uncertain agenda.

Plateau state is known  for its vast agricultural potential , Potiskum for its cattle markets in the west African  subregion.Kano is a commercial hub,Maiduguri  is known  for its historical and commercial value .Kaduna,Bauchi are also suspected to have become targets by some secret forces –the argument goes-which aim to destroy these cities in the North.Even Abuja too is periodically being made less attractive by the attacks with Suleja which used to be a safe surburb now increasingly unattractive  as insecurity has taken seized  of the town.It must be noted that there are those who argue in defence of Jonathan that the regime is just battling against an Al shabab styled terror group  that is involved in mindless violence.Still the countervailing point must be that, the regime has appeared incapable of dealing with the group.Or is it a case of  regime unwillingness?

Yes, the violence which resulted in these tragedy did not start with the Jonathan regime.But it is curious that violence took a turn for the worse under the Jonathan presidency.What is even more agonizing is the helplessness which the president tends to present.On second look, such helplessness can only result from a  president or presidency that is unwilling to solve the problem.And if so, why?

Otherwise, it is an open secret that the office of the president of the Federal Republic is imbued with so much goodwill through power and resources and contacts for mobilizing  all that are required to nip the activities of the so-called Boko Haram in the bud.Many northerners are very suspicious of those referred to as Boko Haram because the attacks which they purport to claim responsibility for are patently unislamic.There is the suspicion that some groups may in fact be taking advantage of the Boko Haram group to unleash further terror in the name of the Islamic sect.Otherwise, no right thinking muslim will embark on killing during Ramadan .Clerics have repeatedly argued that there is nothing in the Holy Quran that justifies attacks on innocent christians in Churches  or anywhere else .There is nothing in the Quran that justifies attacks on innocent muslims and mosques or anywhere else.Where on earth is it written that a muslim should embark on killing of people in the month of Ramadan?Only non muslims or people who have been procured to blackmail Islam will embark on such attacks,the argument goes.That is the feeling in the North .And that is the silent argument you will hear in the North.If no one is telling Jonathan, let it be said here that this is the question Muslims are raising:Whose gameplan are the terrorists  executing?

There is the fear rightly  or wrongly   that  some forces in the  regime or some fifth columnist  are out to destroy the North and Nigeria .And Jonathan’s failure to tackle these  forces  despite the resources at his disposal has  made the suspicion run deeper.The president needs to step up his game and apply the presidential powers at his beck and call to democratically end this insurgency now.It is possible.He can solve  it if he wants.After all, Northern elders  belonging  to various groups have told him what to do.But he has failed to act.Instead of solving the problem, what we have seen is the tendency to stoke up tension by Jonathan’s men .What purpose do they intend to serve by accusing people who are not in power of the insurgency.How can the individuals being accused be more resourceful and powerful than the president of the Federal Republic? If anyone is actually backing the terror group,why has the regime not named,shamed  and prosecuted  such?

In an attempt to mask its ineptitude,the regime and  its agents have  often said the Boko Haram is faceless. But even the argument by the government that Boko Haram is faceless is no longer sustainable.Why?It is an open secret that the members of the group were known in Borno and Yobe states before they transmogrified into a terror group. Let the ex governors of these states give an account if what they know. Is the president failing to act because he wants to protect one or  two ex governors from the embattled zone who are his friends? The president must not allow his alleged friendship with these ex governors becloud his  sense judgment.He has a patriotic duty to act now.

Beyond that , some suspects have been arrested over time by various security agencies and the police.Some have been paraded for Nigerians to see and some of those perceived to be high profile suspects have remained in captivity.There is no doubt that the regime must have gotten clear intelligence from these suspects about those who are truly behind these  relentless  violence.And it will be sheer official dishonesty  to claim henceforth that the group is faceless.

Even more, no one has said  that Abubakar Shekau who has been speaking on Youtube video is not real.Can’t he be reached?Who is protecting him.Let it be said, the focus should not be to attempt killing the leadership of the Boko Haram  group extra-judicially, because that strategy may just worsen the situation.That is the lesson to draw from the execution of Muhammed Yusuf in 2009 which led to this conundrum  we are in now.

A strategy  that encourages engagement  with the real  Boko Haram  group with  a view to containing the violence which has threatened to break up the country is what is urgently needed.Is anyone in government protecting the group which is killing innocent Nigerians?If not why has the regime not kicked off genuine talks with them? Yes, the group has said no more dialogue but their position seems to be product of their frustration with the regime’s uncertain gameplan after the  initial peace efforts failed.

Late YarAdua transparently engaged the Niger Delta militants in a process that resulted in Amnesty .Why is there a lack of  transparent  initiative on what to do urgently now? We deserve to know, especially  as even the president said whether carelessly or correctly ,that  they exist within his government.Why would a president claim to know of such a deadly group exists  in his official circles and refuse to act in order to save himself, innocent citizens and the country at large?

Even more,it is indeed amazing that officials of the regime and their agents  would drop  hints of their  knowledge of the alleged sponsors of such deadly terror and  yet fail to act on such information. President Jonathan must move quickly to save Nigeria.It is his historic duty to Save Nigeria NOW!

Two clear incidents in recent times indicate that those behind this group have gotten  bolder. Within a month two prominent northern traditional rulers, the Shehu of Borno and the Emir of  Fika  nearly lost their lives in suicide bomb attacks in  mosques.It is clearly a sign that an urgent  action is needed as no one can claim to know how this cycle of violence will unfold henceforth  if no action is taken now to nip it in the bud.

The solution may not be in the security task forces all over the state.There are those who believe that the attempt to solve this problem militarily may be compounding it.The time to engage the stakeholders in genuine dialogue is now.And the president should act now!

 



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