Shall We Tell The President? By Ali M. Ali



Goodluck JonathanAs government expands liberty contracts — Ronald Reagan
Unless for the benighted, last week’s sledgehammer ‘state of emergency’ treatment of some states was a welcome relief. It was long expected. I am for anything that will stem the tide of blood flow. So if “state of emergency” will halt the sacrilegious massacre of lives, all Nigerians should applaud it. I am skeptical though if matching force with force alone would make the guns silent.
I am skeptical this extreme measure will end the anarchy. Past efforts have come to naught. I have long anticipated emergency rule. However, it became manifest the moment presidential spokesman said no such thing was on the cards. At that precise moment, I grimly concluded that that something drastic was imminent. Like those before it, this government has a defined and predictable pattern of behavior. But unlike those preceding it, the incumbent government “seemingly” fumble and grope all the way giving the impression of uncertainty. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In Nigeria, don’t believe the government about an issue “burning” or “cold” until it is denied. Denial is proof that government would take away some of your freedom. Remember how government routinely peels off fuel subsidy? The road to withdrawal was often littered by repeated denials. Some Nigerians never cease to amaze me.
In the last three years, the man who calls the shots as President and Commander-in-chief has behaved in a chillingly predictable manner. Yet each time he acted true to type, some of us are flabbergasted. We gnash our teeth and lament. The charitable among the tribe of the gullible make excuses for the president. Each time the C-in-C trips and falls in meandering through the mountain of untruth, a heap of excuses serving as safety net is there to catch him
I am truly mystified. Of all the leaders we have had in the last 30 years, none has been as predictable as the readable as the incumbent. Elsewhere, this is patently unacceptable.
What is mystifying to me is how outrageously jaws dropping security budgets disappear without commensurate result. Every year, billions of naira earmarked not just for security but other equally important sectors of national development ended up mismanaged or in private pockets. Those entrusted with the common till habitually abused it becoming, overnight, and stupendously rich.
A frightening statistic report that 70 per cent of Nigerians are youth under 30.Out of this scary figure, more than three quarters is idle not useful to themselves or society. This gruesomely idle and energetic population is ready army for any untoward designs against the state.
A BBC Hausa interview with a young lad in rural Nigeria two years ago gave an insight how young Nigerians see their political leaders. The verdict is unflattering. They see them as no more than petty thieves. This particular young man responded to the question what he would like to be in the future with “I want to be a local government chairman so that I will have a lot of money”.
Having stolen the treasury blind, these desperate politicians resort to Boko Haramic tactics to cling to power. And it was to this teeming colony of the unemployed they turned to. Across the country are insurgents groups having uncanny resemblance with Boko Haram
In notorious flashpoints where insurgents were kings, the state, with all its instruments of terror, was seemingly overwhelmed by the daring impunity of the rebels. Looking back now, I am of the considered opinion, in a morbid way, it was strategic. Government is the biggest terrorist, I dare say. It enjoys the latitude of legitimacy in applying force to protect the citizenry. Curiously, our government, for reasons, I suspected that were largely self serving, foot dragged. Naturally, questions were being asked why it took this long for the government to roll out its own war machine.
It is during moments like this that statesmen are separated from politicians. So far, I am yet to come across any statesman. President Jonathan and his handlers have behaved over time, as if the affected states were not part of the country. The oft bandied excuse was that they were “opposition” states and as such, handling the rebellion needed “political tact”.
Accepted, some measure of ‘tact’ was necessary in handling the matter but the government has demonstrated a healthy suspicion of genuine advice on grounds of the generic “sore loser” .The constitution of the Amnesty Committee is a classic example of how not to solve a festering crisis. Loudmouthed security chiefs dead and alive had alluded to this in sundry fora. But they were united in their collective resolve that the rebellion was a regional disgruntlement that will expire with the passage of time .As the nightmare aggravated, Boko Haram became a franchise for all manner of crooks perpetrating heinous crimes. Not a few Nigerians of the discernible hue were convinced that the biggest Boko Haram is the government itself.
Nigeria’s constitution gave enormous powers to the government at the centre .It controls the armed forces, the police and sundry security agencies. Yet in the dawn of insurgency, and charitably stated, it has not lived up to expectation. Police commissioners for example are answerable only to the Inspector General who, in turn, is answerable to the President. With a scenario like this, governors have limited powers in tackling such massive security challenge. The governor of Borno, Kashim Shettima, specifically, stands out. Rather than flee and run his state from a safe distance, the man has risen to the occasion giving leadership constantly on the ground monitoring, evaluating participating. When others with lesser challenges shy flee their states for reason of personal safety, Shettima makes a public display of courage.
Flexing muscles is good even if belatedly. But abuse of “muscles” is unacceptable. What gives me goose pimples is the perfidy of the regime. It is untrustworthy. It has a reputation of short changing the people. A peaceful alternative to the Boko Haram conundrum should not be jettisoned. A dual approach of carrot and stick, in my considered opinion, is the key that may solve this puzzle.
Loudmouthed security chiefs dead and alive had alluded to this in sundry fora. But they were united in their collective resolve that the rebellion was a regional disgruntlement that will expire with the passage of time .As the nightmare aggravated, Boko Haram became a franchise for all manner of crooks perpetrating heinous crimes. Not a few Nigerians of the discernible hue were convinced that the biggest Boko Haram is the government itself.
[email protected]
Culled from Peoples Daily

No tags for this post.