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Thursday, June 13, 2024

A President in Search of Enemies – By Erasmus Ikhide



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PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan Administration is a labyrinth of
confusion. Nigerians’ aspiration that he would someday put himself in
the right column of history has been dashed, once more. He ought to be
the fate of Nigeria and the fate could not be sustained. Now, a
thousand years will pass and the guilt of his government will not be

From day one, there have been air of bewildering complicities or vague
intricacies bordering on his choice of policies and the direction of
his (mis)government. His earlier stance to stave off Boko Haram
militia has been contradicted by the recent failed cease fire deal. It
is this lack of direction that clouded Mr President’s supposed ideal
of governance; which presupposes that a nation with a more benign
democratic system has the moral right to rout a savage group which
trains its minds, emotions and biases on butchery, theft, pillage,
rapine and death.

At the core of the fight against Boko Haram insurgents is a great
delusion: the vibrancy or buoyancy of the military apparatus is at
stake. The fight against the nihilist group is a shambles, and a totem
for every Nigerian who hates government without purpose. Just as bad
and awful, the Boko Haram current haggle with the Federal Government
over the release of the already traumatised Chibok girls once again
exposes Mr Jonathan Administration as a government in perpetual
denial. This administration is not only in denial mentally, there is a
measure of gloating; an air of helplessness for itself, sheer
hopelessness for the masses of the people and total abdication of his
constitutional responsibilities.

By this cease fire deal, Mr Jonathan has practically exaggerated the
malevolent power of Boko Haram in an effort to legitimise his bankrupt
rule. His governance tactics suggest he is a leader in search of
enemies. Mr President has been more stark at blaming opposition
political party for instigating the terrorist sect, even though every
Nigerian is a victim of the deadly group violent campaign, opposition
party’s faithful alike.

Pitifully, he has openly disembowelled his government on two fronts:
it shows disdain for the armed forces for which he is a
commander-in-chief, and he also thrives in composite corruption. Less
than 24 hours into the immediate cease fire deal, a band of insurgents
rammed over two communities in Borno State, killing at least 15

Mr president is not fully aware that the North-East has become a
condominium of war. But what President Godluck Jonathan said is not
what he meant and what he had done goes unspoken. For a president to
jump into maelstrom of a major policy somersault without weighing its
consequences is the height of presidential folly.

In 2011, a Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the
North-East Zone, set up after bomb attacks by the Islamic sect,
submitted its final report, asking President Goodluck Jonathan to
consider granting amnesty to members of the sect wishing to surrender
their arms to the Federal Government. The panel, headed by Ambassador
Usman Gaji Galtimari, recommended that the Federal Government should
consider the option of dialogue and negotiation which should be
contingent upon the renunciation of all forms of violence and
surrender of arms, to be followed by rehabilitation. In November 2012,
the sect said it was willing to cease all hostilities and attacks if
the Federal Government should arrest a former Borno State governor,
Alli Modu Sheriff and meet its other demands. Sheriff has since become
PDP financier.

Copiously, the sect demanded compensation to all the families of their
members that were killed in the battle field from 2009, including
their leader, Mohammed Yusuf; the release of all their members that
were captured in battle by the government as well as reconstructing
their place of worship (Markas Ibn Taimiyyah) in Maiduguri. On January
7, 2013, the insurgents for the second time within a space of time
restated its commitment to ceasefire in order to pave the way for
dialogue. One Sheikh Abu Mohammad Abdulazeez Ibn Idris, who claimed to
be a top member of the major faction of the group led by Sheikh
Abubakar Shekau, spoke on behalf of the group.

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“We, on our own, in the top hierarchy of our movement under the
leadership of Imam Abubakar Shekau, as well as some of our notable
followers, agreed that our brethren in Islam, both women and children,
are suffering unnecessarily. “Hence, we resolved that we should bring
this crisis to an end. We therefore call on all those that identify
themselves with us and our course to from today lay down their arms.”
Few weeks after, Abubakar Shekau denied any such agreement between the
group and the Federal Government. He publicly denied the claim and was
quoted to have said: “We are stating it categorically that we are not
in any dialogue or ceasefire agreement with anyone. And we have never
asked anybody in the name Abdulazeez to represent me, Abubakar Shekau,
the leader of this movement.

“I want the world to know that we have no dialogue with government. I
have on several occasions attempted to pass this message across via
the Internet and Youtube and we later realised that some agents of
government kept removing our messages from the net and preventing its
online publication so that our messages will not be heard. “They know
that if the world hears our position on this fake dialogue, their
efforts of deceit would be exposed.” Thereafter the sect expanded its
coast of terror on innocent citizens, slightly unhindered. In April
2013, the Federal Government set up another committee to consider the
feasibility or otherwise of granting pardon to the sect and to collate
clamours arising from different interest groups who wanted the
presidency to administer clemency on members of the barbaric group.
The committee was also charged with the task of recommending
modalities for the granting of the pardon, should such step become the
logical one to take under the prevailing circumstance.

The president followed this up in May with a promise to release a
number of Boko Haram members, including all women in prison custody.
Few months after, July to be specific, Nigerians happily looked
forward to the end of the insurgency when the Federal Government said
it had signed a ceasefire agreement with the militant group. Minister
of Special Duties and Chairman of the Peace and Dialogue Committee in
the North, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, announced the ceasefire agreement on
the Hausa service of Radio France International.

Then, Turaki assured that the ceasefire was not something that was
done for a specific period of time. He asserted that it was something
that would be forever. He confidently said it was sure there would be
any basis for anybody to renege on the agreement. Unfortunately,
people’s hopes were smashed once again as the sect leader, Abubakar
Shekau, in a video message denied Kabiru Turaki’s claim. ”Let me
assure you that we will not enter into any truce with these infidels.
We will not enter into any truce with the Nigerian government,” Shekau
reportedly said.

Since then, there is no cessation to violent hostility. In May this
year, Minister of Youth Development, Boni Haruna, told the country
that President Goodluck Jonathan had granted conditional amnesty to
the terrorists group with a view to putting permanent halt to
insurgency in the North-East. He added that series of integration
programmes had been lined up for the members of the sect who would
surrender their arms and embrace peace Shortly after he made the
statement, the Presidency swiftly debunked the statement. Special
Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati,
said Jonathan did not mention the word amnesty in his Democracy Day
broadcast that Boni Haruna relied on to make the statement.

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From the outset, Mr President proudly ventilated his skittishness, say
he wouldn’t dialogue with faceless butchers, yet bloodletting has
lingers on to date. The questions have been, is it really difficult to
put the Boko Haram rabble to rout? Is it just that President Jonathan
Administration is profiting politically from the warfare? Nigerians
are in the known that hundreds of billion of Naira is yearly budgeted
for armaments and welfare of the armed forces. We are also in the
known that they are still complaining lack of weapons and non-payment
of their allowances, which partly led to mutiny and subsequent
Court-Marshall of numerous soldiers, recently.

Now, the conundrum are mixed – tweaking the army in too many ways –
making more victims of them and exposing them to ridicules. It’s
doubtful to believe that the Nigeria military is equipped enough to
step up to the Boko haram’s plague. That is why the purported
ceasefire reached between the militia sect and the Federal Government
didn’t come as a surprise, if at all there was one. President Goodluck
Jonathan has been treating the Chibok girls with contempt like every
other issue bordering on the nation’s survival.

Ever since, the madness unleashed by the terrorist sect has left the
entire nation scampering and traumatised. The terrorist group has
pushed the North-Eastern part of the country to the brink of social
and economic collapse, thereby rendering the governors of the states
incapacitated and the possibility of steering them on the right
economic path has dissipated. It is all part of the grand design to
squander a chance to upgrade and equalise the virtually backward
states with the rest of the nation. Still the states in the region
have lost their franchise to vote in the coming 2015 general
elections. It is more so because the State’s are controlled by the
opposition political party, the APC. Who is profiting?

Boko Haram has proven itself to be a bloodcurdling terrorist movement,
adroitly hiding under the garbs of Islam as its melting port.
Nigerians living in the North-Eastern part of the country are now
faced with stark choice: they are living in the most desolate fringe
of the earth in war and in destitution! Those who managed to slug it
through the barren Cameroon or Niger boarders are at the mercies of
Marabouts who butcher victims on the dunes in propitiation to the
claim of piety.

You can now understand why Nigerians have been hankering for a
strongman; a political leader who would stamp out insecurity,
corruption, reverse growing inequalities and make the country tall
abroad amongst the comity of nations. The international communities
are waiting for a Nigerian President who would have the ball to smash
insecurity, overhaul the armed forces, stamp out stinging corruption
and end years of dithering over economic growth. It is only a
president with common touch and toughness who can snare the sacred
cows that have fed fat from the common till.

Political and economic reforms would fail without thoroughly stamping
out corruption. Such leader must be conscious of the present condition
of things: that hospitals are mere consulting clinics; roads are
buffeted with deep craters, schools are run-down, power generation has
decayed because of mindless graft.

We need a leader who will appreciate that this can only be achieved by
reforming the existing anti-corruption institutions and make them
completely less beholden of the appointing authority. The cost of
achieving this will be rocky and brawling but it will no doubt take
the nation to actual its manifest destiny and bring her to political
and economic maturation. That is what we need now.

Erasmus Ikhide, a public affairs analyst wrote in from Lagos, Nigeria

Tell: 23480 5622 5515

Follow me on Twitter (@ErasmusIkhide)

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