Hillary Clinton’s Brief Visit To Nigeria
In the context of national security, Nigeria continues to get beaten black and blue by the day, as gunmen, suspected to be members of Boko Haram, raid practically every nook and cranny of the nation’s major cities with unimaginable impunity, maiming and killing innocent citizens. Both the Federal and state governments, by every indication, appear incapable of dealing with the ever-rising insecurity of lives and property in the country with the appropriate drastic measure it deserves.
As a way forward, many well-meaning Nigerians have called on the Federal Government to dialogue with the leaders of the sect, but what would such a dialogue achieve at the end of the day? It remains much of a guess. For one reason, it has been a widely touted open secret that some political bigwigs are behind the activities of the sect, which is why they are operating with such impunity.
The general belief is that some northern political influential individuals are convinced that because the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), operates a quota system and since the former President Umaru Yar’ Adua did not live to finish his tenure, another northerner should have been nominated to end the northern tenure and not the Vice President who is from the South-South. Therefore, they have vowed to make Jonathan’s tenure compare with hell for Nigerians, using the Boko Haram sect. And people are afraid to call names, in case of reprisals.
Over the past nine years or so, Boko Haram has grown from a tiny religious cell into a full-blown dynamic organisation capable of directly hitting its targets and even mastered the art of changing tactics. So, it has become necessary for President Jonathan to take full control of their strongholds if Nigeria must be brought back to the path of sanity. But there seems to be a problem here.
Some analysts believe that President Jonathan has a deep-rooted conviction that some formidable forces are behind the sect – forces that are so strong that taking them head on could endanger his presidency. Still, some journalists have already pointed out that such a conviction can only keep the president perpetually incapacitated in his obligations to maintain order and security in the country. Indeed, the things that a man often fears are the things that usually ruin him. The crucial point here is that the constitution of Nigeria is clear on the succession protocol in the case of a president dying in office. It is, therefore, unimaginable that PDP chieftains should actually convince themselves that their party’s constitution should supersede the constitution of the country. It should never happen.
Speaking to Ebonyi State muslims, who recently paid him a visit at the Government House in Abakiliki, capital of Ebonyi State, a visibly enraged Martin Elechi warned that there was no basis of negotiating with the murderous sect. Governor Elechi argued that Boko Haram’s initial claim of fighting against Western education flies even in their own face – because they are using the products of Western civilisation such as mobile phones and travelling in aeroplanes.
Elechi has bluntly refused to link the activities of the sect to religion, unemployment or poor social conditions and stoutly condemns any form of dialogue between the Federal Government and the sect. He strongly believes that, unlike other militant groups in the country, any negotiation with leaders of Boko Haram would be counterproductive because there is no nexus between their agitation and the emotional militancy of rebels like the Niger Delta region.
The governor explained that militancy in the Niger Delta region only began when oil was discovered in the area and the exploitation process polluted the environment which affected agricultural production and the environmental and general well-being of the citizens. He said that though youths from the area might have overreacted, their actions were still more justifiable than those of Boko Haram, which has no case to make.
“Politicians hijacked the sect’s activities for their selfish purposes after the emergence of President Jonathan as the PDP candidate for last year’s presidential elections. Immediately Jonathan was announced as the winner of the primaries at the Eagle Square in Abuja, northern governors started receiving text messages from their people accusing them of being anti-Islam. The governors were called several names such as cardinals, bishops and Jonathan’s campaign coordinators. Even Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Alhaji Dalhatu Tafida, was labelled a Pope.”
In the midst of insecurity, the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, visited Nigeria. Hillary’s visit to Nigeria on August 9 was more or less a stopover, scarcely spanning over four hours.
Many analysts believe that her brief visit was spurred by a letter written to her by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, in which he expressed strong reservations about the way Boko Haram had been unleashing attacks after attacks on Christians in Nigeria. In the letter dated July 7, 2012, the CAN president catalogued series of attacks on Christians in their worship places that have been perpetrated by Boko Haram.
But most Nigerians still doubt why Clinton came to Nigeria at all. It couldn't possibly have been because of the letter from the CAN president, because as far as they are concerned, her visit left no impressions for the Christians nor did it send any message across to muslims for that matter. Many had hoped that she would make out time to discuss the security situation in the country with President Jonathan. But she scarcely did. She only advised the Federal Government to look beyond the military option in its attempt to tackle the security challenges confronting the nation. She left her host with no serious assurance of America’s interest in the security situation in his country.
However, a few parting words to Jonathan may have made Clinton’s visit somewhat memorable. In a sense, her visit helped to straighten an earlier assumption that she snubbed Nigerians and their president in her 10-day diplomatic shuttle to seven African nations which began on August 5 with a visit to Kenya. Nigeria was not included in the original list of her itinerary. And those who were unhappy with Jonathan’s administration, for whatever reason, saw that as a clear indication that America had backed down on what everyone thought it was in for – the drone onslaught in Nigeria, targeting the Boko Haram. The adjustment of her schedule to accommodate Nigeria was a good omen because it did so much to sooth frayed nerves.Share