- 3 commissioners suspended for improper dressing in Ebonyi
- CBN issues two new merchant bank licences
- Ekiti PDP accuses ACN of attacking members
- Daniel eulogises HID Awolowo at 97
- Jonathan hails Koroma's re-election
- Collapsed man: Edo dep gov threatens Airhiavbere
- Communal clash: Police arrest gang leader, 12 others in Nasarawa
- Corruption: There ‘ll be no sacred cow - Jonathan
- Amosun’s wife tasks students on reading culture
- Flooding: Dangote committee sets N50bn target
- Adamawa LG election conducted peacefully
- 1999 Constitution: Women group calls for amendment to gender-biased provisions
I have never been in government and I hope I would never be but I have friends running the show at different levels and who give insights into issues on which the public has limited or partially-incorrect information, leading to different perspectives and ultimately different interpretations. One of such is the Boko Haram conundrum which has got nearly every moving tongue lashing the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, for perceivable underwhelming reaction to the local terrorists’ onslaught.
No one with blood in his or her vein would be blamed for going on the offensive against the government, especially the one that controls the armed forces, considering that even the skies in Nigeria are almost crimson with the blood of over 1,000 innocent (?) souls, gruesomely spilled within three years in senseless suicide bombing attacks and aim-at-heart shootings, reminiscent of defenceless people in enemies’ territory.
The most derogatory of the insult thrown Jonathan’s way, is being clueless on how to tackle the home-grown, now regional terrorism (plus the Mali connection), a term that his scourge—such as Lai Mohammed and Nasir el-Rufai (can’t imagine how the former minister, with all the alleged atrocities hanging on his neck, managed to transform from ojelu to a conscience-of-the-nation—almost made his middle name. In truth, I nearly bought into the tag, seeing bloodied faces of innocent children who escaped death by a whisker but orphaned in moments of bombing madness, though a friend well-steeped in security matters kept assuring that the anti-terror war was about to be won. From my friend, there were inside details on the progress from the battle field, especially in the Northern part of the country, that were heart-warming, but unripe for public consumption, a situation that furthered the conviction of the people out there that government just folded its arms while terrorists were having a field day.
On the basis of the information I had, I tried assuring neighbours four nights ago that the senseless killings would soon become history, during a discussion on whether Jonathan should run in 2015 or not, but they sniggered in contempt, insisting that an attempt by him to stay beyond 2015 would simply make Boko Haram to over-run the nation, since in their estimation, the sect was not only superior in the battle field to government forces, it had become invisible for the naked eye of Jonathan’s administration.
Since I abhor anything with semblance of mob sensibility, I stuck to my argument that the fear of Boko Haram should not be the singular reason for Jonathan to scurry out of the Villa in 2015, though nothing suggests that I would vote for him if he decided to seek the position again, even if he completed the rout of the sect before then, since providing leadership should be all-inclusive.
But events of the last 72 hours did not suggest that Jonathan and his security apparatus are clueless about ending the sect’s invasion, because I am convinced that the first-ever call for peace from the stubborn sect is a clear signal that it is becoming war-weary, though it is too early to be jubilant. The point of the aggressor calling for peace is a point of introspective reaction for the government and Nigerians.
After teaming up with the Tuareg terrorists in Mali and mountains of Magreb, foreign nationals had obviously been recruited into the suicide bombing business and the call for peace by Abubakar Shekau and his boys might signal the end of business for those supplying the suicide bombers, hence the need for government to pay more security attention to foreign nationals domiciled in Nigeria as the peace talks progress, in order for the soon-to-be-out-of-business bomb and bomber suppliers, not to begin another round of aggression that could truncate the peace process as parties in the proposed talks might start accusing each other of acts of betrayal.
Despite the complications surrounding it, the peace proposal by the sect is a nationwide relief. Who doesn’t want to worship, study and relax in environments devoid of booming of guns and thundering of bombs? But it is not a cut and dry process even if the aggressors are initiating the peace talks. The stakes are even higher now that it came from them and the usual allegation of insincerity on government’s part over the past botched talks called by government and (intermediaries) could leech if the on-going process is flunked, while it is also expedient for government to approach the offer with caution because the inner part could be full of chalice, given the predilection of the sect for the ridiculous when making demands, which according to my security friend, was responsible for the usual break in transmission whenever the two parties got talking in the recent past at the instance of men and women of goodwill.
In the sect’s latest demand, five issues are central. While it would be mere conjectural efforts trying to understand how the sect arrived at its mediator nominees, the composition fits into dialogue but for its headship of the unyielding Northern oracle; Muhammadu Buhari who incidentally still holds the official head of the government team, Jonathan in grudge over the 2011 presidential election, though I would not buy the argument that being nominated has confirmed his patron-ship of the sect, even if his usually unmeasured umbrage against the Nigerian state, suggested his involvement. I expect the 86-year-old ex-OPEC boss and 1977-elected chairman of Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno to attenuate Buhari’s contumacy. Ambassador Gaji Galtimari’s nomination is apt, given his role as the chairman of FG’s panel on security challenges while the Wakil couple’s involvement is intriguing, even if the wife is a no-violence activist. Looks like the couple have been eternally there for the “Boko” boys, though such connection has no bearing now. Witty and hedonistic Bukar Abba would be providing comic reliefs at the talks which would ordinarily be tense, given that it is a case of two enemies coming for a jaw-jaw.
The challenge with the Boko Haram team is the battle-scarred “field marshals” like Mamman Nur joining Team Buhari and who could be volcanic and derailing at points of sensible reasoning. The much-wanted Nur’s involvement could also rankle many Nigerians, given his involvements in series of acts of death carried out by the sect. Even with misgivings about Team BH, the fact that the terrorists wanted peace is indicative of peace itself. One only hopes that the common sense that is synonymous with peace, would find expression at the talks.
(To be continued)
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