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E O EkeWednesday, May 7, 2014
eoeke@aol.com


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DITHERING ON THE ABYSS

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he continued terrorisation of Nigeria by Boko Haram characterised by wanton attacks on the people and institutions is clear evidence that the government strategy against them is not working and that the government is rather very slow to embrace effective way to fight the insurgency. Time and time again, the Islamic terrorists have attacked schools, killed innocent citizens and destroyed properties and the government has failed to take steps to reassure the people and fortify schools and other likely targets in the at risk areas to fostal such attacks. Repeatedly, Boko haram has operated from the same location and the government has failed to unleash a decisive attack against this monster, which is poisoning the Nigeria polity. The Nigerian air force recently displayed the drone they said they have built, yet the lack of air recognisance continues to hamper the operation of the army. What is the use of having a drone, if it cannot be used to at least locate the position of the terrorists? What does it take for a serious military to engage a terrorist group that hides in a place where everybody knows?

No terrorist group can defeat a government which has the support of the people. Terrorist groups succeed in countries where the people have lost faith in the government and the military demoralised. No government can succeed, if it alienates the people with its anti-people policies, remain indifference to their sufferings, immerse itself in corruption and self-serving, and do nothing to combat corruption in the society. This is why the way and manner the present Nigerian government is conducting the affairs of the country does not inspire confidence. It would be a calamity for boko haram to succeed to the extent that the government of Nigeria would have to negotiate with it. This is something that should not happen. It will spell the end of Nigeria if it is allowed to happen. Many Nigerians will not want to belong to a Nigeria, where boko haram has a say or involved in its governance in any shape or form. Boko haram is a monster that must be defeated and it is the responsibility of the government to lead in this war.

Islamic insurgence, like all insurgences, is known to be intractable and Nigeria is failing to prepare for a long struggle. This is a battle between freedom and servitude, between enlightenment and ignorance and between democracy and autocracy. In a way, it is a battle between light and darkness, but not in a religious sense, but in the literary sense. A group which benefits from the product of western education in form of the vehicles, technology and weapons they use, and at the same time proclaim that the very thing, which makes their existence possible is sin and fight to destroy them, must be taken very seriously with the view to defeating them. What kind of society will one governed on Boko haram ideology be like? What they want to offer Nigerians has been tried in Afghanistan and failed. They are blind, ignorant and hateful people wanting to lead the sighted, enlightened and broadminded. Theirsí is a madness brewed on extreme Islam and ethnic prejudice and laced with obsession for power which should not be rewarded.

The people of Afghanistan who are mostly Muslims have rejected religious extremism. What makes boko haram members think that they will succeed in Nigeria? Havenít we seen enough of Islamic autocracy, intolerance and bigotry and what it does to human rights, civil societies, individual liberty, diversity, tolerance, peaceful co-existence and equality; to realise that the future they promise under sharia law is a future most rational non-Muslims would not accept. Islam, wherever it controls power has persecuted those who do share its beliefs, ideology and world views. The idea that religion, in the form it is currently practiced in Nigeria will bring development and not division is misguided and those who think there can ever be a justification to impose religion by force on those who do not want it, are trouble makers and ignorant.

It is time for Nigerians to wake up from slumber and brace themselves up for the struggle ahead. Car bombing, targeted assassinations, attacks on school, universities, hospitals and government institution and utilities will become more frequent as Islamic extremists with ethnocentric and political agenda, strive to impose their world view on all and the government dithers and gives boko haram false hope that it can win this war.

The government should now make it possible for every Nigerian to learn more about how to recognise the threat from terrorist groups and Understanding the role of the individuals in making a positive contribution to preventing terrorism. This can be done through public education and specific targeted training of people who work in at risk environment. Teachers, doctors, nurses, civil servants and everybody working in the oil industry should be given immediate training in how to identify terrorist and foil their attack. They should also be given weapon handling training and provided with weapons immediately. It is simply madness to leave responsible Nigerians unarmed in a war, where their enemies are well armed and ready to strike at any moment and the security agencies not able to provide twenty-four protection. Please Mr president, arm Nigerians to defend themselves.

In addition, the government should role out basic military training including training in weapon handling to all Nigerians between the ages of 17 and 55 years as a starting point for the preparation of the people for the long war with extremist and terrorist group who wish to achieve their objective by force and terror. This is not rocket science. A government with people who have strategic thinking should be able to look around the world and borrow what is working well and the improvise to adapt it to the Nigerian situation. Nigerian government has to wake up and stop pretending that the problem can go away without applying intelligent solution.

As a matter of urgency, the NYSC should be suspended and all graduates given compulsory two years military training to make them combat ready. Nigeria is at war and the government should begin to prepare the people for the reality.

The government should stop lying to the people or trying to cover up its weakness. It reduces the confidence of the people in its ability to govern. Nigeria government cannot succeed, if it continues to ignore endemic and systematic corruption and run the country on lies and deception. At the moment, estimated two hundred and twenty three school girls are missing and their abductors are taunting the country and government in their propaganda videos and so far, the president has neither met with families of the victims nor articulated a realistic plan and strategy to free them and bring their abductors to justice. Nigerian ministers are ridiculed by journalists who understand that corruption and incompetence are at the heart of the nigeria problem and it is unfortunate.

The attitude and conduct of the Nigeria president, so far, is as contemptible as it is unacceptable. President Goodluck Jonathan should provide the leadership Nigeria needs or step aside to enjoy his loot and allow someone who knows how to lead a country in crisis to take over. For once, Nigerians should focus on competence and facts, instead of on ethnicity and religion. I like Jonathan, he looks like an ordinary good person, but he is not performing. Many steps he has taken have been wrong or amateurish to say the least and we cannot continue to keep quiet, while he runs the Nigerian ship aground because he is from the south and it is the turn of his ethnic group to loot. Nigeria needs to survive for any group to have any relevance in Nigeria, unless of course we have all decided that Nigeria should cease to exist and we should all segregate into our different ethnic enclaves. If he is not getting the right advice, he should sack his advisers; there are many Nigeria who will do a better and honest job at half what the current ineffective bunch are getting.

Terrorists are no respecter of religion or ethnicity. They respect neither youth nor age. They kill children and disable people. No evil is too monstrous for them to perpetrate, if they think it will help their murderous course. Boko haram posted video of their beheading of an Igbo man in 2012 and the world did not even blink. They will kill anybody and burn churches and mosques, if it will advance their evil course. They attack all in the pursuit of their evil objectives. This is a war, in which no Nigeria can afford to be passive. Today boko haram is killing Muslims and Christians, children and adults northerners and southerners and it is simply stupid for anybody to try to play politics with the government effort to address this evil. All political parties must now unit in this war against terror because boko haram is a common enemy. After we defeat boko haram, we can go back to our political squabbling. This is not a time to highlight differences, but to emphasise unity. In truth, we are all in it together.

The president has a duty to unite the country against boko haram and to isolate all those who seek to benefit politically from this evil. Nigerians need to know who the sponsors of Boko haram are, where they get their arms and who sales the arms to them. Since America and Britain has offered to help Nigeria in this war, the president can start by asking them to expose all those who supply Boko haram with weapons, bullets and other arms made in their countries and declare selling arms to groups like boko haram a criminal offence in their country. This, more than anything else they may do will help Nigeria in this war. Knowing them, they will not do it because their economies benefit from this sordid war. American and Britain has to demonstrate that their arm manufactures are not benefiting from this war. They should also supply Nigeria with intelligence on those who are bank rolling this war to destabilise Nigeria, weaken it and turn it into a pun in the chase board of the west economic war with China. There is no reason why the government should not be transparent and forthcoming with all it knows about boko haram. This dithering must stop, before it is too late.

The Nigerian security forces need the support and cooperation of all Nigeria and they must begin to treat ordinary Nigerians with respect and consideration. The government must address the dissatisfaction of soldiers in the way they are treated by officers and generals. We cannot continue to accept a Nigerian army, where the generals retire as millionaires by misappropriating defence budget, while ordinary solders are not provided with all they need to fight the enemy and expected to survive as paupes and the risk their lives in time of crisis. The truth is that, it is the corruption and incompetence in the government, army and police that are destroying the morale of the soldiers and the president has a duty to address this head on. There is no other way Nigeria can defeat terror if we are divided and the morale of the security personals at such low ebb. Nigerians must unit, change and reinvent itself to defeat terror.

Now is the time for Goodluck Jonathan to demonstrate that he can lead. United we succeed, but divided, boko haram will win.

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