Temple Chima UbochiMonday, November 10, 2014
Bonn, Germany




Continued from Part 9

He who fetched firewood infested by ants invited the lizards for picnic (Igbo Proverb)

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got (Mark Twain)

We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how to respond to them (Epictetus)

To struggle less: Plan more. Thoughtfully consider alternatives. Have more patience. Have more Faith (Proverb)

The only hope I can see for the future depends on a wiser and braver use of the reason, not a panic flight from it (F. L. Lucas)

he Nigerian political and military leaders promised Nigerians a secured nation, but, they have failed as huhuonline rightly noted that on January 21, 2014, the Chief of Defense Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, said “the military will bring the Boko Haram insurgency in the country to an end before April this year.” He went on to say that “it was mandatory for the military to eliminate the Boko Haram insurgency in the next three months in order to prevent a constitutional problem in the polity. I can say confidently that this war is already won.” Not long thereafter, on February 24, 2014, Maj. Gen. Shehu Yusuf, the General Officer Commanding the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, was quoted as saying that “We are committed to solving the problem in the North-Eastern part of the country. The crisis in the North-East is not a big deal. It is just that we have not come together to work out strategies to tackle the problems properly.” And then on July 14, 2014, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah, told the nation that the “Nigerian Army is getting new equipment that will enable it to fight against terrorism and combat the Boko Haram insurgency in the country.” He went further to say that: “The Army is making progress in its counter-terrorism campaign.” In addition to the pronouncement of these military officers, President Jonathan has, on numerous occasions, assured the nation and the international community that his government was on track in terms of battling terrorism and Boko Haram; and that the group’s activities and reason for being would soon be brought to an end. But in spite of the promises and rhetoric, the group is getting more violent and more audacious by the passing of every month. So far, more than 20,000 innocent Nigerians have been killed and or wounded; millions have been displaced and or live in fear; and untold number of homes and infrastructures have been destroyed“.

The Chief Of Defence, in trying to minimize the damage the taking over of his home town and the burning of his house have done to his reputation, his job and the morale of the soldiers he leads, then sent a fierce aerial team against the insurgents. As an airforce officer, that was his only hope to save his reputation and job, but, it’s not working as it was reported then that as the battle of supremacy and territorial control between Nigerian security forces and the Boko Haram insurgents enters another hard day in Mubi, Adamawa state, the Nigerian Air force is combing affected areas in a fierce aerial bombardment against the terrorists. Report has it that the Nigerian Air Force launched a ferocious aerial bombardment against the insurgents even at the risk of losing its own personnel.

OmoLola Wrote: “Now that Vimtim, the home town and the second largest town in Adamawa is under the control of Boko Haram Insurgents, this writer thinks the Chief of Defence Staff , Air Marshall Alex Badeh should step down or get fired by the Commander in Chief of the Armed forces, President Goodluck Jonathan. For a man who assured the nation that the ‘Boko Haram Menace will be a thing of the past’, by last April, the most honorable thing to do after his hometown was taken over by a ragtag Boko Haram is to step aside. All the service Chiefs should also go. My source told this writer, that all hope is lost. According to her, Nigerian soldiers in Adamawa State are all living in fear. Many of them are fleeing for their lives. This actually means, the entire State of Adamawa is under a serious threat of being ran over by Boko Haram insurgents. Lord have Mercy“.

The government blamed the violence on Boko Haram's allied criminal networks that the group cannot control, believing that there are several competing factions within the group. Prior to the releasing of the Boko Haram‘s new video, Gbooza.com wrote that the Federal Government has assured that the various attacks and abductions being carried out in the North East despite the ceasefire agreement with the Boko Haram sect would not threaten the ongoing negotiations between the Nigerian authority and the dreaded Islamic sect. The negotiation, which is being facilitated by the Chadian President, General Idriss Gaby, has generated various controversies following attacks and continuous abduction by the insurgents, even after the announcement of the ceasefire deal by the Federal Government. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, who gave the assurance, at a trilateral meeting with the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Laurent Fabius, and his German counterpart, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Abuja, also restated government’s commitment to ensure safe return of all those who have been abducted.

So, now what will the government say about the video recently released denying the ceasefire? Huhuonline was right that in all of these, several factors seem clear: First, the Nigerian government does not have a coherent and intelligent plan in place in fighting the group; second, it lack the political will to take on a group with moral, political and financial support in and outside of its current enclave; third; the military and the intelligence agencies – perennially underfunded and poorly trained -- seems to have underrated the group; fourth, the Nigerian government seem to lack widespread international support; fifth, its approach to combating violent crimes and terrorism seems to be antiquated; and finally, the president himself seems to be equivocating and wavering in his determination and approach. The ceasefire will be meaningful only when (a) an institution like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to engage and implement restorative justice; (b) the Boko Haram’s system and structure is completely disbanded; and (c) it’s reason for being, completely renounced. And the Nigerian government must, on its part, agree to adopt new approach to national security and engage in actions that promotes national integration and humanistic development. Nothing else will suffice!

Even if the government was negotiating with the real group, still, there’s no guarantee that they (the insurgents) would abide by the terms of the agreement because of the multiple factors which come into play. Huhuonline noted that Nonetheless, Nigerians and the government must understand that negotiating with terrorist groups like Boko Haram comes with severe implications: The penalties can be dire and far reaching. First, there is no evidence that the group will abandon its cause; second, there is no evidence that affiliates in the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula or those within the continent will “hands off;” and third, there is no evidence that its financiers will be satisfied with such a deal. History has shown that there are people who derive psychological satisfaction and financial gains from wars and ruins and human suffering. And indeed, there are those who benefit when nations collapses or is undergoing fragmentation. As perverse as it may sound, there are people waiting in the wings to see the breakup of Nigeria. The unknown question is this: If and when an agreement is reached with Boko Haram, will the government be able to contend with copycat? Will others come out of the shadows to challenge the Nigerian government? Or perhaps, some groups will come to think that the only way to command the government’s attention is through high crimes, violent crimes and political terror? The answer to the aforeasked is “Yes!” It is precisely for this reason that the Nigerian government must adopt “new approach to national security and engage in actions that promotes national integration and humanistic development.” Or else, Boko Haramism will multiply. And to say that successive administrations helped in the coming alive of such groups is an understatement. Different factors breed anger and crimes and violence and, eventually, terrorism. Since 1985 at least, our government made it possible for terror groups and fanatical ideologies to take shape. A continuation of the past will only encourage and lead to the multiplication of violence and terrorism. Negotiate if you have to; but you must know who you are negotiating with. What’s more, the entire process may even unravel -- causing more pain and deaths and destructions.

The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, for want of something to say, diminished President Jonathan the more by stating that the Jonathan administration did not anticipate the ravaging insurgency up north hence was totally not prepared for it. This writer thinks that’s the most stupid thing an aide to a President can say. A President doesn’t have all the problems he would face during his tenure fully programmed for him before taking office, rather, he deals with each as they crop up. The President should be able to tackle every problem as it comes and not giving un-necessary excuses, as Ndiigbo say that “nobody started climbing a tree and asked that hot water be boiled for him in case he falls off the tree. Mmadu anaghi ari elu si esiwara ya nmiri oku”. Okupe even went further to say that it was wrong for people to rate the present administration based on the rising insurgency in the country, that there is agriculture, education, infrastructure, health, social development and many other component parts the president can be judged on; but Okupe should have known that without security, any gain in the sectors he mentioned would be meaningless for the citizens. Only where there is security of lives and property that people can engage in meaningful activities; now, in the north-east, people can’t go to their farm, or school or hospital or market, as the case may be, due to Boko Haram’s onslaught there. For instance, businesses and schools have all closed in that region, the latest being Gombe State, where the government, on Wednesday November 5, ordered the closure of all public and private schools in the state, a day after Boko Haram attacked two towns in the state. There were reports that parents who took their children to school on that day were told to take them back as the schools had been closed on the orders of the government. About the truncated ceasefire agreement, Okupe said: “Yes, a ceasefire was announced and it was at the instance of the insurgents. What the President has demonstrated today is that he said that all options are on the table. So, when the insurgents call for talk, how can anybody blame the government for that? If it doesn’t work out, that is not the fault of the government. That is actually the nature of the insurgents. Because they are factionalised, their line of command is not clearly defined“. Okupe is dead wrong here; nothing he said would justify the government’s blunder in coming out to announce a ceasefire without being sure of what it was saying or knowing the kind of people it was dealing with. For want of better words, Okupe, as the president’s attack dog, is a loose lip, is fond of speaking out of both sides of his mouth, he’s arrogant, insulting, lacks decorum and talks before reasoning many atimes. He didn’t help the president in any way here. One wonders the kind of advisers milling around the President.

The Deputy Governor of Borno State, Zanna, has warned that if necessary action is not taken by the Federal Government to curtail the rising spate of insurgency in the north-east, the region will cease to exist in the next three months. The deputy governor was absolutely right, judging from how the insurgents are running over and ransacking that region. Bemoaning the rate at which the insurgents are capturing territories in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, the DG observed that rather than the government routing the insurgents, it is the insurgents that are going after the government and the Nigerian military. The DG rightly pointed it out as big crime that the criminals are better equipped than the military, noting that they are just few kilometers (away) from the Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States capitals, as about 13 local governments in Borno, three in Adamawa and more in Yobe are all under the reign of Boko Haram. Alhaji Zanna, the Borno State DG, stated that their triumph only confirms the Borno State Governor’s statement that the insurgents are better equipped with superior weaponry than the Nigerian military. Hear the DG: “based on intelligence reports, the Federal Government needs to, as a matter of urgency, step up security measures otherwise the fall of the three states is imminent in a matter of few months. We are yet to believe that there is a ceasefire because the first day after the announcement was made, over 30 people were killed in Borno State, and (the terrorists) continued with their rampage in Adamawa, Gombe and Yobe States. The insurgents have committed war crimes by deploying anti-aircraft missiles in killing people against international rules and conventions. Let us appeal to the international community to come to our rescue otherwise in the next few months, the three states may not exist.”

Just to support the deputy governor’s assertion that the insurgents have “turned to the hunters while the Nigerian military personnel are now the hunted”, the video clip attached below shows how the insurgents rampaged through Mubi and the 234 Battalion Army headquarters without any resistance, not even a single soldier accosted the insurgents at the Barrack’s gate, and no single military personnel or any other human being was seen as the insurgents entered the army headquarters, because, all had run away before the insurgents arrived. The insurgents even had the luxury of renaming Mubi to Madinatul-Islam (city of Islam), and nobody challenged them.The video also validated the Borno State Deputy Governor’s statement above, that if care is not taken, that there would be no more north-eastern region of Nigeria in three months time. One wonders how Nigeria got to this level after watching this video clip attached below. If care is not really taken, Boko Haram’s gapeseed may become a reality.

Everything went wrong with the military campaign against the insurgents since the military let down its guard in the wake of the ceasefire agreement that never was. Waking the military personnel from their slumber, after the insurgents’ assaults had wearied them, is taking so long, and that’s why the military personnel have been unable to match the insurgents’ latest sagaciousness despite the fact that they had started to turn the table against the terrorists days before they (the insurgents) conned the federal government out. This writer can’t understand why the military authorities failed to protect Ashaka Cement Company, knowing very well that it would be a target for the insurgents as they can source explosive materials from there. The insurgents stormed the premises of Ashaka Cement Plc. in Funkaiye Local Government area of Gombe State on Tuesday, November 4 evening, carting away eight Hilux vans belonging to the factory after loading them with dynamites used for blasting and flattening rocks and stones for cement production. We learnt that the insurgents, who were heavily armed, overpowered the factory’s security before gaining access to the factory, and operated for hours with staff of the factory scared to death. Why did the Nigeria military left such a company bare, although the military’s presence there couldn’t have made any difference, since the insurgents were able to take a military barracks without any challenge or resistance.

What happened in Mubi may have been facilitated by sabotage that has made mincemeat of the war against insurgency right from the beginning. There was a report that a person allegedly gave a wrong information to an Air Force fighter pilot and diverted his jet which was on a mission to attack the insurgents who raided Vimtim. The authorities cannot say whether the misleading information emanated from the troops or from a fighter of the Boko Haram sect pending the conclusion of an investigation on the issue. The story was that the fighter jet deployed to halt the insurgents’ advance to Vimtim was forced to beat a retreat when a yet-to-be identified person radioed the pilot that the insurgents on the grounds were men of the Nigerian Army and that he should not carry out any bombardment against them. Then, the pilot responded to the radio message and flew back to base before moving back to Vimtim to carry out some bombardments. At this time, it had become too late to prevent the destruction that took place in the community including the CDS house and the clinic he built in his mother’s memory. The military leaders are investigating this sabotage to ascertain the circumstances that led to the burning down of the residence of the Chief of Defense Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, in Vimtim, near Mubi. On another case: There was a report that Nigerian Airforce jets were bombing the Nigerian soldiers on the ground thinking that they were the insurgents until the soldiers cried out. Not only that the insurgents were killing the Nigerian soldiers, many of them were killed or wounded by friendly fire. How come that the airforce jets failed to attack those they should have while attacking those they shouldn’t have? The military should investigate the sabotage and the miscalculation to avoid their repetition.

Those northern elite, who empowered Boko Haram and turned it to a monster it has grown into because they wanted to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Jonathan, should see the work of their hands, “the genie is out the bottle” now. Their creation can no longer be controlled, and it may soon devour some of them before getting to others from other regions of Nigeria. At first, the northern leaders were watching and clapping for the terrorists while warning the government against the use of excessive force against the insurgents, but now, they are no longer clapping but running for their “dear” lives. The northern elite, who were supporters of Boko Haram previously, especially those from the north-east and environs, should “look what the cat dragged in“as they have abandoned their comfort zone and are tiptoeing to other places to save their head, but, sooner or later, the work of their hands would catch up with them in one way or the other. Reiterating this point, the Arewa Youth Forum (AYF) has just expressed worry over alleged non-challant attitude of northern leaders against the Boko Haram insurgency, wondering why the northern leaders “let the grass grow round their feet”, by saying they (northern leaders) should face reality and keep politics aside as the North is gradually facing extinction. The group bemoaned the total collapse of mutual relationship, respect for adherents of different religions and other inclinations in Northern Nigeria, and collapse of trust and confidence amongst Nigerians of Northern Extraction. The group said it was evidently clear, "that what is occupying our attention is mainly politics and without recourse to our survival as a people. While the North is burning and heading to a total collapse, those in position of leadership and those outside are only occupied with power struggle to the detriment of our survival as a people. Millions of public resources are now being wasted in the name of seeking power at local, state and national levels, while we have no qualms with that but we felt it is a corruption and abuse of office and breach of trust. We observed total failure of Northern leadership in all spheres, elected and appointees, traditional and religious institutions and many more are shying away from the reality we are in, hence we make bold without any reservation to make our position as follows: That all former Heads of State, Northern Governors, Northern Senators and Representatives, religious and traditional leaders, academicians, business class, media owners, and all other leaderships should hold an emergency meeting and come up with a position to Nigeria's government on practical solution to the quagmire the region is in i.e. Boko Haram insurgency, ethno-religious crisis, lost of trust and confidence. And they should know that posterity will hold them accountable of either their courage or non-commitment. Federal Government and Nigerian security agencies must as a matter of national security demonstrate sincerity and political will in tackling insecurity ravaging the region and halt the menace gradually finding foot in the whole North. Power struggle in Northern states should be de-emphasized in view of our situation for urgent resolution of the danger and deadly crisis the region has been plunged into. We should keep politics aside for survival first. All the political office holders are more interested in political office forgetting if your house is not in order you can't govern well."

To be continued!

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Continued from Part 9