Temple Chima UbochiWednesday, November 19, 2014
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Bonn, Germany




Continued from Part 10

Storms make the oak grow deeper roots (George Herbert)

Our mettle is tested by storms, not by calm (Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

When the tempest rages, when the thunders roar, and the lightnings blaze around us, it is then that the truly brave man stands firm at his post (Luther Martin)

The wise man in the storm prays God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within which endangers him, not the storm without. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Every region in Nigeria is currently faced with its own insurgent groups, most of which are allegedly sponsored by government officials; and the challenge is usually that when you sponsor thugs, it will get to a stage when you lose control and that was what happened with the Boko Haram sect (Falana)

olitics is a dirty game; that’s why many good or conscientious people are scared off. Most people may go into politics to make a difference, but, they quickly become seduced by the power, as they get overawed by their own importance and re-election. No wonder Euripides (480-406 BC) wrote that “When one with honeyed words but evil mind persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” A politician can do or promise anything ( even telling lies) to be successful at the polls. This was rightly noted by John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006), who wrote that "Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable." As the 2015 election approaches, President Jonathan wants to record a success in the war against insurgency in order to prove his opponents and those who don’t want him to continue occupying that exalted seat, wrong. The President’s opponents and those who have fiercely criticized his handling of the insecurity ravaging the north-eastern part of Nigeria are mainly those from that restive region and those who helped to make Boko Haram the monster it is today. Because of the approaching election, the president, for want of a success in the war against insurgency, allowed the Chadian President, a Boko Haram cohort, to hoodwink him into a star-crossed ceasefire agreement. Suffice it to say that because of the 2015 election, the president was looking for a quick fix for the insurgency ravaging the northern region (since the Nigerian military has so far failed to do that), and in that process, he was duped, thereby proving George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) right that "An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it."

The point here is that the 2015 election played a part in the phantom ceasefire agreement, as the political calculation was that President Jonathan would never claim legitimacy, even if he wins the 2015 election, while the terrorists continue to run amok all over the northern region, as any opposition political party can successfully challenge his re-election in a court of law. Because, with the grabbing of territories in the north-east, elections can never hold in those towns and villages sacked by the insurgents. And with that, any national election would be inconclusive, and the winner can’t claim to be truly elected under that dispensation. Also, President Jonathan would never want to alienate his northern constituency by not bringing the insecurity to an end before the election, as that might affect his chances of winning it (the election), bearing in mind that his main opposition candidate may come from there. All these culminated in him giving the go-ahead order for negotiations with an outlawed sect. Huhuonline, commenting on this point, wrote that “In respect of method, it is widely accepted that governments, as duly constituted authorities do not, in principle, negotiate with terrorists. However, it is also a matter of realpolitik that secret negotiations may be held with terrorist groups toward fuller engagement and a negotiated settlement. This process must, however, be discrete and secret. Even big powers do this on the wise assumption that all fighting eventually end up on the negotiation table. While some respected Nigerians have hailed the federal government for negotiating the deal in so far as it will encourage meaningful dialogue, others have denounced it as morally and legally wrong and therefore unacceptable since it would entail amnesty for a murderous sect of misanthropic elements bent on frustrating the progress of human civilization, with dastardly, but cowardly acts of bestiality. The spate of killings across the north in the past three years and the inadequacy highlighted in the military’s response to the terrorists’ brazen assault on the Nigerian state may have forced the government’s hand. This is understandable. But the government ought to have carefully weighed the odds against the ceasefire before going public.

What is totally obnoxious and reeling of myopia is the belief that a ceasefire announcement would automatically translate into peace. It may well be that electoral desperation and the politics of 2015 informed the questionable deal. Either way, it portrays extreme naivety or callous disdain for public opinion; worse still, it conveys a message of contempt for accountable leadership. It reduces an important national security agenda to an absurdity. Well-meaning Nigerians are not likely to side with this kind of thinking, especially as the CDS did not disclose the terms of the “ceasefire” in such essential aspects as demobilization, weapons possession, territorial occupation, personnel deployment and withdrawal. If this non-disclosure was a deliberate strategy, then the need to make any public announcement should not have arisen at all. It stretches good judgment, and it is very unlikely that there is any country in the world, where a democratically elected government would agree to a “ceasefire” with a non-state, outlawed terrorist group committed to the anti-constitutional act of trying to replace it with an Islamic system of government, and make noise about it. Without mincing words, it is a betrayal of the sacrifice and patriotism of the soldiers now battling insurgency. Worse still, the group is talking to the government like an equal, and demeaning as this is, it dresses the country in the garb of a banana republic, lacking the wherewithal to fulfill its national security obligations. While claims and counter claims in officialdom persist, there are too many questions in search of answers. But the point must be made, and with emphasis, that the Nigerian state is not on equal standing with Boko Haram and cannot, therefore appear to be negotiating on equal terms. The group remains largely a faceless organization with no clear identifiable leadership, and its organizational structure is unknown, and its grievances and demands are not articulated for the purpose of serious negotiation. In the situation, it is important that the state must retain the upper hand in all spheres – military, diplomacy, and public communications. In military terms, the counter-insurgency effort has seen the terrorists contained; their capability to strike at will limited; forcing them to sue for peace. All these make the case against the ceasefire even more compelling.

All said and done, the announced ceasefire should compel deep thinking about the beleaguered and neglected citizens marooned in the north east of the country. In a country where one of the six zones that make up the federation is on the verge of excision, and thousands have been cruelly murdered by insurgents, Nigeria rests on the brink of perdition if promises to end the carnage are not backed by timely action. Another chapter in Nigeria’s life must begin, and the time is now“.

Thomas Sowell (1930) noted that "The reason so many problems do not get solved (by politicians) is that solving those problems is not the No. 1 priority: Re-election is“, and this statement would help us to understand why the president was desperate to burnish his candidature. Look at what Atiku, a likely presidential candidate, said few days ago. In criticizing the government’s handling of the insurgency problem in the North East, Atiku Abubakar said that Nigeria has the resource to deal with the problem, while suggesting that Nigerians have the right to defend themselves against Boko Haram since the federal government has failed to defeat the insurgents. Hear him: “I don't believe there is real capacity on the part of the political leadership to address the problem. May be their attention is somewhere else. I must confess that I am extremely frustrated with the federal government because this insurgency lasted for more five years today when Nigeria has all it takes to eradicate it in a couple of weeks. You know sometimes self defence is the only option. I mean if somebody else cannot defend you, you have to defend yourself. Any serious government should rise quickly and decisively to security challenge that has almost consumed three states or more. The Federal government is not ready to solve the problem of insurgency rattling the North-east and the entire Northern states. This is evident because for more than five years, insurgency has persisted and there seems no end to it. The federal government has no excuse whatsoever to give Nigerians for allowing insurgents to persist all these while despite the material and human resources at its disposal. Thousands of people have been killed, many separated from their families and thousand others are now refugees in their domain, local government, states and elsewhere. This alone portends danger to the already fragile society. And government seems not to be taking decisive action”.

Still on the failed ceasefire agreement, the federal government is miffed by “what hit it”, that it had requested the Chadian government to do a thorough background check on the leaders of the sect it was discussing with. The Nigerian government now says that the Chadian government may have deceived it over the phantom ceasefire deal with Boko Haram brokered by Idriss Déby, the president of Chad. The Cable noted that the federal government is still uncertain if the dummy was deliberately sold to Nigeria by Déby or if the Chadian president himself was hoodwinked into believing it was genuine. But the word in government circles is that Déby was working for Boko Haram as he has refused to communicate with Nigeria since the insurgents renewed their attacks. It appears he set Nigeria up to drop its guard and allow Boko Haram to gain ground. The reason given at first was that Chad was facilitating the negotiation because so many members of Boko Haram are from Chad, and that their leaders operate from Chad. The worse is the suspicion that the Chibok Girls are in Chad. If the girls are in Chad, is it not possible that the Chadian President knows where they are? So many Chadian are helping to destabilize Nigeria, and the Boko Haram’s leadership is based in Chad, and still, the Chadian government did nothing all these while to bring them to book. What does the Chadian President know about, when and how, and why didn’t he reveal it to his Nigerian counterpart before the bogus ceasefire agreement? Is the Chadian President not a sponsor of Boko Haram or an accomplice to their crime? It looks like the Chadian government has been sabotaging Nigeria’s effort by providing Boko Haram with hiding places in Chad and men to fill its ranks, and probably financial, moral and material support also. After the declaration of the state of emergency in BAY states (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe) on May 13, 2013, communication was blocked, so that the insurgents would not be able to reach one another through the phones and other communication gadgets, but, we were told that the leaders of Boko Haram, operating from Chad and Niger, are able to call their cell commanders in Nigeria from there, in order to pass instructions to them. If Chad was really helping Nigeria, it shouldn’t have offered a place of solace for the terrorists against Nigeria. The Nigerian government should review the role the Chadian President is playing to know if what the Australian negotiator, Dr. Davis, said that the Chadian President is one of the sponsors of Boko Haram is true. If so, Nigeria should retaliate somehow.

It may not be only Chad, as a neighboring country, that is sabotaging Nigeria’s effort in the war against insurgency by the aiding of the insurgents in one way or the other. It’s such a delicate situation that anything another country does, may put Nigerian military personnel, fighting the terrorists, in precarious situations. Report by Dahiru Mohammed Lawal, published on Sunday, 12 October 2014, captioned “Cameroonian Authorities Secured Hostage Release With $400,000, Arms“, had it that Cameroonian authorities have successfully secured the release of 27 hostages held by dreaded Boko Haram sect. Fresh facts have emerged that the deal used in securing the release of hostages is rather disturbing. It was learnt that the Cameroonian authorities paid Boko Haram insurgents whopping $400,000 (N66 million) along with a significant supply of arms including a guarantee by Cameroon that the weapons would have safe passage to insurgent fighters. This, it was learnt, was what led to the release of hostages which included Francoise Agnes Moukouri, wife of Cameroonian Vice Prime Minister, by the Boko Haram sect. It was learnt that the Chinese government as well paid an undisclosed sum of money as part of the terms of settlement which led to Boko Haram releasing 10 Chinese construction workers, who had been held hostage since their abduction in May. In addition to the huge amount of ransom and arms supply, the Cameroonian government also released four commanders of the Islamist group, who had been in Cameroonian jails. President Idris Derby of Chad, who is purportedly close to some Boko Haram commanders, was instrumental in the negotiations”.

According to The Cable: “Nigerian government officials no longer have access to Déby who is now said to be sick“. Elombah.com had reported that in September this year, President Goodluck Jonathan traveled to the Chadian capital where he had a bilateral meeting with the Chadian President’s delegation that included former Borno State governor, Senator Modu Sheriff, on the Boko Haram matter. The Cable had also reported how Déby put the ceasefire deal together, revealing how he said Boko Haram got in touch with him, how he authenticated the message and how he got the Nigerian government involved in the negotiations. But many Nigerians were suspicious of the ceasefire agreement including a journalist with links to the group who had described the claim as “shadows and bubbles” and warned Nigerians not to believe it. Not long after that, Boko Haram became more ferocious in their attacks, taking over more Nigerian towns, including the country home of Nigeria’s Chief of Defense Staff.

A government official pointed accusing fingers at Déby, accusing him of setting a trap for Nigeria. In his words: “The period of the phantom negotiations gave the terror group time to regroup, reinforce and restrategise, which is the intent of Déby for asking the Nigerian government to negotiate a ceasefire with Boko Haram. As soon as Nigeria began to make a lot of gains in the war against Boko Haram, owing to the efforts of the military and President Goodluck Jonathan who has been discussing with regional leaders to halt the insurgency, and at a time the commanders of the sect were being rounded up, that was when the Chadian president approached the Nigerian government asking that it mediates between the parties in the conflict. The discussions between the government and the Chadian president on Boko Haram started in September. However, Déby said he was already talking with Boko Haram. The government was trying to verify the authenticity of Boko Haram’s representatives in the supposed negotiations, but Déby asked the Nigerian government to take a chance that he had done the verification already. He affirmed that Boko Haram’s representatives were truly standing in for the group in the negotiations. It was at this stage the government nominated the principal secretary to the president, Awwal Tukur, to be part of the negotiations in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. Tukur was the one spearheading the dialogue with Boko Haram on behalf of the Nigerian government. He had the first contact with group. It was still in the middle of the supposed negotiations that Danladi Ahmadu announced on Voice of America that the group had ceased fire. Following the announcement of ceasefire by the group, the Nigerian government equally announced a ceasefire on October 17 for the supposed negotiations to continue. A Nigerian delegation left for Chad on October 21 for talks with Boko Haram, but the Chadian president became evasive. The Nigerian delegation was told that Déby was sick and that the meeting be rescheduled for October 23. However, on that date, the delegation was told that the Chadian president was still sick after waiting for six hours. The delegation made visits to Chad a number of times, but met a brickwall.

As Boko Haram’s resumed attacks grew in intensity, the Nigerian government became worried. Many attempts were made to inquire from the Chadian president who was supposed to be mediating between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, but the attempts were all futile. France was privy to the botched negotiations, but said nothing just like the Chadian government. It became clear to the Nigerian government that Déby was working for Boko Haram. The government of Chad has not said a word to the Nigerian government since Boko Haram’s resumed onslaughts. It has simply refused to make any comment or communicate with the Nigerian government. The Nigerian government has also ceased to speak with the Chadian government on the matter since it is now clear that Chad is working with Boko Haram. An official said the Nigerian military will now resort to use of force against Boko Haram. The only option left for the Nigerian government is to continue to use force to end the crisis. As it is now, there is no negotiation or mediation going on. The statements by some government officials that the abducted Chibok girls would return soon were based on assurances by the Chadian government, but now there is no negotiation going on anywhere. It is important to add that “the Nigerian government decided to honour Chad’s request for negotiations with Boko Haram, because it was the first time a foreign government would be mediating in the protracted insurgency in the country. Other individuals have tried, but the government has always spurned them.”

First of all, from what is stated above, the Cameroonians gave the insurgents weapons, which they will turn on Nigerian people and military personnel. Cameroon released four Boko Haram’s commanders, who will go back to the trenches against Nigeria. Also, the same Chadian president facilitated the Cameroonian deal with Boko Haram. So, is it not clear now that President Idris Derby of Chad knows more about Boko Haram’s modus operandi? From what we know now, anybody accusing Derby to be Boko Haram sponsor may not be wrong. After all said and done, Nigeria should review the role played by Chad and Cameroon, so as to see if the two countries helped the deadly sect, in any way, in its invincibility against the Nigerian forces. Many of our neighboring countries are jealous of Nigeria and will surreptitiously do anything to destabilize it. It’s time for Nigeria to start telling its neighbors that “You're either with us, or against us“, and that there’s price to pay for working against Nigeria. No matter what Nigeria is going through right now, no other country should toy with it, as it has been, and is, and will remain a great country despite the weak and corrupt leadership and inert followers it has at this point in time. Nigeria has saved or helped so many others countries before, and deserves respect from others. Pastor Tunde Bakare reminded the world, few days ago, that “Dubai, once upon a time came to Nigeria to borrow money. Once upon a time for three years, we paid the whole civil service fee of Trinidad and Tobago. There would be no Angola today if Nigeria did not sow a seed of $30 million (there)”. All those countries, mentioned by Bakare, are better than Nigeria today. Such is life!

To be continued!






Continued from Part 10