EVEN when its blood-sucking soldiers slash the throats of captured Nigerians in audacious video recordings that periodically go viral on the social media, the truth is that Boko Haram, that deadly terrorist group, has left the consciousness of many Nigerians, especially the political elite. For example, as that eight year-old boy insurgent horrendously gorged out the last pint of blood in the veins of Daciya Dalep, the Langtang student of the University of Maiduguri who was abducted on January 9 as he returned to his University of Maiduguri school, President Muhammadu Buhari was apparently busy battling a mound of Tuwo Shinkafa, which he washed down his belly with a very cold fura. In other parts of Nigeria, we individually and collectively bantered away as if we had no care in the world. Dalep was executed last Tuesday and the video of his gruesome killing was circulated by Boko Haram’s side-kick, ISIS, through its Amaq News Agency. The eight-year old who killed Dalep had been quoted in the ISIS-circulated video as saying that, “We won’t stop until we take revenge for all the blood that was spilled.” Almost about this time, Lawan Andimi, leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika council of Adamawa state, was also executed by this deadly terrorist group.
But not to worry, the Buhari government has sent its usual condolence message to the families of the murdered, an advertised reflated bravura, a pumped up and flexed muscle to mow down the insurgents in no time and a message to Nigerians to continue to hold forte. This is a slight departure from government’s earlier peacock boastfulness. As the “Jingle Bell” rhythm percolated round the world in December, 2015, Buhari released his own good tidings to a distraught Nigerian world on December 24 of that year: Nigeria had “technically won the war” against these accursed Islamists, Buhari said to the BBC. “So I think technically we have won the war because people are going back into their neighbourhoods. Boko Haram as an organised fighting force, I assure you, that we have dealt with them,” the president enthused in what has turned out an empty waffle.
Since December, 2015 when that Buhari’s prattle was circulated, Boko Haram has massacred thousands of Nigerians, prompting that highly cerebral traditional ruler, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, to ask an audience in Ibadan late last year what was technical in a defeat. Even warfare theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, would agree with the Alaafin that a war is either won or lost and the Buhari new and unorthodox classification of a middle-of-the-road stratification of a war was strange and unsupported by any thesis in the history of warfare.
Anyway, the deceit of defeat continued, making total mockery of Nigeria’s war preparedness. Unfortunately for Nigeria and her politicization of the true state of the warfare, the western world, with sophisticated gadgets that get minute-by-minute mirror of the tragedy, is aware that Boko Haram and its sister bloodhound, Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) are an epidemic. At a point, the Nigerian Army descended on NGOs offering humanitarian services in the Northeast war zone. Aware that these NGOs give information to their home countries on the actual figures of casualties, the alarmingly high number of soldiers felled as a result of fossilized military hardware, the military authorities began a mini war to rid the NGOs from the war zone. And the cemeteries kept on receiving unprecedented traffic of the dead, while the spate of attacks received daily muscle.
Frustrated by the unceasing carnage, the European parliament, a legislative branch of the European Union, had to voice out its bottled concerns about the slide at the warfront last week. Among a long list of distressing manifestations, the EU Parliament said it “Deplores that progress has stalled in the fight against Boko Haram, ISWAP and the increased occurrence and severity of suicide attacks and direct attacks against military positions; recalls that Nigeria’s President Buhari was re-elected in 2019 on the promise of defeating the violent extremism promoted by Boko Haram and other terror groups, and urges the President to implement his campaign promises.” It was a diplomatic artillery fire on a Buhari who seldom knows what his governmental right and left hands were about.
Then the President came in with another waffle. On Friday, as he received European Union (EU) Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, at the State House, Abuja, Buhari lapsed into his usual boring riposte but this time, with a tinge of myopia laced with very poor logic. Because Nigeria fought and won a civil war, the 50th anniversary of which it just celebrated, said Buhari, the country will also win the Boko Haram war, no matter how long it takes. If Nigeria could go through the 30-month civil war, it would be atop the 10-year-old war of insurgency soonest. “If we were capable to fight a 30-month civil war and reorganise our country, I wonder why people are thinking that Nigeria cannot do it,” he was quoted as saying.
Now, there are two unpardonable, even if laughable cants laced with that statement. One was the assumption or even hypocritical submission by the President that after the 30-month war, Nigeria got reorganized and second, his deployment of the civil war model as an apt corollary to the current Boko Haram insurgency. As an aside, Nigerians must collectively deploy the very strange and even obtuse media management model of Aso Rock where the Nigerian president is shrouded from scrutiny by the press. How come nobody hears first hand from the president but his thoughts are parceled as press releases, when Villa Correspondents who should cover visits of this hue are next door? Is the Buhari media apparatchik hiding a discernible limitation of the president from the scrutiny of the world, through decreeing out live coverage of the president by the press?
Anyway, on the first prong, Buhari erred very massively in stating that after the civil war, Nigeria had been reorganized. Reorganized into what? More than the pre-war era, Nigeria is today fractured into frightening fissiparous tendencies of tribe, religion and class. These tendencies got more pronounced under the Buhari government than any government in the history of Nigeria. The recent Amotekun hoopla and government, as well as its sidekicks – narrow-minded voices in the North and Miyetti Allah’s frantic fear that Amotekun could be a hub for secession advertise the fear that Nigeria is soldered together by a tender wedge that could snap at any moment.
Second is Buhari’s reference to the Nigerian Civil War as a manifestation of Nigeria’s commitment or even assuredness of winning the Boko Haram war. Except for the fact that it sounds like an esoteric lapse into spiriticism, nothing links the two wars under reference apart from the ounces of bloodshed that they both advertise(d). More significantly, that statement seems to again advertise critics’ lampoon of Buhari for possessing pre-historic or Acheulian remedies to 21st century Nigerian situation. Yes, the Boko Haram war is fast sprinting to the finish line of over one million souls lost in the Nigerian civil war, but no, it wasn’t quelled by current Nigerian military establishment’s myopic understanding of warfare, World War 1-like quality of armaments against sophisticated weaponry of the insurgents and demoralized troops who cannot see Nigeria as the philosophy behind their fighting at the war front.
First is the Commander-in-Chief’s warped understanding of the concept of security itself. Surrounded by security chiefs whose expiry in service is benumbing and who the President stubbornly retains, Buhari has deafened his ears to the cascading demoralization of troops that comes with expiration of tenure of service chiefs, some of whom have overstayed by as long as six years. Second is Nigerians’ haunch that if Buhari deploys remedies he used as military Head of State in 1984 to 2020 matters of state, he is more likely deploying same strategies against this long-winding insurgency. Third is that the civil war that he inflates his feathers as having won was disposed of in 30 months while the current interminable war has lasted over a decade. With the politicization of the Boko Haram war, Nigerians, except the merchants in Aso Rock, don’t see an end to the bloodletting of the war.
If those Nigerian soldiers killed daily like chickens and who are buried at nocturnes were children or relatives of Villa tenants, they probably would be minded to deploy 21st century remedies towards ending the war. This is why, rather than be sober at the gruesome killings and the recent horrendous murder of Andimi, leader of CAN, the presidency could go on a roller-coaster of harangue of Christian leaders, rather than face the gory fact that, apart from the civil war, no Nigerian Head of State has harvested as much Nigerian blood as Buhari has in five years or so. It is apt ingenuity to call this administration a Government by condolences.
As a people, we seem unconcerned by the peremptory handling of the Boko Haram crisis by the Buhari government and externalize its consequences because none of the casualties is our relative. Families who daily lose loved ones to this tepid fight by Nigeria are the ones who know where the shoe pinches. Otherwise, we would all in unison howl at Buhari to go back to Daura if our people are slaughtered mindlessly in hundreds like this while he surfeits us with sophistries. Comparing Boko Haram with the Nigerian civil war is the unkindest cut of them all, even worse than his technical defeat gibbering.
Nigeria and the impending Wahun Coronavirus
THE world is literally laying eggs at the moment, worried at the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. As at the time of writing this, China has reported 41 deaths and 1369 cases in Mainland China. America has ordered all its workers at the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan to vacate the city. Hong Kong has declared state emergency as it shuts down the city while China, where the disease originated, is quoted to have begun the building of two hospitals with which it planned to combat the outbreak said to have likely been contracted from the saliva of snakes. The hospitals’ period of completion time is slated for between ten and fifteen days.
Nigeria has a huge share of Chinese inflow. A report claimed that an estimated 120,000 Chinese come into Nigeria annually and workers who litter several construction spots in Nigeria who travelled to China for the holiday are expected back to Nigeria next week.
There is no doubt that it is at moments of emergencies as this and countries’ responses to them that you identify the state elements in assemblages that purport to be states. States with balls swiveling between their legs have risen to this emergency while ones that merely advertise a pretention to same are absent on the radar. What plans are being made to ensure that many of the China returnees are screened appropriately at air and seaports? As against the vacuous prayers often offered by our nationals against disasters, what are Nigeria’s proactive health plans in case the Coronavirus sidles into the country?
For Wale Ojo is a jolly good fellow
LAST week, I was at the 70th birthday of the former editor of the Tribune, Mr. Wale Ojo, in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State. He was editor of the Sunday Tribune in the 1990s. Straight-forward and dedicated man, Ojo is an unassuming man whose editorship of this Tribune title brought to the fore his very loyal and unassuming nature. Members of staff under him, till today, still recount his avuncular disposition, his commitment to the other person and ability to swim out of difficult terrains through the deployment of the human capital that surrounded him. Today a full time pastor at The Redeemed Christian Church of God, not many people still recollect the contributions of persons like this to the civil rule and freedom of the press from physical jackboot rule of khaki men that we have today. Special mention must be made of journalists of Ojo’s hue’s daring biting of bullets during the June 12 struggle and the contributions of the press to June 12 being made a monster in the hands of the ruling military governments. Recall that June 12 became a fait accompli to the military’s eventual departure from governance. I hereby join subsisting students and graduates of the great Tribune’s school of journalism to wish Mr. Ojo God’s best as he trudges on in service to the Omnipotent and to mankind.