“Within six weeks we shall defeat Boko Haram to enable INEC conduct elections in a peaceful atmosphere,” said the former National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki as a reason for the shift of elections date in 2015.
“We shall within few weeks defeat Boko Haram”…Gen. Tukur Burutai
That was not the first time Nigerians were assured of defeating Boko Haram by our poorly equipped security agencies. What instigated Dasuki to have dished out such pathological lie in 2015 was unclear until his sack and arrest for stealing monies meant for arms purchase to defeat the Boko Haram. What magic does Gen. Burutai intend to apply to actualize what he said? Or are the security agencies now truly determined to end the insurgency?
Is it through a miracle or simply because Chadian and Cameroonian soldiers had joined the fight? Majority of the people believe it as a gimmick to confuse the people for cheap gain. Boko Haram started in 2006 it was duly reported by the Department of State Security Service, DSS. Their report was treated with levity. The sect was underrated and treated softly.
In 2009 when it fired its first shot in Bauchi, still it was underrated, if not, for the prompt intervention of the Yuguda government. The late NSA, Gen. Andrew Awoye Azazi tried to reach the root of the insurgency but was booted out midway. Since then, Boko Haram has defied solutions.
When government intended to declare war against the insurgents, those of us with an inkling of their modus operandi kicked against the erroneous decision but that was ignored perhaps for overconfidence and greed. The military authorities declared the war which has so far gulped a fortune and yet to be won. Instead of defeat, the insurgents continue to record successes. In the past 10 years, Boko Haram has defied all solutions. As the Muhammadu Buhari administration took over, the people have been anxiously waiting to see what happens next. Ideally, there should be a thorough probe and re-organization of the country’s security agencies. More committed and determined personnel should be brought on board to save the already politicized system. The present leadership of the security organizations seems to have failed so to say.
“We are not saying we shall wipe Boko Haram in six weeks but we can provide a level field for elections to hold,” President Jonathan said before the 2015 elections.
To the discerning mind, many questions are begging for answers on why the issue of Boko Haram was even brought to the front burner at that critical period. We all knew that Boko Haram could not scuttle concretized efforts for elections. For instance, Yobe state Independent Electoral Commission conducted council elections in 2014 at the heat of Boko Haram attacks. Was it for the 2015 general elections that the sect could launch a new style of a strike from the ones experienced? Nigerians needed more explanation from those that claimed Boko was to strike should an election held as scheduled. Why the threat of a strike in 2015 not in 2011? Was there no Boko Haram devastating attacks in 2011 and elections were held? Wonders shall never end.
Nigeria, hitherto the giant of Africa is gradually becoming a replica of its former self and assuming a laughing stock status in the comity of nations. The country seems to be under bondage by an abracadabra style of leadership tailored to a hidden agenda against the majority of the people with some self-appointed sycophants drumming support for the leadership stays in office beyond 2023. Their reason is clear with Buhari in power their bank accounts swell to the brim with stolen funds while the people continue to suffer from excruciating and degrading poverty and misery imposed by the heartless elites despite the laughable claim of an anti-corruption war that is lopsided.
Since he occupied the exalted position of a President, Buhari acts characteristically of a wild goose on rampage heading to the hunter’s trap. He is more active on trivial issues than on those needing urgent attention. His usual excuse to cover failure is he can neither be rushed nor made to act like a military general. That shows he is yet to understand why he is the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces with executive powers. Nigerians are beginning to agree with critics of President Buhari because, in most times, he acts swiftly to protect and shield some selected corrupt public servants close to him while the distance ones are brought closer for use the likes of Sen. Danjuma Goje, Magatakarda Wammako, Timprye Sylva, and other rogues.
He runs his administration on reverse gear surrounded by the usual praise singers, busybodies and perpetual blackmailers and mischief-makers. He is allergic to truth and unless fine-tuned and directed by his godfathers to act on critical issues, he prefers to ignore.
In 2012, Jonathan described Boko Haram as a faceless group of ghosts yet he appointed a committee to possibly dialogue with the ghosts and the faceless. The committee under the chairmanship of former special duties minister, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki reached out to the’ ghosts’. It submitted its report that changed nothing.
On April 14, 2014, when over 276 innocent secondary school girls were abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok, it took President Jonathan over two weeks to accept the reality necessitated from wide criticism by domestic and foreign media, an action fuelled by #BringBackOurGirls campaigners who resisted all threats and intimidation to allow the matter buried. Despite that, Jonathan was not fully convinced until Malala Yousafzai, a teenage Pakistani girl-child education campaigner intervened before he reluctantly agreed to meet with the anguished parents of the abducted girls in Abuja not even in Maiduguri the action spot as the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.
In another twist, it was Washington Post editorial comment that moved President Jonathan to realize an on-going mockery #BringBackJonathan2015 campaign banners located at the Abuja Unity Fountain venue of the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners. Hooligans and idle-minded hired vandals stationed their musical gadgets at the Unity Fountain ostensibly to disrupt the genuine campaign of #BringBackOurGirls that Jonathan hated to hear.
Reluctantly, he directed the vandals to quit the venue but not to stop the mockery he enjoyed.
Again, if not for the damning report exposing Boko Haram sponsors by Stephen Davis, Jonathan could not have said he knew “his newly wedded political bride” Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was under investigation by security agencies on his suspected role in financing Boko Haram although Sheriff never created Boko Haram but was suspected to be an active financier.
Since Boko Haram, the self-appointed agent of death and disunity started its offensive in 2009 allegedly caused by extra-judicial killing thousands of lives and property were lost, particularly in the prone areas. President Jonathan within himself tagged the group as a northern creation against his administration and political ambition. At another level, he was told that it was a Muslim agenda against his person. Despite the accusing fingers, sincere Muslims consistently denounced Boko Haram but the majority of Christians nursed and fanned a hidden agenda against Muslims which was to the advantage of the insurgents.
As expected, former CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor asked government severally to deal ruthlessly with anybody involved in the insurgency but refused to be passive as a true leader, he targeted blame on Islam and Muslims. As a religious leader, one expected him to have at least, have a fair knowledge of Islam just as Islamic clerics should equally have a fair knowledge of Christianity and so on.
But the arrest of the pastor’s private jet stocked with $9.3million for arms purchase in South Africa forced CAN admit that there was more to the scandal than what their president championed.
The mention of Oritsejafor’s private jet sent shivers to the marrows of several Christians across the globe. The involvement of the donated jet for private use exposed his character and suspected lust for wealth contrary to what a man of God should be. Oritsejafor must have by now stained any good relationship with the Almighty God if there was any at all going by his antecedents and involvement in partisan politics against the exalted position he occupied. His Church and some hired sycophants masquerading as leaders of an arrangement called Think Nigeria Muslim-Christian Movement made attempts to deceive and confuse Nigerians to believing a falsehood. It did not change the thinking of Nigerians instead it added salt to injury and exposed a move to cover.
As a self-acclaimed ‘man’ of God, Oritsejafor could have no business operating a private airline but diverted a donated jet to commercial use against aviation law and the very government that was supposed to prosecute him for violating the law, chattered the jet for a scandalous operation.
In his defence of Oritsejafor, former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka, a novice in the aviation industry hurriedly abused the intelligence of Nigerians to defending the illegality which not only belittled the office he occupied but portrayed him as unfit for that office. First, who authorized him to defend Oritsejafor and for what reason or was he the pastor in-charge of CAN’s public relations? Was Chidoka a minister of CAN or a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria operating on oath? His attempt to exonerate Oritsejafor exposed his ignorance and incapacitation to manage the aviation ministry. He could have known the existence of an aviation law that bans leasing a private jet for commercial use in Nigeria. He acted based on ethnic affiliation or religious opium to insult the intelligence of Nigerians. And with Jonathan, neither Chidoka nor Oritsejafor could be questioned for any wrong.
Instead, Osita Chidoka was to be a recipient of future national honour for defending a scandal that brought shame and disgrace to the nation’s genuine Christian community.
Antecedents of Oritsejafor, show biz posture and incendiary words singled him out in the allegation of gun-running. Under his leadership, Muslims and Christians got divided. His past was a sad story. He confessed being a former armed robber, cultist and drug addict lucky to escape arrest. In his days as an armed robber, he must have killed and injured several of his victims before jumping to the unregulated profession where anyone can claim being a man of God. In 2011, in one of his incendiary statements, he urged the government to allow Christians to bear arms and ammunitions for ‘self’ defence and with his private jet involved in arms scandal, who knows what next?
The Israeli arrested in the arms procurement scandal, Eyal Meskal did not explain his mission in Nigeria and on whose errand he was caught. What right did he have to get involved in arms procurement for Nigeria? Were Nigerians at liberty to believe the allegation that some Churches in some parts of the country were stocking weapons? After Jonathan in 2015, Nigerians expected to be free of all evil spells. It has not materialized to date.
A frontline Christian and former governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume said; “ unfortunately CAN be jumped into this fray, hurling insults on respectable members of the society and making statements more political than spiritual. When on August 27, 1976, Christian leaders first met at the Catholic Secretariat, Lagos to agree to establish an organization that would promote cooperation among Christians, interfaith harmony and safeguard the welfare of all Nigerians.
“When CAN was eventually registered in 1986, its constitution clearly articulated among other objectives to act as “watch persons of the spiritual and moral welfare of the nation”. Another core objective is to promote understanding, peace and unity among the various people in Nigeria.
From the pioneer president, His Eminence Dominic Cardinal Ekandem through his several revered successors like His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, Dr Sunday Mbang, Most Reverend Peter Akinola and the former Catholic Bishop of Abuja, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, CAN witness its glorious years.
“Today the story is different since the present CAN leadership came to board it has become a sorry appendage of the Villa. It has become politically partisan, obscenely materialistic and the voice of the oppressor rather than that of the oppressed.
The situation degenerated to the extent that the single largest block of CAN, the Catholic Church suspended itself from the leadership of CAN until sanity returns.
“Those of us that are Christians saddled with leadership positions are disappointed that this once glorious organization has become the defender of criminal acts that have exposed Nigeria to international ridicule. The jet in question is not the property of CAN. It belongs to Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor supposedly donated to him by his congregation. This was a private jet for spiritual work but as the owner himself confessed, it was leased out for financial gain…” But will Jonathan who once knelt before Oritsejafor for ‘spiritual’ blessing act decisively or will compromise? Your guess is as good as mine. The chain of ethical liability in his case is certain and makes a good case for the prosecution. After all who licensed the private jet for commercial use against the aviation law? Why, was it the only private jet in Nigeria that could be used for such a scandal and what connected an Israeli with Nigeria’s arms procurement? Was it mere coincident or arranged during Jonathan’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem?
Prophet Wale Olagunju of Divine Seed of God Chapel Ministry, Sasa, Ibadan, said, “CAN President Ayo Oritsejafor had lost focus by propagating the gospel of Goodluck Jonathan 3rd Term rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. How will Oritsejafor explain to the world with a fleet of Presidential Jet in the country, the federal government could not use any of its Jets other than the one belonging to him for this unholy job? The action of Oritsejafor has tarnished not only Christianity in Nigeria, but also the name of Jesus Christ who the pastor professed to represent”.
Since the escalation of violent attacks by the insurgents in 2010, it is estimated that more than 70,000 people have been brutally killed while thousands of persons have been displaced. More challenging is the fact that the Jonathan administration showed lacklustre attitude in decisively confronting the situation and in most cases denied the gravity of the challenge and sufferings of civilians, leaving many communities in agony, trauma and devastation.
It is also on record that apart from the acts of insurgents, Nigerian security forces were indicted of serious violations against the citizens. In its report of September 2014 entitled, “Welcome to Hellfire, Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Nigeria”, Amnesty International disclosed the endemic torture and human right abuses by Nigerian Security Agencies. Security Agencies are now seen as agents of death by a majority of citizens while the government watches.
Having lost confidence in the then ability of the Jonathan administration to secure them, various communities resorted to forming local vigilante groups consequently resulting in another challenge of arms proliferation and the government was helplessly watching.
Former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was of political relevance to the 2015 ambition of Jonathan in Borno State but that conventionally had nothing to do with the security of the nation he threatened with impunity. The sheriff was a constant visitor to the presidential villa and suspected to be an informant of the president and PDP since he exited from office in 2011. Observers opine that as former ‘staunch’ member of the opposition party, what role was he playing in the villa? His former party APC was fast to get rid of him. He was left with no option than to be real by joining his masters in the PDP who maintained him as a mole. Former APC national chairman, Chief John Oyegun described Sheriff as a mole and a hypocrite. APC got rid of him to forge ahead than tolerating him for more damages.
One vital accusation Sheriff all along refused to address in his several press conferences of defence is that who actually ordered the murder of Muhammed Yusuf the founder of Boko Haram before the investigation and why was he murdered instantly hours after arrest? Was he arraigned before any court of competent jurisdiction and found guilty of any offence and sentenced to death by instant firing squad? The sheriff is still at liberty to provide answers for posterity.
Again, Nigerians and the rest of the world are waiting for Sheriff to make his threat real by instituting his said case against Dr Stephen Davis in Australia to seek redress as Nigerians doubt any positive outcome from the so-called DSS investigation as announced by Marilyn Ogar who gave a clean bill of health to the other suspected ally of Boko Haram, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika.
Davis accused the retired army general and former Chief of Army Staff, Azubuike Ihejirika who fired the first shot against Boko Haram. Before his un-ceremonial exit as Chief of Army Staff, Ihejirika was mentioned in an N40billion scandal budgeted for procurement of arms and ammunition for the military. As usual, he denied any misappropriation and was not publicly probed as usual. Jonathan probably had accepted his self-defence as the allegation, seem to be buried.
The United States once mentioned Gen. Ihejirika as part of the problem in executing the war against insurgency in Nigeria and as usual, the Jonathan administration turned the other way to bury the matter.
A top military officer, Major General Cecil Ehekhaigbe who was Nigeria’s Defence Adviser in London, had cause to petition the presidency accusing Ihejirika of swindling defence funds after the emergence of insurgency. As usual, instead of the former Jonathan administration to investigate, it turned the other way and fired the petitioner for blowing the whistle as in several similar cases of fraud and theft of public funds.
At a meeting with former President Jonathan in Abuja, former American Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle raised the issue of monumental corruption among top military officers which were undermining Nigeria’s already disappointing performance in the war against Boko Haram. Entwistle cited the sudden affluence of the embattled former Chief of Army Staff and urged the Federal Government to probe him for apparently diverting funds meant for procuring arms and other military hardware. Jonathan listened but hurriedly buried the matter because it was Ihejirika that was involved and the military had to remain ill-equipped until Jonathan went borrowing $1billion to equip the military after several defeats.
When case (s) of torture, extortion and extra-judicial killing by security agencies were reported, only lip service (s) is paid. The genesis of Boko Haram insurgency originated from a case of extra-judicial killing allegedly by the police in Maiduguri. Till this moment, nothing is heard of any action taken by the Nigeria Police high command to bring the culprits who ignited the trouble to justice. When Muhammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram was arrested in Maiduguri by soldiers and handed over to the police for possible interrogation and prosecution, he was instead instantly killed without going through the stipulated legal process. After several outcries, the suspected murderers were arraigned before an Abuja High Court.
The basis of most of Nigeria’s problems emanates from the behaviour of leaders. Nigeria’s leaders behave as if the entire citizens are always wrong and only a minute few in power have the monopoly of knowledge and wisdom to lead. That has been not only erroneous but suspicious. Nigeria of today looks more accommodating, comfortable and protectable to criminals than to patriots and nationalists. Sycophants, praise singers, treasury looters and identified crooks and clowns close to the corridors of power are seen as doing no wrong and the impunity has crossed the limits of political patronage and other barriers of friendship to a kind of occultism that does not add value to humanity.
If the Jonathan administration was impervious to the death of its people and destruction of properties, then Nigerians must begin at that critical point in time to have stopped chasing shadows and scrutinize the actual agents of insurgency and not be hoodwinked by the sepulchre of a shorthanded Boko Haram while the real culprits were shielded and protected. The Buhari administration should now strive to prove a point by being sincere, truthful and courageous to act when there is a need to act instantly. But delay in execution of policy sets the country back and portrays it as lacking in civilization. After all, is President Buhari not responsible enough to differentiate the good from the bad? Did he acquire the required exposure needed before venturing to lead a complex country like Nigeria or he only came by chance to try luck? Many doubt his capacity to lead Nigeria out of the quagmire it found itself and he is yet to realize the objective truth that the country is gradually heading to disintegration.
With several allegations flying against those close to the corridor of power and the increasing awareness that insurgency persists because it is now a lucrative business of the powerful but heartless interest groups in the corridor of power and even the men of God have chosen to slough off their conscience to pursue worldly gains at the expense of innocent lives is a serious case of concern that only 2023 elections can save Nigeria if Nigerians so wish to get out of the bondage. But if those alleged to be financiers of Boko Haram are not properly investigated as expected, then Abubakar Shekau and his co-travellers in the insurgency madness have no case to answer as well. Nigerians have to unite to fight insurgency and expose those behind the vandals or endure to accommodate the mayhem of the vandals to infinity. Defeating Boko Haram is easy depending on how it is approached but war can never be part of the solution as the insurgents prefer war than dialogue. The approach by the government has been discouraging as it lacks sincerity.
Those in charge of the nation’s security, appear to be more comfortable with the insurgency than proffering immediate solution. But Nigeria is in a deep mess.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues