Tag Archives: Boko Haram

GOODLUCK JONATHAN: A PRESIDENT IN SEARCH OF A LEGACY

“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Sir Winston Churchill

Goodluck-Jonathan

The Goodluck Jonathan administration is in its twilight. There is a chance the President will get another shot at the top job if he wins a second term into office. But let’s ask ourselves a question: What if he doesn’t return reelected; are his achievements impressive enough for Nigerians to remember the President for good? Right now, the answer may well be in the negative. Jonathan’s presidency has been beleaguered within and out with criticism especially because of the Boko Haram leads insurgents and incursions in the North-Eastern part of the country. Important aspects of National discuss critical to Nigeria’s development such as the economy, power, education and road infrastructure have taken the back seat.

It is unclear the direction Mr. President has taken the nation in the last four years. The transformation agenda has been more a rhetoric than a blue-print. Although the Presidency will lay claim to some accomplishments; on the whole, they are not enough to save Jonathan’s name for posterity.

On foreign policy, Jonathan’s administration has made commendable progress. Nigeria has responded promptly and responsibly to the needs of her citizens abroad. For instance: when the issue of the £3000 visa bond by the United Kingdom came up, the Nigerian government rose to the occasion. Also, after South Africa deported Nigerians for allegedly possessing phony yellow cards, the Nigerian Government responded in kind. Nigerians felt proud and a level of patriotism was palpable because we saw that the government would come to our defense whenever the need arose. Under Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria also assumed membership of the UN Security Council. Furthermore, trade ties with the Asian giant, China have been robust under the Goodluck era.  On the African continent, Nigeria may not possess the “Big Brother” mien she did under Obasanjo (in trying to stabilize other African countries’ democracies) but she is well positioned to assert herself in the committee of nations both in the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Still, the president’s progress in foreign policy is not enough and will not guarantee Goodluck’s legacy.

If there was ever any area one could call a “quick-win” for the President, it was in power. A solution to Nigeria’s power problem is sure to confer a “savior-like” status on anyone who delivers on the mandate. Nigerians have not seen remarkable improvements in this sector even after the privatization of the PHCN. A large number of people still live in darkness and have to generate their own electricity. Despite the 7% growth in GDP between 2002 and 2012 and the increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country, it would be near impossible for this growth to be felt by the poor without stable electricity. The much talked about diversification of the economy through agriculture is still a work in progress. Nothing this administration his working on is complete! So here again, Jonathan will not be venerated for his efforts in the economy and agriculture or for improving power. The Obasanjo era achieved better in terms of debt relief, telecommunications and banking reforms.  As outlined earlier, Jonathan’s administration may have made some strides in some areas but these developments are too slow and too minuscule to give a long lasting legacy.

It is becoming clear that it is the security challenge that will define Jonathan’s legacy for good or bad.  Violence linked with Boko Haram have claimed at least 10,000 lives. Boko Haram have burned schools, killed teachers and raised churches and mosques. They have gone after traditional rulers and governors. Women and children have turned refugees in their own country. The physical infrastructural damage run into billions of naira while the psychological cost will not be quantified for years to come. Boko Haram is public enemy number one. This terrorist group sunk a new low when they kidnapped over 200 Chibok girls in the dead of the night. The world was aghast and queried the government in power whose responsibility it is to safe-guard the girls. Celebrities and notable figures around the world including Michelle Obama got on #BringBackOurGirls campaign demanding the release of the girls.  Jonathan’s administration floundered in its military and media response following the abductions.  World-wide criticism from local and foreign media including Aljazeera and CNN did not spare disparaging remarks on Mr. President and his armed forces. Jonathan’s already wounded image took yet another plunge.  In a self-redeeming effort, the President put up an OP-ED in the Washington Post explaining his silence over the Chibok abductions. The editorial has done little to help him because so long as the girls remain at large, it is considered another failure in his responsibilities. There is a growing hopelessness and despair about his leadership style and Nigerians and the world await any kind of good news about the girls and the security of the country.

I am certain the Chibok abduction would define President Jonathan’s administration forever. He has done well in trying to galvanizing international support in fighting terrorism in Nigeria. He has also sought more funding (about $1 billion) from the National Assembly to fight terror. As much as Nigerians want Boko Haram stopped, we are also skeptical to believe the money would be utilized for what it is voted for given our antecedence with corruption. It would indeed be sad if this money find its way into private pockets. While we await the findings on the $470 million invested in the procurement of CCTV cameras in the FCT and Lagos; we are yet to highlight a single crime that these cameras helped prevent since their deployment.

Although Boko Haram is the obvious threat to our dear nation, corruption is the cancer that has made Boko Haram’s activities thrive. Aside from security issues, our inability to prosecute corruption has undermined Jonathan’s efforts to transform Nigeria.  It is fact that the EFCC is no longer revered like it was under Nuhu Ribadu. Under Late President Yar’Adua, Farida Waziri lead the arrest of ex bank chiefs accused of corruption. There was ‘sanitation’ of the banking sector that saved Nigeria’s economy from taking more damage from the global melt down. Under this administration, Nigeria has had to rely on the British Justice System to bring her citizens to justice. This President has also pardoned crimes that bother on corruption. It is the prerogative of the President to pardon whoever he wants, but he pardons send a clear signal to the world that President Jonathan’s anti-corruption mantra was a tale for the moonlights.

A television advertisement has tried to draw a parallel between President Jonathan and great leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and President Obama. Our President must know that these great leaders are praised for actual achievements and not for campaigns.  These men stood up for something or against something and these defined their legacy. Mandela stood against apartheid and stood up for the rights of black South Africans. Lee Kuan Yew grew Singapore from a just another country to one of the most developed in Asia. And of course President Obama brought a new meaning to the word-change- when he defeated John McCain in the stiffly contested election to be the first black President of the United State of America. It is a good thing that President Jonathan has set such high standards for himself and aspires that his name be called in the same breath as such great figures; but this can only be done if he achieves the mandate he was actually voted for and not with foreign PR firms helping to launder his image.

Whether he likes it or not, President Jonathan’s actions or inactions regarding security especially the return of the Chibok girls will be the defining moment for him. Winston Churchill will forever be known as the man who in war time rallied the support of the world especially President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United State, against the evil Adolf Hitler. It is clear that the war defined Churchill’s legacy. President Goodluck can do same and can be that man who will lead Nigeria out of the doldrums of terror. He can be that man if he decides to face the battle headlong devoid of political interests.

Nigeria has had more than her share of killings. The security problem has claimed innocent lives and the blood of the innocent knows no religious or ethnic cleavage. There is no Christian, Moslem, North or South divide when it comes to life. The air we breathe has no color or race or religion. President Jonathan must be that man to bring Nigerians together and win the fight against terror which has tried to change the way we live. He can bring his people together like President Bush did after 9/11. He can show us who we are as Nigerians. He can inspire faith in him once again and it has to begin with bringing the girls home. Gandhi did it, Mandela did it and Obama is doing it. President Jonathan, can also achieve greatness if he will just put his personal ambitions aside and put Nigeria first. That is the only way he will succeed. Nigeria will work someday, I am certain of it, but whether it will be Jonathan who would lead the people from the wilderness into the promise land, time as they say will tell.

 

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A TALE OF MASSACRES: ALUU FOUR, MUBI AND A TICKING BOMB

As a young boy, I watched the torture of Samuel Doe on VHS. I may not have understood what made so many people angry with him at the time nor had I an insight into the political nuances that led up to the civil war in Liberia; but even in my naivety, the grotesqueness of the video was palpable. I considered the video a horror movie like The Living dead or Idi amin because my mind could not conceive violence of such magnitude as fact.

After watching what now is considered the “Aluu four” massacre video, there was no confusion as to whether it was fact or fiction. What was puzzling this time around were questions I had no answers to: How did we get to this point in Nigeria? How did the threshold for violence lower so much without notice?  Who are the parents of these murderers? How did they bring up their children as killers and what went wrong in their formative years? How will the parents of the slain ever find succor having watched their sons hacked to death in such brutal manner in their own country?

Children are usually taught to “rat” or tell-on their siblings in acts of misdemeanor. It is a system employed by parents to know when things go wrong in their absence. A child, usually the youngest is the designated whistle blower. If truly the society is an offshoot of the family, it is worrisome that no one in that crowd ran to the police to report? No one felt compassion enough to do anything about it. Instead they cheered on and acted like children angry at lizards which simply refused to die after stoning them down from a tree.

In July, Miss Cynthia Osokogu, a 24 year old entrepreneur was raped and murdered for sexual gratification.  While some blamed the poor girl for being of easy virtue, the bulk of the criticisms went the way of the murderers. It was perhaps only Idowu Akinlotan, a columnist for the Nation Newspaper in his essay titled, “The Cynthia Paradox”, that captured my sentiments on the matter.  I strongly believe that we need to pay more attention to why these things are happening in the country rather than on the actions themselves. Violence has taken a new dimension in the country. Violence has taken off her clothes and danced naked in the village square while we watch in astonishment. Violence is now the cancer ravaging us from within. Treating the symptoms is tantamount to putting a band-aid on a diabetic foot in the hope that it would heal. It is not enough to set up committees of enquiry. It is not enough to parade suspects on NTA and force confessions out of them. Something lies beneath.

While we slowly came to terms with Cynthia’s demise, a group of youths slaughtered over 30 students in Mubi, Adamawa state. The names of the victims were called out and they were summarily executed. Some reports suggest that their bodies were chopped into pieces. Yet again we wailed and cried and set up more committees of enquiries. The investigations were still ongoing when all of a sudden in Aluu, Port-Harcourt, another violent incident erupted. All these acts have one thing in common; they are carried out by young people and targeted at young people. Be it in the north, west or south-south, the trend is evident-the youths have turned on themselves.

I remember a time when we young people used to boast about togetherness and camaraderie. We collectively agreed that it was the older generation that caused the denigration of present day Nigeria. Youths make up more than fifty percent of the general population, so when there is a dysfunction in the way youths think, then you know we have a serious problem. So what exactly has caused so much disconcertion, disdain and disarray amongst us?

A plausible explanation could be our overexposure to bloodshed over time. We are inundated weekly by wave after wave of violent acts across the Nation and little by little we have lost the human connection God put in us. News of Boko Haram bombings; killings in Jos and Eboyi State are just headlines to us now. I too am guilty, because after hearing about a church bombing recently I was grateful to God that the death toll was minimal. I praised God it was just one person that died as if that one person didn’t have a family. It didn’t occur to me at the time that that singular human life could have been a father, a husband, a brother, a son, a breadwinner and an uncle to someone else. It now takes a large death toll to get our attention.

In addition to the over- sensitization to violence, the present economic hardship in the country has not helped. The youth are frustrated, jobless and restless. They are full of energy and will react quicker to situations. They willfully expend such energies even if it is against the society.  They are also more impressionable that other age groups. We, youths, have also noticed that crime is hardly punished in Nigeria. We see no point in going to the police. For instance, when we perceive that oil subsidy thieves are shielded from prosecution, it breaks our hearts. We have seen that Farouk Lawan has remained in the house of representative even after his obvious complicity. We have witnessed people like Dimeji Bankole use inane techniques to stall court processes.  We have seen youths kill in Jos, Bauchi, Yobe and Kano and yet walk free after jamboree committees’ met. We have noticed that a man was killed five days after his wedding in Lagos by men suspected to be members of the police force yet no answer has been forwarded. One doesn’t have to be a genius to deduce the repercussions of this. When there is impunity even for seemingly small crimes, disaster looms. This is why the killings have increased in intensity and have gone unabated.

In finding solutions to these “uprisings”, we may need to look at the Aluu incident more critically. We need psychologists (the Nigerian government is not interested in such things) to investigate the upbringing of the perpetuators. What went wrong in their childhood? I believe that there are certain people who are prone to violence and crime-an infinitesimal few. For others-the majority- they need to be pushed to the wall to commit crimes like armed robbery. Around the world we hear about misguided persons such as Timothy McVeigh, Andres Brevick, and James Holmes, committing mass murders. In such instances, the perpetuators acted alone and in the case of Brevick, his sanity was questioned.  But when a group of “sane” people champion killings and go on to record it on video, you begin to fear. When a group of young men lure a lady Lo Lagos in order to rape and kill her, you sense a depravity. When bandits connive to kill 30 students in peace time, you are terrified for your children yet unborn. Even in war, soldiers’ sometimes suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of the things they do and see.  My argument is that the community of people that killed these four boys are sick.

In order to prevent this from reoccurring, the law must be seen to function. The perpetuators’ of the act must be punished severely. Those that gave the order, those that supervised, and those that executed the order must be punished. The Mubi killers must also be punished.  If eventually the law finds them guilty and capital punishment is employed, their executions must be made public. This should be done to elevate the sacrosanctity of the law.  The law needs to make a statement that it exists. Executions even in the US are made public in some states. Sadam Hussein’s execution was made public. Even in primitive societies, the hang man (representing the state) performed his duty in the full view of the public. This was done so that people respect the law.

The Goodluck Jonathan administration has experienced an unprecedented wave of bloodshed. In 2010, I wrote then that I hoped we would never come to a point where suicide bombers would be employed.   I actually thought I was exaggerating. In 2012, suicide bombing is no longer news. It seems funny that the President made a speech three days after the Aluu incident and the four boys did not get a mention. Perhaps he forgot, or it wasn’t on his agenda for the speech. I was disappointed. The President should have called for national mourning. Flags should have been flown at half mast. If he didn’t consider it a national tragedy, then it probably wasn’t so important.  Flying flags at half mast is a call for national re-awakening. It sends a message that the incident must never repeat itself. By not given it a mention, he has tolerated it. He has in avertedly agreed we have the capacity to deal with such things.   I have been extremely slow in criticizing this President because I think that we as citizens abdicate our own responsibilities sometimes. But why are all this things happening under his watch? Is it all a coincidence, or is there something he is doing wrong? Where has he gone that he shouldn’t have? Where should he have gone that he didn’t go? There has been too much bloodletting under him.

In conclusion, we all must know that violence begets violence. The law of sowing and reaping is in motion. The bloods of the innocent have been spilt time and again. We cannot claim to have heard the last of the Jos conflicts.  If your family member was maimed during the Berom and Fulani fracas, do you think you will forget? Would you live happily ever after with those you know killed your spouse? Will the parents of the slain four ever forgive the Aluu community for this action? The truth must be told. Many families have been hurt. They have not seen the state provide the justice required to keep them at peace, so they wait simmering, hoping for the perfect opportunity to strike back and shed blood. The cycle goes on. What we need is to break the cycle. A holistic approach must be sought. While we work assiduously to bring perpetuators to book, we should also target the next generation. We must begin to teach those coming after us to respect life. Parents have a huge responsibility here. The body is a function of cells the way the society is derived from a family. If we miss it at that level, then we will fail. The state must enact laws to compel people to plant trees and keep pets. There must be stiff laws for killing animals. If you go to prison for killing a dog, you will think twice before killing a human being. It will take time but it will work. If the little children love life, they will preserve it. They will in turn teach their children and one day we will have our beautiful land once more.

©2012 Otaigbe Ewoigbokhan

Itualive!

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OTEDOLA, FAROUK LAWAN AND A FALLING HOUSE

The Nigerian state has yet again been thrown into another circus. For those that have been following the news, Hon. Farouk Lawan, a member of the House of Representatives, a man loved by many and hated by some has been the object of mixed emotions lately. But whether you love him or loathe him, he was definitely a star on the rise in Nigerian Politics. In a country known for people worship, adulation came the way of Mr. Farouk like waves on the sea shore. I put him on the pedestal somewhere right below Malam Nuru Ribadu. I have always had the feeling that if there was going to be a genuine fight against corruption, it would be spear-headed by a northerner.  I don’t know where I got that idea but it stuck like glue to my mind for a while before this very ugly incident.

I have to ask this question before I go on: What the hell was Hon. Farouk thinking? For a man who I thought was intelligent, he obviously lacks street smartness. You don’t deal with “cowboys” without having an ace on you. You don’t dine with the devil without a long spoon, in fact you shouldn’t even show up for dinner. I have tried to analyze the recent bribery findings in ten different ways, and Farouk loses out every time.

My candid opinion is that whenever you are put in a position to fight corruption especially in a country like Nigeria, the first thing you ought to do is insulate yourself. By insulation I mean a complete sequestration from anything that can discredit you while you hold that office. Mrs. Farida Waziri was right when she said that in Nigeria, if you try and fight corruption, it would fight you back.  To quote the rapper Jay Z, “you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight”. Mr. Farouk ought to have known he was walking a tight rope, and should have kept himself from any form of blemish.

After the January fuel subsidy crises that led to a microscopic look at the oil sector rumored to be arguably the most corrupt in the world, it became obvious that the gloves had been taken off so to speak. It was general opinion that the subsidy regime was laden with corruption at an iniquitous level.  Consequently it would be impossible not to have the so called “cabal” unmasked. The Jonathan administration was under pressure to offer some credibility to the much professed anticorruption crusade. And this was the litmus test. This administration has had a poor showing so far as far as anticorruption campaign is concerned and thus the need to engender confidence was necessary. Nigeria can never move forward if corrupt people aren’t put in prison for the simple reason that if corruption is rewarded, and not punished, it becomes lucrative. Right now, you are more likely to be labeled as foolish if you are honest.

Let’s try and build a case for Farouk (there is no case but let’s try anyway)

If we assume that he really did want to use the money as exhibit against Mr. Femi Otedola, why didn’t he lodge the money with the CBN? And why the desire to take the initiative against the oil mogul?  If he was so sure people wanted to bribe him and he was only considering a sensational finale to his remarkable accomplishment as a crime detective, why didn’t he wait for the “crooks” to come to him? He would have had a more tenable argument. Second, let’s also assume he was trained in Quantico at the FBI bureau or worked with Jack Bauer on the second season of 24, why didn’t he have an alibi. No one knew, not the House Speaker, not the EFCC chairman, not the CBN governor, not even his partner, Tony Almieda (wink wink). He went alone, for he works alone.

It may have started like a real espionage mission but it sure has ended as a freak show from hell. I strongly believe Farouk legitimately wanted to be a hero but seriously you can’t have that sort of “cheese” in your house and not be tempted by it. The bible warns us to be flee from every appearance of evil. Farouk Lawan did not flee. In fact he embraced it and went to bed with it. And along the way he decided he was going to keep the money for himself. If that wasn’t the case, Zenon oil wouldn’t have been expunged from the list. The mere fact that it was originally there and it was later “amended” and removed by him (Farouk), he and by extension the full report cannot be said to be credible.  Its common sense, If I know I am going to be hurt badly by a repot I would either attack the legitimacy of the report or attack the credibility of the person who wrote the report or attack both. We have seen this game before with the power probe and SEC probe.

The Otedola Angle                                                                                                                                

It beggars belief that the state will collaborate with a man under investigation to implicate a man empowered to conduct the investigation.  Common sense suggests it should be the other round but hey there, this is Nigeria. On the other hand, Mr. Otedola may as well be the victim of the serial probes by House committees.

The Way Forward

First and foremost, I believe strongly that Nigeria needs to uphold its institutions and for this reason the House must bring stiff disciplinary actions against Farouk. Not since the Water Gate scandal, has an arm of government witnessed this amount of embarrassment that has come the way of the Lower House. From Patricia Ette, to Hembe and now Lawan, the House must take deliberate steps to redeem its image. It’s a shame that such a fine gentleman is being used as a scapegoat but the law must be seen to work. He should resign honorably and if he won’t he should be removed by whatever means the law affords. If people begin to see all House members as corrupt people, our democracy is dead and buried.

Second, this may be far-fetched but something in me hopes the original report would still be implemented. The whole point of this charade is to discredit the report but we can’t allow people who stole over 1.6 trillion naira to walk. That would be carnage.

If this probe ends this way I would never believe a single word the President speaks about anti-corruption ever again. If this were the US, President Obama would have said something by now, our President’s silence is deafening.

©2012 Otaigbe Itua Ewoigbokhan

Itualive!

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BOKO HARAM: THE TRUE AGENDA

After watching the attack on Thisday newspapers by Boko Haram on YouTube today it occurred to me that we are in for a long haul. If for whatever reason the present situation is not managed properly, Boko Haram would lead to the balkanization of Nigeria. In January of 2011, I remember writing that political elements were responsible for bombings in the FCT and I hoped the situation did not degenerate into one where suicide bombings would begin.  It thought I was going too far thinking suicide bombings back then and I honestly never saw it happening in Nigeria. After the Police HQ bombing, I still refused to believe that the bombs were detonated by suicide bombers. To me, they were set off remotely. Nigerians don’t kill themselves was my argument. But slowly, it has dawned on me that we live in a new Nigeria. One in which improvised bombs are made and suicide bombers show off proudly on YouTube. Clearly a number of things have happened in the last two to three years. There has been a restructuring of the organization known as Boko Haram. They have acquired technology and grown in intelligence. They have operatives everywhere. It’s difficult to imagine that they would attack the police and military facilities in Kaduna without insider information.

Boko Haram is presently made up of three elements; economic, political and the Islamic fundamentalist element. Ab initio, Boko Haram started purely as a result of the deplorable economic situation in the north. Their attacks were against the state majorly because they had a grouse with the way the elite and political class had plundered their resources.  So we often heard about attacks on state institutions such as the police especially after the extra judicial murder of their founder Mohammed Yusuf . As usual, government mismanaged the situation and the quick fix mentally resulted in the death of Mohammed Yusuf. This metamorphosed into a political problem. The build up to the 2011 elections escalated the situation when it looked like the “North” was losing out of the power bloc. Violence began to erupt in many parts of Northern Nigeria to create a “tense” atmosphere. Killings became sporadic and more daring. Perhaps politicians wanted to use this as a negotiating tool to get government to the negotiation table. Yet again, the problem was mismanaged and the economic cum political Boko Haram found a new manifesto in Islamic fundamentalism. These three headed hydra evil force is the present day Boko Haram and it would take only the Grace of God with sincere political will to combat it. While the “original” Boko Haram will bomb anything that represents the state such as the police and military facilities, the political elements within are happy the government is embarrassed.

The most troubling attacks to me are the ones target Christians. These attacks are fueled by the Islamic fundamentalist component of the organization.  Islamic fundamentalist Jihad anywhere in the world has three agendas. The first is to kill all Americans. The second is to kill all Jews. The third is to kill all Christians and the last is to install an Islamic state and enforce strict Sharia code. The reason I say the third element is the most troubling is because this third element of Boko Haram does not negotiate. It would kill even its on members who try to talk soft. It is deadly and ruthless. They killed members of Yusuf’s family who tried to talk with government. The Jihadist arm is fully a terrorist organization. By their exposition on YouTube, they apparently have strong links with al-Qaida, Al Shabab and other terror organizations across the world. And so, they have nothing to negotiate.  They want to kill all infidels. First in northern Nigeria and then move for the south. That’s why talks with government always fail because no one can meet their terms. This third arm would hide behind politics and the “original” Boko Haram and by continuing to bomb schools, police stations and even media houses. But this time around when they do, they look out for Christians. The Bayero University incident paints a sad picture. Students who were worshipping peacefully were bombed and those who thought they were escaping were sprayed to death by machine guns. Churches in the north have become soft targets all over the country. So the agenda is clear. They don’t want for resources because so many groups around the world share this agenda and they have a slush fund to finance their cause. They get their funding from within and outside the country form people and organizations that are sympathetic to them. The fundamentalist arm is in control Boko Haram. They may still stay true to their name (“western education is sin”) but what they are about now is purely Islamic fundamentalism.

Islamic fundamentalism thrives in societies where there is poverty, lack of education and break down of law and order. The signs have been there for a while now. But the Nigerian politician is concerned with just his pocket only. He concerns himself with contracts that would benefit him. He buys the best cars and tars the road to his house. If the roads in his states are too bad, he buys property in Abuja or Dubai. The North has a large portion of uneducated poor people. These two factors are necessary ingredients for disaster especially when you add religion to it.

Religion can brain-wash a young mind to bomb and kill especially when he is uneducated and poor. The virgins in “paradise” are an unnecessary incentive. He would gladly do it for free because there is no hope for him on earth. There is nothing to look forward to. He has no future. His hope and future is in paradise.

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan

The situation now is at a breaking point. We have done poorly in managing it in the past and it seems the leadership of the country has no clue. I have been very slow to criticize President Jonathan’s government because I believe first that Nigeria is a very difficult country to govern. This is a country where good people are repressed and frustrated. You can’t get a job without bribing. You can’t get into university without cheating and when you do, you will be lucky as a girl if you haven’t slept with a lecturer who wants to oppress you. Every probe report is killed before arriving because “forces” would never allow anything to work. The present political class likes the status quo because it suits them. But still, it is also fact that Nigeria has become less safe under this President. The Nigeria he met is different from the one he is running. Violence is so naked now across the country that we have started becoming desensitized to it. The Yobe incidents were traders and their herd was burned alive reveals how callous we have become. Things that used to be strange and unheard of have come to bed with us. Thieves raping school girls, youths raping elderly women and university students posting a crime as heinous as rape on YouTube are a few examples. And what did the security agents have to say: “The victims should come out and identify who raped them”.

The NSA, Gen. Andrew Azazi showed his frustrations when he alluded that the zoning arrangement within the PDP helped to worsen the situation. A responsible party would sit down and have a rethink. But missiles were fired at him with many people demanding his sack. One person actually said he was “ungrateful”. Apparently such a person is more interested in loyalty to whoever appointed him and not to the country. A bomb goes off, and the usual rhetoric: President Goodluck condemns attacks is read out. The governor of the bombed state has his own favorite line: It is unfortunate. The SSS have theirs: We have the situation under control! And yet nothing changes. The least they can do is change what they say.

The saddest part for me is that we are slowly coming to terms with it. For heaven’s sake this terrorist are boasting on YouTube. They showed the car ram into Thisday on tape. They set up cameras. Took positions and filmed. They told the suicide bomber to go ahead that the cameras were in place. So one question I can’t answer, maybe someone can help is this: What happened to all the CCTV cameras the Goodluck administration is spending gazillion bucks on? Do those things even work? Have they even been deployed? My problem with this country is that we never think of the simple things that solve problems. We rather do things that involve contracts and money which end up in individual pockets. About 3 months ago, it was reported that a camera in the UK caught former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, over speeding. Because he crossed the speed limit he would get a ticket. If our cameras employed for counter terrorism cannot catch traffic offenders. It would not catch a terrorist. And in the event that it would, someone would settle someone. Or aren’t we in the same country where a police chief allowed a terror prime suspect walk from custody?

The way things are going especially if nothing is done, Nigeria will break and the prophecy of a failed state would come true. You may be in Lagos or Edo, feeling bad that some Christians are being incinerated while you read your paper and watch the Big Brother Show, but if his tide is not slowed down and ultimately stopped, this party would end. It is not enough to complain. Because in Nigeria, that’s all we do. We complain, and go back to our sufferings. We protest over fuel hike and complain the strike is getting too long.

A WAY FORWARD….

On the part of government, this present administration must state in very clear terms that it would not seek reelection. That’s first. Once that is established the President can fight crime and corruption easier. If you are lobbying fuel thieves to fund campaign, you won’t bring them to justice. You actually can’t. The maxim holds true: he that must seek equity must come with clean hands (or at least not so soiled ones). Secondly, we must address the issue of impunity. If the first people who have been funding the slaughtering of Christians have been caught, tried and killed by the state. It would be harder to for anyone to find it lucrative. The age long problem of lack of education and poverty in the north and other parts of the country have been reiterated over and again. The new Al-majiri model schools are a step in the right direction.

On the part of the citizens, we should create the Nigeria we want. Speak out when we see evil and be one another’s keeper. If you give a bribe to get your child in school then don’t complain when someone bribes his way out of a subsidy probe. We must determine to be change agents. It sounds hard and idealistic in present day Nigeria but the buck has to stop somewhere. This buying and selling culture we have now will mortgage the future of our children. There actually would be no future for them.

For Christians out there, five minutes of prayer daily can save a life. It was the Church’ prayer that saved Peter after James had been killed. Prayer does work and it’s better than saying “omashe”. Since it’s apparent nobody has a clue on how to solve this mess we find ourselves in, we can at least pray and ask God for wisdom for our leaders. It’s not just because we are out of options but it’s our responsibility as Christians. There is a group out there that hates you and wants you and your family dead and the earlier you realize you are “endangered”, the faster. If Boko Haram take over the North (God forbid), they are coming south. Or did you think they would stop at Benue?

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the death of President Yar’Adua. A man I am beginning to admire more after his passing. He was sincere and tried his best to fight corruption. He wasn’t exactly the strongest leader in the world but he had a heart for Nigeria. And that’s what leadership is about-heart. He portrayed this in his resolve to find lasting peace to the Niger Delta crisis and this will keep his name forever in the history books of Nigeria. President Goodluck has a chance to combat this menace head on. He can still solve the many political problems bothering on several issues like resource control, revenue allocation formula, and immunity. The economy can grow if resources are channeled properly. Corruption will reduce if he puts people in jail as the number one law enforcer. Competencies will improve if he fires incompetent ministers.  There will be improved light in Nigeria if the generation and distribution is decentralized. Great leaders give power. Great leader risk being vulnerable. Great leaders put their country first. How the President responds to these situations, well, time will tell…

©2012Otaigbe Itua Ewoigbokhan

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