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30.06.2011 Nigeria


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Just like every other of their attack, the character was the same. Yet they took the security operative again unaware. Before we could shout in shock, they were bold enough to identify themselves – BOKO HARAM!

They stroked in Bauchi first then Jos, Kano, Sokoto two years ago and infiltrated into many other Northern towns. But what they left in the few days of their war on the innocent, who finally became Christians or Southern, was death in large numbers, destruction of private and public properties and leaving everyone else confused. As is usually expected, all militia would claim responsibility for their act and give whatever seems reasonable as explanation for their act. But this group told the world that their main trust is their hatred for western education. Nigerians watched if the leaders would come to immediate rescue, the world watched also, but as expected the government all various level paid deaf ears and pretended as if nothing happened. The press shouted hoax and within weeks everyone went back to the status quo as if nothing ever was amiss. That was two years ago.

After successive activities in other parts of the northern states including Borno where they seem to now reside, the other week, they dared the Federal Capital city of Abuja and the very office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP)! It was a bloody yet successful (by their standard) adventure no matter how it is dressed or described. With series of deaths and several vehicles burnt beyond description, what else did they need to make a bold statement that terrorism has arrived Nigeria? Now the presidency and all arm of government are restlessly tinkering new ideas and methodology to use in quashing the mayhem. Can we succeed?

So much have been written and documented about the exploit of Islamic Fundamentalist in Nigeria. It is very painful that despite all efforts, despite series of warnings and despite the fact that most of the leaders of the gang are well known to/by the very security agencies which are at the receiving end each time, all the groups have continued to go scot free because our system prefer pretence to dealing with issues. And so, after years of destruction a governor is suggesting that the group which wants everybody to embrace illiteracy should be granted amnesty as was done to Niger Delta Militants. Are the two cases similar? It is necessary to take a look at the various groups which over the years have given Nigerians restlessness all these years.

Now MASSOB. The Movement for the Actualisation of Biafra (MASSOB) has been championed by one Uwazurike Ralph. In fairness to the man and his group, they had need to fight having felt that the east had been suffering marginalization since after the civil war. But that is where the agitation ends. How I wished he has been putting his energy into better use now. No true Igbo man desired the separation of Nigeria half as much as the Ikemba of Nnewi Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu. Chief Ojukwu is an extremely intelligent, first class retired military officer and governor of the old eastern region. He fought the war which Ralph Uwazurike desire to ignite and knows better. If a man of his disposition could warn the leadership of MASSOB of eminent trouble if they continue to toe their line of action, would anyone still need further warning? What is more? The Igbos has never had it so good in the leadership equation of Nigeria. Today, an Igbo man is the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker House of Representative. Igbo man is also the Chief of Army Staff and the Comptroller General of Immigration. What is MASSOB's desire? There is time for everything. They ought to remember that their bail was through plea bargaining of their prominent leaders in the Senate.

There was time the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) was as dreaded as the Boko Haram in the SouthWest of Nigeria. Their desire was to ensure that their Yoruba leaders give purposeful leadership and that was achieved when the Afenifefe and other Yoruba groups joined hand to give Obasanjo the desired support in his presidency. The west then got all choice appointments and through it, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) closed rank and dissolved their individualistic stance giving Obasanjo a smooth ride in ASo Rock with Dimeji Bankole as Speaker of the House of Representative, Sanusi as Central Bank Governor, Inspector General of Police etc. Forget the fact that Obasanjo cheated on other people, he is currently enjoying the fruit of his deceit as was demonstrated during the recent election of the speaker of the House of Representative.

The next team is the Niger Delta Militancy and amnesty. I have basic problems with the likes of Mohammed Haruna of the NATION newspaper especially on religious issues. In these matters, he throws caution to the wind always. What purpose does it serve him comparing Islamic Fundamentalists with Niger Delta Militancy OPC and the rest? Boko Haram members are bunch clowns enjoying the cover of certain people in government who have been using the very instrument of western world which they detest, to promote heinous crime in destruction of live, properties and distabilising the governments at various levels. But can Haruna claim that based on the mode of operation of the group, they are illiterates they claim to be in their ranks? Are these muslims? Which of the major Islamic group has ever identified with the Boko Haram?

MEND or Niger Delta Militants were a creation of Babangida and Obasanjo both of which criminally destroyed the revenue allocation and derivation formula. Their agitation was simple and concise – Resource Control. It is no longer news that resources from the region alone account for all the creation and development of Abuja to date. Ditto most of the extremely unviable states especially in the Northern Nigeria. Did Niger Deltan prevent the north from the continued farming in all their areas of comparative advantage? If yes, which of the group has ever been sent packing because Gold, Tin, Columbite etc was discovered in their farmland?

Finally, the Nigeria Police. Now all elements within the Nigeria Police would seem to work with some level of alertness. It would have been seen as a good omen, but the truth that all these will wane in less that few weeks from now. It is almost correct to say that whereas all over the country, given the number of road blocks which have dotted the nation as if we were in a police state, one would think also that we are in a state of emergency. But what puzzles More is that while one would expect some level of check on the content of vehicles which is one of the main reason of the road blocks, what we see is “Wetin You Carry?” and “ Your papers are not correct” etc and the essential greasing of palms. The authorities cannot claim to be unaware of all these. If they had been involved in the minutest check, wouldn't they have discovered arm carrying vehicles and passengers? Why has the various armed robbery operations made successful if not for the inept attitude of the men and officers at the checking points? How many times have the police been successful in their raid on road users in their attempt to recover arms or dangerous weapons from robbers, kidnappers or Islamic Fundamentalist? How is it that a kidnapped fellow in one state is ferried across to other states to demand ransom? Didn't they pass through road blocks? How be it that our security operatives are getting advice from pages of newspapers? What is amiss? Can we be so gullible that we forget the essence of our being? I think the killer was even too greedy. He would have gained access to the office of the IGP if he had been just a little generous with cash! A token of about N1000.00 would have seen him face to face with the IGP negotiating his terms before blowing up the whole place. But the IGP has just told the nation that Boko Haram who he confirmed as master minders, have eaten his words! So who are we dealing with now? Some unknown quantities? Do we have security in Nigeria, if our Inspector General of Police is unsure of his claim about his attempted killers? Mr. Ringim sir, resign now.

Well bombs have exploded in all sacred places in the country except now the Presidential Villa. It has visited some government houses, trailed some governors' routes, exploded at campaign venues and burnt many offices. The works of kidnappers are now a daily occurrence and Boko Haram has developed its acts to greater height and so far, for now it is clear that we are all on our own. What a country.

But the bottom line is that we dress corruption in beautiful grabs and so give it other names that what it really is to encourage it. We do not call it by its name – a thief is a thief that is the truth! Why call it embezzlement, misappropriation of fund, unapproved expenditure etc. all are one form of stealing or the other and should be called and addressed as such then treated same way. The other day, a special church service was organized for an ex-convict. The man of “God” was in the centre of it glorifying the man! A street thief is sent to jail for stealing N50,000.00 or less for food. But a pen robber steals billions of Naira and is jailed six months four of the months spent on bail, one month in the hospital and the rest one week in and three weeks out negotiating freedom. Nigeria I hailO!!!

We have seen enough of these maladies let the government at all level rise up to the occasion and expose the leaders of these groups which we are told, are not Nigerians.

STOP PRESS: As I write, reports' reaching me confirms that at least 25 persons have been killed in another serial bombing by Boko Haram in Maiduguri the Borno state capital. The act is said to have been executed in community of people drinking at joints. I fear that this is a signal that southerner are again on the receiving end.

Mike O. Akpati is a Public Affair Analyst based in Port Harcourt

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