Until a fatal combination of cirrhosis of the liver and excess Viagra did the lunatic Abacha in, between November 1993 and June 1998 everyone knew their place in Nigeria. All our noisemaking warmongers kept well quiet, muttered undertone or stayed put in their various hilltop residences. The lesson? Power is not a tapestry you hang on your living room wall and admire. You wield it for it to be effective. If you don’t, others would and you would be out of it.
What is happening to President Jonathan at the moment is very painful to behold. Somebody should please tell him that the referee has blown the whistle and that the game has kicked-off. He needs to come out and play ball now. Ahn-ahn! Everyday, Boko Haram this; Boko Haram that!
I honestly don’t believe that there is even a real “Boko Haram” group anywhere. Oh, there was such a coven, but I think that the organisation was taken out in July 2009 when then Governor of Bornu State, Ali Modu Sherrif was fingered as one of its major financiers, and its leader, Mohammed Yusuf was cut down in a hail of bullets by Nigerian security operatives as he did an inelegant O.J. Simpson shuffle in his long robe and ankle chains in full glare of no less than half a dozen mobile phone cameras.
Back then, I understood that Boko Haram main grouse was against education – or, more specifically, “Western education.” But education, like technology, has become a universal whole in whatever civilisation, so I don’t understand the separation. However, we are being told that today’s “Boko Haram” wants the establishment of an Islamic State as well. Where exactly they want to do this, I’m not quite sure. Nevertheless, it would appear that the way to achieve this is to set the whole place on fire and kill off half the people. What is clear to me is that “Boko Haram” has become a catch-all phrase that is used by evil people and disgruntled big men whenever they unleash their murderous hired thugs and dim witted followers on the rest of us – you know, the same way sinners (mostly adulterers) invoke the name of the Devil whenever they are caught. If you don’t want Western education, you don’t go killing loads of people every other day; you simply don’t go to school. Chikena!
So, clearly, there’s more to what is unfolding now.
Leading up to the elections, we heard plenty of boastful talk about violent change if things don’t go a certain way. Container loads of arms and ammunition were imported into the country. Some grown men that lost out have not stopped acting like cry-babies whose feeding bottles have been taken off them. Since then we have had no rest, no peace. There has been no let up in the carnage unleashed against citizens of Nigeria all in a blatant selfish attempt to discredit Jonathan and make the country seem beyond control and ungovernable. Yet not one person has been held accountable that I’m aware of. I guess the untouchables are still untouchable.
Two days ago, “Boko Haram” mocked online: “The Nigerian state and the state security services can only bark, but cannot bite.” Sadly, at the moment, you would have to agree that this is stating the obvious. The statement further taunted, “The locals will never betray us because they believe in our cause, SSS, we are not far away from you, if you can get us, come for us, we will not relent until we achieve our aim.” The statement further said, “Despite obstructions to our several operations in Kaduna by the SSS, we are still determined to be guest of the brotherhood members in Kaduna.” Then it concluded in a fit of grim bluster, “More attacks on the way! More attacks on the way! More attacks on the way!”
Well, earlier today (11th July 2011) “Boko Haram” bombed a stretch of area popular for their drinking joints in the city centre of Kaduna. A few hours before, another bomb went off in a church in Suleja just outside Abuja. Four people died there.
Jonathan, perhaps without doing much for it, got a very handsome pan-Nigeria progressive vote mandate. At the last Presidential election, across the country, people that were tired of the same old, same old political oligarchy held their noses and voted PDP because of what a vote for Jonathan represented. Most people saw Jonathan being robustly opposed by the usual power overlords and knew that we had to break the yoke for the good of the country. Jonathan cannot afford to waste this. He cannot afford to dash people’s hopes. And if he doesn’t know it yet, so soon in the day, he is already beginning to frustrate some of his constituent big time.
A leader has got to be able to inspire the led. Right now, as I look towards Jonathan, the confidence and warmth I see emanating from him is enough to freeze a small penguin. No one is happy to follow where there is no discernable direction. Worse, weakness can be smelt miles away and power, like nature, abhors vacuum. Something would always fill the void. Bornu and some parts of the North East seem completely out of control. Things have become so bad that Governors in that corner of the country have resorted to issuing near weepy public apology to a “Boko Haram,” a terrorist contraption! This is a first! A most frightful, tacky and shameful display of wanton cowardice. Perhaps helping out such hapless Governors by declaring a state of emergency in their respective domains would be a nice starting point.
What is a government if it cannot protect its own citizens? Really, what use is such a government? Jonathan must confront and engage this opposition forcefully now. He must use all instruments of State to decisively put down this challenge and those causing mayhem in the country under the guise of a “Boko Haram.” In other words, Jonathan must play or forfeit the game by getting out and getting lost.