Boko Harem: Reaping the Winds of Indifference

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

First, it will amount to

high minded foolery to avoid commenting on the rise of misdirected

tirades at Northerners since the Christmas day bombing of 2011.

Indeed, more often than not one find the ethnic lens analysis to

Nigeria’s problem always fails on many counts chief of wish is

logic. The story as it is written by these commentators is that Boko

Harem is the answer of Northern Elites to Goodluck Jonathan’s (GEJ)


While on the surface, one

may not find it hard to connect the dots to jump into such

conclusions, it simply fails to pass the smell test. Few questions,

did Boko Harem only become a phenomenon under GEJ’s presidency?

Does Boko Harem have the absolute monopoly on brazen violence to

achieve political goals in Nigeria? If the answer were in the

affirmative then their analysis would have bore some credence to it.

Unfortunately or fortunately, it is not.

Boko Harem’s first

public confrontation with police was a February

2009 attack in Maiduguri that left 6 people dead. Several months

later in July, a follow-up attack followed. These attacks were picked

up in foreign media like the New

Yorker, but trust our lazy journalists to allow this to slip

under the radar while we focused on the shenanigans of the power play

between the now late Y’Aradua and his Vice, Jonathan. Clearly,

this sect is no response to Jonathan’s presidency; if anything it

is a response to the internal politics of Borno state that boiled

over with the bungled elections of 2007.

If you doubt this fact,

then you must believe in that innocuous “other theory” that have

always been the dreaded dark side of Nigeria’s politics, being

flogged up by our elites that want us up in arms against one another

while they thieve away. But then consider this: the first bomb under

Jonathan was sent off by a familiar enemy – the MEND. You got it

right; the Independence Day bombing of last year by the President’s

own clansmen in the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta

set the pace for public bombings in Nigeria. So was MEND in cahoots

with these “Northerners” too?

See, the lazy man

analysis of some kind of sectarian dimension to the ongoing crisis

ignores a larger problem: that of indifference that has been rocking

our nation since the 1980s. On three dimensions, we the citizens of

Nigeria have been indifferent and today the chicken is coming home to


The first dimension of

indifference can be observed among the voting public; the so called

electorates. We have been indifferent to incompetence across board

among our rulers. Only in Nigeria will a politician dumb as a numb be

rewarded with public office in the name of federal character and

voting to ensure “the other” does not get power. We as a people

failed in our most basic duty!

This was self evident in

the last elections, when clearly the most incompetent politician won.

One will be hard-pressed watching the

debates or the non-debates, to come off with a sense that

President Jonathan had any capacity to perform the work he was

trusted with. We the electorate voted with sentiments instead of

logic. In many climes, on both the Presidential and Vice

Presidential debates, Nigeria was offered a better alternative in

2011 being an objective observer of competence: but our logic

demurred to our emotions.

A man with history of

corrupt streaks, gross incompetence, ineptitude of the highest order

and many times pure cluelessness won the people’s mandate because

of our shallowness and indifference to competence. We value clan over

competence and we are paying for it big time. In Nigeria, politicians

don’t resign because people die under their watch; and in this

instance and many bombs thereafter, President Jonathan is asking us

to expect more and to hope it “fizzles

out”. Show me a man out of his depth, and I will show you the

Jonathan team. His cabinet, his policy proposals and his inability to

get us out of this jam reveals a man given a mandate that he never

deserved in the first place.

If indifference to

incompetence was an offensive error, a defensive one has been the

political class’ indifference to corruption among its ranks.

Indeed, today corruption is a terminal illness slowly eating away at

the fabric of our society. Nepotism, favoritism, sheer cronyism and

bribe taking/giving are accepted as the order of the day. This system

has ensured that we are collectively unsafe. Indeed, ask yourself how

much that customs officer is worth before allowing that explosive

into the country on a container without checking.

Ask yourself, how much

human life is worth to the airport security officer versus the tip

that will ensure that bomb gets into that plane. This seeming

insecurity of the political and non-political class was brought upon

us by their indifference to a terminal illness called corruption.

Security is provided by humans; and when patriotism will not trump

short term material gains then we are not safe. Indeed, with security

agencies dominated by folks lacking the necessary skills to perform

aside from being related to a “big man”, we basically have nailed

our own defensive coffin against terrorism. How much is a

politicians’ life really worth then again?

The classic indifference

however have to come from the very government we call our own. Since

1966, Nigeria has maintained an arrangement and structure that has

defied logic. Many suggestions on how to right this wrong have been

submitted, but the government have simply ignored these. Issues of

course boil to the surface every now and then, but they are often

suppressed. It was one commentator that remarked that “citizens

do not want but dare not leave“.

The order of hypocrisy

that often riles the logical mind is how leaders of yesteryears who

opposed convening a national dialogue of whatever form to discuss the

basis of our federation change color once they leave office. The

latest one is the chameleon of Otta, General Olusegun Obasanjo who

blocked every attempt to simply dialogue while Nigeria burned

under his watch in his eight years at Aso Rock last time around. I

even hear Former General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida is now a

proponent of Sovereign National Conference! What a bunch of clowns!

Indeed, the sad fact is

that erstwhile agitators often turn coat too like our current

President. A man who should identify with the needs of the minority

struggles that beget him is today toeing the establishment line of

blocking dialogue that may resolve the host of issues bedeviling our

nation by acting stupid! President Jonathan may think this current

spate of bombings will “fizzle” away, but he is sorely mistaken.

It will only get worse, until we the people are empowered without the

political class standing in our way to renegotiate this union and

determine our destiny without their indifference!

You may also like

Leave a Comment