Bombs as wages of complacency

by Jibril Sado

Across the world socio-political landscape today, the governments with the most impact on the lives of their peoples in the area of security are mostly governments with a gung-ho approach coupled with the necessary Devil-May-Care attitude towards security issues as occasion demands. Their ways may not always be 100 percent effective or pretty, but their message to troublemaker-designates all over the world could hardly be clearer: ‘You must think again and again or else you will have all of our state might to deal with.’ Nigeria has lacked such a streak for far too long in dealing with internal security matters. The suicide bombing at the police headquarters in Abuja on June 16, 2011, further signposts this.

As pesky as some may consider the United States of America to be in the current order in international politics and associated issues, one thing the rest of the world cannot always accuse God’s Own Country of lacking is the will to look ahead and act with brutal decisiveness no matter whose ox is gored, in most cases. Such phrases as “preemptive measures,” “preemptive strike,” “preemptive self defence of American interests,” etc regularly rear their heads in the diction of American administration officials. Why? Simple, although America has never been exactly lukewarm to threats against its interests, but from Pearl Harbor to the Iranian Hostage crisis of 1979/1981 through the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998, America has learned the hard way to be ruthless, decisive and more importantly, proactive where matters of terror are concerned.

On one of the few occasions in recent memory when the US authorities failed to properly address such issues in advance more than 3000 souls were vanquished on September 11, 2001. But what followed that attack was a renewed commitment by the US to fight terror and terrorists wherever they may be – Afghanistan, Iraq(?) Pakistan etc. Admittedly, the Yanks’ methods have not always been endearing to all. Nevertheless, since 9/11 especially, they have made a statement that still resonates with terrorists: ‘the American nation refuses to yield to intimidation or cower in the face of terrorism.’

It is an approach that France, under the leadership of Nicholas Sarkozy seems to have also embraced. Some months ago Mr. Sarkozy’s popularity and approval rating across France was dipping by geometric figures because his government was perceived as lacking the verve or va-va-voom to help plant France more emphatically on the world socio-political template. The president ‘saw the light’ and realized he had to stir the hornet’s nest a little especially so as to give his reelection bid more impetuous. Luckily for him, both Laurent Gbagbo in Ivory Coast and Moumar Gadhaffi of Libya inadvertently covered themselves in scapegoat skin and provided Sarkozy the ammunition and the safety valve to make a bold, clear and unmistakable statement of authority: ‘France and Sarkozy can bite.’ Never mind the legality or lack of, in these tactics.

What is important to note here is that, in the main, countries – for instance Pakistan -where the leadership stands by and only tries to react to trouble after some damage has been done mostly get tangled up in all sorts of mess. And when the response is in the shape of what one friend of yours truly’s would describe as “greenish, semi-formed, non-bloody, non-mucoid” performance as happens in Nigeria all the time, the result is the kind of indiscriminate loss of life and property we have seen on a rapid basis in the country in recent times. Far from advocating the sort of brutal and barbaric crackdown on dissent currently going on in Syria or a reenactment of the massacre that took place in Odi in 1999, the truth is that a state cannot just fold its arms and watch a coterie hold it to ransom. Unfortunately, the Nigerian government has continued to prove itself a willing, docile and complacent animal to the antics of predators on national peace and security.

While speaking with journalists on his visit to the scene of the carnage the day after the blast, President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly said: “Terrorists will aim at the top. If they can bomb the President, they will do it.” He was spot on. Boko Haram have never disguised the fact that they would kill the president or the governor of a state if they could. What must worry most Nigerians is that the government and its security apparatuses keep providing the group with the conducive environment to aim higher and higher with each violent incident that gets followed by the usual rhetoric and directionless, halfhearted state security response. Imagine for instance, what information would have been milked from the late leader of the group, Mohammed Yusuf who was carelessly murdered by security operatives who had captured him following the weeklong violent clashes between security forces and members of the group across some northern states in July 2009. Ironically, by inexplicably killing Yusuf shortly after a brief interrogation at a rowdy session before members of the public, the security operatives foolishly threw away vital intelligence on Boko Haram. So it is no surprise that the intelligence community is still as clueless as ever about the group.

As tragic as the incident at the police headquarters is, it bears comical imprints how easily an alien car could stealthily gain access into the convoy of the (supposedly) most powerful policeman in Nigeria and then drive into the ‘welcoming’ embrace of policemen at the sentry – men part of whose brief it ought to be to have known ahead of most people the exact number of vehicles in the Inspector General of Police’s convoy that morning as well as other details about the convoy. So the blast took place within the police headquarters premises as a consequence of yet another case of unpardonable and ultimately fatal lax in security awareness.

Again, the bombing had been coming for months and could have been nipped in the bud were the presidency and the security outfits not such headless chickens on security matters. The omens could not have been clearer starting with the October 1, 2010 bombing that took place a mere 500 metres from the Eagle Square, venue of Nigeria’s 50 Independence Anniversary celebrations where the President was chief celebrant. Following that incident was the Christmas Eve bombing in Jos, Plateau State which was quickly followed by the New Year’s Eve blast at Mogadishu Barracks in Abuja. On the heels of that was also the March 4, 2011 blast in Suleja, Niger State during the flag-off of the state governor, Babangida Aliyu governorship campaign. The April 8 bombing in which several Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ad-hoc staff were killed also followed. But in their usual headless chicken performance, the security agencies have never been able come up with a definitive list of suspects in any of these cases. Crucially also, whereas more intelligent intelligence agencies or governments would have taken the hint and ‘fortified’ Abuja seeing that all the incidents mentioned above took place in or around the Federal Capital Territory, they also did not react decisively to the aftermath of any of the earlier incidents.

There are permutations that, starting in particular with the manner Yusuf was killed in 2009, the now recurring violent incidents in the country especially in the North are being fed by some powerful saboteurs both within and outside of government. These claims may not be entirely without merit. Still Nigerians should be even more disappointed if that is the best defence their leadership can muster on the mess currently playing out. Truth is, every terror machine has its day of reckoning. It is the duty of a leadership with a sense of the importance of the battle at hand to bring that day forward. Even Pablo Escobar, th

e seeming unconquerable Colombian drug lord in the 1990s, together with his cartel of violent louts eventually met his day. But for how long can Nigerians hold out, hoping for some show of flexibility by their leadership in response to or anticipation of developments of grave national importance?

You may also like

Leave a Comment