The Mike Ozekhome's Corner : Of Propagandists & The Endless Boko Haram Insurgency
A time was when former president Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan was the whipping child. Many Nigerians flogged him by the bare buttocks, with koboko or bulala, for allegedly allowing Boko Haram fester in the North East. They mocked him. One leading APC leader derisively described him as the “drunken Ijaw man”. He laughed all off, with smiles and affability. Occasionally with humour and guffaw.
This government had claimed since 2016, severally, that Boko Haram had been “technically defeated”; “badly degraded”. All that remained, prided the spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, was mere mop-up operations in the Sambisa forests. The government adulated itself; back-slapped one another and vilified Jonathan. They had mouthed lies and inanities that Boko Haram had taken over more than 7 LGAs in Borno state, planted their flags, and refused people passage.
Pro-APC and those who bayed for Jonathan’s calm blood did not stop for a moment to consider the plausibility of this theory. Was it sensible?
They could not do simple logical analysis or reasoning, to wonder how the presidential election of February, 2015, could still take place in the North East, especially in Borno State, with “land-slide” and “moon-slide” victories for the then APC Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, if Boko Haram had indeed so ravaged the North East that it was unreachable.
Reason vacated its seat. Vain gloriousness and falsehood sat on the chair of sanity. Imperiously. Like a proud peacock!
The propagandists were not interested in the truth. What mattered then was that president Jonathan must be hounded out of power at all cost- by hook or crook. What mattered was that Messiah Buhari was coming in, like the lamb of God who “taketh away the sins of the world” (John 1.29). Buhari had promised Nigerians during his electioneering campaigns that economy, corruption, and insecurity would be his principal tripodial concern. He would deal them a death blow. On insecurity, he promised to “lead from the front”.
Of course, Nigerians believed him. Why would Nigerians not believe him? After, all, he was a retired General who had fought during the 3 year bloody Nigerian-Biafran civil war. Why not, when a “bloody civilian” Jonathan could not “tame” the Boko Haram menace that was scorching dear North. Did the Nigerians who suffered historical amnesia remember that Buhari once bemoaned the killing of Boko Haram insurgents which he likened to killing “Northern Moslems”?
So, Nigerians were misled, deceived and hood-winked hypnotically, sumnabulistically, to literally kick out Jonathan from office. Jonathan became the sacrificial lamb on the altar of bacchanalian gods and goddesses.
The affable, easy-going “I-had-no-shoes-to-wear-at-the-age-of-10” President quietly conceded defeat even while the votes were still being counted to satiate their over bloated ego. He insisted that his “ambition was not worth the drop of any Nigerian’s blood”. He was ridicled, derided, spat on and even, attacked in some parts of Northern States (like Bauchi), where he had gone to campaign. He simply smiled and left, without uttering one word. Here was the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria being stoned at campaign rallies. Not that he did not know. He did.
On December 30, 2014, President Jonathan had received a delegation of Traditional Rulers and leaders of thought from Bayelsa State. Led by the then State Governor, Seriake Dickson, Jonathan had prophetically warned Nigerians thus (premiumtimesng.comnews):
“When I leave office, you will all remember me for the total freedom you enjoyed during my government”.
Then in a picture he posted on August 24, 2017, more than 2 years after Nigerians had been subjected to the most harrowing and asphyxiating experience of grinding poverty, escalated insecurity and mounting corruption (recovered loots were being relooted), Jonathan weighed in again (www.legit.ng):
“I am the most abused and insulted president in the world, but when I leave office you will all remember me for the total freedom you enjoyed under my government”.
Though President Jonathan said he will continue to do his best in solving Nigeria’s challenges, he however said he did not expect praise while still in office; but that his then actions and achievements will only be justified and applauded after he had left office. Has Jonathan not been proved right? Where are the historical revisionists, bootlickers, grovelers and fawners in this government now, the Buharists and Buharideens. Compare the GEJ era with the PMB era.
An alleged mere blockade of the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai passage in Zaria on December 12, 2015, rallying Shites Islamic group, which led to a gridlock of his convoy, met with over 348 hundred in cold grave yards, laden with crimson blood of butchered unarmed and secretly buried Nigerians. Sheik Zakzaky and his wife were promptly arrested. They have been in detention since then, inspite of several court orders for their release. (en.m.wikipedia.org.www.cnn.com).
History is good. It exhumes the entrails of the past and splatters your face with it. Today, the story of Boko Haram is different. The historical revisionists have reached the end of their game of chicanery of mass propaganda that made Hitler’s Goebbel turn in his cold grave. The chicken has come home to roost.
The Pandora box has been broken. The dirty skeletons in the white sepulcher have been thrown up.
Suddenly, the truth, always as slow as the tortoise and snail, has finally overtaken falsehood and lies that run as fast as Hussein Bolt and Ben Johnson combined.
It used to be virtually almost Boko Haram only, during Jonathan’s tenure. Today, armed banditry, terrorizing herdsmen, rampaging kidnappers, looming murderers, and such vampirious elements have taken over the Nigerian space.
Now, the Federal Government wines, cringes. Lai Mohammed has suddenly admitted that Nigeria is yet to defeat Boko Haram. (www.premiumtimesng.com).
Reacting to the gruesome slaughter of 110 farmers by the terrorist group in Borno, Lai said that the federal government’s counter-terrorism efforts are being hamstrung by insufficient military hardware. Oh, really?
The Minister lamented that Nigeria’s entreaties to its foreign partners for assistance to upgrade its weaponry has not yielded results, hence the country may remain at the mercy of the dreaded jihadist group, which according to him, gets global funding:
“Nigeria has made an attempt to acquire a better and more effective platform to deal with terrorists but for one reason or the other we have been denied this platform — these weapons”.
He added: “Without adequate weapons or platforms, we remain at the mercy of terrorists.” But a former United States envoy to Nigeria, James Entwistle, had earlier disclosed that the U.S refused to sell arms to the troubled West African nation due to serious human rights infractions perpetrated by Nigerian troops, an allegation Lai has expectedly denied.
Now, those who shouted “hosanna” for Buhari, and “crucify Jonathan” to GEJ less than 6 years ago, are today singing a new song. The time for pretext is over. The time for historical revisionism is over. Now is the time for hard truth and soul-searching. Conscience, said Usman Dan Fodio, is “an open wound”; only truth can heal it”.
Yes! This was why the former two-term Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, prodded by the gruesome beheading tens of Borno citizens spilled the beans, in a motion he moved at the Plenary Session of the senate on 1st December, 2020. He said over 40 thousand people had been killed in 10 years, with over 2.5 million displaced, by the Boko Haram insurgents. He faulted the Federal Governments position that Boko Haram had been defeated-or-degraded, whether “technically”, physically, spiritually, psychologically, or otherwise.
“ Last weekend’s beheading happened about 20 kilometres away from Maiduguri. From the 1st of January to this day, we have had 2,800 attacks in Borno State, Boko Haram are virtually ruling all our rural areas. They kill and abduct people at will. They are targeting farmers in the North.
Government officials keep saying Boko Haram has been technically defeated. This cliam is not true. The primary responsibility of government is to protect lives and property of the people. Any government that has failed in doing this has lost the legitimacy of the people.
If we allow terrorists to take over North East, that is capable of metamorphosing into something larger Shettima said”
The Senator representing President Buhari’s constituency, Ahmed Baba Kaita, in his contribution, said actions of president Buhari have not produced any results so far.
He said if something was not done, insurgents may overrun the country. Listen to him:
“The time of truth has come. The situation is no longer acceptable to any Nigerian. We can’t be mourning our citizens in and out every day. We can’t accept the explanation from those who should do the right thing whenever there is attack. If the statement from Garba Shehu is true (blaming the slain farmers for not getting clearance from troops before going to field), that’s very irresponsible.
“I believe that the situation is facing us eyeball to eyeball. We have to sit down and access the situation in the North East. Something is wrong here. If we allow this to go, we should be ready for another attack soon”.
Former Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, contributed to the debate by saying troops lack modern arms and were hardly provided with support. He said people in Borno State were paying ransoms to Boko Haram before being allowed to go to their farms or move around in their villages. Can you believe that? Fellow Nigerians, can you now see why GEJ deserves to be garlanded?
Trust Ndume. He shot from all cylinders:
“I can tell you that people fighting war are sharing ammunitions. They have no arms or proper kits. I have not seen a Nigerian soldier holding a new AK47, Last week, some people came to me in Abuja and they asked for money to help them pay their dues to Boko Haram terrorists before they can harvest their crops. If government is serious, this terrorism can be stopped in six months.
America engage mercenaries. Why can’t we get that? We will be failing in our responsibility if we fail to do the right thing. In his contribution, former Kebbi governor, Mohammed Adamu Aliero, wondered why Buhari has refused to visit Borno after the attacks. “President Buhari should have gone to Borno State and not to send a delegation.”
RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE
The upper chamber later urged federal and state governments to address issues fueling insecurity. It similarly called for massive recruitment into the military and Nigerian police force.
President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, was blunt for once, even against his appointers. He warned that excesses will no longer be tolerated. He Said the resolutions of the Senate must be implemented by the Executive.
Lawan must have shocked his benefactor when he said, “this is not the first or second case of insecurity in the country. We will take additional steps and insist that our resolutions are implemented.
These are recommendations the Executive must implement. This is one thing that will gladden the hearts of Nigerians when implemented. Enough of any excuses. People who have nothing to add should be showed the way out. We need people who can do the job. Nothing is more important than to Nigerians than their lives”.
This was not all. Further reactions poured in:
RESIGN NOW IF YOU CAN’T GUARANTEE SECURITY OF NIGERIANS, CLERICS TELLS BUHARI
Two clerics, Adewale Giwa and Pastor Ebenezer Ologunowa, told President Buhari point blank to resign if he cannot guarantee security of lives of Nigerians.
Giwa, senior Pastor of Awaiting the Second Coming of Christ Ministry, Akure, Ondo State, however urged Nigerians to stay strong despite the challenges confronting them, saying “it’s unfortunate that we have a president who doesn’t listen to the yearnings of his people”.
He claimed the president’s highhandeness has set to Nigerian in all ramifications.
“if they could kill a first class monarch in Ondo state, who is now safe in this country? If the wife of Ondo state Chief of staff could be kidnapped easily, who knows who is next? As of now, God is our security. Even Buhari is not safe not safe in Aso rock because the citizens are not happy”.
On his part, Pastor Ologunowa, who is the leader of Christ Sanctuary of Praise Gospel Church, Akure, said President Buhari should be honourable enough to resign if he cannot manage the nation’s security:
“They never promised us that our people will be killed like animals. Buhari’s sense of sight ought to have advised him quit instead of staying in office without any meaningful contribution to the development of Nigeria”.
Sultan of Sokoto, tested General (rtd), His Eminience Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, has twice within one week, lamented, the dire insecurity situation of the country. He described insecurity-ravaged North as the worst place to live in Nigeria. He even called for specialist prayers five times daily. He noted that bandits now rule some communities and set rules that must be obeyed. The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) resolved to meet Buhari, contending that the military is overstretched.
Is this the same military that went after #EndSars peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll gate? So, President Buhari has also finally agreed to honour the House of Representatives invitation over the wanton killings, first since 2015? Ha, wonders shall never end!
Thus in a swift reaction on Arise TV, Presidency spokesman, Garba Shehu, said sacking the service chiefs was not the solution to the security challenges. Oh, really? Even after they have since outlived their welcome and usefulness? Hear more: “The clamour for the sack is out of place considering that the President is not subject to the oppositional political party which has clamoured for this all the time.
It is entirely his (Buhari) determination; he decides who he keeps as his service chiefs and for how long”.
This was in obvious reference to President Muhammadu Buhari who has been under intense pressure from opposition leaders and lawmakers, as well as civil society organisations, to rejig the security architecture.
But Shehu said the appointment and sack of service chiefs were not tied to public demands. Said he:
“I am not aware that the tenure of service chiefs is subjected to any law or regulation that is clearly stated. They serve at the pleasure of the president and (if) the president is satisfied with their performance, he keeps them. The buck stops at his table- with due respect to the feelings of Nigerians”. I think Garba is not getting the point. No one is wrestling with Buhari about his obvious powers to appoint or sack service chiefs. But, he is being reminded to sack them since they have failed the country. Is Garba saying the President is not answerable to Nigerian people? Is he Louis XIV of France?
MASSACRE WILL CONTINUE UNTIL BUHARI REPLACES SERVICE CHIEFS-NORTH
Garba must be alone in a frolic of his own. This is because concerned stakeholders from the Northern states have warned that there may not be an end in sight if the current service chiefs remained in the saddle.
Specifically, they called on President Buhari to replace all of them without further delay, to remediate the worsening security situation in the country, especially in the North.
Stakeholders who headed different groups and coalitions had made the call at an emergency meeting in Kaduna.
Part of the 11-point communiqué read: “We say enough is enough of these killings of innocent and unarmed civilians in Borno State, brought about by the seeming inability of the nation’s troops stationed in the state to hgelp avoid this kind of massive attacks and killings.
“We categorically call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the service chiefs for their inability to save the nation this tragically-embarrassing experience that has dire consequences to our international image.
“There is also need for not only total overhaul of the security architecture in Borno but also the out-dated intelligence-gathering method.
It is our conviction that until a major paradigm shift in the security architecture is promptly applied by President Muhammadu Buhari, we will continue with this bad and alarming rounds of a tragic and embarrassing situation.
“The time to end this madness is now; the nation can’t afford to wait any longer.
Good music to my ears and those of many Nigerians, especially since the Buhari’s most ardent devotees who worshipped him like a deity have finally seen his light.
But, who is to blame when Muhammadu Buhari cannot see beyond his nepotic enclave to rejig his security architecture. Now read the following by an avid reader who exposed the dangers of nepotism, sectionalism, favouritism and tribalism in appointing people from only your section of the country, a most horrific scenario in a pluralistic, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-religious country like Nigeria:
INSECURITY IN NIGERIA: WHO IS TO BLAME?
President Muhammadu Buhari (Katsina); Senate President: Ahmad Lawan (Yobe); Deputy Speaker: Ahmed Idris (Polateau); Defence Minister: Bashir Salihi Magashi (Kano); Chief of Army Staff: Major-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai (Borno); Chief of Air Staff: Sadique Abubakar (Bauchi); National Security Adviser: Babagana Monguno (rtd.) (Borno); Director-General of DSS: Yusuf Magaji Bichi (Kano); Minister of Police Affairs: Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi (Sokoto); IGP: Mohammed Adamu (Nasarawa); Comptroller-General of Customs: Hamid Ali (Bauchi); Commandant- General NSCDC: Abdullahi Gana Muhammad (Niger); Director NIA: Ahmad Rufa’I Abubakar (Katsina); Comptroller-General of prisons: Aloh. Ja’afaru Ahmed (Katsina), SGF: Boss Gidahyelda Mustapha (Adamawa); Chief of Staff: Ibrahim Agboola Gambari (Kwara);
CHAIRMEN OF SENATE COMMITTEES
Army: Ali Ndume, (Borno); Airforce: Bala Ibn Na’Allah, (Kebbi); Defence: Aliyu Wamakko, (Sokoto); National Security and Intelligence: Abdullahi Gobir, (Sokoto); Police Affairs: Dauda Jika, Abubakar Tambuwal (Bauchi).
CHAIRMEN OF HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEES
Army: Hon. Abdurazak Namdas (Adamawa); National Security and Intelligence: Hon. Sha’aban Sharada, (Kano); Navy: Hon Gagdi Yusuf (Plateau); Police Affairs: Hon. Kumo Bello (Gombe).
So, who is to blame? That is the question
* Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN sent this piece from his Abuja base