President Goodluck Jonathan is irritatingly boring and endlessly annoying in equal measures. For a Commander in Chief to come out and tell Nigerians that he underestimated a threat like the Boko Haram is the height of irresponsibility. This same man who is now telling us he underestimated Boko Haram was the same man who declared state of emergency on three north-eastern states on three different occasions for a total of eighteen months. If he underestimated Boko Haram, why did he declare the state of emergency that was ruinous to the people and the area all this while? His state of emergency only emboldened the insurgents to take control of a swathe of land the size of Belgium and spread over the three states under the emergency rule. For those living in the three states it was a case of double jeopardy - bombings, killings, and abductions by the insurgents and harassment by the military. I think Jonathan believed all Nigerians are either stupid or naïve. In my view, he either has an addled brain or we are all dander heads.
How can the federal government that Jonathan is the Commander in chief be voting one trillion Naira consecutively for four years to the military and yet tell us that the military lacks the requisite equipment to fight a rag tag army that started out as a gun-snatching bunch of miscreants? In a period spanning over four years, we have been told the same yarn while 15,000 souls perished and properties worth billions of Naira was destroyed. While we are told that the military has no equipment to fight the insurgents, our military fat cats are competing with the politicians on who drive the flashiest cars, no doubt procured from the votes meant for the purchase of military hardware. I therefore find it rather strange that Nigerians of all hue are falling head over heels to praise the military on the current offensive against the Boko Haram – where were the military all this while?
Within this period, with Jonathan as Commander in Chief, Baga was wiped off the map and many local governments fell to the insurgents. We witnessed how big towns like Mubi, Bama, Gwoza, Gamboru, Baga, etc. was occupied for long spells by the insurgents with no effort by the government and its military chiefs to liberate them before now. Where did the president and his military chiefs get the balls for the new tactics – in the past they usually hold a position and wait for the insurgents to attack. They only ‘repel’. When the February elections were shifted, Nigerians were given a timeline within which the insurgency will be brought to an end and this time the government appear to be on target. Unlike before.
I was flaberwhelmed and overgasted (or is it the other way round?) to hear that the Borno Elders Forum, those who have been calling on Jonathan to act but had all their pleas fall on deaf ears; those who were shouted down by Jonathan and his chorus singers; those who have been on the frontline of the scourge, are now the lead vocalists in praising the military for doing what they were supposed to do ages ago. Why do they choose to act now after much of the region is destroyed either physically or psychologically? After over 15,000 lives were needlessly lost; billions destroyed in houses, businesses and man-hours lost at their ubiquitous but useless roadblocks. After many businesses had to fold up because of curfews and restrictions of movements; after wholesale massacres and dislocations of entire communities with family members scattered all over the north.
Nigerians should ask Jonathan and his military chiefs for explanations as to the new found courage and equipment for tackling the insurgency that they couldn’t do in four years. They should be asked to explain the new found resolve, courage, determination, weaponry and balls – yes, balls – to reclaim territories which they hitherto failed to do; they should tell us where they got the nous to invade the Sambisa forest, which they repeatedly told us is impregnable. They should tell Nigerians how an army that was running away from the insurgents overnight got transformed into a fearsome fighting machine, driving fear into the hearts of hardened killers who now dress like women, just like Alamieyseigha. But most importantly, they should tell us, which Shekau is the president ordering the army to capture alive. Marlyn Ogar, the garrulous spokesman (woman?) of the DSS told Nigerians last year that Shekau was killed in Konduga and his body displayed for all to see.
I cannot comprehend how a military that stood by, feigning helplessness, not long ago, can be praised for doing their job four years late. I am yet to be convinced that an institution like the Nigerian military, revered abroad for its prowess, will woefully fail in its primary responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of the nation could be praised. I fail to see how I am supposed to be grateful to those who intimidated, harassed and even question my humanity. I am at a loss on why I am expected to canonize an army that more often than not act like the Boko Haram, at least in the northeast. I am but a poor Nigerian whose humanity was diminished by those holding guns on our highways while terrorist were having field days in the towns.
What do I tell a parent whose daughter have been abducted for almost a year with no hope of seeing her again? What do I tell a family that lost a child to the marauding killers? How am I supposed to look someone who lost his worldly possession because of the inaction of the government and its security apparatus and tell him that the military is doing well for him? How do I tell an orphan to put his trust in a government that stood by while his parents were butchered? I cannot in all honesty and with a clear conscience say kudos to our government and the military for discharging their statutory responsibility of protecting the lives of the people and the territorial integrity of the nation four years late.
No sir, Mr president, I am not buying into this latest vote-getting scam. Not at the expense of those traumatized by your inertia.