Based on a statement of lamentation made by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, January 24, 2020, when he met with the European Union [EU] Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, in Abuja, according to a statement signed and released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
Yes, the statement; “I wonder why people think we can’t defeat Boko Haram”, which is more of a rhetorical question, tells us that the battle which is raging very assiduously in the heart of President Buhari is more than the battles that are going on at different frontiers of the theaters of operation across the country. A clinical interpretation of the statement would reveal that what President Buhari wants to achieve in bringing all these nefarious crises to a quick end is not what practical results from the battle fields present, neither to him nor to Nigerians.
He is torn into shred internally, even as a proven man of war at a time during his military career. He wants to end it fast [the crises] but reality confronting him is that of a commander loosing battles. He needs help, genuinely, more from those that are “outside his confraternity” than those marked as his “brethren” of the same “political camp”, including his appointed war commanders, which he retains so far. The man is in daring need of help. He may not have come out to say it the way it should be said, but this is the total interpretation of the statement of lamentation he echoed out. Two things would play pivotal role in this discuss.
The first one is the willingness of Nigerians, not in his “camp of confraternity”, to help him [President Buhari] out of his self-created cumbersome dilemma, which is sinking him deeper into the sea of failure on daily basis. It is not that Nigerians are so wicked not to offer help to their brothers and sisters that are in daring need of being assisted. No, because the propensity of the Nigerian people; a people that God, through His infinite mercy, created and deposited “at this side of the Niger” to help is at largest, at all times. But then, and this is the most challenging question mark, will the peoples’ willingness to help be accepted by the one they want to help?
Two, in spite of this statement of lamentation by the President, is he really conscious and convinced that he is losing in this war against insurgence, banditry and all other criminalities ravaging the land? And until he acknowledges that things are really wrong and that he is far from attaining victory over the challenges that have encumbered him, he is most likely not to listen to voices of wisdom that could echo from the “camp of the enemies”.
Let us go through his speech of lamentation once again so that we may be able to tell him the place of “doubt” in the whole narration.
According to him, “if Nigeria, after 30-month civil war, was able to unite and reorganized itself, insecurity will soon become history in the country”.
What the President failed to bring to bear on the confrontational challenge of the moment was the difference between the cause of that 30-month war and the present insurgency. He needs to do a deliberate fact-finding between the past and the present. If he does, he will find out that the cause of that war is totally different from this one. While that war was borne out of a genuine effort in forging the unity of Nigeria, the present comes from an absurdity of a people trying to enforce the supremacy of one religion upon the whole country. It doesn’t matter how much we pretentiously insulate ourselves from calling spade a spade in this matter, emergence of Boko Haram is nothing but “efforts in Islamization” of Nigeria.
The foundational differences must have been the reason why the first one [war] lasted for only 30 months – less than 3 years, while the present one is heavily becoming more terrifying after 10 years of coming into the theater of hostilities. In the same manner, the mechanism of conflict resolution, as they were then structured by government, during the time of that war, were totally different from the present layout. The national reality in commandment of security apparatus, through federal government’s appointment then; a structure that recognized “a job for all Nigerians”, has been replaced by an instructive declaration that “there is a job for an ethnic nationality bound together in one religious affiliation”.
There are many other policies of the federal government that will keep on working against what the government really wants to achieve but the first thing is for the people to know the direction of their government. Where is the Federal Government going on this matter or those matters remain a question the citizenry ought to have been able to provide an answer for. But unfortunately, more than 90 percent of the Nigerian citizens have no answer because the government ways and thoughts are made known to a very few that is less than 5 percent of the population. Any system that encourages reading of “body language” to guess which way government is heading can only bring calamity as end-product.
The President needs to be told one common truth about his statement of lamentation. It is not that the Nigerian people doubt the capability of their own security forces to put an end to the present crises. What the people did not understand is the intention of the country’s leadership on where it is taking them to. In one word, the Nigerian people are not sure of their President’s roadmap and where he is taking them to.
The onus is on President Muhammadu Buhari; being the one elected to office by the Nigerian people, to come out clearly, and plainly too, in telling the people that elected him where he is taking them to. The people – Nigerian People – want to see a president that is ready to execute their collective mandate without any preference to ethnic or religious affiliation. They want a President that can stand taller and larger than the myopic pillar of nepotism in appointment into every sensitive security positions. They need a President that drives Nigeria as a Secular State.
If President Muhammadu Buhari can re-identify himself in conforming to these expectations, the Nigerian people will repose total confidence on him and in every direction he maps out for them to follow. And he will soon discover that all these rampaging hostilities will be put to rest in days.
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
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